Sky Sports F1 – Top 10 ratings (week ending 19th May, 2013) – ratings delayed

Unfortunately there is nothing from BARB this week as the ratings have been delayed, so expect to see them in six weeks.

In its absence, this week is the first full week for Motors TV in its new EPG slot on Sky. The channel reach for the past few weeks has been as follows:

Motors TV – Channel Reach – Week Ending
07/04/13 – 412,000 viewers
14/04/13 – 461,000 viewers
21/04/13 – 414,000 viewers
28/04/13 – 359,000 viewers
05/05/13 – 269,000 viewers
12/05/13 – 243,000 viewers <- channel changes EPG slots on May 9th
19/05/13 – 311,000 viewers

Oddly, the reach dropped before the switch. At this point it is difficult to tell how much of an effect the EPG switch has had. Motors TV’s 311,000 viewers reach compares with 511,000 viewers for Sky Sports F1 in the same week, despite the former getting nowhere near as much promotion as the latter.

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USA Ratings: Formula 1 rockets to six year high; Indianapolis 500 slumps to record low

Whilst the Monaco Grand Prix did not do great numbers in the United Kingdom, over in America the picture was significantly different as the sport soared to six year ratings highs. It was not all good news for motor sport, however.

The race, screened on NBC from 05:00 Pacific and 08:00 Eastern, was seen by an average of 1.46 million viewers. The figure makes it the highest figure for a Formula 1 race since the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, which averaged 1.49 million viewers. In comparison, last year’s Monaco Grand Prix was seen by 427,000 viewers on SPEED Television. FOX’s four race average for 2012 was 1.04 million, so Monaco’s figure was considerably higher than that. Overall, the ratings picture is looking very rosy in America, the fans over there liking the ‘new style’ Formula 1 where tyres, DRS and KERS are concerned. It also shows what happens when a sport moves to a higher profile network, as has happened in America with the rights moving from SPEED to NBC.

NBC’s press release also notes increases versus SPEED’s coverage in two key demographics:

– 461,000 vs 127,000 in the Adults 18-49 demographic
– 674,000 vs 160,000 in the Adults 25-54 demographic

Elsewhere, NASCAR is still king with an average of 7 million viewers over on FOX in primetime. No Indianpolis 500 viewership numbers have been reported, however, Sports Media Watch are reporting that the race scored a 3.8 overnight rating, the lowest since the race began airing live in 1986. After several barren years, Formula 1’s popularity appears to be back on the rise in America, thanks to the success of Formula 1’s return to America last year, and no doubt ratings may improve further if an American such as Alexander Rossi comes onto the scene in the future, the country is such a huge market which the sport needs to exploit.

Monaco Grand Prix ratings improve versus 2012

The Monaco Grand Prix ratings this past weekend improved versus low numbers in 2012, but failed to reach previous highs, overnight ratings show. As in 2012, the weather in the United Kingdom on the day of the race was very warm which no doubt hurt the ratings slightly.

Sky Sports F1’s live coverage averaged 855,000 viewers with an 11.3 percent share according to ITV Media’s top 10. What I do not know is what the average covers. It either covers 11:30 to 16:00 or 11:30 to 17:00, which is when Sky Sports F1 went off air in the end. If it is the former, then the entire average will be nearer 750,000 viewers, but we will only know that for definite when BARB updates next week with the official ratings. In terms of peak viewership, I think we are looking at between 1.5 million to 1.7 million viewers. Sky will be happy with that all considering, as the weather could have hit the Grand Prix harder. I should note that the ratings do not include anyone who watched via Sky Go or NOW TV, but they will only add about 100,000 viewers at most to the viewership numbers.

BBC One’s highlights programme averaged 3.11 million viewers from 17:35 to 19:05, a 22 percent share. The combined figure is therefore in the region of 3.9 million viewers, marginally up on 2012. I really don’t think you could have expected much more than that, it was a Bank Holiday weekend, the weather was fantastic so the Formula 1 was bound to be affected – as it was in 2009 and 2012. Here are the past Monaco Grand Prix ratings:

Monaco Grand Prix – Official Ratings
2002 – 4.16 million
2003 – 3.76 million
2004 – 3.19 million
2005 – 3.33 million
2006 – 2.64 million
2007 – 3.70 million
2008 – 3.98 million
2009 – 3.64 million
2010 – 4.74 million
2011 – 5.15 million
2012 – 3.77 million / 3.97 million (using ‘35 percent theory‘)
2013 – 3.96 million / 4.26 million*

* note, assuming that the programme average is indeed 855,000 viewers

Qualifying averaged 2.35 million on BBC One, with Sky’s live coverage bringing 413,000 viewers to the channel from 12:00 to 15:05. GP2 after the Formula 1 averaged 54,000 viewers. The combined Qualifying rating is therefore 2.76 million viewers, a nice rise on last year’s 2.49 million, and is the second highest Monaco Grand Prix Qualifying rating on record. It peaked with 3.66 million viewers – 2.80 million on BBC and 857,000 on Sky. Only 2011 recorded higher, that particular Qualifying session recording a mammoth 3.30 million viewers and a peak of 4 million viewers.

