Ratings for the final pre-season test from the Bahrain International Circuit were level year-on-year with Sky Sports F1′s live coverage from last year, unofficial overnight viewing figures show. If you are to do a best like-for-like comparison, live airings of testing versus the first round-up/Notebook airings from this week then it is a dead heat. The repeats I don’t think would make much difference, although if you were to do a peak figure comparison, then there would be a significant difference, as the live testing coverage from last year was longer than this year’s round-ups.
Coverage began on Thursday with 44k (0.2%) watching Sky’s coverage, this dipping to 29k (0.1%) for Friday’s round-up, both ratings up on live testing in 2013. 40k (0.2%) tuned in on Saturday, whilst 30k (0.1%) watched on Sunday, figures for the weekend down in both raw numbers and share on 2013. I really do think Sky should have made every effort possible to screen testing live on Saturday and Sunday. I would have agreed with ditching Thursday and Friday’s live coverage given that they are weekdays, but I personally would not have been opposed to something like this for the weekend:
12:00 – Live Testing
15:00 – Testing round-up/Notebook repeats
18:00 – Testing (repeat of earlier)
21:00 – Ted’s Notebook
I wouldn’t be surprised if the location played a hand in the decision to not pursue testing live. Of course, we mustn’t forget that, according to Sky Sports F1′s channel scheduler, “live testing is pointless”. One thing I want to mention, I have seen some people saying that allegedly ‘nobody cares’ about testing, yet the testing figures (as I have said before) beat the GP2 and GP3 figures from previous years and multiple episodes of The F1 Show. Using the same logic, the aforementioned items are pointless, too.
- 27/02 – 44k (0.2%), peak: 50k (0.2%) – 21:00 to 21:45
- 28/02 – 29k (0.1%), peak: 36k (0.2%) – 21:00 to 21:45
- 01/03 – 40k (0.2%), peak: 73k (0.4%) – 21:00 to 21:45
- 02/03 – 30k (0.1%), peak: 41k (0.2%) – 21:00 to 21:45
Note that I believe that Ted’s Notebook overran on the Saturday and Sunday, however I do not know the exact times that it finished so, for the purposes of this blog post I have kept the original timings.
Sky Sports’ coverage of the first winter test of the 2014 Formula One season from Jerez performed better than last year, unofficial overnight viewing figures show.
The four days, excluding any repeats, averaged 29k, which compares with 19k for the coverage last year. All four days were covered through a fifteen minute round-up and Ted Kravitz’s testing Notebook which followed it. The numbers below the full duration of that period, which varied between 40 and 50 minutes on each day. Interest was clearly higher than last year from the get-go, an average of 43k (0.2%) watched coverage of the first day, peaking with 51k (0.2%). Day 2 was similarly high, averaging 38k (0.2%) from 21:00 to 21:50.
Days 3 and 4 did drop back down to 2013 levels though. Day three averaged 15k (0.1%), with day four averaging 18k (0.1%). Below is a summary of the ratings:
- 28/01 – 43k (0.2%), peak: 51k (0.2%) – 21:00 to 21:40
- 29/01 – 38k (0.2%), peak: 50k (0.2%) – 21:00 to 21:50
- 30/01 – 15k (0.1%), peak: 23k (0.1%) – 21:00 to 21:50
- 31/01 – 18k (0.1%), peak: 32k (0.1%) – 21:00 to 21:45
To put the day 1 and 2 numbers into context, it is about equivalent to a GP2 race in 2013, and would have beaten the majority of GP3 and IndyCar races. That last line might sadden a few readers, but that does appear to be the case.
Highlights of the first round of the 2014 World Rally Championship on ITV4 performed better than any of its coverage from 2013, unofficial overnight viewing figures show. With that, the rating would also be the highest for a rally since at least 2010, given the low key seasons that followed broadcasting wise.
The programme, broadcast on Tuesday 21st January at 20:00 and focussing on the Monte Carlo rally, averaged 278k (1.8%), peaking with 358k (1.5%) as Sébastien Ogier secured his victory. The rating is impressive for the coverage, when you consider that the majority of the overnight ratings in 2013 were between 100k and 200k. The weekend marked an adjustment in the broadcasting rights here in the UK, with BT Sport coming on board, broadcasting the series exclusively live.
BT Sport’s live coverage started solidly, if unspectacular. The highest number was for live coverage on BT Sport 2 on Saturday (18th January) afternoon. The one hour programme from 14:30 averaged 41k (0.4%), peaking with 65k (0.6%). Sadly the evening coverage on BT Sport 1 did not average as much, only bringing 22k (0.1%). I do think that it is a good starting block for BT, it was never going to storm out of the blocks. With an influx of motor sport subscribers (including myself) to the channel for the MotoGP coverage, there is room for improvement.
The numbers emphasise for me why it was important for ITV4 to retain its highlights coverage, which has happened. The two now compliment each other nicely, and hopefully the numbers for the highlights continue to remain high as the season progresses.
The 2013 Formula 1 season brought in a higher viewership than 2012 in the United Kingdom, according to unofficial overnight viewing figures. However, a deeper look inside the figures shows that the season was a tale of two halves.
