Looking ahead to 2014

The first four parts of the 2013 verdict looked back at the year gone by and analysed both the BBC and Sky Sports F1 products, along with their respective teams. But of course while Formula 1 plays a large part in this blog (hence the blog name), it is easy every so often to get wrapped in the Formula 1 bubble. Which in why in 2013, I have been trying to cover more than just Formula 1 on the blog, on both two and four wheels.

Sometimes, in the broadcasting and media world, you have to look at the bigger picture to see what patterns are emerging, to see where the landscape is heading, to see what could be the next big thing. Enter BT Sport. Launching on August 1st, 2013, BT has only been on air for five months. March 2014 will signal the beginning of their MotoGP coverage. Sitting here, writing this at the end of 2013, we still do not know who will form part of the line-up. Obviously first impressions are vital, so it will be interesting to see who is announced, no doubt within the next month I imagine.

I hope that viewing figures are good for MotoGP, but we will only get the full picture after a few races of the season. Critically, they need a championship battle to last for the majority of the season to prevent viewing figures dropping. Of course, the figures will be lower than BBC, I just hope by not a huge amount. Another story in 2014 will be the Formula E rights announcement, which will be make up break for the series. If it is not on terrestrial television, then it will simply blend in with the rest and won’t stand out, simple as. If they want the concept to be successful in this country, it needs to be easily accessible. Time will tell.

And then of course we have all the usual Formula 1 discussion, from both BBC and Sky, home and abroad. Year three of a seven year contract means that both sides should have firmly settled in, although like last year, we could well see some surprising changes. Along with that there will be the usual ratings analysis, will the draw of the ‘2014 formula’ bring viewers back to Formula 1 again, or will viewing figures slip down a notch further? A lot of questions ahead for 2014, some bigger than others, and it looks set to be another interesting year on the broadcasting front.

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9 thoughts on “Looking ahead to 2014

  1. I will be intrigued to sample BT’s MotoGP coverage (probably via the Ukraine 😉 ) and whether they have a better handle on the real fan base than Sky have on F1.

    I think this year may be Sky’s last chance with Formula 1 for me.

    Their coverage is actually killing my viewing passion for the sport and bearing in mind the cost, even though I’m on the most frugal package, if they don’t get it right this year it will be my last as a Sky viewer.

    The Formula E coverage will have to be spectacular to get my interest, if I wanted to listen to a whining gearbox I’d buy an old Rover Metro.

  2. I hope Sky haven’t “firmly settled in”, as that would mean they’re happy with the slump in their viewers, and wouldn’t be to bothered with a further reduction.

    I think they should get their fingers out, axe some of the dead wood presenters, get a unique feel to their broadcasts, show some originality and cut all the endless repeats.

  3. Having bullied and extorted as many package upgrades and contract swaps as possible, I suspect Sky are ticking off the days till the end of 2018. Come 2018 Sky will drop F1 like a prickly cack covered piece of lava.

    No wonder their viewing figures keep falling, their output makes most F1 fans either fall asleep, get angry or cringe.

    Until they realize that you cannot serve up F1 in a dispassionate football/rugby coverage style their figures will continue to wane.

  4. I watched most of the 2013 F1 season on Sky and although the channel on paper looks good as a concept. When it came to watching the races, qualifying and practice, the Beeb takes the edge over Sky by quite a large margin. If Suzi cannot improve upon her 2nd season of covering F1, then you could say that the position she is in is under scrutiny.

    Although, I do think that the way Sky cover F1 in a format similar to Football/Cricket doesn’t work because F1 is a far more technical sport to cover than these sports combined which makes it difficult to get inside the cockpit and really explain what these bits of equipment do in the car is unworkable.

    Where things stand at the moment is I will be watching the 2014 season in it’s entireity on the BBC. Sky should stick to what they do best, football, cricket and rugby. That’s it!

  5. Umar touches on one of the key points Sky fail to appreciate.

    F1 is a very technical sport and this is one of the key reasons Sky’s coverage fails.

    We play football and cricket at school, and sometimes on in to adulthood. This gives many people a feeling of qualification way above their ability. Visit most pubs on a Saturday or Sunday and you’ll discover a group of people criticizing David Moyes or Alastair Cook with complete conviction that they could do a better job.

    Sky have cribbed this scenario for their football and cricket coverage, a group of blokes, stood around, chatting about stuff above their skill level.

    F1 fans, even the really knowledgeable ones, just don’t do this. They know that unless you have the pages of data in front of you, you can’t criticize Ross Brawn or Monisha Kaltenborn. It’s this distinction between the knowledgeable, empathetic fans and footie weekend warrior know-it-alls that Sky have complete failed to appreciate.

    • Which is why when BBC had sole rights to F1 in 2009-2011, the balance of technical analysis added in with the entertainment value of Jake, DC and EJ made it a force to be reckoned with.

      Also, not to mention ITV’s coverage from 1997-2008 which was a major factor in the BBC giving us the best coverage of F1 this country has seen to date. There has to be a line drawn in the sand of how we see F1 from our eyes because we want the technical details, but we want to see some amazing racing as well without artificial gimmicks such as DRS protruding the races we see.

      That’s why to be fair, Sky have got it all wrong and I do think if they drop F1 like a brick, BBC, ITV, C4 or even Eurosport have to make sure that they have a firm commitment to covering F1. Otherwise we will see dwindling audiences which will mean more mid-field teams losing sponsorship and pulling out of F1 together.

  6. I think Sky dropping F1 is more of a when, rather than an if.

    I’d be surprised if Sky even honour their entire contract, possibly selling back to the BBC before 2018. They only acquired it as a sales blackmail tool and by the beginning of next season I’m sure they’ll have sucked that entire demographic dry of any new subscriptions.

    I think the only thing that will keep Sky in F1 is if the rumuours that they’re tendering to replace FOM’s own broadcast team and implement 3D.

    I can’t see this happening for two reasons. Firstly I know how much Bernie pays the FOM guys and the conditions they work under and I really don’t see how Sky could undercut that. Secondly having seen some of the 3D footage from testing it looks awful.

  7. I find the whole Sky v BBC debate fascinating and would add that while I’m fortunate enough to have both – I’ll always watch the BBC when live coverage is available. What we must all be thankful for though is that we are still able to enjoy at least substantial free to air coverage of F1.

    MotoGP however, thanks to Dorna will now only be available via BTSport and that has to be a disaster for the fans and UK viewing figures.

    I’m not sure what UK viewing figures have been for MotoGP, but I’m guessing on a good weekend the BBC, together with the excellent Eurosport coverage may have got a total audience of nearly 2m. Compare that with BTSport, who despite their big promotion of Premier League matches, are only getting low viewing figures of around 400,000 for live coverage of our national sport.

    What chance MotoGP – 200,000 at best maybe? This is such a shame given that we now have three British riders in the top class, whose efforts will go largely unnoticed by the majority of fans. If only Dorna would listen to the fans and at the very least sanction a free to air highlights package.

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