Happy 3rd Birthday!

Three years ago, I set up The F1 Broadcasting Blog, and since then it has attracted visitors from all around the world..

– Total of 780,000 hits
– Over 6,200 followers on Twitter
– Average of 800 views per day
– Visitors from nearly 200 countries
– Connections with members of the F1 paddock and beyond

As regular readers will be aware, I have been juggling maintaining this blog with University work, which is quickly coming to an end! It’s funny, because I set this blog up at the end of my first year of University, and now, the end is near… expect the blog activity from me to pick back up in the next few weeks, although it will no doubt take time to get back into the swing of things. With another year passed, its also a good opportunity to see what the most read posts are in the blog’s history. There’s only one new post compared to this time last year, and even that post was written in 2013, I think that is because there has been no huge F1 broadcasting stories in the past year which have dominated the landscape. I’ve left the descriptions the same, so here is the top ten as it currently stands:

10. A few thoughts on Jake Humphrey leaving the BBC – September 18th, 2012
In September 2012, it was announced that Jake Humphrey would be leaving the BBC. In typical style, I published my reaction to his departure and speculated about who would replace him as F1 presenter. In all cases here, I was wide of the mark with my guesses.

9. Tom Clarkson added to BBC’s F1 TV team – March 6th, 2013
Tom Clarkson, who is he. Well, that’s what a lot of blog readers are still wondering, as this article has jumped back inside the top ten, despite Clarkson now in his third year as part of BBC’s Formula 1 team.

8. Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 this year – January 31st, 2013
Unsurprisingly, a popular article in 2013 involved people looking for the cheapest way to view Sky Sports F1 legally. The popularity of that article spawned a 2014 version, and more recently a 2015 version. Worryingly, the 2015 version is about to become outdated, with Sky’s prices going up again.

7. Are Sky going to withdraw F1 channel from old ‘HD Pack’ subscribers this month? – September 1st, 2013
Trying to update readers on the status of Sky’s legacy ‘HD Pack’ wasn’t easy. This is not the only entry on the subject inside the top ten…

6. Italian Grand Prix records highest rating since 1998 – September 10th, 2012
I can thank Jake Humphrey for this one. Another ratings related article, except in this case Humphrey decided to share it via Twitter. To date, September 10th, 2012 remains the most viewed day in the blog’s history, which shows how much power Twitter has (this statistic remains true in 2015).

5. Predicting BT Sport’s MotoGP team – October 24th, 2013
I should have learnt my lesson with number ten to not bother predicting things, sadly I didn’t learn and decided to predict BT’s MotoGP team. Nevertheless, I don’t think anyone predicted who the presenter would turn out to be! Thankfully, that particular person didn’t remain with the team too long…

4. ITV4 win rights to screen MotoGP highlights – March 8th, 2014
The big news from early last year was that ITV4 were going to screen MotoGP highlights on Monday evenings, following BT Sport winning the rights to screen the series exclusively from 2014 onwards.

3. Georgie Thompson leaves Sky’s F1 team – February 15th, 2013
In a surprising move, Georgie Thompson left the Sky Sports F1 team after only a year in the role, with Natalie Pinkham taking over her duties. The news was broken exclusively on this blog, with mainstream newspapers picking the story up a week later.

2. Are current Sky ‘HD Pack only’ customers with Sky Sports F1 set for a shock? – June 1st, 2013
Any money related articles are popular. This, the first ‘HD Pack’ rumour falls into that category. Once again, I don’t envisage any future articles on this particular train of thought, the consensus for Sky subscribers is “switch from the legacy HD Pack, and you will lose Sky Sports F1″.

1. Gary Anderson to leave BBC’s Formula 1 team – January 13th, 2014
Another person leaving, one year after Thompson. This time it was Gary Anderson, as he parted company with the BBC team. This remains the most read article in the blog’s history.

So, the question is “what happens next?” As always, who knows, although as I mentioned earlier, I fully expect blog activity to pick up in the next few weeks. I know it has been slow on the blog front in the past few months, but thanks for all the interactions, for getting involved and for engaging with the blog on a weekly basis. It really is appreciated. Here’s to another year of blogging!

