Scheduling: The 2018 Monaco Grand Prix / Indianapolis 500

One of the biggest motor racing weekends of the year is here: it is time for the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500!

The Monaco round of the Formula 1 season airs live across Sky and Channel 4; however, this weekend Sky’s coverage is airing on four different channels. As usual, the action is airing on their dedicated F1 channel. Sky are simulcasting some on-track sessions across Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix, which is not unusual.

The major departure for Sky is that both the qualifying and race are airing live on their main entertainment channel, Sky One, which is a fascinating move ahead of 2019. It is the first session to air live on Sky One since the Spanish Grand Prix qualifying session in 2015, and the first time a Formula 1 race has aired on the channel.

Whether Sky One fulfils F1’s criteria of ‘free to air’ is unclear (given that the channel is not on Freeview, I suspect not), but this is one to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

Over on 5 Live, the radio broadcaster is airing the Chequered Flag podcast on their main station Sunday evening, from 18:00. It is the earliest they have aired the podcast, I imagine this will air on a small tape-delay following the race. Channel 4 meanwhile has highlights of the Historic Monaco Grand Prix weekend airing across the weekend.

BT Sport plays host to the 102nd Indianapolis 500. Although the scheduling is identical to last year, there is no studio coverage, reverting to the set-up from 2016. Last year featured significantly more interest because of Fernando Alonso’s participation in the race.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
24/05 – 09:55 to 11:45 – Practice 1
24/05 – 13:55 to 16:00 – Practice 2
26/05 – 10:55 to 12:25 – Practice 3
26/05 – 12:55 to 15:45 – Qualifying
27/05 – 13:00 to 17:30 – Race
=> 13:00 – Build-Up
=> 13:45 – Race
=> 16:30 – Reaction

Supplementary Programming
26/05 – 09:55 to 10:55 – Historic Grand Prix of Monaco (part 1)
27/05 – 08:00 to 08:55 – Historic Grand Prix of Monaco (part 2)

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
24/05 – 09:45 to 11:55 – Practice 1
24/05 – 13:45 to 15:50 – Practice 2
26/05 – 10:45 to 12:15 – Practice 3 (also Sky One)
26/05 – 13:00 to 15:40 – Qualifying (also Sky One and Sky Sports Mix)
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying
27/05 – 12:30 to 17:30 – Race (also Sky One)
=> 12:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 13:30 – On the Grid
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
23/05 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
23/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Preview (also Sky Sports Mix)
23/05 – 21:00 to 21:15 – Paddock Uncut
26/05 – 15:40 to 16:15 – The F1 Show (also Sky One and Sky Sports Mix)
30/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio 5 Live
24/05 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview
26/05 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Qualifying
27/05 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Race
27/05 – 18:00 to 18:30 – Chequered Flag

Formula Renault Eurocup – Monaco
26/05 – 08:45 to 09:45 – Race 1 (BT Sport 1)
27/05 – 10:15 to 11:15 – Race 2 (BT Sport 2)

Formula Two – Monaco (Sky Sports F1)
24/05 – 08:10 to 09:05 – Practice
24/05 – 12:15 to 13:05 – Qualifying
25/05 – 10:25 to 11:55 – Race 1
26/05 – 16:15 to 17:25 – Race 2 (also Sky Sports Mix)

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 (BT Sport 1)
27/05 – 15:30 to 21:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Monaco (Sky Sports F1)
27/05 – 09:25 to 10:10 – Race

Speedway Grand Prix – Prague (BT Sport 3)
26/05 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races

World Superbikes – Donington Park
25/05 – 09:40 onwards (Eurosport 2)
=> 09:40 to 10:30 – SBK: Practice 1
=> 16:45 to 19:00 – SBK and SSP: Practice
26/05 – 10:15 to 15:15 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
27/05 – 11:00 to 14:00 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
29/05 – 22:00 to 23:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

As always, this post will be updated if the schedule changes.

Updated on May 24th to reflect slight changes for Sky’s simulcasts.

