Scheduling: The 2015 London ePrix

It has been eight months since the Beijing ePrix. Now, only a few days remain until the final leg of the inaugural Formula E season! The final weekend is actually a double header, comprising of rounds ten and eleven of the championship from Battersea Park in London. For the first time, ITV will be on location on both Saturday and Sunday, with Jennie Gow presenting from trackside alongside Marc Priestley, Alex Brundle and Jolyon Palmer.

Round ten of the championship takes place on the Saturday, with qualifying and the race being broadcast live on ITV4. Highlights will air late at night on ITV. The following day, in a Formula E first, round eleven will air exclusively live on ITV’s main channel, with four and a half hours of coverage. It is the first time since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix that motor sport has aired live on ITV(1).

The schedule that ITV are putting out that weekend is somewhat reminiscent of their Formula 1 coverage. ITV will go on air half an hour before the qualifying session, with 15 minutes of reaction and analysis, following the same structure that ITV F1’s qualifying shows had for many years in the early 2000s. The race itself has an hour build-up, again like ITV F1 with analysis following the show. When asked by this blog, ITV did not state whether Sunday’s race would feature commercials, noting that “commercial airtime will be taken in accordance with OFCOM regulations.” Given that Formula E races last around 45 minutes, I hope the Sunday race on ITV(1) does run commercial free, but time will tell.

What we also don’t know is whether the ITV network will broadcast season two of Formula E. ITV simply stated that “cannot yet comment on plans,” which suggests that discussions are ongoing, or that an announcement is currently under embargo. If they are screening season two, I’d expect an announcement by the end of the London ePrix weekend to capitalise on publicity. Unfortunately, viewing figures have not been great so far, in my opinion.

Aside from Formula E, there is the British Touring Car Championship on ITV4 along with the Goodwood Festival of Speed, airing live on Motors TV and Sky Sports. The IndyCar action is live on ESPN, whilst MotoGP is in Assen meaning that as usual the races are held on the Saturday.

Formula E – London – Races 1 and 2 (online via FIAFormulaE.com)
27/06 and 28/06 – 08:10 to 09:10 – Practice 1
27/06 and 28/06 – 10:25 to 11:10 – Practice 2

Formula E – London – Race 1
27/06 – 11:30 to 13:15 – Qualifying (ITV4)
27/06 – 15:00 to 17:30 – Race (ITV4)
27/06 – 22:55 to 23:55 – Highlights (ITV)

Formula E – London – Race 2 (ITV)
28/06 – 11:30 to 13:15 – Qualifying
28/06 – 15:00 to 17:45 – Race
28/06 – 22:15 to 23:15 – Highlights

British Touring Car Championship – Croft (ITV4)
28/06 – 11:00 to 18:15 – Races

Goodwood Festival of Speed (Motors TV)
27/06 – 13:00 to 19:00 – Day 1
28/06 – 09:00 to 15:00 – Day 2

Goodwood Festival of Speed (Sky Sports)
28/06 – 15:00 to 17:00 – Live (1 and F1)

IndyCar Series – Fontana (ESPN)
27/06 – 21:00 to 01:00 – Live

MotoGP – Assen (BT Sport 2)
25/06 – 08:00 to 15:00
=> 08:00 – Practice 1
=> 10:45 – Reaction and Build-Up
=> 12:00 – Practice 2
26/06 – 08:00 to 15:15
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
27/06 – 07:30 to 09:15 – Warm Up
27/06 – 09:30 to 21:00
=> 09:30 – Races
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Assen (ITV4)
29/06 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights

Lewis Hamilton on The Graham Norton Show (BBC One)
26/06 – 22:35 to 23:20

As always, if anything changes I will update the schedule.

Update on June 27th – For reasons unknown, Jolyon Palmer doesn’t appear to be with ITV’s Formula E team this weekend, instead of it Kyle Wilson-Clarke as the fourth man with them.

Update on June 28th – Turns out it was Wilson-Clarke on Saturday with Palmer today. Also, I didn’t note above that Andy Jaye is in pit lane for ITV.

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24 Hours of Le Mans peaks with 428,000 viewers

The 2015 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans peaked with nearly half a million viewers across British Eurosport and Quest TV, overnight viewing figures reveal.

