Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle, Christian Horner, Damon Hill, Melbourne, 2012

UK F1 television audience falls after BBC/Sky deal

TelevisionPosted on | Author Keith Collantine



The loss of live coverage of half of the F1 calendar from free-to-air television in the UK prompted furious debate 12 months ago.

A key concern was the potential damage it would do to television audiences in the UK with many people unable or unwilling to pay a minimum of £381 to see the ten races not shown live on free-to-air television.

With one of the first season under the new arrangement behind us, how has the move away from live, free-to-air broadcasts affected F1 audiences in the UK? Here’s a look at the viewing figures for the BBC and Sky’s coverage.

2011 live vs 2012 live

With half of the races no longer live on free-to-air television, the total number of people watching the races has inevitably fallen.

Adding together the average live viewership for the first 11 races of 2011 shows they were watched by 45.7m people, an average of 4.15m per race.

Over the same races* in 2012 to date the corresponding totals are 24.15m viewers, averaging 2.2m per race. For the five races which were shown live on both the BBC and Sky, the average is 3.8m – much closer to 2011, but still a fall of 9.5%.

Here’s how many million live viewers each race received (the same unit is used for each graph):

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/stats.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain / Turkey* Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
2011 BBC Live 2.1 3.5 3.3 3.2 4.7 5 6.2 3.9 4.9 4.3 4.6
2012 Sky live + BBC live 0.714 0.906 3.404 0.819 4.023 3.665 0.924 4.331 3.655 0.989 0.718

The obvious drawback with these figures is they do not reflect viewers who do not have Sky’s F1 channel and instead watched the delayed highlights of the first six races which were not shown live on the BBC.

Attempting to account for these viewers is where the picture gets complicated, as we have no way of knowing how many repeat viewers there may have been.

2011 live vs 2012 live plus BBC highlights

Here are the viewing figures for the first highlights programme for each of the six races which were not shown live on the BBC have been included.

These figures will inevitably over-state the extent of F1 viewership this year as some people will have watched both the live broadcast and the repeat of some races – particularly those who wanted to compare Sky and BBC’s coverage.

Given that, it is significant that these figures for 2012 still fall short of what was achieved in 2011: the total number of viewers reaches 41.15m (down by 4.55m), an average of 3.74m per race (down by 0.41m).

Here’s the race-by-race figures:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/stats.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain / Turkey* Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
2011 BBC Live 2.1 3.5 3.3 3.2 4.7 5 6.2 3.9 4.9 4.3 4.6
2012 Sky live + BBC live + BBC highlights 3.414 3.606 3.404 4.419 4.023 3.665 3.224 4.331 3.655 3.089 4.318

Qualifying the data

Inevitably it is impossible to do a like-for-like comparison with these kinds of figures. The best we can do it to make the most of the numbers that are available to us and be wary of their limitations.

Coinciding programmes or exceptional events may have inflated or depressed viewing figures on occasions. The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix viewing figures were very high because a lengthy rain stoppage meant the race ended up being shown in prime-time.

Had that happened this year it would have made little differences as the race was not live on the BBC anyway. This year’s Malaysian Grand Prix did run late due to rain but, again, it was not live on free-to-air television.

This year’s races have faced competition from the likes of the Wimbledon men’s finals (British Grand Prix) and the Olympics (Hungarian Grand Prix). The BBC moved the British and German Grands Prix to BBC2 instead of BBC1, which usually delivers higher viewing figures.

Sky recorded their highest viewing figure for the German Grand Prix on a weekend when their F1 channel was provided at no extra cost to Sky subscribers who did not have the channel in their package, as part of a promotion.

Finally we should note this analysis covers 11 of the first 20 races, of which six were not live on free-to-air television, but five of the remaining nine will be.

Here are all the race viewing figures for the first 11 races of 2011 and 2012, separated by broadcaster. For the BBC in 2012 the figures for their first highlights programme has been used where they did not show the race live:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/stats.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain / Turkey* Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
2011 BBC Live 2.1 3.5 3.3 3.2 4.7 5 6.2 3.9 4.9 4.3 4.6
2012 BBC Live or first highlights 2.7 2.7 2.9 3.6 3.5 3.1 2.3 3.8 3.2 2.1 3.6
2012 Sky Live 0.714 0.906 0.504 0.819 0.523 0.565 0.924 0.531 0.455 0.989 0.718

Average viewing figures for each programme have been used throughout. These were obtained from the BARB and the BBC.

Sky said they prefer to use peak rather than average figures, as their F1 programmes tend to be slightly longer and therefore the average viewerships are lower. When asked, the BBC provided peak viewing figures for their 2011 and 2012 race broadcasts but Sky declined to.

Here is how the BBC’s average and peak figures compared for the first 11 races of this year. Their peak figures are around 25% higher on average:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/stats.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain / Turkey* Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
2012 BBC average 2.7 2.7 2.9 3.6 3.5 3.1 2.3 3.8 3.2 2.1 3.6
2012 BBC peak 3.2 3.2 4.1 4.1 4.5 4.2 3.1 5 4.8 2.4 4

What the broadcasters say

Sky

Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle, Christian Horner, Damon Hill, Melbourne, 2012A Sky spokesperson highlighted the extended time they have been able to give to F1 programming through having their own channel: “We’ve given longer lead ups, analysis and stayed on air for longer post-race – meaning we’ve brought viewers coverage of incidents like the Williams fire at the Spanish Grand Prix.”

Sky stated that the rise in the use of mobile devices and time-shifting digital video recorders means that television audience figures have become less useful as a means of measuring popularity.

“Given the extra hours and programming we dedicate to each race and the days and weeks in between, we don’t measure our success by viewing figures,” they added.

“We’re also giving more coverage than even before to the feeder series and the F1 stars of the future, with live GP2 and GP3 and live qualifying too where possible. We’re giving these drivers and teams the opportunity to offer extra value and ways to be seen to their sponsors and we’ve invited personalities from these series to appear on The F1 Show.”

BBC

A BBC spokesperson told F1 Fanatic: “There is no evidence to suggest that F1 fans are no longer watching. There are excellent peaks of up to 5m for live and around 4m for highlights.

“It is probably more of a case that in such a huge year of sport with Euro 2012, the Olympics and Paralympics on top of the usual sport offering that there is so much choice out there for sports fans – a large audience contingent engage with whatever is the main sport event on at the time.

“It is important to acknowledge that F1 fans can still access the entire season free-to-air on the BBC, through a mix of live and extended highlights which bring all the action from the race.”

The BBC said they were “very pleased with the figures” adding “overall F1 is doing well”.

Conclusions

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Monaco, 2012Even by the most optimistic assessment, F1 viewing figures in the UK have clearly fallen over the first 11 races of 2012 compared to last year. At three of the first five races which were shown live on both channels, combined audiences figures failed to match those of 2011.

The Monaco Grand Prix is considered one of the prized races for F1 broadcasters. When the BBC/Sky race share deal was first announced it was one of the three races BBC immediately confirmed it would screen live in 2012.

The race did not clash with any other major sporting events on free-to-air television. Yet between them, Sky and the BBC attracted less than three-quarters of the 2011 audience.

Even when the BBC’s delayed highlights are factored in – which creates the potential for double-counting viewers – the totals still fall short of last year.

Analysing this kind of data is never straightforward and there are mitigating factors to take into account, many of them noted above. But we should be sceptical of the view expressed by the likes of Martin Whitmarsh recently that the rise of new media means falling television viewing figures are not a concern.

F1 audiences in the UK were on a clear upward trajectory until this year, and it seems wishful thinking to blame new media for the sudden reversal of that trend. If anything, the growth of real-time media such as Twitter and the wealth of information available to fans during races makes following races live even more appealing than before.

Following the announcement of the Sky/BBC deal last year, Bernie Ecclestone indicated viewing figures on subscription television could be sufficient to justify moving F1 off free-to air television entirely:

“We will never move all countries to pay-per-view only though it wouldn’t make any difference here in the UK,” said Ecclestone. “Sky reaches over 10m [households]. We don’t get 10m on the BBC, normally about 6m or 7m.” Clearly the figures at present do not come close to that. It remains to be seen how they will change over the rest of the season.

