Interaction

Currently, at the moment, Sky appear to operate with the following social media guidelines:

Sky Sports F1's current social media guideline, as I see it.
Sky Sports F1’s current social media guideline, as I see it.

For those of you who follow @SkySportsF1 or @SkyF1Insider on Twitter, you will notice that they rarely tweet during their shows (F1 sessions aside), that includes The F1 Show and the feeder series’ GP2 and GP3. Hence, at the moment we have a situation where they do not live tweet throughout their shows, meaning that there is little incentive for fans to tweet throughout their shows. I define ‘live tweeting’ as tweeting whilst the show is on air, the reason I say that is last week @SkyF1Insider tweeted behind the scenes videos last Friday, but they were before the show went to air, and all of those videos would not have made any significant difference as to who does or does not watch the show. As thus, there is no demand for other people to watch the show, in turn making no difference to the viewership. This cycle will rinse and repeat on a weekly basis, with no change on the horizon. No one really benefits, meaning that in the case of The F1 Show the viewership remains below 100,000 viewers.

I know someone is going to say “why did you not mention this last season?”. Quite simply because last year was Sky’s first season, and as thus they may have been coy on going in heavy on the interactivity because of the negativity towards the deal with BBC, so I can see why they did not do much on that side of things in 2012. But now in the second year of the deal, there is no reason why social media cannot play a bigger part in The F1 Show. Yes, they have introduced Your View, where viewers can e-mail their clips into the show. It is an improvement, but we are in 2013. Social media is the thing where instant communication is paramount. When you compare it to Jake Humphrey in 2011 looking on his phone scrolling down the tweets and selecting a few, Sky are light years behind where this is concerned. In my view, they should have the e-mail and live tweets, emphasis on the tweeting, it appears to me that even in year two Sky are ‘shying away’ from social media and live interaction on a weekly basis.

The diagram above should be more like this:

Sky Sports F1's social media guideline, as it should be.
Sky Sports F1’s social media guideline, as it should be.

Viewers tweeting in live can then have their thoughts discussed on the show, as well as the Twitter account discussing other users thoughts, the benefit of this would drive interaction instantly, resulting in more demand off viewers, and the end result is that viewers who would not normally tune in would be more inclined to tune in as a result. As well as this, dedicated @SkyF1Show, @SkyGP2 and @SkyGP3 accounts would be created to live tweet throughout shows, with @SkySportsF1 being used as their main hub. I think having @SkyGP2 and @SkyGP3 would help advertising their coverage where those two series’ are concerned as I have covered before on this blog, the only problem with that though is that as Sky take the GP2 and GP3 World Feed commentary with Will Buxton, I doubt they could mention those Twitter pages on air though. I’m surprised @SkyF1Show has not been created by them, though.

Am I right? I don’t know. But there must be a reason why Sky has individual accounts for @SoccerAM, @FantasyFC and other football related shows. I do think that The F1 Show at the moment is still not drawing in the viewers it should be, unless 70,000 to 80,000 viewers really is the roof. Whilst timeslot is definitely an issue, the amount of live interaction leaves a lot of potential left on the table.

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9 thoughts on “Interaction

  1. The problem we saw on occasion during the BBC’s F1 forum a few seasons ago, was the amount of fan boy gibberish being tweeted, and even the BBC slowly moved away from viewer tweets, Sky already have a shoddy reputation for being tacky and down market, and encouraging fan boy chit chat will only reinforce this, for every person that tweets about ‘boundary layers’ etc, 10,000 will tweet about why their favourite driver is better than the latest media pantomime villain driver, and as screen time is given over to tweets, the avid viewer will be switching off.

    So on the one hand viewers may increase (and Sky desperately need some viewers), but the increase will displace the more dedicated viewer. But maybe antagonising the avid F1 viewer is something Sky wouldn’t blink at.

    • It is an interesting debate, and one where I think it can be difficult to get the balance right. I don’t think the entire show should become ‘Twitter driven’, but definitely there should be more of an invitation for viewers to tweet to @SkyF1Show to get discussion going. I think a good case in point was in the post Vettel or Webber F1 Show after Malaysia, we didn’t get viewers thoughts instantly from Twitter. The thing as well is that any Twitter comment needs to serve some purpose whether it is X or Y disagreeing with a comment made on the show or a separate line of discussion that they want to happen. I was catching up with the British Touring Car Championship coverage a few weeks ago on ITV4, and seen Paul O’Neill had managed to get his own Twitter stand.

      In some cases I think it can detract from the broadcast, whereas at other points it can benefit a broadcast. Also, I think it depends on whether you want The F1 Show to be a series of features with a bit of chatter, or ‘chatter heavy’ as it were. The idea of them completely rejecting the social media idea though is absurd, they need to do something to bring The F1 Show’s viewership up (same with GP2 and GP3), because at the moment under 100,000 viewers is not good for what is meant to be the channel’s flagship show.

  2. I think you overestimate the impact of social media on viewership. There is little to nil evidence that social media activity has an impact on live TV audience although the F1 show might be niche enough to drive a few viewers (although whether you’d hit a BARB box family unit is a different question off a base of 100,000). A twitter metric is being looked at for american TV but if you look at the shows/properties that get social media awards there’s no correlation with increases in viewers.

    GP2/3 feel like bought in properties so attaching your online identity to them might be a bit odd.

    And to end on a personal view which might play into this – a lot of the target audience find twitter comments to be the digital equivalent of radio phone ins and would prefer they weren’t the focus of anything.

    • “GP2/3 feel like bought in properties” – well that’s the point really, it shouldn’t really feel like that, both series should feel like that are a proper part of the channel content as well, and I think mentioning them a bit more on social media would do it good.

      PS – saw you have commented on a few of my other articles, great to have you on board reading, some insightful thoughts!

  3. I just don’t see GP2&3 as being of interest to more than a handful of fans – there is no evidence to suggest even a higher quality product screened regularly in prime time with UK drivers people might have heard of (e.g Indy Car) can pull a decent number on the sky platform. You could make a long term investment by going live, doing bumper programming and making it interactive (e.g. Indy Car) but zero evidence there is a significant audience there. The only other factor would be whether you can sure up your subscriber base with the marginal investment – I’d argue simply having the live feed on live is enough (as opposed to the Eurosport approach).

    BTW Even as a relatively hard core fan would never contemplate watching GP2 qualifying if there was anything else on!

    • I tend to agree, but then it must be remembered that ITV back in 2008 had GP2 live on ITV4 with a pre-show and post-show, even if it was presented by Charlie Webster! I personally would like to see a short build-up and post-show for GP2 and GP3, just to bring some color to the action and put names to the faces.

      I do think GP2 needs a highlights package on terrestrial television like International Motor Sport a decade ago as I mentioned in the article linked at the foot of this article, I imagine if you ask many people who James Calado or Jolyon Palmer is, they wouldn’t be able to answer you. Unfortunately with BBC though that boat has passed a long time ago.

  4. Interesting observations/comments here – esp. considering that in the conclusion to my thesis I wondered about the impact twitter was having on the live broadcasts. I put more emphasis on the fans than the broadcasters but it is a very interesting point to consider…

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