Will F1’s UK audience recover from its 2012 slump?

2013 F1 season

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2012F1 viewing figures in the UK grew for five consecutive seasons until last year, when they slumped back to their pre-2009 level. @DavidNelson, who writes the F1 Broadcasting blog, takes a look at what the data says about the success of F1’s move towards pay TV.

Last year’s abrupt reversal of F1’s recent growth in popularity in the UK came as half the live races vanished from free-to-air television. For the first time, the whole season was only available to watch live on Sky’s subscription service.

This is part of a Europe-wide trend which has seen Formula One move from primarily a free-to-air model to one which has half of the races exclusively live on a pay TV station.

Evidence from the first year of the plan in the UK shows that the move has turned viewers off. UK television audiences dropped to their lowest level since 2008. Furthermore, audience levels decreased an average of 12.7 percent compared with 2011, the last season broadcast live only on BBC:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2012drivercolours.csv

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Millions of viewers 4.51 4.87 4.55 4.07 3.93 3.59 3.5 3.07 3.08 2.75 3.61 4.01 4.38 4.41 4.62 4.1

As the graph shows, audiences for Formula 1 hit a low in the mid-2000s in the UK before recovering. Audience levels continued to rise as BBC became the Formula One broadcaster.

The 2012 season marked the first fall in viewership since 2006. Even so, average audiences remained above 4 million viewers for every race, showing that the appetite for Formula One is still healthy.

But a repeat of this drop in 2013 – and a similar trend in figures in other markets where the pay TV model is appearing – would set alarm bells ringing.

2012 versus 2011

Here’s how the UK’s viewership figures (in millions) for 2011 and 2012 compare race by race.

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2012drivercolours.csv

Australia Malaysia Bahrain China Spain Monaco Canada Turkey Europe Great Britain Germany Hungary Belgium Italy Singapore Japan South Korea India United States Abu Dhabi Brazil
2011 4.093 4.4738 4.8337 4.7496 5.1473 6.2063 3.8534 3.9289 4.9398 4.4119 4.7599 3.9025 4.2322 4.46 4.3763 4.1619 5.6084 4.6898 4.9435
2012 3.2492 3.9997 4.81925 5.1841 4.27595 3.96765 3.7863 4.63275 3.75451 3.5277 4.6741 3.2935 4.64145 4.09445 2.88145 3.25341 3.6714 3.5737 4.68095 6.0319

An interesting pattern emerges from the figures. When BBC have the race live, the average audience for both channels is 4.38 million, only 240,000 lower than in 2011, or a 5.5 percent drop. That number in isolation is a very good number, when you consider other factors, such as last year’s Olympic Games and Euro 2012 football torunament.

However, when you look at the races that Sky broadcast exclusively live and BBC show in highlights form, the average television audience is 3.88 million, nearly one million down on the 2011 average figure, or a mammoth 19.1 percent drop.

To put it simply – nearly one in five people are not tuning in when the race is covered exclusively live on Sky Sports. In addition, only one of the ten exclusive live races that Sky covered increased compared with on 2011 (Italy), the rest dropped significantly.

Unsurprisingly, the race that fell the most was Canada. In 2011, it recorded an average of 6.21 million viewers across BBC One and then BBC Two, compared with 3.79 million on Sky Sports F1 live and BBC One for their highlights show.

The figures for Canada and USA show that Formula One needs a terrestrial television presence, and more importantly, for those races need to be live on both BBC and Sky, as they bring in the casual audiences. It is the casual audience that they need to exploit, as they will be the ones that could turn to dedicated fans in the future, bringing in the big numbers to Formula One.

Elsewhere, Japan, India and Australia recorded significant drops, as the graph above shows. The 3.25 million viewers recorded for Australia was the lowest for a season opener since 2006.

Other circumstances

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Melbourne, 2012Whilst the new broadcasting model goes some way to explain the drop, it must be noted that the decrease in viewing figures was also affected by external events. In 2012 competition for sports’ fans eyeballs in the UK came from the Olympics, Euro 2012 and Andy Murray making it to the Wimbledon final.

All of those events peaked at some point over 15 million, the Olympics bringing together nearly half of the country. Even if Formula One remained on BBC for every live race in 2012, in my opinion, figures would have still dropped.