In the second half of last year the championship was a foregone conclusion and Red Bull were seldom threatened in the races – a potential turn-off for casual viewers.

This year’s championship and races are far closer. It will be a very poor sign if the UK’s viewing figures for the second half of the season are not better than last year’s.

Meanwhile Formula One Management has already used the UK set-up as a model for similar deals elsewhere, including Italy, where only nine F1 races will be broadcast live on free-to-air television next year.

Over to you

What’s your view on how the F1 television audience in the UK has been affected by the BBC/Sky deal? Has the new arrangement changed how you watch F1?

Have your say in the comments.

*The Bahrain Grand Prix appeared in place of the Turkish Grand Prix on the 2012 calendar.

F1 on television

128 comments on “UK F1 television audience falls after BBC/Sky deal”

  1. We experienced the same with football more than a decade ago. And it’ll never be the same as free to air TV.

    With illegal streams getting better and better, I don’t see why someone would want to pay 381 quid to watch F1. I watch it online and it’s okay.

    1. @fer-no65

      With illegal streams getting better and better, I don’t see why someone would want to pay 381 quid to watch F1.

      I’d be surprised if that doesn’t account for a big portion of the gap between the 2011 and 2012 figures.

      1. I tend to watch the Sky races via live streams and have had very little problem. I find it very hard not to watch live and wait for BBC coverage so the streams are great.

        I did not get Sky on principle.

        1. If you can understand French, you can watch the TF1 stream in 720p HD for free – if you know how to get around the location check ;) Only drawback are ads during the race. Not that I would of course…just throwing it out there…

          1. Rather ads than Sky. Any day.

          2. @mike try the latin coverage, with ads every 5 minutes. And then you’ll adore Sky xD

          3. @fer-no65 Like Aus you mean?

            Sky represents something bad, bad for F1 and bad for us as consumers.

          4. Or get TF1 HD Suisse on Eutelsat 9.0E which is free-to-air and no location check

        2. What principles stopped you from getting Sky?

    2. In Denmark, where i live we have “decent” coverage, its NOT free to air, and it has adverts! The commentary is done watching the same tv signal everyone else watches. That blows!
      Personally, i would love to be able to watch the Sky F1 HD channel, i did watch it online, but the streams are just not stable enough. The UK coverage is the worlds best, there is no better.

      I would happily pay what i pay for all the channels i have, just to have the F1 channel ONLY! I only watch tv to watch F1, and i wish i could have uk commentary everytime. Even my girlfriend, whos only just started watching this season, agrees that the uk coverage is top dollar compared.

      In Spain its free to air, but they dont get the practice on tv. Also with ads ofcourse.

      1. @iabuser @tango You’re right, the latin coverage for example is beyond hideous. It’s unwatchable. It’s ridiculously misleading. They say nothing right. It’s ****.

        I’d also pay for Sky, if I had the chance. But they had the BBC for free, which was the best coverage ever. So to suddenly start paying for something that’s not THAT good, it’s annoying and I understand that.

      2. From Australia and I’ll second that. I watch the streams cause it is not possible to get Sky F1 outside UK. Other wise I would have purchased it.

      3. I’m split on this, I had Sky HD before the switch from FTA so got the F1 channel anyway.
        I loved the BBC coverage, it blew ITV’s previous coverage out of the water and the combination of JH/DC/EJ commentating was fun, they had a good time and made it more enjoyable to watch.

        Now that’s it’s on Sky I think I prefer it, there is a lot more exposure for the F1 fan including things like the Sky Sports iPad app where you can see everything live, flick between all the viewing options that you get on the Red Button and so on. next to the TV streaming, you get live Twitter updates from F1 teams/drivers and news sites.
        I appreciate there is a cost which is a shock to a lot of people who were used to getting it for free but Sky has and is continuing to boost the ways in which you can watch the sport, they’ve brought it into 2012 and increased the social media elements of the sport.
        Free will always be better but it doesn’t have to cost the earth, there are options to get to see it for less:

        Find a friend with Sky F1 and offer them £5 a month to use one of their Sky Go accounts (they can set you up with a restricted login so you can’t access their account) but it means that you can watch Practice/Quali/Race on your iDevice or online. I use my 2 Sky Go passes because I watch on my iPad at work or wherever I am but there are millions of people out there that don’t need to use theirs. Find a friend and chat them up

        Get the Online Sky Sports pass – £18 a month I think. 9 months of racing £162 for the year. Still a cost but much less than a full blown year contract. Or just pay for the odd month here and there to watch the races you want to. We have 8 races in the next 3 months so for less than £60 you can watch the end of the season which is going to be immense!

        I would love to sit here and moan about the F1/Sky deal but bottom line it isn’t going to change anything, if profits start to drop for the teams and FOM etc then maybe they will have a re-think but as it stands it isn’t going to change. If I didn’t have Sky I would seriously consider getting it, purely due to the withdrawl symptoms I experience if I don’t watch it

        1. Get the Online Sky Sports pass – £18 a month I think.

          Nope: £35/month for Entertainment+Sports.

          The option of using a friend’s Sky go is about the only (legal) way to get it for less than £30/mo, but even then it requires that
          a) you have a friend willing to let you use their Sky Go, and
          b) you have a decent broadband connection, as quality drops off rapidly. It will never be anywhere near as good as the broadcast, either, mainly due to sky over-compressing the stream. I believe they (partly) do this to discourage people from using Go instead of full sky, the same way as they have over-compressed SD broadcast to make HD look better.

    3. I’m illegal too, another digit uncounted. Nonetheless they could be killing the tradition, Football is expensive and tv coverage is solely on cable but you can always buy an really expensive ticket and watch the show, you have 30 home games per season, combining competitions but you only have one British GP, another thing that might help in reducing F1 viewership in the future is the fact that you can keep the buzz by simply playing football with your friends, the only other option is too play F1 on a console, and even that may have the competition of football videogames, especially cause buying 2 videogames may set you back £120.

    4. After all that, I feel like Belgium is F1 paradise … BBC stays as the best to watch for me when available.
      In Belgium you have it 3 times on free to air TV, on a belgian french chanel, on a belgian dutch chanel and the french TF1 (worst than any other thing I’ve seen)
      And we have only quali and race with very few adds (only 2-3 times 1min) and comments aren’t great but we can’t complain as we have it for our small country

    5. Did you know – Viewing streams is not illegal, just them being there is (Just saying not endorsing)

      1. If streaming was cutting into their profits, you can expect Sky to make a big furore over it. And, they’d probably get what they want.

        I’d be hesitant to believe that in a court they’d agree with you, just on the back of it being similar to pirating. Not to say that there is anything wrong with watching a stream. There isn’t.

        1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          7th September 2012, 11:09

          “If streaming was cutting into their profits, you can expect Sky to make a big furore over it. And, they’d probably get what they want.”

          just like they have with football and boxing and all other ptv sports? oh wait….

          fact is they can’t do anything yet… they can remove streams but people put them back up the internet is largely unpoliceable for the time being. Yes hosting a stream is against copyright/terms of use etc but watching is not there is nothing wrong with watching internet streams apart from the occasional google advert virus.

      2. @booteh that’s what I meant, the stream is illegal :P. But as @mike points out, it’s like downloading music and movies, you’re contributing to piratery after all. There would not be any stream if no one wanted to watch the races for free online.

    6. Although we have free coverage here in Belgium, I actually prefer watching such a stream. You can mock with Sky all you want, their coverage is much more professional, contrary to the coverage at vt4; if I hear Chris Wauters one more time telling, with a tone like he is telling something completely new, “DRS is het systeem waarbij ze het vleugeltje platleggen” I’ll give him a visit at his commentary box and stick a wing up his … .

  2. I was suprised to see that qualifying was so low on sky especially at the British gp. Also it is surprising to see that the British gp race but Andy Murray was playing Wimbledon final the same day and on BBC it was on BBC 2.

