Scheduling: The 2016 Italian Grand Prix / British MotoGP

An unusual weekend starts September as both the Formula 1 and MotoGP championships take centre stage on European turf. The Italian Grand Prix plays host to round 13 of the Formula 1 season, whilst Silverstone is home to round 12 of the MotoGP season.

Not much is known about the Channel 4 team as of writing. Lee McKenzie is heading back to Rio over the weekend, so presumably will not be in Monza. Alain Prost was meant to be with Channel 4’s team in Spa, but was not shown on-screen. It was mentioned pre-season that Channel 4 would adapt the presenting line-up as the season progressed, so I assume they pushed Prost’s planned Spa appearance to later in the year.

There are two special programmes on Channel 4 over the weekend: one is an extended interview with Jenson Button (filmed before the start of the season but only been uploaded online and not aired on TV) and the other is a feature-length film looking at Jackie Stewart’s participation in the 1971 Monaco Grand Prix. Sky will be airing a charity football game live from the starting grid on Thursday evening, pitting F1 stars against several football legends.

Over on BBC Radio 5 Live, Jennie Gow will not be on site with them for the remainder of the season as she will be giving birth at the beginning of October (congratulations, Jennie). BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage looks a little different on Sunday. The clash of dates with the Italian Grand Prix means that the MotoGP schedule is staggered around the F1, with the main MotoGP race not starting until 15:30. On the personnel side, Suzi Perry is back with BT as lead presenter to take viewers through the weekend.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
02/09 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1
02/09 – 12:55 to 14:40 – Practice 2
03/09 – 09:55 to 11:25 – Practice 3
03/09 – 11:55 to 14:30 – Qualifying
04/09 – 12:00 to 15:30 – Race

Supplementary Programming
03/09 – 11:25 to 11:55 – Murray Walker meets Jenson Button
04/09 – 06:20 to 08:00 – Weekend of a Champion

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
02/09 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1
02/09 – 12:45 to 14:50 – Practice 2
03/09 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
03/09 – 12:00 to 14:35 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Mix)
04/09 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade (also Sky Sports Mix)
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Mix)
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
01/09 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
01/09 – 17:00 to 18:00 – Charity Football: F1 All Stars vs Heineken Football Legends (also Sky Sports Mix)
01/09 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
02/09 – 15:30 to 16:00 – Team Press Conference
02/09 – 16:00 to 16:30 – The F1 Show
06/09 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
01/09 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
02/09 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
03/09 – 09:55 to 11:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
03/09 – 12:55 to 14:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
04/09 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

MotoGP – Britain (BT Sport 2)
02/09 – 09:00 to 16:00
=> 09:00 – Practice 1
=> 11:45 – Reaction and Build-Up
=> 13:00 – Practice 2
03/09 – 09:00 to 16:15
=> 09:00 – Practice 3
=> 12:00 – Qualifying
04/09 – 08:45 to 17:30
=> 08:45 – Warm Up
=> 10:30 – Build-Up
=> 11:30 – Moto3 race
=> 13:45 – Moto2 race
=> 15:15 – MotoGP race
=> 16:30 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Britain (ITV4)
05/09 – 22:00 to 23:00 – Highlights

24H Series – Barcelona (Motors TV)
03/09 – 10:30 to 19:15 – Race (first half)
04/09 (Sunday morning) – 01:45 to 11:30 – Race (second half)

GP2 Series – Italy (Sky Sports F1)
02/09 – 11:00 to 11:50 – Practice
02/09 – 14:50 to 15:30 – Qualifying
03/09 – 14:35 to 16:05 – Race 1
04/09 – 09:20 to 10:35 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Italy (Sky Sports F1)
03/09 – 08:45 to 09:20 – Qualifying
03/09 – 16:10 to 17:10 – Race 1
04/09 – 08:10 to 09:10 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Grand Prix at The Glen (BT Sport//ESPN)
04/09 – 19:00 to 22:00 – Race

World Endurance Championship – Mexico
03/09 – 19:15 to 01:45 – Race (Motors TV)
03/09 – 19:30 to 01:30 – Race (BT Sport 3)

World Touring Car Championship – Japan (Eurosport 2)
03/09 – 07:00 to 08:30 – Qualifying
04/09 – 06:30 to 08:30
=> 06:30 – Race 1
=> 07:30 – Race 2

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

Update on September 3rd – Holly Samos and Eddie Jordan are with Channel 4’s team this weekend.