The race, screened live on British Eurosport from 13:45 on Saturday through to 14:15 on Sunday, averaged 70k (1.1%), which is up on last year and equal with 2013’s average. The 5-minute peak on Eurosport of 172k (2.0%) came at 13:50 on Sunday afternoon, again up on 2014, but down on 2013’s peak audience of 248k. Of course, that is taking Eurosport’s figures in isolation. When you take into account Quest’s numbers, the picture is significantly different.

Quest TV aired four programmes: two live programmes at the start and end of the race respectively, alongside two highlights programmes. The start of the race on Quest, from 13:30 to 15:30 on Saturday, averaged 140k (1.7%). In comparison, Eurosport averaged 131k (1.6%) from 13:45 to 15:30. The combined peak during this time period was a whopping 345k (4.1%) at 15:20, with the audience split 190k (2.3%) on Quest versus 154k (1.8%) on Eurosport.

Unsurprisingly, the highlights programming on Quest rated lower than the live action, with 94k (0.5%) at 21:00 on Saturday and 45k (1.6%) at 07:00 on Saturday, although both numbers were higher than the equivalent timeslot on Eurosport. Quest’s live programme on Sunday from 13:00 to 14:30 averaged 198k (2.3%), their most watched programme of the day. The combined peak audience for the entire race came at 14:00 on Sunday, as 428k (5.0%) watched the #19 Porsche car win outright. At the time of the peak, 258k (3.0%) were watching on Quest, with a further 171k (2.0%) on British Eurosport.

What is interesting about the numbers is that Eurosport never lost any viewers, their audience broadly stayed the same year-on-year. Quest TV’s audience appears to be new, because of the wider reach that the channel has, and presumably filled with viewers who can not access Eurosport. Looking at the breakdowns, Quest’s live programming outperformed the slot average comfortably, suggesting that what they did this year worked. It bodes well for them increasing their coverage in 2016, although I don’t think a complete simulcast of Eurosport’s coverage is viable or feasible. It should be remembered that both Eurosport and Quest TV are owned by Discovery Communications, this is simply two channels with the same owner working together for the greater good. Quest TV provided their own, distinct colour to the coverage with Louise Goodman and Marc Priestley presenting their shows.

Quest TV isn’t the most well known channel, but it shows what can be done. I do think Le Mans could do even better if the UK rights were not restricted by Discovery exclusivity. I can understand why it is done, as it makes the event easier to distribute across Europe, but from a viewing figures perspective, it limits the potential. According to BARB, ITV4 reaches triple the number of Quest TV, and could therefore bring triple the viewers with it. As shown, any change would not be detrimental to Eurosport’s numbers. Nevertheless, looking at 2015, the numbers are superb for Le Mans and hopefully can be built on further if the “Quest formula” is repeated and more importantly enhanced upon.

The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans ratings report can be found here

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Scheduling: The 2015 Austrian Grand Prix

The Formula 1 paddock heads back to Europe from Montreal to the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix! Unless, of course, your name is Nico Hulkenberg, in which case you head from a race-winning victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans back to the Grand Prix paddock.

Sky Sports F1 will be screening the weekend’s action live, although both qualifying and the race will be simulcast live on Sky Sports 1. The move is presumably an attempt to reach a wider audience in the off-season for football, although whether it actually works or not is another matter altogether. BBC have their usual highlights programming, the race highlights are on BBC One this year with no Summer sporting clashes to contend with.

I know it isn’t related to F1, but I hope both broadcasters give Porsche’s Le Mans victory, of which Hulkenberg was a part of, adequate coverage next weekend. In my opinion, winning the biggest endurance race in the world is a more significant achievement than the latest Mercedes victory in F1, and should be recognised as such. I’m not just saying that because F1 is being criticised at the moment, historically I’m sure many F1 drivers would happily trade an F1 victory for winning Le Mans. Plus, there are several related stories hanging off that about other drivers who wish to do Le Mans in the future. As noted a few days ago, next weekend also marks the terrestrial television première of Rush, which will be shown on Channel 4.