  3. Weird that the figures have decreased even if this season has been a lot more exciting than 2011.

  4. The BBC suggest that other supporting events have impacted on the viewing figures, but I would disagree the credibility of this. The European GP, for example, is one of the better performing events and that has an excellent viewing success.

    I suspect that the Paralympics and Olympics may have influenced viewing figures for Belgium and Hungary respectively, we’ll have to wait and see waht the rest of the season brings us. Singapore might show a slight recovery, as well as Abu Dhabi and the season finale in Brazil later. The Korean and Japanese GPs will impact on figures because of the time they start.

    Also, these figures dont really incorporate the F1 in Pubs movement, how successful has that been?

    All in all, the figures are down, but I dont think BBC/BskyB deal has anything to do with the fall in figures. Tightening budgets and other sports events have impacted more.

    For those that havent been watching this year, they’ve missed out on one heck of a ride…!

    1. As for F1 in pubs, tho i dont watch f1 in pubs my bro tends to be in the pub round about that time and he went there with the hope of seeing the belgium gp.

      it got to 30mins in the race and it was switched over to the football. which i think was liverpool vs arsenal, and with so many pubs struggling for business as it is they are always going to cater for bigger market which is football fans. Sad but true.

  5. It certainly changed how people are now watching. Some watch live, some don’t. But the confusion caused by sometimes having just Sky, sometimes having it on BBC1, at times on BBC2, and the bad taste the whole deal leaves with many fans feeling the BBC and the sports insiders left them out for grabs to the moneymachine of Sky together contribute to lower viewing.
    To state that suddenly new media took over that share (when they do all they can to block most of it!) is just wishfull thinking in the best case, purposely misleading more likely.

  6. How does Bernie just not get it? Even though 10 million people subscribe to Sky, it obviously does not mean 10 million people will sit down to watch an F1 race!! Its like saying 60 million households have a tv aerial so 60 million people will watch EastEnders!! Oh, Bernie – move along and hand over to someone (younger) and more in tune with todays tech, culture, society!

    1. Also, there are maye 10 million people with SKY, however, how many people with have the correct subscription, which are sky sports package or sky HD? I have SKY, but not the correct subscription, and I’m not willing to pay up.

      On another matter, what the SKY spokeperson said,
      “We’ve given longer lead ups, analysis and stayed on air for longer post-race – meaning we’ve brought viewers coverage of incidents like the Williams fire at the Spanish Grand Prix.” Yes, SKY are on earlie, but they do not finish later than BBC. The BBC F1 Forum, showed us everything that happened at the Spanish Grand Prix, about the fire. Also, I prefer to have more analysis after the race than before, for it’s by far more interesting to hear the thoughts of the race afterwards, than before the race.

      1. The amount of adverts that the Sky preview show burns through is sickening. It detracts from the whole atmosphere of the build up. I doubt they actually fit in more preview show than the BBC, they just HAVE to start earlier so they can accomodate the advert quota.

        1. do you watch sky? I only ask as they tend to have no adverts at all while the bbc is live, and I think only had a few minutes before that.

          1. They don’t have ad’s during the race but before and after they have plenty, although probably about as many as any other programme, about one every 15-20mins (I think, I’ve not really counted)

      2. The BBC F1 Forum, showed us everything that happened at the Spanish Grand Prix, about the fire.

        Sky were on air an extra half hour after the bbc forum ended at that race & sky’s coverage of the williams pit fire was more extensive as they had cameras right outside the williams garage, bbc did not.

        1. sky’s coverage of the williams pit fire was more extensive as they had cameras right outside the williams garage

          I think that was more luck than anything else, they happenned to be there when it started. I doubt they would have let all the press suddenly pile down there when the garage is on fire, and it would not have been appropriate for them to, but Sky were already there and probably got overlooked.

          Only a guess, but that’s how I see it.

    2. move along and hand over to someone (younger) and more in tune with todays tech, culture, society!

      That younger one would do the same, I’m afraid. It’s business after all. Unless the goverment really wants to keep it on free-to-air, the deal will always be better this way (for the companies, not the people).

      1. F1 relies on sponsorship money and sponsors want viewers. Less viewers means less sponsorship value and less money for F1. Sky relies on subscription money and ad money. Less viewers leads to less value for advertisers and less money for sky. How long would sky want to subsidise their F1 coverage?

        1. @Lee1, Yes, the teams rely on sponsorship but FOM get the fee from Sky which more than compensates them from any loss of revenue from trackside advertising ( which reminds me, I can’t think of any trackside advertisers since “Fosters”) . So Bernie and FOM are OK but the teams will lose out ( how much value does a sponsor get from i-phone viewers ) resulting in the teams becoming even more reliant on FOM for money, just how Bernie likes it.

    3. yes those subscribers may not watch the F1 but they are already paying for it, so if there are 10m on SKY F1 that means that they are already giving profit even if they don’t watch it, if they do even better for Bernie, what happens is those 6,7m on BBC weren’t really paying for the feed like Mr. Bernie intended.

    4. He doesn’t care as long as he gets paid!

      1. Uh, Bernie tried to get Formula 1 onto Channel 4 – but the contract between FOM and the BBC meant that he couldn’t do anything about it unless the BBC gave up the broadcast rights entirely. And until such time as they did, he was powerless to prevent it.

  7. The Sky spokesperson – “We don’t measure our success by viewing figures.” – Ha, this made me laugh! I bet they would if the figures were higher!

    I thought Sky didn’t release info on viewing figures, as the article says, they declined to give peak figures. I’m curious, how did you come by the data for these graphs?

    Those comments of Bernie’s really irritated me earlier in the year. I can’t fathom why he would say something so obviously incorrect.

    Personally, I am over my discontent about the Sky deal. I do not have Sky nor do I plan on getting it; but I have seen the Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain and Canadian coverage of Sky’s. It was ok, but I much prefer the BBC. I do like David Croft as a commentator but I think he was much better suited to the slower paced Practice sessions, with Anthony Davidson. In the end I prefer the BBC covergae.

    1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      6th September 2012, 19:42

      with you 100% sky is nothing compared to the bbc coverage if only they had every race.

    2. @nick-uk

      I’m curious, how did you come by the data for these graphs?

      It’s from the BARB and the BBC – it does say in the article.

    3. During the action i prefer SKY before the gridwalk and after i prefer BBC, as i do not intend to watch the extras apart from the gridwalk BBC only helps me when my father prefers to watch BBC when races are shared, just my opinion after the horrible race and qualli commentary by the wondering David Coulthard and Ben Edwards.

      1. Edwards is epic!!

        1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          6th September 2012, 23:01

          Him and dc are a great commentary team. Brundle kept me watching what sky was up to at the start of the year but now i couldn’t give a monkeys.

          1. Brundle and Crofty’s commentary at Valencia was pretty dire… talking about pension day during those two laps that Schumacher was holding everyone up and Alonso was scything through the pack. The BBC pair for that race got me much more excited about it that Sky pair did.

      2. The BBC’s commentary team is epic. I’ve directly compared commentary for about 4 races on both BBC and Sky, and I’ve got to say: Ben Edwards and DC really are something special. Their live analysis is almost all the time spot-on,and usually called well before the Sky; and with recent-driver like DC, he spots minor details on the behavior of the car or strategy-wise well before others can. And Ben Edwards really can get you fired up and excited, dare I say, a bit Murray-esque.
        With superb technical analysis from Gary Anderson in the pitlane, I honestly think BBC totally out-class Sky.
        But perhaps thing that Crofty is strong at, is his FP coverage.

  8. I live in Australia and am very sick of all the commercials/One HD commentators you have to put up with during the free to air broadcast. I run an illegal stream on a laptop next to me so I can keep watching through the ads. If I had the option to buy Sky F1 HD, I would… but I can’t find ANY information regarding whether or not this is possible in Australia…?
    Can anyone shed any light on this?

    1. vipbox maybe? just google sky sports f1 live stream.