How much they would have dropped by is impossible to say for certain. Looking at the evidence presented, the average would have been nearer 4.4 million than the 4.1 million it was in reality.

The first seven races of 2012 began arguably one of the most exciting seasons in recent times. Despite this, the average for those seven races was 4.18 million, compared with 4.77 million when Sebastian Vettel was dominating in 2011. Those races took place before the ‘Summer of Sport’, and their poor ratings cannot be attributed to competition from other big events.

Moving away from the traditional model

While the facility for viewers in the UK to time-shift F1 broadcasts and watch them on computers, phones and other devices has been around for several years, those in F1 claim last year’s television ratings drop was due to an increase in these other forms of viewing:

“I think we’re recognising that the world has changed,” said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “The viewership of all conventional, live television is declining because people select it, record it, view it through different media. And we’ve got to be alive and alert to that.”

“The traditional sport was based on terrestrial TV but I think if you just focus on that then I think you’re missing lots and lots of opportunities,” he added. “We’ve still got a sport that on a fortnightly basis, March to November, has more than 100 million people watching it on TV in 140 countries around the world.”

“So those numbers are still large, we’d like them to be larger, but I think nowadays people watch television, they watch their computers, they watch their phones, in all sorts of different applications.”

Whitmarsh admitted that the move to pay television was “a threat to our conventional viewing audience” but believes F1 needs “to reach out through all different media outlets and make sure that it continues to make a very substantial impact as the third-largest sporting spectacle in the world.”

2013: Fewer free-to-air races, higher price

More downward pressure will be applied on UK audience figures for Formula One races this year as the number of free-to-air races shown on the BBC falls from ten to nine.

The BBC will broadcast the Chinese, Spanish, Canadian, British, Belgian, Italian, Japanese, Indian and Brazilian Grands Prix live.

Meanwhile the cost of a subscription to Sky’s F1 channel is set to rise by over ??160 to ??510 per year.

Over to you

Why do you think F1 television audiences fell in the UK last year, and what do you expect to happen this year?

And how will you be watching F1 in 2013? Have your say in the comments.

Share your thoughts on the BBC and Sky’s coverage throughout the season in these threads:

If you can’t watch all the races live and would like to find somewhere you can, join the F1 in Pubs group:

Notes on the data

All figures are official from BARB. Figures have been adjusted to take into account the longer airtime of Sky Sports’ F1 programmes in 2012 versus BBC F1’s coverage in 2011.

A look at the viewing figures show that Sky’s average programme figures from 11:30 to 16:15 for a typical race were 35% lower than their 12:10 to 15:15 average, which was the normal slot duration for BBC’s programmes. The non-adjusted average is 3.89 million viewers, lower than 2008 but higher than 2007.

This has been done to give a fair and representative comparison between the 2012 figures and those of previous seasons.

2013 F1 season


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Images ?? Red Bull/Getty, Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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150 comments on Will F1’s UK audience recover from its 2012 slump?

  1. tifosimac said on 13th March 2013, 10:34

    I think the amount of viewers on Sky will grow and the amount of viewers on the BBC will stabilise.

    People just need to adjust that one will have to pay for live sport just like with football.
    In a few years time all races with perhaps the exception of the British GP will be behind a pay-wall and people will get adjusted to only highlights FTA just like football with MOTD

    Also a few million less viewers in Britain is nothing to F1 on a global scale.

  2. Nick.UK (@) said on 13th March 2013, 10:47

    I think it’s time to stop looking at this kind of data as if it means something. Is it true that viewing figures are down because of the Sky deal? Probably yes. Will something be done about it? I doubt it.

    I don’t think Bernie or any of the sports shareholders would care if the viewing figures were down by 99% if it made them double the money it does now. So long as the business model is profitable it will continue regardless of its effects on people. The money men simply don’t care what we have to say, so long as they get their cash.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th March 2013, 10:56

      @nick-uk

      I don’t think Bernie or any of the sports shareholders would care if the viewing figures were down by 99% if it made them double the money it does now.

      Yes they would. Of course they want to make the most money they can from the sport, but that does not make them greedy to the point of stupid.

      I see this question as whether F1 has sacrificed medium-to-long term audience growth (and hence greater future income) for a short-term pay-off. To suggest as you do that those in charge would accept a similar pay-off in exchange for sacrificing virtually the entire audience is a wild exaggeration of that.