Thanks,
Dave,
Owner of The F1 Broadcasting Blog

Hamilton’s Bahrain win peaks with 6.3 million

It was a good day for both Formula 1 and MotoGP this past Sunday, with both two and four wheels delivering solid figures across the board. Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix peaked with 6.26 million, whilst Valentino Rossi’s battle with Marc Marquez sent BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage flying above the 300k barrier, according to unofficial overnight viewing figures.

Race
Live coverage of the Formula 1 race, screened live on BBC One from 15:00 to 18:05 averaged 3.83m (26.0%), peaking with 5.31m (30.8%) at 17:35 as Hamilton crossed the finishing line. Over on Sky, their coverage from 15:00 to 18:30 (using the equivalent slot to 2014), averaged 640k (4.3%), peaking with 951k (5.5%). It should be noted that with the race beginning at a later time, the total TV audience as the race draws to a conclusion is higher than usual, which means that figures are higher in previous years, but with lower shares.

The combined average of 4.47m is the third highest ever for Bahrain, only behind 2010 and 2012, with the combined peak of 6.26m (36.3%) only just shy of 2010’s 6.29m (47.9%). It’s a really good number for Bahrain and again shows the importance of having the mid-afternoon races on free-to-air television in order to draw in the casual viewers. Overall during the race, for every one viewer watching on Sky, there were a further 4.88 viewers watching on the BBC.

MotoGP and BTCC
Away from Bahrain, the main story surrounded the ongoing rise of BT Sport’s MotoGP figures. In Qatar, BT’s coverage peaked with 263k (1.4%), this number increased to 281k (1.2%) for Texas. Argentina was the first time ever that BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage surpassed the 300k barrier, as a record peak of 313k (1.4%) watched Valentino Rossi win on BT Sport 2. From 19:30 to 21:00, their coverage averaged 240k (1.1%) which is significantly above any number recorded in 2014.

ITV4’s highlights, screened at the later time of 22:00 on Monday due to the FA Youth Cup final, averaged 297k (2.1%), peaking with 379k (3.1%). I would put BT’s consistent rise down to the draw of Valentino Rossi, who is clearly back on form this season and drawing people to BT’s live coverage, which they need to take advantage of. Whether it will continue, I don’t know, but it is a shame that there is no live free-to-air coverage of the series. Yes, I’m afraid that klaxon had to be raised.

Staying with ITV4, their British Touring Car Championship from Donington Park peaked with 424k (3.8%) at 14:50. Their average of 199k (1.8%) is across eight hours from 10:30 to 18:30. The numbers slumped after 15:00 against the F1, never once hitting 200k.

The 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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No Formula E action planned for ITV’s main channel this season

The 2014-15 Formula E season will continue to be broadcast live only on ITV4 for the remainder of this season, it has been confirmed. Although viewing figures have failed to hit the original heights that it hit in its inaugural race, this blog reached out to ITV to see if there are any plans to simulcast the remaining races on their main channel in order to increase the exposure for the series.

According to overnight viewing figures from Overnights.tv, ITV has averaged 610k (6.0%) on Saturday afternoons between 14:00 to 16:30 so far this year, which would typically be Formula E’s slot for the remaining five races:

– round 7: Monaco (May 9th – 15:00 UK time)
– round 8: Berlin (May 23rd – 15:00 UK time)
– round 9: Moscow (June 6th – 14:00 UK time)
– round 10: London (June 27th – 16:00 UK time)
– round 11: London (June 28th – 16:00 UK time)

With suitable publicity, and given that there are five rounds in seven weekends, Formula E could reach, or even exceed that ITV slot average.

However, ITV say that there are no plans to put Formula E on their main channel this season: “I am sorry to disappoint you but there are no plans to show any coverage on ITV1. [..] We hope you enjoy our coverage on ITV4.” I guess this should not be too surprising, given that Formula 1 was the last motor sport series to be shown on ITV1, as it was back then, in 2008 but it is still disappointing.

A missed opportunity? Possibility. Whilst we should appreciate the fact that ITV shows a lot of motor sport on ITV4, at the end of the day, ITV have a flagship channel, and they should utilise that during the daytime at weekends to showcase events such as Formula E in the forthcoming months instead of screening back-to-back repeats. Formula E could& perform poorly on ITV’s main channel. But ITV won’t find that out unless they actually try it, which they should do for some of the above races.