      1. Correct. I’m in Australia and watch the practice sessions on Sky via vipbox.

        1. I do the same. But it’s a shame we don’t get any practice coverage in Australia.

    2. Be careful what you wish for.

  9. Personally, if a race is on Sky I start watching as soon as Martin Brundle begins his gridwalk and get all my news snippets (á la Williams fire) from this website . I find their pre and post race coverage a bit unwatchable at times.

  10. At first I watched the BBC build up for their live races and then switched over to Sky for their commentary. However since around the British Grand Prix, I’ve found myself watching all of Sky’s coverage. I can’t say they get everything right but they get some good pundits although JV in Canada was a blip. That said, I don’t watch more than an hour of their coverage before the race, two hours of build up is just too much.

    1. Agreed. One strange thing when watching Sky’s pre-race buildup ( If I choose to), I would normally start watching around the time BBC normally begin their pre-race buildup.

      Not implying that the split TV coverage has provided me advantages nor disadvantages but it’s given me an opportunity to experiment with buildups, post-race analysis as well as the selection of commentary. Especially when BBC are showing races live, flexible to say the least & should be for everyone. I mean when both broadcasters are screening races live along with their usual extras, you don’t have to choose ONE broadcaster to tune into, go with how you really feel (that is for those who also have Sky)

  11. French F1 holding rights battle finishes this weekend and I really hope that a pay-per-view channel will give fans a better and more coverage than now. For 20 years, TF1 puts 4 commercials and SMS games during the race, plus you almost can’t see the podium ceremony as there are off-air as soon as the race finishes!
    So I do like Fer no.65 and tcf1 on Sky.

    1. @jayfreese, be careful what you wish for, in most countries watching on cable or satellite you still get interrupted by ads. coverage.

      1. Paying for great coverage sounds great. But it’s just not that simple.

      2. yep, but it is only the race for free here you have to pay to watch practices and qualy. so if I have to pay, I will only make it for quality like Sky!
        In the end 380£ a year only makes 32£ a month!

  12. Last year I watched every practice, quali and race, and followed a lot of F1 media, often paying for content. I paid to visit one of the factories and travelled to watch some team testing. My interest in the sport prompted me to buy tickets for this year’s Canadian GP (where I spent money attending F1-related events), and I renewed my team membership.
    I didn’t want to buy a Sky contract this year; it’s a lot of money to pay when I hardly watch TV, and wouldn’t want to watch any of the other channels. I did try a Sky monthly ticket at the start of the season, to watch on my laptop. I found it was a poor quality service with long timelags, and Sky’s customer support was abysmal. So then I tried watching the BBC highlights, but I find the racing doesn’t interest me at all if I can’t watch it in full, with simultaneous live timing, and with other live commentaries/forums/team telemetries. I still tune in to catch a bit of the Jake/EJ/DC show, and BBC’s live race coverage has been great – I think it’s better than last year. But, to cut a long story short, my interest in F1 has waned. I doubt I’ll attend any races in 2013, I haven’t renewed my media subscriptions, and I doubt I’ll renew my team subscription when it expires. It’s a shame to have lost my passion, but I need to see live races to sustain it.
    So I’m slowly beginning to find other things to do with my time and money. I don’t feel I’ve lost out, but I do think that F1 has. I’m just one person who was contributing to F1 salaries, but what if there’s more like me who’ve decided to spend their money on something more rewarding? The big players in F1 probably earn enough not to be affected, but the smaller players are surely going to suffer if there’s fewer people following the sport.

    1. Exactly, I have large gaps in my history of following F1 due to being located where it was difficult to follow and I developed other interests.

    2. I’m with you on this one. I’ve grown up watching F1 and I’ve always loved it, I even started writing a blog about it last year! I was unhappy when Sky was announced last year and I thought my interest in F1 would pretty much fade. Looking back on the first half of the season, to me I couldn’t care less about the sport any more. I never have and never will pay for Sky, it’s too expensive! The live races were important to me in writing the blog, but the BBC miss out some parts of the race, so I can’t write a full race report.

      Bernie really has made an **** of himself. He said last year that he would never take the sport to pay TV, but now has put every live race behind a very expensive pay-wall. The televisual economics are simple; pay TV and free TV F1 coverage won’t work, especially in Britain! For example, in Germany, RTL’s audience’s are down year on year with races there being shown free TV (RTL) and pay TV (Sky Deutschland). Sadly, I have a feeling that F1’s popularity in the UK may be on its way down.

  13. I heard a very interesting rumour this afternoon that Sky are attempting to lure Jake Humphrey away from the BBC. He quickly denied it on Twitter, but I can’t help but feel there’s at least some truth behind it. Simon Lazenby feels ill-suited to his current role, and Humphrey would be a natural replacement (with the added benefit from Sky’s perspective that it would remove a major staple from the BBC coverage).

    Still, I feel Sky’s coverage is worth paying for if you can/are willing to do so, as it’s mostly good despite Lazenby’s best attempts. I suspect in the future most live sport will be on pay TV channels, though whether that’s a good or bad thing is open to much debate.

    1. I suppose I’m helped in justifying the cost of Sky because I am interested in their other sports. Specifically, their GP2, GP3 and IndyCar coverage is pretty decent, and I’ll watch the odd football match or two.

    2. Lazenby is one of the worst frontmen for a show I’ve ever seen, truely awful. I’d welcome Jake to Sky, but I think his ties to the BBC are too strong.

    3. Jake is the future – not only of BBC F1, but of BBC Sport as a whole – at the very least. They’d be crazy to let him go to Sky.

      As for Simon… he is awful beyond belief. Heck, I’d prefer Steve Rider back rather than sticking with Simon. That said, their race coverage team (with Crofty, Martin and Ted) edges the BBC (despite the strengths of Ben, DC and Lee).

      1. The Sky’s race coverage is a dream team. But the BBC simply knows what it is doing, so that outside of those guys, Sky is flailing with a fish out of water.

    4. I suspect in the future most live sport will be on pay TV channels

      It already is. You probably don’t even need to take your socks off to count the number of live sporting events that are broadcast exclusively on free-to-air TV in the UK (English & Scottish FA Cup finals, Six Nations rugby, the Grand National, Wimbledon, the Olympics, the London Marathon and a handful of others).

      I enjoy watching all sport, but the only ones I follow religiously are F1 and cricket. So that’s Sky Sports for me, then – and as long as there are enough people like me, the trend of more sports going onto subscription-only TV channels is not going to be reversed.

  14. i think the veiwing figures were always going to drop no matter what so its not a big surprise to me. also iv watched every race of the season on sky and i think they do a fantastic job so if people were to give them a chance giving the fact that people do have to pay then people will realise what a good job they do.

  15. One thing that really has annoyed me about the BBC/SKY deal, is Eddie Jordan! He has not turned up to any of the races where they are not live. He was in Australia for the opener but that’s the only one. If he bothered to show up to those that are not live and still included himself in the Forum and limited preview discussions etc I would be happier. I find it extremely noticeable when he is not there and it makes it so I can really tell that it is a highlights race.

    1. Interested to see who’ll be there for BBC at Monza, given that Eddie Jordan “broke” the “big news” this week. (he’s not on the cast list here)

      Normally I like the highlights show to just get on with the racing (and it’s only 90 minutes on Sunday) but I’d enjoy watching Eddie getting some stick around the paddock…

  16. Hey :) my views of this, is that i was like many F1 fans, last year, was disgusted by the Sky F1 deal. but after watching the races, live on sky & have watched a live race on the BBC too. Id rather watch Sky’s coverage. i am eating my words from last year, saying that Sky would ruin F1, but they havent. Sky have taken it to a whole new level :) and the amount of access there is to us F1 fans, its liike a childrens playground. BBC have gone downhill this year, i’m glad that Sky had Ted from the BBC, like his tech stuff and Martins grid walk too. I do feel sorry, for the fans, who arent willing to pay to watch F1.