      • Nick.UK (@) said on 13th March 2013, 11:03

        Sorry, yeah I was intending long term profits.

        My point was that they care nothing for their customers like the owner of an independant cafe would who is directly dependant on the customers money for revenue. So much of F1’s money comes from companies and sponsors who the average viewer has no idea what they even do.

        For example, generally the point of advertising is to get a consumer to buy your product. Tell me this, how many times have you thought: Hmm, I need to get some AT&T, Allianz commercial insurance, Telmex etc?

        • Gavyn said on 13th March 2013, 13:48

          This is a highly simplistic view of advertising and not really pertinent to F1. F1 advertising is about general brand awareness rather than selling a specific product and this does affect us all, whether we think it does or not. Numerous studies have show this otherwise companies would’ve stopped doing it. Faced with confusing or challenging decisions humans look for familiarity, brands which have enough exposure become familiar and people will choose them more often.

          As far as the whole pay-TV, reducing audiences damaging the sport debate goes, this is not a short term cycle. The cycle runs something like this:
          1. good product with small audiences due to difficult access
          2. access improved
          3. audience growth
          4. increased value of product due to increased audience
          5. product appeal wanes (either due to poor product or difficulty of access)
          6. audience decrease
          7. reduced value of product
          8. access worsens (noone wants to stock a product that noone wants)
          9. audience decrease

          This cycle is long. I would say decades long and can be manipulated to some degree by changing the product which leads to micro-versions of the same cycle within the larger cycle. An example of this is the drop in audience (stage 6) due to drop in product appeal when Schumacher was dominant (2001 – 2005ish). This led to a reduction in value (ITV negotiated an extension for around £30m a year till 2010, less than their original deal). A freshening of the product, more winners, better races picked things up again. and the value duly increased with the BBC paying an estimated £50m a year in 2009. The larger cycle began at stage 1 in the 80s when BBC’s Grand Prix programme really made the sport accessible to many people for the first time and the product was strong (many winners, many crashes, blown turbos etc.). I would say we are just at stage 5 now and have passed the peak of audience size and are now seeing reductions in audience due to more difficult access. The logical conclusion of this, probably in 10 or 15 years (though likely hastened in 2018 when the BBC share deal ends and it becomes Sky only) will be massively reduced audiences and therefore product value at which point Sky will drop the product as unprofitable and access will be rendered even harder reducing audiences even more until we’re back to the state of affairs in the 70s. F1 will go on (with much less money) because there will always be people who race but you’ll have to go to the tracks to see it.

          • Gavyn said on 13th March 2013, 14:03

            Forgot to say, the good news in all this is that these cycles also tend to be repetitive which means assuming the racing is good in X yrs time when all the big providers have dropped their coverage, some entrepeneurial sort will by the rights cheaply and start broadcasting it and the whole sordid process will start again.

          • @keithcollantine and yourself Gavyn make some interesting comments. But I am fairly certain that some of them are flawed. Viewing figures are not necessary to generate revenue, except for advertising revenue, and even then it is debatable given the importance of targetting.
            Keith’s point first about the shareholders being worried about audience size: I just don’t buy it. In years (many, many, many) gone by, the FIA was struggling with motor racing as a going concern, and in many respects, outside of the core formulas, still is. Most formulas are money sinks where no one makes any money, there is no advertising, and it is a playground for rich individuals/companies who are passionate about the sport, (This is a good thing generally. I own a race car I am planning to race in the NSSCC next year, and it is the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition, but I’m not going to make any money out of it, but maybe I can can give some local drivers/mechanics some exposure at little cost to them) and it was in these circumstances that Mr Ecclestone operated in during the seventies when he worked his way into managing the teams organisation and purchasing the rights (commercial) from the FIA. From that point to this, all I see is Bernie wanting mo’ money, mo’ money. Yes, he has done a lot for the sport in some respects, but I would argue that Max Mosley did more, and if anyone has read any of my other comments would know, I think Bernie continuously plays the teams and the sport unfair.
            On the basis of all of the above, I think short term revenue over the five to ten year period is all Bernie (and now his partners) has ever shown.