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Belgian Grand Prix performs solidly year-on-year

The dramatic Belgian Grand Prix performed solidly despite a slight drop year-on-year, overnight viewing figures show.

Race
Live coverage of the race, broadcast on Channel 4 from 12:00 to 15:55, averaged 1.98m (21.2%), in-line with their other live race day broadcasts this season. Channel 4’s coverage peaked with 3.01m (29.4%) at 14:45 as Nico Rosberg won the race.

Compared with the BBC from last year, Channel 4’s figures stand up very well. BBC One’s Belgian Grand Prix coverage in 2015 averaged 2.44m (22.3%), peaking with 3.38m (27.4%). 2016’s figures represent a drop of 18.8 percent (average) and 11.1 percent (peak) year-on-year, by far the smallest decreases of the season so far for the channel. Channel 4 should be pleased with their own numbers.

Sky’s coverage, broadcast across Sky Sports F1 and their new Mix channel, averaged 617k (6.3%) from 12:00 to 15:30. 411k watched on the F1 channel, with a further 205k watching via Mix, a split of 66:34 in Sky Sports F1’s favour. Sky’s peak audience came at 13:50, as 969k (9.3%) watched the on track battle between Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen intensify.

Looking at Sky Sports F1 in isolation, the dedicated channel’s audience dropped by around 60k year-on-year, but when you include Sky Sports Mix, Sky’s total audience increases by 146k (or 31.1 percent). As mentioned during the Summer break, Sky does seem to be performing better in recent races compared with 2015.

The combined audience of 2.60 million viewers is the lowest for Belgium on record. However, Belgium has always rated due to the Bank Holiday effect: the only three years which averaged more than 3.5 million viewers were 2008, 2010 and 2011. The 2016 audience is down 10.7 percent on 2015’s audience of 2.91 million viewers. The combined peak of 3.94m (38.5%), recorded at 14:45, is down 5.1 percent on 2015’s peak audience of 4.15m (33.7%) and only 98k away from 2014’s peak audience of 4.04m (42.7%).

Qualifying
Channel 4’s live coverage of qualifying, which aired from 11:55 to 14:25, averaged 1.08m (13.4%), peaking with 1.41m (16.4%) at 13:55. The average number is a little lower than Britain and Hungary, but nothing out of the ordinary. The peak, however, is the lowest of the season for a live qualifying session on Channel 4.

Over on Sky Sports, their coverage which was simulcast across their dedicated F1 channel and Mix, averaged just 263k (3.3%) from 12:00 to 14:35, peaking with 430k (4.9%) at 13:05. Both metrics are the lowest ever for Sky at Spa. It is unusual to see a qualifying session peak at the start rather than the end, this shows that Lewis Hamilton’s grid drop (and non-participation in qualifying) had a detrimental effect on numbers. The effect is more obvious with Sky as their audience is more dedicated than Channel 4’s.

The combined qualifying audience of 1.34 million viewers is the lowest since the Spanish Grand Prix and the second lowest of 2016 so far. It is also the lowest for Belgium on record. The combined peak audience of 1.82m (20.9%), recorded at 13:10 across Channel 4, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Mix, is the lowest of the season so far.

The 2015 Belgian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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Haryanto and Verstappen shine on social media

Whilst this site tends to focus on the efforts of Channel 4 and Sky Sports where Formula 1 is concerned, it is important to comment on what Formula One Management (FOM) has done so far during 2016. With that, we also turn to social media where there have been several shining lights.