Looking ahead to Canada, and the rating will definitely be higher than last year as there will be live free to air coverage in primetime, which will help.

The 2012 Monaco Grand Prix ratings report can be found here. Note: The ratings information comes from Digital Spy, TV Ratings UK and BARB.

Formula One Management “may consider” live streaming online

Formula One Management (FOM) are considering removing the online element from every Formula One broadcasting contract and setting up their own hub over on Formula1.com, reports say this morning. The news is from Christian Sylt and Autoweek.com.

The important and vital part of the article is a quote from page 144 of 498 of Formula One’s planned flotation on the Singapore Stock Exchange:

We are in the initial stages of developing our digital media assets. The right to stream races online is typically licensed out to our broadcast partners around the world but we may consider changing our model and exploiting them independently in the future. As the exclusive rights holder to the World Championship, we have the benefit of controlling both our online platform and content which gives us a wide range of opportunities to monetise our rights, including through internal and third party solutions. We will continue to enhance the digital experience over time for our fans by exploring new opportunities including allowing access to premium digital content as well as adding additional language options to our website.

Considering how sluggish Formula One Management has been regarding anything concerning digital, I’m not sure how likely this is, when you consider how long it took the sport switch to widescreen (2007) and then the switch to high definition (2011). It is also light years behind where social media is concerned, as I have outlined before.

Past history would suggest that FOM would not push for any changes in the broadcasting landscape, but strange things have happened. If the above did happen though, they would have to face up to the fact that the rights that broadcasters pay as a result would be reduced. Take BBC at the moment. I can (for their live races) watch online live with BBC iPlayer and have the ability to rewind, pause and fast forward if watching on a delay. I can also watch races via BBC iPlayer on a 7 day delay. iPlayer is a fairly significant part of their structure, and I am not sure they would be too pleased if you removed that, and nor would viewers. BBC currently pay in the region of £15 million to £20 million. Would they want to pay that if what they could offer was reduced? From a fan perspective, I wouldn’t want to pay for something that I previously had the opportunity to watch free. If I am unable to watch via the TV, I would not want to pay an extra X pound to watch online, where is the incentive to do that?

I think FOM should definitely consider this though, but it needs to be exploited only for countries where Formula One is starting out and is on the rise. Formula One is not on the rise in the UK. Yes, it is stable but there is no real movement (if anything, it is going slightly down). If this comes into force, FOM should target those countries where Formula One is on the rise, and without online rights as they can they entice viewers to begin watching the sport and to watch online.

As always though, the price has to be right. For example, charging someone £9.99 would be too expensive any day of the week, but streaming a race for £1.99 may be a popular option. Of course, there is also the potential for archive rights to play a part here if FOM really wanted to head down that route.

Will it happen though? We shall see.

To free or not to free

BT Sport have this evening released an advert promoting their MotoGP coverage which will begin next season. The advert will be seen in several newspapers across the country beginning tomorrow and features Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow. Whilst the advert may be controversial in the wording, the actual visuals and adverts in nationwide newspapers is a fantastic advert for MotoGP itself, and is head and shoulders above the visuals on a similar Sky Sports advert for their Formula 1 coverage.

The main wording on the advert is as follows:

Every Lap Free.
From next season, BT Sport’s new TV channels will have the exclusive rights to all the MotoGP Grand Prix for the next five years, including every warm up, practice, qualifying and race live.
FREE with BT Broadband.
Call 0800 500 240. btsport.com.

The small print is as follows:

Available 1 Aug. Residential broadband customers only. BT broadband customers can watch BT Sport online at home with a minimum line speed of 400kbps. To watch BT Sport online elsewhere you need 3G/4G wifi (charges may apply). To watch BT Sport at btsport.com you need Microsoft Silverlight. The BT Sport App works on iPhone (3GS and above), iPad (iOS 5.1.1 and above) & selected Android devices with OS 4.0. BT Sport is also available on the Sky Digital Platform and on BT TV with Infinity for new and existing broadband customers who sign up for 12 months or have 12 months remaining on their contract, ongoing renewal needed to get free BT Sport. e-billing required. UK only. Terms apply. Please check bt.com/sport for details.

So, the advert makes clear and bold use of the word free several times. The misleading advertising section of the Advertising Standards Authority code is relevant here. I think it is a fine line here between what is and what is not acceptable. What strikes it in the advert though is that it does say that BT Sport is free with BT Broadband. Should the word ‘only’ be added at the end of that sentence? Of course. But BT will say that it does not violate the code as it “make clear the extent of the commitment the consumer must make to take advantage of a “free” offer”. However, where in the small print does it say that the consumer must pay a fee to view BT Sport on BT Infinity or with Sky? It doesn’t. Therefore, the consumer may be misled into thinking that BT Sport is free with Sky. Which, as we know, is incorrect if you do not have BT Broadband.

Another possible point of contention is the idea that the customer could be getting BT Broadband free as a result. I think the consumer would understand that the actual broadband package will cost money, but may still be a point of contention. Whilst the advert is misleading in some ways, I cannot see the advert being pulled. Their adverts have already come under scrutiny, so we shall see what happens.