            As for Gavyn, some replies to your points:
            6 to 7: Audience decrease does not automatically mean reduced value of product. Value is generated worth, and if a reduced audience can provide greater returns through smaller numbers, then that increases worth not lessens it. I do not deny that for any given product, more exposure gives the potential for more worth, but it is not guaranteed.
            Also, with regards to Sky dropping the product due to low audience numbers, you miss the ability of pay tv to operate with far fewer viewers due to it’s subscription model. If one million people keep their subscriptions up due to F1 coverage, then @ £501 this is £501 million pounds over a season, a HUGE increase over their commercial costs, and even given operating costs of £150 million which I think is unlikely given that there technology seems to be piggy-backing off their Premiership technology, then that is still a whopping £300 million pounds profit per year.
            Why on earth would they want to give up such a model, and why on earth would the teams/FIA, and FOM, who all make more money because of this deal want it to change??? (There is one reason, see below…)
            Bernie himself, as well as Murdoch and other media moguls all see the future in ‘pay tv’ and ‘pay per view’ dollars across a world wide audience, and that audience generally is growing.
            As far as I see it, there’s only going to be two correcting factors which could alter this trend:
            One: Continuous and unparelleled economic depression leading to the pay tv model going belly up. (Although sadly, in this scenario, F1 will be long gone as it is today)
            Two: The teams, whose external revenue is, at least to a degree, affected by audience share, actually take a stand against the commercial rights holder, as potentially they do have a reason to be against this model.
            Sadly, as the current model and Bernies negotiation tactics almost always aims to keep, relatively peaking, the status quo I do not see this happening, so i am left with the inevitable conclusion that audiences will dwindle…

          • Nick.UK (@) said on 13th March 2013, 18:17

            @damleda & Gavyn

            Thanks for your length replies. Always nice to see constructive and well thought out ideas and opinions shared. I’m gald my original comment inspired them, the replies were a pleasure to read :)

      • Nick.UK (@) said on 13th March 2013, 11:07

        The sport is extremely detached from the average individual who watches is.

      • VoiseyS (@voisey) said on 13th March 2013, 11:43

        @keithcollantine That would imply Keith that the sport believes there is still audience growth to be had in Europe. All the new races being signed up are in wildly different timezones to Europe, as we are preached to by Bernie and the sport that is where growth lies. These figures only cover audience figures for the UK presumably, which means it would be very easy for Bernie to take total worldwide audience figures and use that as justification for the move to Sky.

  3. frogster said on 13th March 2013, 11:09

    No. The figures will steadily decline to point where FTA is no longer viable, and the terrestrial stations will drop it altogether. Viewing figures for pay to view will stay stagnant, just as premiership football as, and that has a fan base much, much larger than F1.

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 13th March 2013, 12:24

      I guess the one thing that *could* happen in the UK is that Ofcom/the Department for Culture, Media & Sport putting the British GP on the ‘listed events’ list (link) which would require the BBC to show it – they could then lobby for a portion of the license fee to go towards maintaining the rights.

      Quite why F1 isn’t on the protected list when it’s so UK-centric from an engineering PoV is mind-boggling and the irony of David Cameron using F1 as an example of the UK’s prowess mere days after the BBC/Sky announcement is just icing on the cake.

    • braisim (@braisim) said on 13th March 2013, 12:42

      Not sure I agree. I think a healthy audience will remain for F1 on FTA. I thought I had read somewhere that the BBC’s (per-race) figures had held up pretty well despite only having half of the races live in 2012.

      Myself I’m not too bothered by having to miss half of the races live – the BBC highlights package is pretty good. I do wish, though, that if F! insist on a pay TV solution then a decent pay per view system be worked out. That would allow us better to pick and choose the races we really want to see live. For example, I enjoy watching the races that are early morning in Europe, since it still allows me to get out in the afternoon, spend time with the family without being stuck in front of the TV.

      Sky’s old-fashioned business model means that it will always seek to bundle products together with a view to increasing its revenues per subscriber, that is why it will shortly only be possible to get its F1 channel by paying for the entire sports package. Nothing will persuade me ever to take out a subscription – F1 is the only thing among all the rubbish offered by Sky across all of its channels that remotely interests me. And I’m afraid Martin Whitmarsh is wide of the mark. Yes we all have smartphones, tablets and are consuming media in different ways. In a world where we have limited time to spend on all the sources of information availoable to us, this is precisely the reason why we need to get away from Sky’s business model and adopt a pay per view approach, e.g. on the internet, that allows us to pay a modest amount to see the things that really interest us.

