News round-up: Hamilton visits BBC; Perry staying with BBC

In this round-up, the first piece of the 2015 Formula One broadcasting jigsaw has moved into place, and the 2014 Formula One champion has been doing a few bits of a media…

Hamilton visits BBC, on multiple occasions
It has been a very busy week for Lewis Hamilton, following his title victory at last Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Monday started bright and early with media interviews from the likes of BBC Radio, NBC Sports and Sky Sports. 24 hours later, and Hamilton was up in Salford. Hamilton was live on BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live, in the latter piece, he surprised a nine year old go-karting champion, which was a nice bit of radio to listen to!

On Thursday, Hamilton was on Nick Grimshaw’s Breakfast show on Radio 1, transforming the live lounge into a Scalextric track! He later dropped by ITV’s This Morning programme. Currently, he’s in Stuttgart for a Mercedes publicity event. So a very busy week for the world champion. One programme he was not on was The F1 Show last night due to the Stuttgart event, but I was happy to see Daniel Ricciardo as guest on the show, although admittedly this fact was not promoted too much. Nevertheless, it is nice to see F1 get a lot of publicity with Hamilton doing the media rounds.

Perry staying with BBC F1 for 2015
The first Formula 1 broadcasting announcement of the off-season is that Suzi Perry is definitely staying with the BBC F1 team for 2015, as announced on her Twitter account in response to a fan question. In terms of timescale, expect the 2015 BBC and Sky scheduling details to be confirmed just before Christmas, probably Friday 19th December based on previous years. If there are any major changes, I’d also expect that to be confirmed before Christmas as well, although its worth noting that Gary Anderson’s departure from BBC F1 was not publicly known until after the festive period.

Any broadcasting changes are likely to surround whether Jenson Button is in fact retiring, and if so, whether he wishes to stay in the paddock, but as a broadcaster. If the answer to both of those two questions is yes, then we could see some movement depending on whether Button wishes to join BBC or Sky. One suggestion that I have read is that David Coulthard could join Sky. That would free up a space on BBC’s team for Button to fit into. That would benefit both broadcasters in my eyes. We should get some idea of where things are heading in the next week or so, assuming McLaren do not hold off their driver announcement much longer.

Movement in World Superbikes
Over on two wheels, Steve Day and Gregory Haines have been confirmed as Dorna’s World Feed commentators for the World Superbike Championship. Day moves across from covering bikes for Eurosport since 2011, whilst Haines switches from the MotoGP paddock, where he was World Feed commentator this year alongside Nick Harris.

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BBC and Sky programming over the festive period

The 2014 Christmas schedules are starting to come out and with that, some end of season reviews to make you aware of.

BBC have their usual season review, whilst over on Sky, they have an #AskCrofty Special and Midweek Report review before Christmas. Sky also have two specials concerning Lewis Hamilton and Johnny Herbert. Details are unknown about both shows, but I suspect the Hamilton special is Sky’s season review. Some team review details should filter through soon, assuming Sky are still going down that route as in previous years.

No sign of live coverage of the AUTOSPORT Awards or the FIA Gala on Sky Sports F1 in the UK, which shouldn’t be too surprising as they did not screen live coverage in 2012 or 2013, although highlights of the former were screened over the Christmas period last year. There is not a massive amount in the schedules at the moment, but listed below are the current scheduling details.

BBC F1
27/12/14 – 13:00 to 14:10 – Season Review (BBC One)

Sky F1
05/12/14 – 20:00 to 21:30 – The F1 Show #AskCrofty Special (Sky Sports F1)
10/12/14 – 21:15 to 22:15 – Midweek Report Season Review (Sky Sports F1)
13/12/14 – 23:00 to 00:00 – Lewis Hamilton: A Champion’s Story (Sky Sports 1 + F1)
19/12/14 – 20:35 to 21:30 – 2014 AUTOSPORT Awards Highlights (Sky Sports F1)

As always, any updates and I will update the above.

Update on December 13th – It looks like the Hamilton special is actually premièring on Monday 13th November at 23:00 on Sky Sports 1 and F1. What this means is that there is no season review over the Christmas period, and it also looks like there will be no team reviews over, so a significant reduction in output for the channel, besides the usual repeats.

Update on December 17th – Highlights of the AUTOSPORT Awards have been added to Sky’s schedules.

Update on December 23rd – The ‘Johnny Herbert: Life Without Limits’ show has disappeared completely from Sky’s schedules, so presumably the show is not happening.

Nearly six million watch Rosberg’s title defeat in Germany

Whilst a peak audience of 7.9 million viewers watched Lewis Hamilton win Formula One title number two in the UK, over in Germany, viewing figures were solid, but not spectacular.

According to Quotenmeter.de, an average audience of 5.74m (34.2%) watched the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from 14:05 German time on RTL. A further 180k watched on Sky Deutschland, bringing the combined audience to about 5.9 million viewers. That compares with the 4.35m (25.3%) that watched the Singapore Grand Prix on RTL in September, so the UK and German uplift was broadly similar.