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Scheduling: The 2018 Berlin E-Prix / French MotoGP

Formula E and MotoGP are back in action this weekend, in the heartland of Europe.

The electric single seater series heads to Germany for the Berlin E-Prix. The scheduling of the E-Prix at first sight is odd, with the E-Prix scheduled to satisfy domestic viewers rather than international ones. Domestically, the race takes place between the women’s and men’s football domestic cup final; however internationally this results in a clash with the English FA Cup final! Expect a lower than usual UK number as a result.

On the punditry front, it is a newsworthy weekend, with Channel 4’s Formula 1 analyst David Coulthard joining Jack Nicholls and Bob Varsha in the Formula E commentary box. As readers will know, Coulthard is also part of the Whisper Films production company, and Whisper have not yet collaborated with Formula E. Coulthard replaces Dario Franchitti, who is on Indianapolis 500 duty.

MotoGP returns with the French round of the championship, the action as usual live on BT Sport. Elsewhere on BT Sport, it is qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, live coverage airing on both Saturday and Sunday evenings.

In a further scheduling oddity from the outside, the main World Touring Car Cup action from Zandvoort takes place on Monday, but this is because Monday is Whit Monday in Netherlands and many other parts of the world.

MotoGP – France (BT Sport 2)
18/05 – 07:45 to 15:15 – Practice 1 and 2
19/05 – 07:45 to 15:15
=> 07:45 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
20/05 – 07:30 to 15:00
=> 07:30 – Warm Ups
=> 09:15 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – France (Channel 5)
22/05 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

Formula E – Berlin (online via YouTube)
19/05 – 07:55 to 08:55 – Practice 1
19/05 – 10:25 to 11:10 – Practice 2

Formula E – Berlin
19/05 – 12:30 to 14:00 (Eurosport 2)
=> 12:30 – Preview
=> 13:00 – Qualifying
19/05 – 12:45 to 14:10 – Qualifying (5Spike)
19/05 – 16:45 to 18:15 – Race (Eurosport 2)
19/05 – 16:45 to 18:30 – Race (Channel 5)

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup – Silverstone
19/05 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Race Start (Motorsport.tv)
19/05 – 14:30 to 18:30 – Race (BT Sport X2)
19/05 – 17:05 to 19:30 – Race Finish (Motorsport.tv)

British Touring Car Championship – Thruxton (ITV4)
20/05 – 11:15 to 18:00 – Races

Formula Renault Eurocup – Silverstone
19/05 – 13:15 to 14:15 – Race 1 (BT Sport 3)
20/05 – 13:15 to 14:30 – Race 2 (BT Sport X2)

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500
19/05 – 21:00 to 23:00 – Qualifying – Day 1 (BT Sport 2)
20/05 – 21:00 to 23:00 – Qualifying – Day 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)

World Rally Championship – Portugal
Every stage live via WRCPlus.com
17/05 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Live: Stage 1 (BT Sport/ESPN)
18/05 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Live: Stage 8 and 9 (BT Sport 2)
18/05 – Day 1 Highlights
=> 23:30 to 00:00 (BT Sport 2)
=> 23:30 to 00:00 (Motorsport.tv)
19/05 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Live: Stage 13 (BT Sport 3)
19/05 – Day 2 Highlights
=> 23:30 to 00:00 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 00:00 to 00:30 (BT Sport 1)
20/05 – 09:00 to 10:00 – Live: Stage 17 (BT Sport 3)
20/05 – 12:00 to 13:30 – Live: Stage 19 [Power Stage] (BT Sport/ESPN)
20/05 – Day 3 Highlights
=> 23:30 to 00:00 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 00:30 to 01:00 (BT Sport 3)
23/05 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (Channel 5)

World Touring Car Cup – Netherlands
21/05 – 07:30 to 08:50 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
21/05 – 11:00 to 12:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport)
21/05 – 15:30 to 16:30 – Race 3 (Eurosport)

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.

WEC looking at UK free-to-air options for remainder of super season

Organisers of the World Endurance Championship are in discussion with several UK broadcasters concerning free-to-air coverage of the series, this site can confirm.

