Sky’s response to showing Classic F1 races: “no firm decision”

There has been “no firm decision” to broadcast Classic F1 races on Sky Sports F1, as of today. As I noted here, I sent an e-mail to Sky on Tuesday night asking about the situation with regards to Classic F1 races.

Their response was that there is “no firm decisions to show classic races”, and that the Classic Grand Prix schedule that we seen on the Sunday prior to Monaco, for the time being, “appears […] a one off”.

An interesting point has to be, why did they broadcast them, getting fans hopes up that Sky Sports F1 was finally going to be a proper Formula 1 channel. It is possible that they were ‘testing the waters’ so to speak for broadcasting them some time in the future and to monitor the reaction alongside viewing figures.

Schedules for June show no Classic F1 for Canada, as already noted, with no Classic F1 also for Europe. But then we come to Britain. Given that it’s Silverstone, one would have thought that Sky would make a big deal out of it with it being the home race with more airtime and features. Also, with it being one of the blue ribbon events alongside Monaco, I am hopeful that we will see Classic F1 races turn back up for Britain. Will that happen? Who knows. I hope it does.

At the moment at non-F1 weekends there is nothing for me to watch on the channel, as it is filled with endless repeats. At least adding Classic F1 races gives the viewer something different to watch. The viewing figures appear to support that Classic F1 races bring a portion of extra viewers to the channel, increasing the channel reach with it.

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BBC release iPlayer figures for first quarter, some F1 included

The BBC have released some Top 20 iPlayer figures for TV and Radio for each month of the first quarter of the year, and included are some Formula 1 ratings of note. All the figures below cover the 7 days from original upload, as the Formula 1 material is only available on iPlayer for 7 days.

On the television side of things, 417,000 people watched highlights of the Australian Grand Prix on iPlayer after it was broadcast. A week later, 58,000 people chose to listen the 5 Live commentary of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Moving onto April, the Chinese Grand Prix live broadcast was watched by 316,000 people on iPlayer within the seven days after original transmission. I can see the logic in the 316,000 people, getting up later and straight onto the iPlayer knowing that the programme would be online, ready to watch.

I’m surprised though that 417,000 watched the highlights after it was broadcast, as it was broadcast at a daytime hour and not early-morning. In any case, you may ask “why don’t I add these to the other figures I publish on here?”. The simple reason is that you don’t know how many of the 417,000 people watched it on TV. How many of the 417,000 that were watching wanted to compare it to what Sky did? How many of the 417,000 people missed something earlier and watched it again? There’s no way to say that all 417,000 viewers are ‘new’. So for that reason, I tend to keep it fairly simple with just the live and first re-run.

In any event, I thought these figures would be worth publishing as there are not many Formula 1 viewing figures available for online, so it still makes for interesting reading nevertheless. As always, comments and queries are welcome.

The Twitter outlook

It’s been a month now since I started tracking the Twitter followers for each driver and team. What I plan to do is to do a bigger post at the end of every month, with every driver and teams statistics in the post so I can compare month to month. So without further ado, below are the drivers statistics for May.

Drivers
01 – 956,107 – Jenson Button (McLaren)
02 – 821,739 – Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
03 – 576,183 – Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
04 – 415,593 – Bruno Senna (Williams)
05 – 343,435 – Mark Webber (Red Bull)
06 – 198,594 – Pastor Maldonaldo (Williams)
07 – 197,260 – Sergio Perez (Sauber)
08 – 157,292 – Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
09 – 148,541 – Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham)
10 – 132,681 – Pedro de la Rosa (HRT)
11 – 120,937 – Paul di Resta (Force India)
12 – 105,100 – Narain Karthikeyan (HRT)
13 – 92,183 – Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
14 – 73,121 – Vitaly Petrov (Caterham)
15 – 69,797 – Timo Glock (Marussia)
16 – 68,346 – Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
17 – 54,698 – Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
18 – 43,272 – Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
19 – 28,319 – Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
20 – 20,699 – Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
21 – 12,108 – Charles Pic (Marussia)

As I mentioned in my first post, the three drivers to be absent from Twitter are Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher. None of the three joined in May. The only jump in this chart comes from Pastor Maldonaldo, who jumps up from ninth to sixth, overtaking Perez, Rosberg and Kovalainen. Everyone else has stayed static in terms of position, but let’s see who has recorded the biggest and smallest increases.