As widely documented, the TV ratings in Germany have sharply dropped this year by about 30 percent. In fact, that 5.74 million number above is identical to the number that watched the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix, which shows how much the numbers have dropped. In the context of the season, the number is good, but year-on-year, its not been a great year for Formula 1 numbers in Germany.

It will be interesting to see whether the numbers increase again in 2015 with Sebastian Vettel heading to Ferrari…

Hamilton’s title win peaks with 7.9 million

A strong peak audience of 7.89m watched Lewis Hamilton become a two-time Formula One champion, unofficial overnight viewing figures show.

Race
BBC One’s live coverage of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, screened from 12:10 to 15:30, averaged 4.71m (35.2%), peaking with 6.53m (42.1%) as Hamilton crossed the line. A further 963k (7.3%) watched on Sky Sports F1 from 12:00 to 15:30, their coverage peaked with 1.36m (8.8%) at the same time. The combined average of 5.67m is the highest of the entire season, but it is not the highest ever for Abu Dhabi. In 2010, an average of 5.78m (41.4%) watched Sebastian Vettel’s title victory at the same race track. Having looked at the breakdown, the reason for this is because BBC’s coverage in 2010 started off very high having followed the Remembrance Sunday service directly before it, whereas the start of BBC’s coverage began at a relatively low base in comparison.

At the start of the race, 6.02m (46.8%) were watching BBC One and Sky Sports F1. As always, its worth remembering the figures refer to people, not homes, so this is six million people. That figure climbed quickly to 6.67m (48.7%) by 13:25. After a brief dip for both channels, the combined figure hit 6.84m (48.0%) at 13:50, breaking through the seven million barrier at 14:15. At 14:30, 7.50m (49.8%) were watching as Hamilton entered the final laps, peaking with 7.89m (50.9%) at 14:40. The peak is 530k higher than the 7.36m (50.5%) that watched Vettel’s title win at its peak four years ago.

It goes without saying that the numbers are significantly lower than the 8.8m average and 13.1m peak that watched Hamilton clinched his first title back in Brazil 2008. From a publicity point of view, it does Formula 1 no good whatsoever having the championship decider in Abu Dhabi. By doing that yesterday, Formula 1 lost several million viewers as a result. The UK numbers would have been higher had yesterday’s race been held in Brazil. Okay, I’m not saying the F1 would have peaked with 13.1m viewers yesterday had it been in Brazil as that had some fairly unique circumstances surrounding it, but the peak number would have been higher than 7.89m.

Sky’s extended post-race coverage reaped the rewards of Hamilton’s championship victory. An average of 340k (2.4%) watched their coverage from 15:30 to 16:50, remaining above 400k until after 16:00.

Qualifying and Formula E
Live coverage of qualifying averaged 2.38m (23.8%) on BBC One from 12:10 to 14:15. Sky Sports F1 added 341k (3.6%) during its extended 11:15 to 14:35 slot. The first 45 minutes averaged 208k (2.8%), which is a brilliant figure when you consider that a classic race in the same 45 minute period in the past has failed to average even half of that number. From 12:00 to 14:35, the channel averaged 380k (3.8%), with Sky1’s coverage bringing in 59k (0.6%). The combined figure of 2.82m for the coverage is down on last season’s number, BBC having had highlights of last year’s qualifying session on the fringes of primetime.

Elsewhere, Formula E dropped from its inaugural race in Beijing. Round 2 from Putrajaya averaged 66k (5.1%) from 05:00 to 07:30 on ITV4, peaking with 137k (7.2%) at 06:50. Highlights from 18:00 averaged 95k (0.5%). By no means stellar, but even those low figures beat all GP2 and GP3 programming on Sky Sports F1 and would compare solidly with MotoGP on BT Sport. Had that race been on BT Sport, the figures would have been embarrassing.

Three things did not help Formula E at the weekend. The first undoubtedly was the ten week gap, which sadly for the series was unavoidable. The Putrajaya race was originally meant to be held in October but was moved at the request of the Malaysian government. The date change meant it clashed with the Formula 1 season finale, and of course the late time change to avoid thunderstorms. So Formula E was always on the back foot. That should change now though as Uruguay, Argentina and two rounds in the USA follow between now and April which should help build an audience for the series from Beijing with the races being held in European primetime.

The 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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BBC F1 versus Sky Sports F1: Your 2014 Verdict

Lewis Hamilton is the 2014 Formula One champion! BBC’s and Sky’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix programming have just come off the air, which ends the third season of the current contract, set to last until the end of 2018.

I’ve commented many times over the course of the year about BBC and Sky, sometimes on more than one occasion also commenting about the quality of Formula One Management’s World Feed.

The F1 Broadcasting Blog wants to hear your opinion. How have you found the coverage this season? Have you enjoyed it? What have been the best bits? What haven’t been the best bits? Is the coverage better than ever before, or is there room for improvement? If you were in charge of the respective BBC and Sky production teams, what would you decide to change?

As always, your thoughts are much appreciated, and the best thoughts and opinions will be merged into a new blog post in a couple of weeks time. And for those of you who want to comment on BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage, head this way