The championship had increased their free-to-air presence in recent years. In 2016, highlights of the series aired on Saturday mornings on Channel 4, whilst last year highlights aired on ITV4. In addition, last season saw some of the 24 Hours of Le Mans air live on ITV4, the highest billing for the race in several years.

However, there is currently no agreement in place with a major free-to-air broadcaster for the 2018/19 super season, which began on May 5th in Spa.

Speaking to this site, a WEC spokesperson said “The 2018/19 WEC Super Season had a fantastic start in Spa and had wide coverage in the UK through a combination of live broadcast on Eurosport/Eurosport Player and Motorsport.tv as well as highlights on BT Sport. You may also be aware that the whole race was available live on the FIAWEC App.”

The spokesperson added that, whilst their agreement with ITV4 ended following the 2017 season, discussions concerning the 2018/19 super season are ongoing.

“At the moment we are in discussion with them [ITV4] and other potential FTA partners to provide live coverage of Le Mans and all other WEC Super Season races to ensure it continues to reach as wide an audience as possible in the UK.”

“We are confident that we will conclude a new agreement very soon and will issue a press release as soon as a deal is agreed.”

 

Channel 4’s F1 highlights coverage draws record audience

Formula 1 continued its ratings resurgence in the UK during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, overnight viewing figures show.

Race
As with last year’s coverage, live action aired on Sky Sports F1, with Channel 4 airing highlights later in the evening.

Channel 4’s highlights programme aired from 18:00 to 20:00 to an excellent average audience of 2.33m (15.6%). Astonishingly, it is the highest audience for an F1 highlights programme on free-to-air television since the BBC’s coverage of the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, which averaged 2.77m (16.5%) across a shorter 90-minute time slot.

A peak audience of 3.00m (18.0%) watched the highlights show, comfortably the most watched commercial channel in the time slot, only behind BBC One. Again, this is the highest for an F1 highlights programme since Singapore 2015.

Earlier in the day, Sky’s race broadcast, which aired from 13:00 to 16:30, averaged 653k (8.4%), their highest average for Spain since 2015. It is Sky Sports F1’s highest average audience since last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Grand Prix peaked with 1.01m (13.8%) at 14:25, the first five-minute segment following the opening Safety Car period, Sky’s highest for Spain again since 2015. Had the race been more exciting, there is a good chance that the peak might have been around 1.2 million viewers.

As it turned out, the audience settled just under one million viewers for most of the race, which is a solid number considering that the Premier League final day fixtures kicked off half way through the race.

The combined average audience of 2.99 million viewers is the highest average audience of 2018 so far, and an increase of 12.6 percent year-on-year. It is the highest average since last year’s US Grand Prix, and the highest for a free-to-air highlights race since the 2016 German Grand Prix.

The peak audience of 4.01 million viewers is an increase of 6.1 percent on last year’s peak audience of 3.78 million viewers, although not quite the highest of 2018, that honour remains with Azerbaijan.

Qualifying and Analysis
Live coverage of qualifying on Sky Sports F1 from 13:00 to 15:35 averaged 322k (4.6%). Channel 4’s highlights programming averaged 1.33m (10.9%) from 17:00 to 18:30, both figures comfortably up year-on-year.

The combined average for qualifying of 1.65 million viewers is the highest for Spain since 2015, with the combined peak audience of 2.46 million viewers following in the same footsteps.

It has been many, many years since Formula 1 recorded consistent year-on-year increases over a sustained period. For the first time, in possibly five or six years, F1 has momentum, and viewers are starting to view the sport, as opposed to deserting it. Whether these are genuine new viewers, or lapsed viewers from yesteryear, we do not know apart from looking at anecdotal evidence.

The concern for Liberty Media however is that it was Channel 4 that saw a record audience on Sunday, and not Sky. Channel 4’s contract concludes at the end of this season, with Formula 1 moving exclusively to Sky, although the free-to-air element of Sky’s contract, and where that will turn up is unclear.

Why the sustained increase? We have been lucky so far in 2018 in that three of the five races have been excellent. Australia did not quite deliver, and nor did Spain, but not everything can be a thriller.