Drivers – Increases
01 – 137,614 – Fernando Alonso
02 – 58,023 – Pastor Maldonaldo
03 – 43,324 – Lewis Hamilton
04 – 37,760 – Jenson Button
05 – 26,953 – Mark Webber
06 – 25,595 – Bruno Senna
Average driver = 21,324
07 – 20,842 – Felipe Massa
08 – 15,337 – Sergio Perez
09 – 11,966 – Nico Rosberg
10 – 10,942 – Paul di Resta
11 – 10,694 – Pedro de la Rosa
12 – 7,018 – Heikki Kovalainen
13 – 6,945 – Kamui Kobayashi
14 – 6,334 – Romain Grosjean
15 – 5,773 – Vitaly Petrov
16 – 5,508 – Narain Karthikeyan
17 – 4,609 – Daniel Ricciardo
18 – 4,130 – Nico Hulkenberg
19 – 3,651 – Jean-Eric Vergne
20 – 2,993 – Timo Glock
21 – 1,798 – Charles Pic

I’ve placed the ‘average driver’ in the respective position in the table, which is all of the increases bundled together to get an average driver increase. Only six drivers are above increase, which is partially down to the mammoth gains made by Fernando Alonso due to him joining Twitter only two months ago. Maldonaldo is the unsurprising large riser, again, due to his Spain win. The chart also helps to indicate popularity I feel, take for instance Heikki Kovalainen. He may be in a Caterham, but is definitely one of the more popular Formula 1 drivers on the grid this year, which is indicated by his increases compared to other drivers.

I’m not quite sure why Pedro de la Rosa is in tenth in both lists, I can only assume because of the Spanish Grand Prix that his increase has been fairly significant. He’s also a veteran in Formula 1, which may help. At the other end, it’s the two Toro Rosso and Marussia drivers that draw the short straw, Charles Pic only increasing his followers by 1,798 over the course of the month. Moving onto the teams:

Teams
01 – 275,323 – Ferrari
02 – 192,507 – McLaren
03 – 128,917 – Mercedes
04 – 115,597 – Red Bull
05 – 108,395 – Lotus
06 – 74,684 – Caterham
07 – 65,254 – Marussia
08 – 65,088 – Williams
09 – 64,177 – Force India
10 – 55,024 – Sauber
11 – 48,512 – HRT
12 – 40,665 – Toro Rosso

Due to their win in Spain, Williams jump ahead of Force India compared to this time last month. Apart from that, everything is fairly stable.

Teams – Increases
01 – 18,989 – Ferrari
02 – 11,240 – McLaren
03 – 10,229 – Williams
04 – 9,565 – Red Bull
Average team = 7,197
05 – 7,164 – Lotus
06 – 6,709 – Sauber
07 – 5,468 – Mercedes
08 – 4,344 – HRT
09 – 3,800 – Caterham
10 – 3,590 – Force India
11 – 2,812 – Marussia
12 – 2,455 – Toro Rosso

There is the saying the Formula 1 is a ‘team sport’, yet the average team increase is a third of that of the average driver increase. The increase for Ferrari is less than that of both of their drivers, which is the situation for the majority of the teams, apart from Lotus with Romain Grosjean and Marussia with Charles Pic. Fans are definitely more driver driven than team driven in terms of their loyalty, which appears to be supported by the Twitter statistics.

Removing the raw increases, the surprise above is Mercedes, I would have thought that they would have had a bigger increase than Lotus and Sauber, so for them to be in seventh is a fairly big surprise to me.

I will continue to track and post The Twitter Outlook on a weekly basis, with a larger post like this one at the end of every month. As always, comments, thoughts, agreements and disagreements are welcome.

Driver and Team statistics as of Monday 28th May 2012.

Why the Indianapolis 500 gets little news coverage in the UK

I’ve seen several people and journalists say on Twitter “why does the Indy 500 not get much coverage” in the UK, despite a Scottish winner? I admit, it’s a valid question. The answer is, unfortunately, that people are not really interested in this country about the Indianapolis 500 or American motor sports as a whole. Here’s the Indy 500 overnight viewership for this year and the past two years:

2010 – 14,000 viewers (17:30 to 22:00 – peaked with 27,000 at 21:10)
2011 – 39,000 viewers (16:30 to 21:00 – peaked with 65,000 at 20:10)

And this past Sunday on Sky Sports 4 averaged 28,000 viewers between 16:30 and 21:00, peaking with 53,000 at 17:20, interestingly at the start of the race rather than the end of the race.