    1. Our family has been watching F1 for years. Grandad is a sky subscriber, me and hubby won’t pay extra so our kids only watch the highlights…how mean are we ! We did watch some of the sky coverage online but didn’t think it was as engaging as the BBC…Sky seemed to lack a bit of enthusiasm to me, but it’s personal preference I guess. We watch the highlights and the online coverage. Hubby has the timings off the F1 site on another monitor which is good to have. I know Eddie is entertaining in his way, I guess… but I can only cope with him in small doses. This season is way more interesting than last and it’s a shame some people are missing out imho.

  17. With one less sporting programme for the BBC to show, does that mean that the Beeb will be able to afford the full season, etc next year?
    Or is this deal with Sky a multi-year deal?

    1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      6th September 2012, 19:49

      if you are referring to the olympics those numptys have spent x hundred million to broadcast it for another 8 years or in real terms 4 weeks… 4 weeks of olympics for 3 years of f1 thanks bbc director general you ****

  18. I wonder how much of an impact Sky Go has had on things? I see many people on Twitter enjoying F1 through shared Sky Go accounts using their Xbox, laptop, iPad or whatever else. I fully don’t expect that this figure will be in the millions but I expect it will be a figure that grows in importance as the years roll on.

    Back in my early teens I would have F1 on TV in the background, a comfort for a Sunday afternoon and that’s about it. I expect that most people tuning into Sky will be watching the race quite intently and certainly more so than I did 10-12 years ago. Anyone can switch the TV on and leave it running, particularly with the BBC. Higher viewing figures look good on paper but I would argue it’s the ‘quality’ of those viewers which also counts, at least when it comes to gauging success if not exposure. It’s a difficult one.

    There’s no way that Sky could ever attract the figures the BBC did, but playing it purely as a numbers game does seem to make things sound more dramatic and grim for the future of F1.

    I expect people are still annoyed about missing many races this year but over time the viewership on Sky may increase when people actually start to miss their sport.

  19. “It is probably more of a case that in such a huge year of sport with Euro 2012, the Olympics and Paralympics on top of the usual sport offering that there is so much choice out there for sports fans – a large audience contingent engage with whatever is the main sport event on at the time.”

    A pretty weak sounding excuse I think. Particularly as the figures looked at here only show 1 race affected by either Olympics or Paralympics.

  20. to have the numbers waning while the racing is so strong…not good.

  21. “There is no evidence to suggest that F1 fans are no longer watching.”
    Jesus, the old saying goes ‘you can try and fool yourself but deep down you know the truth, its only yourself you are cheating’.
    I don’t think there is anyone that buys that tripe. This year is the first year in 26 years that I have missed more than two live races in a season and it is only just over half way through the season; that is very sad and sums it up. I was made redundant in March so even if principals didn’t come into it I was priced out of the market for live F1 in 2012, and to be fair I feel so cheated I didn’t even watch the highlights of one race, such a shame, you can run but you can’t hide from the truth despite the PR statements.

  22. Im watching it on free stream, SKY F1 Channel, but just because im from Macedonia and here we don’t have pay tv and stuff like that is just cable tv and it has ****** channels and our nacional tv is airing F1 but the commentators are ****** and don’t know anything. If i could i would buy to watch the Sky f1 channel, they offer a great experience to follow the drivers onboard and those stuff, radio msgs and so on

  23. On the comparison with 2011 about 2 million for Australia and 1 million for Malaysia watched the BBC highlights, so add them substantial figures unto the live race in 2011 which would leave only 3 races scoring higher this year which is appalling.

  24. Sky hit an all time low with 330,000 average viewers for Belgium.

    1. @snowman I assume that’s the average figure – I’d be very surprised (and alarmed!) if it was the peak? If it is the average, the fact they extended the introduction by (I think) another half an hour will have had an effect.

      1. @KeithCollantine

        Nah it’s average, peak was 890,000.

        BBC average for Belgium was 2.77m with peak of 3.69m

        Averages combined on BBC/Sky, they are down 0.6m on BBC live last year and on peak combined down 0.75 last year.

        1. ^peak down 0.75m compared to last year

          BBC last year had 3.76m and a peak of 5.33m for the Belgian Grand Prix.

          http://www.f1revs.com/2012/09/bbc-sky-belgian-gp-viewing-figures.html

  25. As someone without the Sky F1 channel I have had to wait until the BBC highlights show to see the race, in the meantime trying to avoid hearing the result and sometimes failing. The exception was the Hungarian GP which I ‘watched’ on a terrible stream that spent more time frozen than actually playing, luckily I didn’t really miss anything as it was such an uneventful race, but I don’t think I could bear that for an exciting race. Maybe I’m watching the wrong stream or maybe it’s my computer that is the problem.

    There’s no point trying to put into words how I feel about the deal, but one thing that really does annoy me is the way Bernie and other people are allowed to make these nonsensical statements without being pulled up on it. The F1 media just aren’t tough enough, just nodding as Bernie sprouts his drivel before asking a new, unrelated question. If only Jeremy Paxman could do an interview with Bernie and the other politicians masquerading as F1 personnel..

  26. I already had Sky Sports so we’ve been able to see all of the live races this year. We tried going back to the BBC coverage for a comparison but quickly gave up as the Sky coverage really is in a different league. Jake Humphrey is a far superior anchor to Simon Lazenby, and I could easily believe today’s Twitter rumours that Jake could be on Sky’s shopping list. However I can’t see him leaving the BBC when he gets the wider presenting opportunities afforded by the BBC like covering the Olympics. Having said that, now London 2012 is over he may be tempted, hence why the rumours are so believeable.

    Johnny Herbert has been a great success as an analyst, bringing a lighter touch to proceedings. I followed Damon avidly 20 years ago, but he has struggled when he has been the analyst on his own. Ted is reliable and has the connections in the pitlane to get access and useful bits of information – his walking interview with Christian Horner when the legality of the Red Bull was under the spotlight was pure theatre, particularly when Horner tried to suggest Ted wasn’t allowed to follow him into the pitlane when Ted knew full well he could carry on with a line of questioning that Horner was being rather unsettled by.

    The “Skypad” was a bit gimmicky at the start of the season, but Antony Davidson clearly relishes what the technology allows him to show the viewer. Being able to freeze – frame and move the camera angle around the virtual cars at the start from Spa to show Maldonado’s jump start and the build up to the shunt demonstrated its value.

    However my Wife in particular is not impressed with Georgie Thompson, and feels her body language in front of the camera can appear awkward , frequently talking with her back to the camera. I’m told her outfits are often a little inappropriate, and always contrast heavily with Natalie Pinkham who will be in her usual Sky pitlane gear while Georgie is in a cocktail dress. Natalie has the journalistic background and will produce good films and interviews over the weekend, whereas despite her Sky Sports News background, Georgie often seems ill at ease still, even with half the season now gone. She may be better on the F1 Show, but we tend to miss this as Friday evenings are for more than watching F1!

    Those are just our views, but we have certainly found the Sky coverage an improvement, and having tried to watch F1 when we’ve been abroad the coverage does seem of higher quality than many other national broadcasters – particularly in the US where if you are staying in the wrong hotel without Speed you can forget about catching a race. Whether the Sky deal ultimately takes away the mass audiences that F1 has been built on and subsequently leads to a decline in sponsors is another question, but the Premier League has survived since 1992. Whether it has survived for the better is another matter entirely.

  27. awww.. look at lee mckenzie smiling. isnt she just lovely ? :D

  28. I suppose what’s most infuriating is the BBC saying that everything is fine with the services being provided; they keep banging on about how we can still watch the whole season for free, and it is quite frustrating, as with highlights you can never get the full picture of what’s going on.
    What I’d do is get a free, foreign stream and play the radio 5 Live over the top of it.

  29. I’ve watched both Sky & BBC coverage though the year, Sky live every race & some of the BBC highlight shows, I also watch the BBC live Pre/post race coverage alongside the Sky coverage when there both live.

    Early in the year I thought the BBC Pre/post race was better, However I think since about Monaco the Sky Pre/post race coverage has been better more often than not, They have made great use of there analysis tools & having guys like Herbert & McNish to give some extra drivers analysis of race incidents has been great.