Below are all the scheduling details you need…

BBC F1
BBC One
20/06 – 17:30 to 18:45 – Qualifying Highlights
21/06 – 17:05 to 18:35 – Race Highlights

BBC News Channel
19/06 – 18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1
20/06 – 18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1

BBC Radio
19/06 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
19/06 – 12:55 to 14:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
19/06 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
20/06 – 12:55 to 14:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
21/06 – 12:55 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
19/06 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1
19/06 – 12:45 to 15:00 – Practice 2
20/06 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
20/06 – 12:00 to 14:35 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports 1)
21/06 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race (also Sky Sports 1)
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
18/06 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
18/06 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut: Austria
19/06 – 16:00 to 16:45 – Team Press Conference
19/06 – 17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show
21/06 – 16:15 to 17:15 – Tales from the Vault: Family Dynasties
24/06 – 20:30 to 21:00 – Midweek Report

GP2 Series – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
19/06 – 11:00 to 11:50 – Practice
19/06 – 14:50 to 15:40 – Qualifying
20/06 – 14:35 to 16:05 – Race 1
21/06 – 09:30 to 10:45 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
20/06 – 08:45 to 09:25 – Qualifying
20/06 – 16:15 to 17:15 – Race 1
21/06 – 08:20 to 09:20 – Race 2

FILM: Rush
20/06 – 21:00 to 23:25 (Channel 4)
22/06 – 21:00 to 23:25 (4seven)

As always, if anything changes, I will update the schedule.

Hamilton’s Canadian win peaks with 6.4 million

Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Canadian Grand Prix peaked with 6.4 million viewers in the UK, according to overnight viewing figures.

Race
The race, broadcast live on BBC One from 18:25 to 21:00, averaged 4.62m (25.0%). The number is near identical to the past two years. 2013’s race averaged 4.61m (23.6%) from 18:15 to 21:10, whilst coverage in 2014 averaged 4.59m (23.3%) from 18:20 to 21:00. To have three different years separated by just 30k shows how consistent the numbers have been for BBC’s coverage in Canada. BBC’s peak audience of 5.48m (26.0%) came as Lewis Hamilton crossed the line, marginally down on 2013’s peak of 5.55m. In the grand scheme of things, the numbers are good, perhaps they would have liked it to be slightly higher but it’s not a disappointing result by any stretch of the imagination.

Over on Sky Sports F1, their coverage averaged 619k (3.4%) from 18:00 to 21:30. Last year’s coverage across the equivalent slot averaged 818k (4.2%), which is a fairly hefty drop of 24 percent year-on-year. However, including the Sky Sports 1 simulcast, which averaged around 117k (0.6%), brings the percentage drop down to 10 percent. Which is still bad, but not as bad, although I question whether you should bundle Sky Sports 1 and F1 together and then make a comparison with the Sky Sports F1 only figure from last year. Either way, it is again not a pretty picture for Sky. Why have Sky’s ratings dropped compared to 2014, and more interestingly, will the trend continue? It was a similar story for Sky’s peaks: 1.13m last year compared with 952k this year (including Sky Sports 1), a 16 percent drop.

The combined audience of 5.35m is down on both 2013 and 2014 marginally. 2014 averaged 5.40m, whilst 2013 averaged 5.36m. It is the third race in a row which has seen viewership drop year-on-year. The Austrian Grand Prix is guaranteed to reverse that trend, with highlights being screened on BBC One this year as opposed to BBC Two last year.

Formula E drops further
The inaugural Formula E season continued to stumble towards the finishing line, hitting a near low for the Moscow ePrix. Live coverage of the race, airing on ITV4 from 13:00 to 15:30 on Saturday, averaged just 77k (1.0%). If it wasn’t for the Putrajaya ePrix, which averaged 66k (5.1%) in the early hours of the morning last November, that number would have been a series low.

The race, won by Nelson Piquet Jr, peaked with 128k (1.7%), compared with 137k (7.2%) for Putrajaya, so from a peak perspective, Moscow was a series low. The series low’s should stop now, with the London ePrix up next, but it is impossible to tell how much the numbers will increase with the series being on home turf.

The 2014 Canadian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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