Formula 1 is constantly trying to break into new territories, so when a racer from a new territory comes along, it is little surprise to see their follower counts skyrocket. Enter Rio Haryanto. At the half way stage of the 2016 season, Haryanto has amassed a combined reach of 1.66 million accounts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A video posted by FOM on YouTube of his car rolling out the garage in pre-season testing has been watched over half a million times. These are massive numbers by F1’s standards, even with Haryanto’s Formula 1 exploits ending for the moment. Whether Formula 1’s popularity (beyond Haryanto) has increased in Indonesia though is unknown.

Max Verstappen has had a similar effect in the Netherlands, and his shock switch from Toro Rosso to Red Bull has helped the latter in the social media stakes. From a combined reach of 6.36 million accounts in December 2015 to a reach of 8.08 million accounts currently, this represents an increase of 1.72 million (or 27.0 percent), the largest for any team across the first half of 2016. Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari and Renault all recorded gains of around 950,000 followers. Behind the leading five, Haas did not disgrace themselves, moving from a combined reach of 146,000 in December to 480,000 currently.

Social media - August 2016 - Figure 1
The Formula 1 social media statistics, covering Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as of August 2016.

Mercedes again had the lowest percentage increase, but with their reach increasing by one million from 12.6 million to 13.6 million followers across the big three social media websites, they cannot complain. Force India and Sauber had a relatively poor first half of 2016, both teams only increasing their reach by less than 200,000 followers.

Verstappen on the march
The surge that started in 2015 has continued into 2016. In July 2015, Verstappen’s accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram reached 247,000 followers. Now, that number has quintupled to a reach of 1.28 million followers. That’s an amazing turn of form. What we don’t know, is where those followers are distributed. I suspect, unlike Haryanto, Verstappen’s followers are distributed more widely to the rest of Europe given the impact that he is likely to have on Formula 1 in the years ahead. Viewers watching this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix weekend will have noticed a large Dutch contingent out in force.

Behind Verstappen and Haryanto in the impressive stakes is Nico Rosberg, who jumped from reaching 2.71 million accounts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at the end of 2015 to reaching 4.36 million accounts half way through 2016. It is likely that Rosberg will become the second biggest social media star in F1 by the end of 2016, surpassing Fernando Alonso. That is surprising in one sense given their respective personalities, but Rosberg’s strong form in the early races will have played its part in the growth numbers. Germany’s television viewing figures have bounced back slightly this year, so Rosberg is getting more support from home than previously.

Social media - August 2016 - Figure 2
The Formula 1 social media statistics, covering Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as of August 2016.

Whilst ten drivers possess a reach of over one million followers, only half show significant growth (if we discard Haryanto): Hamilton and Rosberg lead by some margin, followed by Verstappen, Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez. Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and to a smaller degree Alonso have a stagnated follower base as Button and Massa start to ebb towards the end of their respective careers.

Instagram continues to grow at a faster rate than both Facebook and Twitter, jumping from a cumulative total of 8.57 million at the end of 2015 to 15.90 million currently. Their market share has increased from 12.8 percent to 18.1 percent as a result. Twitter’s slow down continues, but nevertheless increased from a cumulative total of 22.3 million to a healthy 27.5 million. Overall, the metrics are all up from the same time last year, and increasing at a faster rate which is good news for the sport moving forward.

Formula One Management… getting better?
Normally, I use the rule that if I’m complaining about things less, then chances are that it is actually getting better. I think that is the case with FOM’s television coverage! With tweaks to on-board camera angles and overall a greater sense of speed through different trackside cameras, things do appear to be moving in the right direction. Of course, the coverage has been let down by the outlandish team radio rules…

Team radio was first introduced to Formula 1’s television feed as part of the F1 Digital+ service. The service was introduced in 1996, coming to the United Kingdom in 2002 before closing at the end of that season. Broadcast to a niche audience, it quickly became clear how team radio would revolutionise Formula 1 viewing if rolled out to the globalised free-to-air feed.