One would have to ask whether the above 2012 rating would have been higher had it have been on Sky Sports F1. Unquestionably, yes, given the reasons I outlined here about the similar audience profiles. In comparison, an unadvertised IndyCar Series race live on Sky Sports F1 on April 29th had 16,000 viewers (moved from Sky Sports 4 at late notice).

One thing that bemused me was how they failed to promote it at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix programme, yet, if you were watching Sky Sports 4 for the Indy 500 you would have been bombarded with “the new home of F1 in HD” trailers. I mean, surely the majority of people watching Sky Sports 4 would have previously been watching the Monaco Grand Prix? It shall be interesting to see how the repeat of the Indianapolis 500 does on Sky Sports F1 tomorrow at 20:00, we should find out a week on Monday in the official BARB update.

I’m sure over the next months I’ll probably do a blog on MotoGP ratings, BTCC ratings and the such like, but in general, the situation in the UK in terms of ratings is…

1) Formula 1 (BBC and Sky)
2) MotoGP (BBC and Eurosport)
3) BTCC (ITV)

All of the rest is under 200k, or even under 100k the majority of the time. Things like GP2, WTCC and IndyCars are nearly always under 100k. Back to the original point though, the result of the Indy 500 does not get mentioned in news bulletins because it is something of minority interest in the UK, as the ratings show.

Comments and thoughts, as always, are welcome.

Note: The ratings information comes from BARB, Digital Spy and Attentional.

Sky Sports F1 – Top 10 ratings (week ending 20th May, 2012)

From BARB:

1 – 53k – The F1 Show (Friday, 20:00)
2 – 24k – Spanish Grand Prix Highlights (Monday, 16:31)
3 – 23k – 2008 Monaco Grand Prix (Sunday, 12:35)
4 – 22k – 2006 Season Review: Part 1 (Friday, 21:00)
5 – 20k – 2010 Monaco Grand Prix (Sunday, 17:30)
6 – 19k – 2007 Monaco Grand Prix (Sunday, 10:20)
7 – 15k – 1983 Monaco Grand Prix (Sunday, 09:40)
8 – 15k – 2006 Season Review: Part 3 (Saturday, 22:15)
9 – 15k – Spanish Grand Prix: GP2 Sprint Race Replay (Wednesday, 22:55)
10 – 13k – The F1 Show (Friday, 22:31)

The first point to note is that all of the top ten is above or equal to thirteen thousand viewers, the first time that has happened in a non race week since the week ending April 1st, 2012. In terms of the Sunday ratings, the classic races did fairly well when you think that the previous non-F1 Sunday the channel failed to get above 11k at all. Assuming the other classic races had 12k for the sake of argument, between 09:00 and 20:00 on Sunday 20th May, Sky Sports F1 averaged 18 thousand viewers. This compared with an average of eight thousand viewers for Sunday 6th May, 12 thousand viewers for Sunday 30th April and seven thousand viewers for Sunday 8th April.

Is 18 thousand viewers enough to justify showing classic F1 races? I don’t know. Don’t forget here, though, that each of the above races were repeated over the week, so maybe the totals will look a bit higher once they are accounted for (although I doubt any will appear in next week’s Top 10). The weekly reach was also high, a reach of 812 thousand was the highest for a non-F1 race week since the week ending March 11th, which was the channel launch week.

One thing also of note is that 2008 was the highest rating, which is no coincidence considering it was the most exciting race (and the fact that 2009 is no where to be seen, 2011 I imagine is not there as it fell into the more competitive primetime). Had they have been imaginative, and say repeated the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, ratings across the day could have been slightly higher, although we’re talking a few thousands more here rather than anything over the top.

The F1 Show’s rating for it’s main Friday airing at 20:00, however, was the lowest since its airing on March 30th, which surprises me considering they had Pastor Maldonaldo as a guest. I do think it needs to be promoted a lot more as it rarely gets promotion outside of the channel.