  4. manu said on 13th March 2013, 11:10

    Numbers have gone down worldwide as well, especially in China so it can’t just be because its gone over to sky, because worldwide things didn’t change as much, we still get the same feed we got before it went over to sky in the UK. My guess is that formula 1 became less exciting, you notice from 2010 to 2011 numbers went up. In 2010 the championship was won in the last race and a few drivers still had the chance to win, so the season was more exciting. In 2011 however Vettel won with almost 6 races left, even some foreign media stopped attending the races. Its natural then that the numbers would drop from that season, pretty much what happen in during the Schumacher era. If one team keeps winning and its competitive and exciting then viewers will stay, if one team keeps dominating then viewers will probably not bother tuning in every race, especially since they’re other races out there that are more competitive. I know I watched all practices, qualifying and races from 2008/11 but in 2012 even though it was competitive I didn’t have the same motivation to watch everything. Following what happen later after the race was sufficient enough for me.

    • SteveR said on 13th March 2013, 19:49

      Try living here in the US and watching F1 if you want to see how not to do it. The audience here is very small, approximately 1 million viewers/race. The coverage was just moved to the NBC sport channel that is only available on cable, at extra cost. There has been no publicity about races, no schedules posted, and in many cases fans don’t know about what is happening re coverage. I gave up on American TV years ago and watch BBC or Sky streaming. It’s certainly easy to find the broadcasts, and the quality is good. F1 has abandoned the US, even though Bernie claims it is a market they want to develop; you could certainly fool me about that. If a newspaper or TV sports show even mentions F1 it’s amazing. No one here knows or cares about F1. There is huge potential but FOM doesn’t spend any money developing the market. In my opinion F1 is, in the long term, doomed unless they change their ways from the pursuit of instant, short term profits (which have been enormous) to the development of new fan bases and easy access. Frankly, even though I have been following F1 and attended races in the US and Europe for more years than I like to remember, with the restrictive rules and lack of engineering innovation, I am becoming bored with the whole thing. Look, for example, at the 2014 engine rules; there was a chance to allow for innovative solutions but EVERYTHING about the engine is controlled, from V angle, cylinder bore and spacing, center of gravity, weight, rpm, materials, electronics, turbo location, etc. etc. until we might as well just have a spec engine. After the engines are running F1 will again homologate and freeze development, and allow adjustments in the engines to equalize them. Boring, and I certainly will not pay $600 or whatever to watch it.

  5. jochenrindt78 (@jochenrindt78) said on 13th March 2013, 11:28

    The whole situation is dispicable, The cost of sky seems to be increasing and a poultry 9 races on the BBC is pathetic. I can’t believe they are not showing the first race on BBC which seems bizarre after fans have endured a hard winter. Luckily I managed to twist my fathers arm into letting me add my xbox as a second device on his Sky subcription (Sky GO) which thank the lord will allow me to watch the whole season this time round. If you have a console or other device and know someone that already subscribes then this is a good option. The fact my Father lives up north and I’m in london doesn’t seem to be a problem….

    Even ITV was better than this crazy situation.

    • AJK (@ajk) said on 13th March 2013, 12:09

      Poultry?

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 13th March 2013, 12:33

      The BBC have always said that when the races allotment is decided, they would specifically avoid events that would result in live broadcasts in the early hours of the morning.

      They took a punt on time-shifting Canada in 2012 and that didn’t work – it was broadcast at 10pm as-per the agreement, so wasn’t watched. They took that (and curiously, Japan) and let go of Monaco as a result, but then Monaco 2012 was dire.

      The fact they have 9 races is just bad luck because they took/were forced to take the TBC race as a live one on the understanding that it was happening. To be honest, I reckon they’ll be lobbying Bernie for a contract adjustment to deal with cancelled races.

  6. maxthecat said on 13th March 2013, 11:39

    So they lost half a million viewers in 2012 from 2011. That is much much less than i expected.