    Jake is a better lead presenter than Simon Lazenby & I think Damon Hill was a weak point for Sky early on but has improved more recently.

    One area I love about sky is there interactive coverage, I love the extra options they have avaliable for every session, In the past BBC had the OnBoard & Driver tracker avaliable for races only but Sky have those + more for every session.
    Yes sky have Commercials during practice sessions, However those Ad’s don’t appear on the extra red button feeds so during Ad’s I just switch to an OnBoard feed or the brilliant Pit Lane channel (which also has the fom world feed in a pip window) & so miss no track action.
    Been able to go to an OnBoard or listen to team radio on the pits channel during the more dull parts of a practice session or race is simply brilliant & really add’s a great deal to the coverage overall.

    Sky’s Red Button race control:
    http://img266.imageshack.us/img266/4635/qmpgsnapshot01020320120.jpg

    I’ve had some frustrations with what feeds Sky have made avaliable at times (Often dropping the FOM directed OnBoard-Mix for there own Highlights feed), But overall Im loving the quality & depth of Sky’s coverage & especially all the extra feeds they are providing.

    I especially like the pit lane feed, Loads of great team radio clips on there:
    http://dai.ly/QpaUuG
    BBC do have this for there live qualifying & races but not for practice where its often just as intresting to watch/listen to.

    Personally I would be dissapointed if the coverage went away from sky & we lost having these extra feeds avaliable for every session, I really love having them avaliable at all times :)

    1. I agree with a lot of what you and @pwright78 say. I do often find the BBC enjoyable still, Sky is a bit more forced at times (but then again, I have BBC on my TV so bigger better image, Sky I’d have to get a stream, which works, but is worse quality).

      Though I don’t think I’d be able to take the Sky package now if it was offered, seeing your RedButton shot makes me wish very very much that the “new media” thin Sky talks off would allow someone to offer that to anyone around the world, not just the UK. But Bernie right now doesn’t want that (until Sky pay a very much larger pile of cash I suppose …)

    2. Jealous. I understand don’t if they are “the main” broadcaster why have country restriction. If they drop the price of their subscription by 10 and have open borders they will make hundreds times more in profit.

  30. Kind of obvious findings.

  31. I think F1 and the BBC really blew it with this whole Sky deal, and I can only hope that the stats get even worse by the end of the season so that they reconsider. It may have needed a little more time to develop, but the Brundle/Coulthard combination was really awesome. David Croft is HORRIFIC and I pretty much can’t stand anything he has to say. Truly, they would be 1000% better off if they just dumped him and let Martin do the whole thing.

    I would be extra angry about the whole thing if I actually had to pay to watch it. If there was an option to switch off Croft, I might consider it, but as of now I wouldn’t pay a dime.

  32. We already had sky so I was pleased that I could still watch the races live. It’s not as good watching the highlights show as it can be hard to avoid the results sometimes.

    Personally I don’t like the BBC race commentary team, but like the EJ, DC and Jake presenting team. I watched my first BBC race this weekend as cricket was on sky but saw the end of the race on Sky.

    I can’t take to Simon on Sky he just doesn’t have the rappor that Jake had with people and his interviews suffer because of it. I only watch the sky channel on race weekends so don’t watch the rerun shows. I have enjoyed the F1 Show which is informative and fun as I feel the how sky approach seems to be. you get a lot of show on Sky which I missed when going back to BBC, not all of which is entertains you do get adverts and some is quite repetitive but by and large I prefer Sky to BBC. The Tooned advert series that McClaren have done this year have been fun too!

    Had we not had Sky anyway there is no way I would have signed up just for F1, luckily be are a sports household so we got sky for football years ago. I think it is a shame that the BBC are selling off the live TV rights to sport in favour of some of their other shows. I think the reality is that in the future all live sport will be on pay per view channels and that will always mean that true fans will be priced out of seeing the sport they love for various financial and moral reasons which is a real shame.

  33. I was shocked at how low the figures were for Sky’s viewership. Whilst I’ve not seen any of their coverage first hand, the impression I’ve got is that they put a lot of effort into it. I remember Brundle mentioning the opportunity to do more technical features was important in his decision to move. Kravitz is a well-known uber-geek of gurney flaps. To invest so much time, effort and money into something that’s being viewed by less than 1m people a go must be depressing for everyone involved.

    I’d like to see viewing figures for the GP2 and GP3 coverage too. If the main event is that low, these must barely be dragging themselves along.

    1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      6th September 2012, 23:14

      It makes me laugh i think jake said last year they had 8 million peak viewership during the canadian grandprix, 8 million people tuned in to listen to david coulthards ornithological knowledge during a rained out race and sky can’t break the 1 million mark.

  34. When the BBC are not LIVE I watch the live coverage on the german sat channel RTL with commentary courtesy of DAB radio BBC 5 Live. This has proved most satisfactory and I have the satisfaction of not paying greedy SKY one brass farthing.

  35. “We don’t measure our success by viewing figures.” Exactly how do they measure success?

    After 20 years in advertising I can tell you that this means FAILURE. A failed campaign is usually described as “branding”. “Branding” means you got the word out there but nobody could be bothered to take out their wallet and pony up some dosh.

    In spite of our woefull coverage and high frequency ad breaks here in Aus I think we’re still reasonably well served if you remember that you’re not paying anything. If there was an F1 pay-per-view, no ads, all sessions, I’d be first in line. Can you hear me Foxtel.

  36. I can’t help wondering what the propsed Channel 4 coverage would have been like.

    Judging by thier advert-strewn, studio-chatterbox-infested Paralympic coverage, my guess would have been not much better.

    The delayed Asian race highlights is fine and if all else fails I go round at watch the non-BBC races in Europe or Americas at my sisters anyway.

    1. From what I was told the channel 4 coverage would have included commercial breaks during qualifying & races & Would not have featured any sort of interactive coverage since channel 4 don’t have any platform avaliable to include additional video feeds.

      I read through the marking brochure they put out & can say with no hesitation that Channel 4 would have struggled to do over half of what they said they could.

  37. Those figures might take an even bigger hit if Sky F1 gets taken away from those with the HD package.

    I don’t have Sky, and certainly from my experience, I’ve been less into F1 this year. It’s such a shame to see those viewing figures, as they’ve been on the rise for the past few years. It was good while it lasted, I suppose.

  38. I think the facts speak for themselves.

    1. In addition, I enjoy BBC’s coverage more than Sky’s. Although Sky’s coverage of Spa was especially good, I’ve found the whole interactive screen with the eye candy really unnecessary and cringeworthy, and Simon Lazenby just a bit of a bore. Brundle is Sky’s best asset.

  39. In Latin America we must thank Carlos Slim who owns TV company’s such as Telmex and Claro (Sauber) that have bought almost every TV company in this area of the continent.

    I’m form Colombia, I started watching F-1 when Montoya arrives to F-1 and since then I have following the F-1 with passion. Unfortunately in that time the transmission were not decent. They only have one person in the paddock who has to make the interviews and sent them to them. It was a difficult but the effort was enormous. In that time Fox Sports LA transmitted only qualification and races, so that force me to go to Internet.
    After Montoya age they started sending more people to help Juan Fossarolli with his job. And now thanks to Sergio Perez the transmission are better than ever. They broadcast in Fox Sports the Qualification session and the race. The practice sessions are on Speed. And because the hour difference Speed offers a retransmissions at 9 A.M. which is more decent thank 7 A.M. or if you like to see thee preview 6 A.M.

    However in some occasions I prefer bed than F-1 (don’t kill me) so I download races from people who take the HD transmission and put English and Spanish commentaries. The first time I saw a transmission from Antonio Lobato I only could laugh, he confuses every time the drivers, the names was horrible. The Alonso-mania and Hamilton-hate was evident. Of course time passes by and they have improved the live coverage with Marg Gene and Pedro de la Rosa when he was tester. The Off track coverage is really good and for me is very cool. They go to HRT to teach technical aspects that I can’t see in Fox Sports or Speed.