Looking further ahead, I do hope Formula E remains on the ITV network for season two, but time will tell.

Sky Italia presenter suspended for tweeting Alonso insult

A presenter for Sky Italia has been suspended for insulting Fernando Alonso on Twitter, according to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Last Friday, at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, Paola Saluzzi, a news presenter for Sky TG24 (the Italian version of Sky News), is said to have tweeted “His memory has returned and he has now remembered how #arrogant and #jealous he is. #hugeidiot.” The tweet is a reference to Alonso’s pre-season testing accident in Barcelona. Saluzzi deleted that tweet, replacing it with “Being fans imposes education, my mistake, and I just. I’m sorry.”

According to Gazzetta, Alonso refused to answer questions from Sky Italia as a result during the race weekend.

F1 stable but low, BT’s MotoGP coverage increases

The Chinese Grand Prix drew an identical number to last year’s ratings low, according to unofficial overnight viewing figures.

Race
For the third time in as many races, direct comparisons are difficult, as the Chinese Grand Prix began an hour earlier this year compared with last year. Live coverage of the race, screened on Sky Sports F1 from 06:00 to 09:30, averaged 589k (14.4%). The Pit Lane build-up from 06:00 averaged 90k (8.4%), with the race portion itself, as billed in the EPG, averaging 672k (14.4%). Paddock Live, from 09:30 to 10:15, averaged a strong 244k (3.4%). The numbers compare with 681k (11.2%) for last year’s race show from 07:00 to 10:30, with Paddock Live bringing in 173k (2.1%). Paddock Live seems to be performing better this year than last, even on occasions when the race aired earlier than last year.

Over on BBC One, the highlights programme averaged 2.97m (24.5%), which compares with 2.87m (21.1%) from 2014. So the 100k that Sky lost transferred directly over to BBC’s highlights, which again I suspect it due to the earlier start time, like with Australia and Malaysia. Overall though, the total of 3.56m is identical to 2014’s 3.55m. If you want to get statistical about it, then 2015 was up 0.24 percent on 2014. Either way, both numbers are lower than previous years

MotoGP and World Endurance Championship
Heading over to two wheels, BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage (or shall we call it #WaterSpillage?) peaked with 281k (1.2%), which is a record high for them and follows on from the Qatar high two weeks ago. The MotoGP portion from 18:30 to around 21:40 averaged 234k (1.0%), also a record high for their coverage. It was a big day for Moto3 and Moto2 as well on Sunday, and this was replicated in the ratings. Moto3 peaked with 127k (0.9%) at 17:15, whilst Moto2 peaked with 218k (1.1%) at 19:00. I believe that is Moto2’s highest ever peak figure for BT Sport.

Unfortunately, any good racing by the British riders was not replicated in ITV4’s highlights rating, which tumbled on Monday evening to 283k (1.3%), peaking with 349k (1.5%). If you think BT and ITV’s numbers look closer than last year, then you are not alone in that thought. That’s not necessarily good. Yes, more people are watching live – excellent. But at the expense of the highlights audience, and more critically, substantially below BBC levels, in my opinion, that’s not good at all. BT will be happy, but the overall picture is not great. It is worth noting that ITV have added more airings of the MotoGP Highlights programmes, so the aggregated picture could be better, but you can’t start adding all the airings together. As I’ve always said, how do you do the line in that situation.

Elsewhere, live coverage of the first round of the World Endurance Championship season averaged 11k (0.1%) from 11:30 to 18:30 on Motors TV, peaking with 24k. That number does not include anyone who watched via online streaming. Don’t get me wrong, I like the championship and thoroughly enjoyed going to Silverstone this time last year, but anyone who thinks that it is about to become the next big thing is wrong in my opinion. The series needs a free-to-air highlights package. As far as I’m aware, it currently doesn’t have that. There’s more chance of Formula E becoming the next big thing (if there is such a thing) than WEC. Why? Because it actually has a presence on a major television platform in the UK which it can build upon. WEC does not have that in the UK, and I don’t believe it trended on Twitter on Sunday. A lot of noise, but not much movement from those outside of the bubble.

The 2014 Chinese Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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