  7. Eric Morman (@lethalnz) said on 13th March 2013, 11:40

    New Zealand Sky TV,
    they cover all races, which includes 3 days of racing all testing and qualifying,
    show repeats of main race during our normal daylight hours,
    cost are:
    Basic 1 Mar – 31 Mar 13 $46.12 you need this one first to get the other, cunning buggers.
    SKY Sport 1 Mar – 31 Mar 13 $26.34
    Sky Sport Discount 1 Mar – 31 Mar 13 -$13.17 discount for doing your home phone plus internet with them. which is separate, not included hear.
    Total SKY TV Charges $59.29
    x by 12 = 711.48 NZ dollars which = 393.28 British Pound Sterling for 12mths.
    at odd times we have the testing or qualifying delayed because it crashes with some other live sport.
    i guess we are pretty lucky considering what you guys are having to pay, i feel for you.

  8. Alex (@alex-the-god) said on 13th March 2013, 11:40

    After reading the comments some people think F1 won’t care if the viewing numbers drop they forget F1 runs on money Sponsors money and the sponsors care if people are watching No sponsors no F1

  9. Brian (@bealzbob) said on 13th March 2013, 11:51

    I think the biggest problem will always be PPV TV (Sky) versus terrestrial (BBC, ITV etc). A lot of people have Sky, but not enough on a national scale to compete with viewing numbers of terrestrial channels. So basically, no, I don’t think the UK viewing figures will recover to the point when the BBC were showing all of the races.

    It will also be interesting to see (although hard to gauge) whether Hamilton’s move will have an affect on numbers. The move in itself is interesting, but moving to a potentially non-winning team might have an adverse affect on F1 interest in the UK.

    Vettel’s 3rd title win in a row won’t have done interest any good either. Hard core fans will always watch F1 no matter what. But fairweather and casual fans will turn off if things get ‘boring’ or predictable. Vettel’s relentless march; in the vein of Schumacher before him; might be construed as boring to those fans. Which is a pity.

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 13th March 2013, 12:36

      The problem is the attention shouldn’t be entirely focused on Vettel. People gravitate towards the drivers, but operating license/branding/young-driver project aside, Red Bull Racing is a British team through and through.
      They also run Webber, who (whilst Australian) is very popular here and considers the UK his second home. He’s also publicly seen as the underdog in RBR, and us Brits love an underdog!

      • Brian (@bealzbob) said on 13th March 2013, 16:06

        The Vettel ‘issue’ is solely one of dominance. The fans have done it before. The FIA had to knee-jerk change the points system when people were turning away in their droves as Schumacher marched to several titles. I imagine by and large only Germany and Italy were truly enjoying that period. You won’t convince the British public that RBR are a British constructor.

  10. Txizzle (@txizzle) said on 13th March 2013, 12:05

    It will move to pay-tv this year in the Netherlands. Last year I watched the non-BBC races on RTL7 (the Dutch channel), but I have no intention of paying for it. Fortunatly (i’ve been told) the Germans still have it free-to-air and I will watch the non-BBC races there. If what I heard was right the Dutch paychannel that is going host it will only cost €15,- a month, but live is expensive enough, especially being a student. I’d prefer BBC at any race, but i’d rather listen to a German commentator that I can only half understand than pay for Dutch commentators that I have never been to impressed of (wich is why I moved to BBC in the first place).

  11. vivalacitta94 said on 13th March 2013, 12:06

    I cancelled my TV licence last year – Formula One was the only thing I really watched, and there was no point in carrying on if the BBC were only broadcasting half of the races. I like to follow a season, and have done since 1982, not individual races. It was also the only way I could make a stand on principle, which is also why I will not ever pay money to Murdoch or to Sky. I think that the hike in price for ’13, with adverts possibly added for ’14, will go to show that, for Sky, it’s a case of hooking people in and then milking them for all they are worth.

    The loss of Brundle and Humfrey has also been the nail in the coffin. Much as I enjoy the commentary of Coulthard, the others sound more and more desperate in their commentaries, and I cannot stand the pally mateyness of the whole Eddie Jordan thing.

    Last year, given the opportunity to watch the Belgian GP live on a friend’s TV, I eventually decided not to give in and instead took my girlfriend out for a lovely lunch instead, and it made me realise how little I needed the sport which no longer needed me, much like an ex-girlfriend who has wandered off with somebody new and shinier.

    I had to have a laugh at Whitmarsh’s comments, though. Does he really believe that people like me are recording things to watch them later, when the essence of this sport is the excitement it generates live? That is why Brundle went to Sky, after all. For me, the ten minutes of highlights on the iPlayer are more than enough, and distance has given the perspective to realise that it’s money, as always, that makes the F1 world go round. They will have to indulge in some eloquent Ronspeak if numbers continue to fall, advertisers fail to get the requisite bang for their buck and drivers continue to have to bring money to make up the shortfall. F1 is getting what it deserves.

