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NASCAR Programs Attracts Younger Set

While ratings for NASCAR continue to slump, the sport is at least pulling in more of a younger demographic. At Fox, the races have seen a 7% improvement in men 18-34 for the Nextel Cup broadcasts, while ESPN2's coverage of the Busch Series has managed a 2% increase. David Hill, CEO of Fox Sports, says this is the first year Nielsen is also using out-of-home viewing to calculate its numbers, and viewership at college may account for some of the gain.

"This is the first accurate snapshot of what college kids are watching," Hill says. "The households might be down a tad, but what you're looking for is what's happening with the younger audience ... Show me another sport that's growing like that among younger viewers."

Even with the decline, Fox's 5.8 average rating for NASCAR is a strong number. And overall, prime-time TV viewing is down 11% percent year over year, notes one media buyer. "I don't see any alarms ringing yet," says Larry Novenstern, executive vice president for media buying agency Optimedia. NASCAR's ratings have grown exponentially for several years. A downturn is inevitable."



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