The season, when taking into account Sky’s longer running time for each race programme, averaged 4.11m across the nineteen races on BBC One and Sky Sports F1. This is an increase of 130k (or 3.3%) on the 3.98m average recorded for 2012, but is again down on the figures recorded between 2009 and 2011 when Formula 1 was exclusively live on the BBC. Despite an overall increase, viewing figures dropped a million viewers from the first half to the second half of the season. The first half of the season averaged 4.58m (2012: 4.06m), whilst the second half of the season averaged 3.59m (2012: 3.89m), a 27.6% drop compared with a 4.4% drop in 2012.
BBC’s Formula 1 coverage was the reason for the increase, averaging 3.42m viewers throughout 2013 for their race-day coverage, compared with 3.22m in 2012, an increase of 6.2%. The main source of the increase was the high German Grand Prix highlights rating, which averaged 5.15m and benefited from following the Wimbledon final. Removing this would still keep 2013 above 2012 for the BBC. Nevertheless, the first half of the season averaged 3.81m (2012: 3.21m), with the second half averaging 3.00m (2012: 3.23m), a 27.0% drop compared with a 0.6% increase last year, slightly below the overall average drop. It shows how well the first half of the season did, helped not only by the German Grand Prix, but also the controversial Malaysian Grand Prix.
Unlike BBC, Sky Sports F1′s coverage dropped throughout. When putting it on a level playing field with the BBC, the main part of their race-day programming averaged 685k, down on the 767k recorded in 2012, a decrease of 12.0%. There is no particular race that struggled, but rather an overall declining picture for the channel compared with 2012. 770k (2012: 855k) watched the first half of the season with Sky, this number dropping to 590k (2012: 659k) for the latter half of the season. In both 2012 and 2013, Sky’s coverage has dropped across the season: a decrease of 30.5% compared with a 29.7% drop in 2012.
The F1 Broadcasting Blog says: The season from a ratings perspective can only be described as a tale of two halves in about every possible way. From a television point of view, producers would expect and hope for the season to start slowly and then build to a crescendo towards the end, 2008 is a perfect example of that with the Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa battle bubbling up at several points in the season before the season finale. 2013 was almost the opposite in that round two had the biggest story of the entire year, with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel’s on track battle. It was downhill from there. Casual fans love stories like that. Sadly though for companies around the world, it was never followed up on where the on track action was concerned. There was no juicy follow up, and I don’t think Webber and Vettel ever got close on track again.
Instead, the second half of the season seen Vettel dominate, and viewing figures plunge. I imagine, although I cannot verify, that a similar picture was repeated around the world. I’d be surprised if the UK was an anomaly given the context of the season. Which leads me onto double points.
AUTOSPORT has learned that teams were pressured into supporting the move because they were told by Bernie Ecclestone that television companies and race promoters had asked for a way to ensure the world title battle was kept alive for longer. – AUTOSPORT – December 20th
Obviously broadcasters can see the ratings as soon as they are released and may well have done the same comparisons as I have shown above. Has one of them forced Formula One Management (FOM) to press the panic button? I think they did. And rather stupidly too, given that 2013 was definitely not a typical season in terms of layout. As good as the Webber and Vettel story was, the other stories, the public simply don’t care about, for example the ‘tyre test’ and the outcome of that. They care about personalities. More of Webber and Vettel, less of the tyres which I suspect no one out of the Formula 1 bubble really cares about.
A good season for the BBC, they will be pleased to be up versus 2012. Yes, they did drop in the latter half of the season, but given the context, it is difficult to have expected anything different. What I would say is that the BBC ratings do show is that Formula 1 needs to keep the terrestrial television presence, which I hope continues beyond 2018, although that is a long, long way away yet. Whilst Sky’s decline in the latter half of the season is unsurprising, the first half of the season also declined, which was not a good sign from the get-go. From a ratings perspective, they desperately need stability and avoid the free-fall continuing into 2014. How do they do that?
Unlike BBC, which is purely dependent on the on-track action, Sky need to consider how Formula 1 is packaged within their portfolio of channels. Limiting who can, and cannot view Formula 1, and punishing people through loopholes is not the way to go. At the end of the day (and this will apply to BT Sport with MotoGP too), Sky need to make their coverage more accessible to people and not price them out of the market. I’m not sure that will happen, and if it doesn’t happen, then I only see viewing figures continuing to drop for Sky. The aim of the game needs to be to get Formula 1 ratings in the UK back up to the levels seen between 2009 and 2011. And who knows, for the moment, 2014 may be make or break where that is concerned.
With the 2013 season ending on a bit of a dull note, it is perhaps no surprise that the end of year season review shows on BBC One and Sky Sports F1 suffered as a result, according to unofficial overnight viewing figures.
BBC One’s show, entitled ‘A Record Breaking Show’ averaged 880,000 (8.5%) on Saturday 28th December. It was the first time since the ITV days that a season review had dropped below one million viewers. The previous lowest on BBC was in 2009, which averaged 1.10m (12.5%) albeit that was broadcast a week after the season concluded. Since then, the season reviews have average between 1.1 million and 1.3 million viewers, so the 2013 overnight figure comes in slightly below that.
Unofficially, Sky’s review show averaged 1,000 (0.01%), despite it being half the length of last year’s season review show. Seeing something average 1,000 viewers is very, very rare, and it should be said that the smaller you go, the margin of error gets bigger. Nevertheless, I imagine both BBC and Sky are fairly glad to see the back of 2013.