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 13th March 2013, 13:09

      Your words sound like you haven’t ‘realised’ you don’t need F1. You’ve just cancelled your TV license and cut off your nose to spite your face in the process.

      Not giving the UK Government/the BBC money via the license fee will make no difference to Bernie, Murdoch or your local Sky engineer. You’re just the one missing out.

      Brundle went to Sky because of the money – the BBC would have still sent him to commentate on every race, even though some of his words during the boring bits would have been edited out. The guy is a mercenary journeyman – was during his F1 days, still is as a commentator.

      He’s got to pay to send his kids racing, after all!

      • vivalacitta94 said on 13th March 2013, 13:25

        Meh, it would be spiting my face if it pained me to do so, but I didn’t watch a single race last year, missed the highlights of over half of them, and I don’t plan on following anything this year, apart from at arm’s length, the same way I view other sports I don’t need. I am one of those missing viewers, and it seems that there are many like me, so I have no problem with my decision to leave F1 behind as a fan and merely experience it as others do. What exactly am I missing anyway?

        Whatever Brundle’s motivation, the BBC still lost him, which was careless at best and I have no problem with the cancellation of my TV licence. It may make no difference to the Beeb and Murdoch, but it makes a difference to me. Your mileage may vary, of course.

        • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 13th March 2013, 13:33

          …so I have no problem with my decision to leave F1 behind as a fan and merely experience it as others do.

          Any context to the ‘as others do’ bit? Do you mean the 5 second mention in the Monday morning news? That’s not really following…

          Whatever Brundle’s motivation, the BBC still lost him, which was careless at best and I have no problem with the cancellation of my TV licence.

          His contract was up, he left for the opportunity with more money.

          It may make no difference to the Beeb and Murdoch, but it makes a difference to me. Your mileage may vary, of course.

          This flies in the face of…

          It was also the only way I could make a stand on principle, which is also why I will not ever pay money to Murdoch or to Sky.

          …where you say you wanted to make a stand. You’re not making a stand against anyone but yourself.

          If you genuinely don’t want to watch the sport any more, for whatever reason, that’s your decision to make, but I don’t understand where some of your logic comes from.

          For one, why are you still posting here, on a site for F1 Fanatics? :)

  12. Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 13th March 2013, 12:06

    Have Sky announced whether the Full race broadcasts will be made available On Demand?

    They only had the highlights last year, meaning if I couldn’t make the race on Saturday (hard with 2 kids) then it was either BBC Highlights (whilst good, not ideal) or Sky Go on Monday evening (spending day before avoiding results). I don’t have a Sky contract, I just use a friends spare Go ‘computer slot’.

    Heck, I can live with just the race itself – Sky’s build-up is dire.

  13. 510 lbs for a sky’s subscription? THAT’S INSANE!

  14. TIZYER said on 13th March 2013, 12:37

    I think that F1 being pay to view is a retrograde step even more so as BBC is only showing 9 live races this year!
    My friends with Sky say they don’t like the coverage as much as BBC’s and the bits I have seen I would agree. I know that things are changing in how we view sport but surely the object is to get as many people as possible to watch a sport but I suppose money talks!

    If we are all going to have to go pay to view why not let the BBC or Sky have a on demand F1 at a reasonable price per race then we could decide how we view(live or recorded) its the best of both worlds.

    Chris

  15. John H (@john-h) said on 13th March 2013, 12:38

    a mammoth 19.1 percent drop

    I actually can’t believe it’s so small. Although I hate to say it, surely this is a success for Sky isn’t it? Of course the numbers weren’t going to be the same as 2011 when half of the races were on pay tv?

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 13th March 2013, 13:15

      We don’t know if it’s a success for Sky because there’s never been any concrete figures for either side.

      The BBC numbers are based on BARB reports and Sky fudge their figures by reporting on the known viewers of race weekends, the total # of HD subscribers or the combined HD/Sports subscribers as it suits them. It’s also complicated further by time-shifted/on-demand viewings.

      Conjecture says that Sky have rarely (if ever, I forget) topped 1 million viewers on a race weekend.

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