2016 Canadian GP - Grosjean
A welcome return: camera angles such as the above of Romain Grosjean’s Haas have not been seen since the 1990s, but have returned to Formula 1’s World Feed in the past few races, giving a greater sense of speed.

“Let Michael past for the championship, Rubens” was one such snippet that aired on the F1 Digital+ feed at the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix. Victory celebrations were also commonly broadcast on the F1 Digital+ feed, notably at the 2000 German and Japanese rounds of the championship, again both featuring Ferrari drivers.

Team radio became more widespread through the 2000s, with it being common place until the radio rules of late last year. I’m happy to see the ruling reversed, simply because the team radio offered a different opinion on the track action, a ‘third wheel’ shall we say. However, even after the reversal, it still feels like there is less team radio than in previous seasons. Have drivers been trained to talk less in the car, or are the fans hearing an extremely filtered version?

Staying with TV, FOM’s GP2 commentary line up of Alex Jacques and Davide Valsecchi has been a revelation this season. Jacques has come on leaps and bounds since we heard him at the start of 2015. Plucked out of nowhere, his style alongside Valsecchi’s strong enthusiasm means that fans are in for a treat whenever GP2 is live on-air.

Elsewhere in the FOM spectrum, their social media efforts have improved compared with 2015. Helped by an influx of new faces such as ex BBC F1 video editor Tom Bowker, their social media platforms, including Facebook which launched in March, have played host to a lot more unseen archive footage than previously. Finally, it looks like the public is able to scratch at the surface of FOM’s video archive.

With 2.6 million ‘likes’ on Facebook, 2.2 million on Twitter and 220,000 on YouTube, F1 is building its digital fan base. Their Facebook page, which was launched in March, has been successful so far thanks in part to the migration of the 1.8 million people who already liked F1 related pages! FOM have not done anything though to go viral yet, in the same way that Formula E and the Ricciardo/Massa go-karting fun did. In fact, I do not think FOM have done anything in recent memory to go viral, whether they choose to do so to try and boost their profile, we shall see.

In the meantine, MotoGP remains four times as popular as Formula 1 on both Facebook and YouTube. The series recently hit 1 million subscribers on YouTube, rewarding fans with a full race copy of the 2015 Australian Grand Prix… for free! Of course, the nature of television deals mean that FOM may not be able to do that, but it shows what can be achieved. As always with F1, there is a long way to go to getting fans the level of access that MotoGP does with their fans.

Scheduling: The 2016 Belgian Grand Prix

Nine races in just over three months, with three double headers. That is what greets Formula 1 as the second half of the 2016 season gets underway the Belgium Grand Prix!

Channel 4 will be screening five of the remaining nine races live, including Belgium. Their race day broadcast is four hours long, which is probably no surprise when you see that Alain Prost and Mark Webber will be part of their punditry team. Lee McKenzie is also back, but for one race only as she is heading back to Rio for the Paralympics.

The simulcasting over on Sky Sports continues, with Sky simulcasting their Formula 1 coverage on the new Mix channel. We knew this would be the case when the channel was first revealed in March, but the schedules now confirm it.

BBC’s radio coverage steps up a notch with a 90-minute special fronted by Tom Clarkson looking back at Michael Schumacher’s debut in the 1991 Belgium Grand Prix. No guests have been confirmed publicly as of writing, but I will update this paragraph as and when that happens.

