Scheduling: The 2014 Italian Grand Prix

Following the last round in Belgium, which seen Daniel Ricciardo close in on both Mercedes drivers at the front of the field thanks to their own coming together, the field heads to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix!

If you want to jump to the schedules, click the links below…

- Thursday 4th September
Friday 5th September
Saturday 6th September
Sunday 7th September
Wednesday 10th September
Classic F1

Both BBC and Sky Sports are live weekend, meaning that it is the usual schedule for both, and not too many surprises worth pointing out. There is an oddity in the Sky schedule which claims that practice one is getting half an hour of build-up, which (outside of Australia) never happens so that should change, which is why I’ve deliberately used the normal programme time in the piece below. One scheduling note that is accurate is BBC giving practice three half an hour of reaction. It’s good to see that happen, and bridges some of the gap between practice three and qualifying shows.

Elsewhere, the second episode of Tales from the Vault is on immediately after the race on Sunday, focussing on underdogs, with Damon Hill, John Watson and Pat Symonds as guests. There currently is not a third episode scheduled for after Singapore, as only two episodes have been filmed so far. I’d expect further episodes to turn up later in the year, or more realistically 2015 sadly given that there is a lot more travel and time involved in the last haul of races. Here are all the details you need:

Thursday 4th September
14:00 to 14:45 – F1: Driver Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
23:30 to 23:45 – Gear Up for Italy (Sky Sports F1)

Friday 5th September
08:45 to 11:00 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1)
08:55 to 10:35 – F1: Practice 1 (BBC Two)
11:00 to 11:50 – GP2: Practice (Sky Sports F1)
12:45 to 14:50 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
13:00 to 14:35 – F1: Practice 2 (BBC Two)
14:50 to 15:30 – GP2: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
16:00 to 16:45 – F1: Team Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Saturday 6th September
08:45 to 09:20 – GP3: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
09:45 to 11:15 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1)
09:55 to 11:30 – F1: Practice 3 (BBC Two)
12:00 to 14:35 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
12:00 to 14:35 – F1: Qualifying (Sky1)
12:10 to 14:30 – F1: Qualifying (BBC One)
13:00 to 15:35 – F1: Qualifying (Sky1 + 1)
14:35 to 16:05 – GP2: Race 1 (Sky Sports F1)
16:20 to 17:20 – GP3: Race 1 (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Sunday 7th September
08:20 to 09:20 – GP3: Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)
09:30 to 10:45 – GP2: Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)
10:45 to 17:45 – BTCC: Rockingham (ITV4)
11:30 to 16:15 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1)
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live
12:10 to 15:30 – F1: Race (BBC One)
15:30 to 16:30 – F1: Forum (BBC Red Button)
16:15 to 17:15 – Tales from the Vault (Sky Sports F1)

Wednesday 10th September
20:30 to 21:00 – Midweek Report (Sky Sports F1)

Classic F1 on Sky Sports F1
30/08 – 21:00 to 22:00 – 1991 Canadian Grand Prix Highlights
31/08 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1993 Monaco Grand Prix Highlights
01/09 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1994 British Grand Prix Highlights
02/09 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1986 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
03/09 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 2008 Italian Grand Prix
04/09 – 21:00 to 23:15 – 1989 Italian Grand Prix
05/09 – 18:00 to 20:00 – 2010 Italian Grand Prix
06/09 – 20:25 to 21:10 – 1993 Italian Grand Prix Highlights
07/09 – 17:15 to 18:00 – 1995 Italian Grand Prix Highlights
07/09 – 20:30 to 21:30 – 1973 Season Review
08/09 – 21:00 to 21:30 – 1981 Spanish Grand Prix Highlights
09/09 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix Highlights
10/09 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 2002 Malaysian Grand Prix
11/09 – 21:00 to 22:00 – 1986 Spanish Grand Prix Highlights
12/09 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 1999 Austrian Grand Prix

As always, if anything changes, I will update the schedule.

Update on August 30th – Sky’s coverage of qualifying is being simulcast on Sky1. Whilst good, I don’t understand why they are doing this for a race where BBC are also live. Seems a bit of a waste to me.

Update on August 30th at 18:30 – So an advert during Saturday Night Football concerning the F1 shows that Sky’s coverage does indeed start Friday ‘at 08:30′. I’m not sure why that is, and for what it’s worth, that hasn’t been amended in the last week since Belgium, it has always been the case.

Update on September 2nd – Sky schedule for the Friday now the usual-selves so nothing to see here.

Belgian Grand Prix fails to reverse pre-Summer decline

Formula 1’s struggles in the ratings continued after the Summer break, as the Belgian Grand Prix in the United Kingdom recorded the worst figure for a European round since 2008, according to unofficial overnight viewing figures.