    In conclusion the transmission in Latin America have improved thanks to the sponsorship of Slim in Sauber, so as long as he keeps sponsorship the team I will have good TV transmission, although I must say that English are great in spite of their down in quality.

  40. We have it pretty good here in Canada.. TSN use BBC race coverage (for every race) with inline ads that aren’t that bad and spaced out quite nicely. So BBC is allowed to cover every race, they just can’t broadcast it live to UK.

    Brits: If you can find a TSN feed online, you can enjoy the BBC coverage every race of the season along with a few Canadian beer commercials.

  41. It’s no surprise that people don’t like F1 going to pay TV. If you ask anyone, whether they’d like to get something for free or pay 400 pounds for it, the answer is obvious. But that’s not how things work. Bernie is going to give F1 to Sky, if he things that’ll give him more money ( even considering that F1 will lose some fans). That’s how almost every sport works these days, especially F1.

    In Finland, F1 was moved to pay TV several years ago. We still get highlights for free and there are no ads on live feed anymore. However, viewing figures have dropped a lot and it’s easy to notice – Häkkinen’s championships in 1998 and 1999 were celebrated on streets and squares, but Räikkönen’s 2007 championship didn’t receive the same kind of enthusiasm.

    But I must say that British viewing figures are lousy! You have a country of 60 million people and your peak on free-to-air TV was 6 million, just 10%? When F1 was still on free-to-air TV, we peaked in figures like 1,3 million and our country’s population is only 5 million. Also, I think we still get about 300 000 on live feed, which is on pay TV. And that’s not counting the highlights.

  42. Reading over the comments, I have to ask: do people still expect the BBC to provide live and uninterrupted coverage of every session for every Grand Prix in prime time slots?

    It’s simply not possible. That’s why the BBC scrapped it in the first place.

  43. i think something also to consider with the drop in figures is people like myself who stopped watching every f1 race because we simply cannt stand the artificial & gimmickey nature of f1’s current regulations with drs, kers & the pirelli tyres.

    i have been a massive f1 fan since about 1970 yet started watching less this year & have lost a lot of intrest in f1 not because of the tv deal (as i have both sky & bbc) but because i hate seeing the fake & soul-less passing created by the artificial gimmicks.

  44. Interesting thoughts and debate as always on the figures. The simple fact is that as long as they pay over the odds for the F1 coverage, this means the teams will receive their share of the cut whether people watch or not. If Sky had (heaven forbid) had the Olympics, the peak audiences might have been in the 8-10 million range (eg the majority of its viewers.) I think this just comes with the territory of pay TV solutions.

    I think when judging the coverage then we have to do so in a number of ways. Of course the BBC has had to make cuts, not just in funding, but in airtime so they have to choose how best to tell the story of 2012 without all the bells and whistles Sky can offer. They can’t then be compared directly as it’s hardly a level playing field. They have chosen a similar method of covering the main story to their Premier League coverage in which they never show a live match. I think the solution they have brought in is excellent, although of course it is not as in depth as before. If there is one criticism, it is that the whole story cannot be told. That is to be expected as they have more than halved the budget for the production as well as the airtime. The team they have assembled has gelled very quickly and I think provide excellent insights into the situations in front of them, DC is proving more than his worth as a pundit and has replaced Martin Brundle very well. While Gary Anderson perhaps lacked the initial TV friendliness of some of the outgoing presenters, he has muscled in on quite a few of the updates and car changes first, and explains everything in a very simple concise manner.

    Some of what Sky have done, has inevitably been good, however they have 3 times the budget of the BBC and they have more airtime. With that in mind it should be utterly earth shattering, but somehow it doesn’t quite hit the mark. I quite agree with the comments that Simon has failed to come across well in all of the shows so far. I think that is (for me at least) down to the fact that he appears to be a lairy bloke on his jollies rather than someone like Jake, who managed to appear engaged with the sport and its history. The whole “racing in the blood” thing before the season smacked of trying a bit too hard, especially the way they mock Ted as soon as he gets into some technical speak, he is semi-ridiculed by co-presenters like some kind of “oh ignore him, he’s just a silly car geek” feel to things. I think of all those new to it, Georgie has managed to bring the camera shy parts of the BBC team (Natalie, Ted and Ant) up to scratch very quickly, and in my eyes I think she would probably do a better job as lead anchor than Simon. I think the analysis features with Ant, Johnny and Alan are usually brilliant, bringing the level of insight that perhaps the BBC couldn’t but really on top of this it’s hard to see what they provide other than simply more coverage, more presenters and more everything else. Of course the “full Sky treatment” we were promised back in winter is exactly what they have delivered, but whether it is to your taste is of course a matter of opinion.

    Crofty and Brundle really doesn’t work as a commentary partnership for me. I had high hopes when they chose David, as many fans were saying he was better than some previous incumbents of the lead commentator role. As it happens he is very firmly in Legard territory, shouting absolute nonsense very very loudly half the time, while Brundle tries to pick out something important. This is especially no fun on the early morning races when the potential for a hangover from the pub the night before is high ;) Martin has now been out of the car for a long time and the BBC have the edge here with DC whose colour commentary is more informed with recent experience. Many times DC picks up on what has happened in a shot quicker than those over at Sky. For example in Melbourne as Grosjean collided with another car, DC called “broken suspension” right away while the Sky guys were fumbling around looking for the answers. Although he didn’t enjoy being lead comms, I feel Martin might have done better on the trajectory he was on at the BBC, but of course he had an understandable choice to make last summer.

    Now, I generally catch bits of the build up on Sky, before switching to the BBC for live commentary if they are running the race live. Sure it’d be nice to choose the onboard feeds etc etc, but these are gimmicks and toys rather than something that allows better understanding of a race.

    In summing up, to Sky: more is not always better. To the BBC under challenging circumstances: well done.

    1. Crofty and Brundle really doesn’t work as a commentary partnership for me.

      im actually the opposite, I love croft/brundle & cannot stand listning to edwards/coulthard.

      croft can be a bit loud but that likely comes from working on radio where you have to use your voice to get across whats happening, as the season has gone on i think croft has started to adopt his style to tv & has stopped shouting & over-analysing things.

      i am a big fan of ben edwards, loved him when he did f1 on eurosport/f1 digital+ & loved his indycar & touring car commentary & was really looking forward to having him back on f1.

      however hes been a big dissapointment to me, i dont think he & dc have really clicked & despite thinking i’d watch the live races on the bbc i’ve ended up watching them on sky because i not only prefer croft/brundle but ive actually started to really hate listning to ben/dc.

  45. Short term this BBC/SKY arrangement looked like a good deal to Bernie and let’s be frank, he’s not making many decisions based on long term considerations at his age.
    He took the captive pool of viewers that the BBC had amassed and gambled that – just like substance abusers – they’d crave their fix and follow the product.
    Some did decide to pay to feed their habit and gave SKY their shilling whilst other like myself now stand every other race, with noses pressed against the window. This dislocated pool of viewers milling about on the outside will slowly drift away though.
    For instance, I used to watch every qualifying session and every race religiously. (I think I’ve only missed two races since Diana died.)
    After the new deal was struck I tried to use other means to watch the intial exclusive races but now find both the effort to locate the footage and also avoid the result too onerous.
    Without the continuity of access to each race my viewing is now far more episodic. For a SKY race I don’t bother at all with qualifying and don’t enjoy the packaged nature of the BBC highlights so more often that not I don’t bother with that show either.
    When the BBC do have a race I’m less fussed now if I don’t see the qualifying so that’s more viewing hours the sponsors have lost from me.
    All the while, I’m talking about my viewing efforts as a long time fan of the sport. If fans like me are changing their attitude and viewing habits then the captive pool of viewers that Bernie assumed he could push into SKY’s arms is going to melt away like fog on a sunny morning.
    That should worry the teams because the sport must have a sufficiently large viewership to ensure that as it ages, enough new viewers can be nutured to replace those that depart.
    500-800k viewers per race in the UK isn’t enough to keep the viewer gene pool healthy in the long term and if viewing numbers ultimately dwindle, so will SKY’s commerically driven interest in F1.
    I can see it, many of you reading this can see it, and if we’re still watching then (unlikely), w’ed be able to say “We told you so.”