Elsewhere, live coverage of the British Superbikes over the Bank Holiday weekend is being shown also on Quest as Eurosport breaks away for the Vuelta a Espana cycling event. Below are all the details you need in another packed schedule…

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
26/08 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1
26/08 – 12:55 to 14:40 – Practice 2
27/08 – 09:55 to 11:25 – Practice 3
27/08 – 11:55 to 14:30 – Qualifying
28/08 – 12:00 to 16:00 – Race
28/08 – 00:40 to 01:40 – Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
26/08 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1
26/08 – 12:45 to 14:50 – Practice 2
27/08 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
27/08 – 12:00 to 14:35 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Mix)
28/08 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race (also Sky Sports Mix)
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
24/08 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
25/08 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
25/08 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
26/08 – 15:30 to 16:00 – Team Press Conference
26/08 – 16:00 to 16:30 – The F1 Show
31/08 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
25/08 – 20:00 to 22:00 (BBC Radio 5 Live)
=> 20:00 – 7 Days That Changed F1
=> 21:30 – Preview
26/08 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/08 – 12:55 to 14:30 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
28/o8 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Blancpain Sprint Series – Hungaroring
27/08 – 16:00 to 17:30 – Qualifying (BT Sport 2)
28/08 – 10:45 to 12:45 – Race (BT Sport//ESPN)

British Superbikes – Cadwell Park
28/08 – Qualifying
=> 16:00 to 18:00 (Quest)
=> 16:45 to 18:00 (Eurosport 1)
29/08 – 12:30 to 18:00 – Races
=> 12:30 to 18:00 (Quest)
=> 12:30 to 13:45 (Eurosport 2)
=> 16:45 to 18:00 (Eurosport 2)
31/08 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

British Touring Car Championship – Rockingham (ITV4)
28/08 – 10:45 to 17:45 – Races

Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 – Paul Ricard
27/08 – Race 1
=> 11:30 to 12:30 (Eurosport 2)
=> 12:30 to 14:00 (BT Sport 2)
28/08 – Race 2
=> 09:45 to 11:00 (BT Sport 2)
=> 11:45 to 12:45 (Eurosport 1)

FIM CEV Repsol – Algarve (BT Sport 2)
28/08 – 10:45 to 16:00 – Races

FIM Endurance World Championship – 8 Hours of Oschersleben (Eurosport 2)
27/08 – 12:45 to 15:15 – Race (start)
27/08 – 18:00 to 21:10 – Race (finish)

GP2 Series – Belgium (Sky Sports F1)
26/08 – 11:00 to 11:50 – Practice
26/08 – 14:50 to 15:30 – Qualifying
27/08 – 14:35 to 16:05 – Race 1
28/08 – 09:20 to 10:35 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Belgium (Sky Sports F1)
27/08 – 08:45 to 09:20 – Qualifying
27/08 – 16:10 to 17:10 – Race 1
28/08 – 08:10 to 09:10 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Texas 600 (BT Sport//ESPN)
28/08 (Saturday night) – 02:00 to 04:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Belgium (Eurosport 2)
28/08 – 10:30 to 11:15 – Race

Speedway Grand Prix – Poland (BT Sport 2)
27/08 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races

Virgin Australia Supercars – Sydney (BT Sport 2)
27/08 – 07:00 to 08:45 – Race 18
28/08 – 04:30 to 06:45 – Race 19

Last updated on August 20th.

Sky’s F1 channel drops down the EPG

Sky’s Formula 1 channel has moved down the EPG for the second time since its launch, thanks to the launch of Sky Sports Mix.

The move follows a reversal from two years ago where Sky Sports News HQ was promoted to 401 and then last month demoted to 406. The move involving Mix takes place today and sees (comparison with June):

– 401 = Sky Sports 1 (was 402)
– 402 = Sky Sports 2 (was 403)
– 403 = Sky Sports 3 (was 404)
– 404 = Sky Sports 4 (was 405)
– 405 = Sky Sports 5 (was 406)
– 406 = Sky Sports News HQ (was 401)
– 407 = Sky Sports Mix (new)
– 408 = Sky Sports F1 (was 407)

Sky Sports F1 is still on the first page of the EPG, so viewing figures for each race should remain unaffected.

I don’t see doing Sky Sports Mix doing well, non sports fans are unlikely to venture it out given its placement on the EPG. It would have had more success being in with the general entertainment channels, in my opinion.