Race
Before going any further, of course this is Bank Holiday weekend. However, this is by no means unusual, 2012 aside, Belgium has fell on the August Bank Holiday weekend for many, many years. So I don’t think the Bank Holiday reason is one that applies here as there is a fair playing field year-on-year. Live coverage of the race, screened live on BBC One from 12:10 to 15:30, averaged 2.44m (26.4%), peaking with 3.27m (31.8%) at 14:25. In comparison, their 2013 broadcast averaged 2.89m (28.5%), albeit over a shorter slot finishing at 15:15, peaking with 3.90m (35.8%). The BBC figure is pretty bad, and is another decline for the broadcaster.

A peak audience of 784k (8.3%) at 13:05 saw Sky Sports F1’s broadcast, which averaged 475k (5.2%) from 12:00 to 15:30. Both numbers for Sky are up year-on-year, the average is up on both 2012 and 2013. 2013’s race averaged 419k (4.2%) and peaked with 698k (6.8%) for the channel. Interestingly during the race itself, neither channel failed to add on many viewers. The combined peak of 4.04m (42.7%) was recorded at 13:05, after which the audience slowly dropped to around 3.75m, before picking up to 3.99m (38.7%) at the finish. 2013’s peak in comparison was 4.52m (41.9%) half way through the race. The figures for 2014 definitely indicate that they was a turn off as soon as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg clashed on lap two, those viewers never came back until the last few laps.

It’s worth noting that there was a BBC Two highlights broadcast last night at 19:00, which usually would have been on BBC Three. I don’t know why it was on BBC Two, and I also don’t know whether any viewers were fooled into thinking that this was a BBC highlights race as a result. For the avoidance of doubt, that programme averaged 859k (5.1%). You could bundle it into the above, but then are you presenting a fair comparison? In my view, no, where would you stop the line? I could bundle in all the repeats on Sky Sports F1. You’d be carrying on for a long time. The simplest thing to do is to take into the account the live airings for the European rounds where both are live, and that is it.

The combined average of 2.91m is the lowest for a European round since the 2008 European Grand Prix, which clashed with the closing ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Due to its positioning in the calendar, Belgium has never rated very well, which is fair enough, you cannot expect every race to set the ratings alight. The average from yesterday is down on the circa. 3.25m from 2012 and 2013, and nearly a million viewers down on the 2010 and 2011 averages.

Qualifying
Live coverage of Qualifying on BBC One averaged 1.80m (21.3%) from 12:10 to 14:20. Sky’s F1 broadcast from 12:00 to 14:35 averaged 297k (3.6%). The combined number of 2.10m looks to be down on 2013, but up slightly on 2012.

It’s worth ending this piece by mentioning a comment made by Bernie Ecclestone this past week. Ecclestone, when asked about declining TV audiences by AUTOSPORT, said: “I don’t know. We were talking to TV people about that. They [audience figures] seem to have drooped everywhere – all sports. And not just sport – other things. There are too many other things to look at.” If we are to focus on the UK for a second, then Ecclestone’s comment is accurate. There are many TV shows which have dropped significantly year-on-year. You would have to look at each case one-by-one though, especially if it is a drama or a soap opera, there may very well be circumstances unique to those particular shows (i.e. viewers not liking particular storylines to give an example).

I don’t believe sport is affected as much as other shows, from what I have seen. The Italian Grand Prix in two weeks is also live on both BBC One and Sky Sports F1, so it will be interesting to see if the figures bounce back after Belgium’s poor number.

The 2013 Belgian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

overnights.tv-bannersF1

The new kids on the block

It is fair to say that the biggest news heading into 2014 was the announcement that BT Sport would be broadcasting MotoGP, along with feeder series’ Moto2 and Moto3, exclusively live, ending BBC’s and British Eurosport’s commitment to the sport. The move was controversial for several reasons, as has been discussed before on this blog.

The first half of 2014 has not been the smoothest for BT, however is filled with both positive and negatives. Starting off with the positives, I think we can all agree that BT Sport’s coverage is in general the most expansive that any broadcaster has ever provided to UK viewers. From classic MotoGP races, to Moto3 practice and onto MotoGP Tonight on the Tuesday following the race, the channel has it covered. Admittedly, the weekend coverage is not too different to what Eurosport provided before them aside from the fact that BT are providing a bit more ‘colour’ to the coverage. Strangely, the one thing that they don’t cover is the warm-ups for all three classes, but apart from that, they show every other session live. Alongside this, the channel has also produced documentaries, such as the Mike Hailwood documentary that aired a few months back, to positive praise from those in the motorcycling world.