    1. Short term this BBC/SKY arrangement looked like a good deal to Bernie

      Something to remember is that it wasn’t Bernie or FOM who went to Sky looking for a deal, Nor was it Sky approaching Bernie/FOM.

      It was the BBC who went to Sky & proposed the current deal to share coverage & it was BBC & Sky who worked out all the details & then went to Bernie with the proposal.

      Bernie/FOM accepted the deal because it was the best deal avaliable. BBC couldn’t afford the full season live & from what I understand some of the guys at the top of the BBC don’t want F1 full-stop. ITV didn’t want it (Don’t forget they dropped it Mid-contract in 2008), Channel 4 did want it but it would have seen a big drop in the quality of the coverage & Channel 5 didn’t have the budget so didn’t show intrest.

      F1 fans complain about Sky getting F1 & heap all the critisism’s about F1 going to a subscription service on Sky, However all they did is accept an offer that was put to them by the BBC & frankly they would have been dumb to reject it.

      Something to also think about regarding Sky is that the viewing figures were always going to be lower than on the BBC & Sky knew that going in.
      Its never been about viewing figures for Sky, All they will care about is if getting the F1 deal gained them subscribers & from everything I’ve been told they have data which shows getting F1 did gain them subscribers so from that point of view Sky are happy with the deal.
      Also the TV figures are in line with what Sky were expecting & have gone beyond there expectations a couple times.

      1. I don’t think the issue is whether Sky is happy or not. Why should we worry about them, or the BBC, or Bernie? Maybe this deal hasn’t hurt anyone: ex-viewers will find something else to do, the major F1 players don’t seem to be that bothered about “bums on seats”, the broadcasters are meeting their projected targets, etc. But I can’t help feeling that someone, somewhere will be hurting as F1 becomes increasingly irrelevant.

        In a sport where everyone’s scared of Bernie, will anyone speak out, or will F1 simply die a slow death in the UK?

  46. Listen….the real crux of the problem is Bernie Ecclestone. The man’s greed knows no bounds. How else is he going to support all of his divorces and daughter’s nine-figure housing bills?

  47. I have been watching the Sky races on RTL with 5Live on the radio.

    Cheap Satellite kit from B&Q for £50.00, much more desirable than £363 a year for Sky.

  48. I am British and was extremely annoyed with the BBC for not continuing their support of F1. They really found a way to keep you entertained. I watched all the practice sessions and loved the conversations they would have. I am out Saturdays so always watched qualifying on the I-Player and then would watch the race and forum on Sunday. The trio of presenters are brilliant and always enjoyable to watch.

    I was against F1 going to Sky and couldn’t decide if to pay for it or not. I waited until the last minute before buying sky. I have read some posts on here saying that sky have adverts. They do not have adverts during the races (Although Sky have only promised this for 1 year). I think sky have done brilliantly. I have been to Silverstone twice in recent times and gone for all 3 days. What you get with Sky is a feeling that you are there. You get to see all the GP2 and GP3 practice sessions and qualifying. The races are pretty good too. As well as all the F1 sessions. Add to that the F1 live show and I could spend my whole weekend in front of the TV. If I don’t then it is all saved and ready to watch during the week.

    Sky also have a really good line up of presenters. Crofty and Brundle are a great team that they pinched from the BBC. Simon (who is Sky’s version of Jake) is as likeable and as friendly as Jake. I would say that EJ and DC just beat Hill and Herbert but they are starting to relax in front of the camera. Ted Kravitz (Also pinched from the BBC) is also given his own little slot which only used to be available on the BBC website. Sky have given him his own feature.

    Add to all this the documentary’s of seasons gone by and drivers. I can only sum it up as this. Sky have done it brilliantly. There maybe less people watching F1 live but those with Sky F1 have been opened up to the world of F1 and everything around it.

    Still love JH, EJ and DC though :-)

    1. @sallicedj

      I have read some posts on here saying that sky have adverts.

      To be clear, I ran an article pointing out Sky’s 2012 F1 coverage would be ad-free on the day the BBC/Sky deal was announced:

      Sky to show F1 races without adverts in 2012

  49. You have “2011 live vs 2012 live plus BBC highlights”, but to be fair you should have:

    2011 live plus 2011 BBC highlights vs 2012 live plus BBC highlights, otherwise you skewing the figures by discounting one complete season of highlights.

  50. This really is a case of a sport selling its future off for jam today. Cricket did the same a few years ago and kids just don’t see cricket on TV anymore. English cricket will die because of this in 20 years.

    It’s slightly different in F1, because it doesn’t rely on mass participation. However, if I was a car manufacturer looking how to spend my marketing money, I would think that F1 has just lost at least half of it’s market appeal in this country.

    Just in case you are wondering, I really was a true fan. I used to watch every race live, including when I had to get up at 5am. This year I haven’t even watched the highlights of at least 4 races. Next year who knows, but I certainly won’t be looking at F1 with the same warm feeling. If others feel the same, this means that the value of having your name on an F1 car is massively diminished.

    F1 used to be seen as a rich boys toys sport for the masses. I fear it will become rich boys toys for rich boys only.

    Andy

  51. i havn’t watched any of the 2012 coverage. it has killed it and the only way anything like the bbc coverage on free to air tv of 2011 will happen is if people go cold turkey for a while. that’s the only way we can get a message to eccelston and his buddy murdoch that your nothing with out the people that believe in you. that also to some extent goes to the bbc who probably sold out F1 because of the olympics. which will never happen again in our life time, but has sold out a whole group of sports fans future involvement with that sport ie F1 and given it to apay per view channel. please see sense.

  52. Ralph Horrocks
    14th October 2012, 21:35

    Anyone remember the WRC?? Look what happened to that exciting motor sport. After BBC left it only the two top companies could afford to stay in it. Ford and Citroen. No more viewers, no top British drivers or celebrities. Colin McRae, Richard Burns. Remember them? That’s what you can expect F1 to become when the BBC drops the sport and the UK forgets about it.

  53. I was gutted that the coverage went from FTA television and ended up on Sky and still am. I am lucky in the respect that I can watch on both channels if I choose to but neither offer the quality we experienced in 2010 and 2011 on the Beeb. When the races are on Sky exclusively I will watch them, but when the races are shared its no contest. The BBC deliver a quality that Sky can not match although that’s not saying Sky have not tried. The Sky coverage is good but the BBC do it better in my opinion. The extended coverage on Sky is often filler going over the same points. Georgie is lovely but often looking bewildered as to what to ask next. Lazenby is no Jake Humphrey and his presentation is more cringe worthy than professional. Brundle and Kravitz appear more arrogant this season and I must admit this approach grates on me some what.

    All in all I am a Sky customer who would much rather it had all remained on the BBC. The sport in the UK will no doubt feel the effect of this reduction in interest in years to come.

  54. Sky will marginalise f1 as it has other sports. Who these days knows much about boxing, pdc darts etc. I am a lifelong f1 fan but becoming more interested in other categories of motorsport. To be honest I now don’t feel the need to watch the sport live anymore. I won’t pay for sky and if I want live coverage and its not on bbc I will listen to it on the radio. That way I can get on with other stuff as well.

  55. As far as I’m concerned Sky get enough out of me I’m struggling to pay a basic package with no movies, no sport, no box office and yet since Sky took over F1 and even though highlights are on BBC, I have switched off completely F1 and I never watched any of the 2012 season and I will not be watching it anymore at least until the BBC get the full rights back and if they don’t I simply won’t have a TV or buy a Licence as far as I’m concerned I won’t be watching it anymore.

  56. In the Flemish part of Belgium, we won’t even be able to see F1 live, no matter if you have a paid subscription or not. The channel that has the rights will not broadcast any live F1 or MotoGP in 2014 because of the low viewing figures. Live streams and BBC are the only option.
    I’ve been watching F1 since I was a kid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.