One other positive from me has to be the commentary line-up of Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder. I did admit back in February to being sceptical to Huewen being brought back into the fold, especially as it meant that they chose not to go for Toby Moody. In a poll on this site before the start of the year, results were mixed in relation to BT’s team: only 10 percent of readers thought the line-up was good with nearly 50 percent disappointed in the line-up. However, I’ve been happy with the commentary team, and they have been a joy to listen to throughout the first half of 2014, Huewen quickly settling back in I feel. That’s not to say that they were right to make the change, but at least it has not backfired on them. I’ve enjoyed too the contributions of Matt Birt and Gavin Emmett, BT definitely made the right decision in bringing both men on board.

BT Sport's balcony position at the 2014 Qatar MotoGP. As of writing, never to be seen again.

BT Sport’s balcony position at the 2014 Qatar MotoGP. As of writing, never to be seen again.

Whilst there have been some aspects that BT Sport have got right, there are very well publicised negatives, which the poll before the start of the season appears to foreshadow. If I’m going to review the coverage objectively, then I cannot sweep the terrible decision making of who they appointed as presenter under the mat. On February 14th, the channel announced Melanie Sykes as their MotoGP presenter, a move which surprised many at the time. It was clear early on that Sykes was out of her depth, and not suited to presenting live sport. Why BT chose Sykes as their presenter is anyone’s guess. After four rounds, the two parties posted company. Whether it was to do with her personal issues or not, we will never know (although she has since presented several weeks worth of Let’s Do Lunch on ITV, a live daytime programme), but either way I think we can say that this was BT’s biggest mistake of the season so far. Why did they hire a presenter who had no experience presenting live sport? Apparently Sykes was supposed to bring a new audience to MotoGP, obviously that never happened.

Since then, Craig Doyle and Abi Griffiths, their rugby and Motorsport Tonight presenters respectively, have taken over presenting duties. What is unclear is whether Sykes’s departure has had any knock on effect. Qatar aside, every race has had some studio presence. Was that the intention from the get-go? If so, one has to consider if going down this route was a second mistake from BT Sport. Jake Humphrey, BT Sport’s lead football presenter and former BBC F1 presenter blogged this week, and noted that “This job is all about being at the centre of the story, which is where the real thrill lies with being a sports broadcaster. It’s why I always press to be next to the pitch, track or court when I’m working. For me, studios can’t convey an atmosphere the same.” The same applies for MotoGP.

The picture a few paragraphs up show the balcony position that BT Sport used in Qatar. It was unique. It was different. It was something that neither BBC and Sky had used before in their Formula 1 coverage. So why did it disappear after Qatar? Again, maybe it was the intention for Qatar to be the only race fully on site (along with potentially Britain and Valencia, we shall see), but it seems like a completely wasted opportunity. The balcony position could have been fantastic at showing off the atmosphere in places like Barcelona and Mugello where grandstands are rammed on race day. I assume BT Sport will be looking for a permanent MotoGP presenter for 2015 onwards, and, as they’ve done with the Premier League coverage for this season, hopefully the coverage in 2015 will be fully on-site. What they are currently doing on-site is great, it just needs a fully uniformed approach, with the studio aspects being removed from their live coverage.

As the motto goes, “you learn from your mistakes”, and I hope BT Sport learn from what has gone wrong with the MotoGP coverage so far as we head into the latter stages of the year.

Jennie Gow to present ITV’s Formula E coverage

Jennie Gow is to present ITV’s coverage of the FIA Formula E Championship, it has been confirmed. The news also confirms that ITV will be adding their own pre and post race analysis to the World Feed coverage of the championship.

A post on Digital Spy Forums noted that ITV4 would be on air for Beijing, round one of championship on September 13th, from 08:00 to 10:30 with an hour of build up, which is a throwback to their Formula 1 coverage. Given that the World Feed coverage is only 90 minutes long, it appears that ITV will be having its own presentation team. I would expect them to take the World Feed commentary, however.

The next question then is whether Gow and the ITV Sport team is on site, I would expect it to be in London, but time will tell. I have to say that this is an interesting, surprising, but however a very pleasing development and shows ITV’s commitment to the series. I’m happy to see Gow get the role as well, much deserved in my opinion. Expert pundits are to be confirmed.

Speaking to ITV’s press office, Gow said: “I’m delighted and very proud to have been asked to lead ITV4’s coverage of Formula E – I’m a massive motorsport fan and I’m really excited about this brand new series. It’s great to be involved in a new chapter of motorsport history from the very beginning, and I can’t wait for the season to begin.”

Niall Sloane, ITV’s Director of Sport said: “It’s great news that Jennie has joined ITV4’s coverage of this innovative new series – which promises top-level racing with the iconic backdrops of some of the world’s most famous cities. The coverage of this series adds to the strength of ITV4’s motorsport portfolio.”

Gow will continue her Formula 1 commitments for BBC Radio 5 Live.

Scheduling: The 2014 Belgian Grand Prix

The battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg heads into the second half of the season as the Formula 1 teams and drivers reconvene in Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix! With eleven points separating the two, it is pretty much a guarantee that the title battle will, barring a miracle, go down to the wire at the last race of the season, the controversial ‘double points’ round in Abu Dhabi. For those wishing to jump to the scheduling, click the links below…

- Thursday 21st August
Friday 22nd August
Saturday 23rd August
Sunday 24th August
Wednesday 27th August
Classic F1

On the broadcasting front, the situation is interesting in the championship run-in. Sky have only three exclusive races left this year, compared with BBC’s five live races. One of the BBC’s five live races is Russia. In the unlikely event that Formula 1 chooses to avoid the situation in Russia and removes it from the calendar, it poses an interesting question of whether BBC could ‘claim’ another live race in the championship run in, because the removal of Russia would leave BBC with eight live races and ten highlight races across the entire season, obviously that is not a 50/50 split. I’ll follow that line in the run up to Russia if it is axed, it would be interesting to see what the contract stipulates (there is the more serious point as to whether BBC and Sky choose to send their teams to Russia, but that is a separate subject and one that will probably be monitored nearer to the event).

Back to Belgium, and the BBC side is at full strength again, both Lee McKenzie and Eddie Jordan will be back with the team. Over on Sky, their new show with unseen footage from Formula One Management’s archive will première on Sunday 24th August on the channel. The first edition will focus on team-mates with Nigel Mansell and Christian Horner alongside Steve Rider. I hope this doesn’t fly under the radar, but that relies on Sky to promote it. And by that I mean get the message out to the wider F1 media. The key phrase, as I’ve said before should be “unseen footage”. If that isn’t a trigger for an interesting article or two on whatever footage they’ve got hold of, I don’t know what is. It depends how good/revealing the footage is too as to whether they can ‘sell’ it to the F1 journalists to write about, or whether it is just another Sky F1 programme which probably won’t be written about in the future (hopefully not, mind).

Elsewhere, ESPN have the penultimate round of the IndyCar Series on Sunday evening, whilst ITV4 have live coverage of the British Touring Car Championship from Knockhill. Below are all the details you need:

Thursday 21st August
14:00 to 14:45 – F1: Driver Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
23:30 to 23:45 – F1: Gear Up for Belgium (Sky Sports F1)

Friday 22nd August
08:45 to 11:00 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1)
08:55 to 10:35 – F1: Practice 1 (BBC Two)
11:00 to 11:50 – GP2: Practice (Sky Sports F1)
12:45 to 14:50 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
12:55 to 14:35 – F1: Practice 2 (BBC Two)
14:50 to 15:30 – GP2: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
16:00 to 16:45 – F1: Team Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Saturday 23rd August
08:45 to 09:20 – GP3: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
09:45 to 11:15 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1)
09:55 to 11:10 – F1: Practice 3 (BBC Two)
12:00 to 14:35 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
12:10 to 14:20 – F1: Qualifying (BBC One)
14:35 to 16:05 – GP2: Race 1 (Sky Sports F1)
16:15 to 17:15 – GP3: Race 1 (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Sunday 24th August
08:20 to 09:05 – GP3: Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)
09:30 to 10:45 – GP2: Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)
10:45 to 18:00 – BTCC: Knockhill (ITV4)
11:30 to 16:15 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1)
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live
12:10 to 15:30 – F1: Race (BBC One)
15:30 to 16:30 – F1: Forum (BBC Red Button)
16:15 to 17:15 – Tales from the Vault (Sky Sports F1)
21:30 to 00:00 – IndyCars: Sonoma (ESPN)

Wednesday 27th August
20:30 to 21:00 – Midweek Report (Sky Sports F1)

Classic F1 on Sky Sports F1
16/08 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1996 Spanish Grand Prix Highlights
17/08 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 2011 German Grand Prix
18/08 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 2005 Japanese Grand Prix
19/08 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1985 Belgian Grand Prix Highlights
20/08 – 21:00 to 23:30 – 1998 Belgian Grand Prix
21/08 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 2010 Belgian Grand Prix
22/08 – 18:00 to 19:45 – 2000 Belgian Grand Prix
23/08 – 21:20 to 22:05 – 1982 Belgian Grand Prix Highlights
24/08 – 17:15 to 18:15 – 1972 Season Review
24/08 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 2005 Belgian Grand Prix
25/08 – 21:00 to 23:15 – 2012 Spanish Grand Prix (Sky commentary)
26/08 – 21:00 to 23:15 – 2011 Chinese Grand Prix
27/08 – 21:00 to 23:15 – 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix
28/08 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1986 Brazilian Grand Prix Highlights
29/08 – 21:00 to 23:30 – 2012 European Grand Prix (Sky commentary)

As always, any scheduling updates will be posted here as well.

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