In the last two or three years, we have had great battles, but momentum disappeared in the intervening races. Three great races on the run may have resulting in Spain’s numbers bouncing higher than expected. There is also the increased promotion from Liberty Media across a variety of platforms: are their efforts reaping the rewards?

Next up is the Monaco Grand Prix, which begins a critical phase of the F1 season as the sport begins to battle with the football World Cup and other events for column inches. If Ferrari and Red Bull turn up in Monaco and Canada, the momentum should continue through the early Summer, even if it is at a reduced rate of knots.

The 2017 Spanish Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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F1 TV launches, UK fans get access to rich archive

F1 TV has this evening (Wednesday 9th May) launched for fans worldwide, with fans in the United Kingdom gaining access to Formula One Management’s (FOM) rich archive.

The over-the-top service comes in two forms: a Pro version where fans can watch live 2018 race action, and a basic Access version, where fans can access archive material. UK readers have access to that basic product, but not the premium level tier.

At launch, 72 races are available to watch in their entirety for viewers on a near worldwide basis:

  • 2017 – Bahrain, Spain, Azerbaijan, Belgium, USA
  • 2016 – Spain, Austria, Malaysia, Brazil, Abu Dhabi
  • 2015 – Bahrain, Britain, Hungary, USA
  • 2014 – Bahrain, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Abu Dhabi
  • 2013 – Australia, China, Bahrain, Britain
  • 2012 – Spain, Abu Dhabi, USA, Brazil
  • 2011 – Monaco, Canada, Italy, Japan
  • 2010 – Australia, Turkey, Canada, Belgium, Abu Dhabi
  • 2009 – Australia, Germany, Belgium, Brazil
  • 2008 – Britain, Italy, Belgium, Brazil
  • 2007 – Canada, USA, Brazil
  • 2006 – Bahrain, Turkey
  • 2005 – San Marino, Monaco, Europe, Japan
  • 2004 – Bahrain, USA, France, Belgium, Brazil
  • 2003 – Australia, Malaysia, Brazil, Britain
  • 2002 – Malaysia
  • 2001 – Malaysia, Brazil, Austria
  • 2000 – Germany
  • 1999 – France, Europe, Malaysia
  • 1998 – Belgium
  • 1997 – Hungary

Every race from 2002 onwards has highlights on F1 TV, taken either from the DVD season review of the time, or more recently from highlights uploaded to the F1 YouTube channel.

The archive starts to shrink prior to 2002 with only a few archive races present, but this will no doubt increase over time. Outside of the documentaries, the earliest archive footage is from the 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Each of the races covered runs from the start of the five-minute introduction, through to the end of the press conference, with UK commentary provided (ITV until 2008, BBC from 2009 to 2011, and Sky from 2012 onwards).

Alongside the race archive, F1’s over-the-top service also contains documentaries that Sky have aired on their UK channel since 2012, such as Legends of F1, Tales from the Vault and Architects of F1. However, these documentaries are only available to those outside of the UK and Ireland.

Fans in the UK can purchase F1 TV Access for £2.29 a month, or a discounted £17.99 across the whole year.

Better than anticipated for UK fans
When F1 TV was first announced in February, it was unclear whether UK fans would have any access to the over-the-top service. As it turns out, UK have access to the rich archive at least.

The full-length races that FOM have added are like those Sky have aired as part of their Classic F1 strand of programming, although there are some differences. Over time the number of classic races will increase, in the same way that WWE’s Network has grown substantially since launch.

Uploading every classic race from 1981 onwards in the very beginning would be bad business from FOM. The logical method to upload the races would be through a series of ‘drops’, based on the season or a given theme (i.e. every race in the 1999 season, or every Malaysian Grand Prix).

This way, F1 can promotion the uploads via their social media channels, driving attention towards the service. At some stage, F1 needs to strongly consider having a @F1TV social media presence to promote content, especially as the service matures. The launch so far appears to be deliberately low-key.

Every click gives F1 access to viewing statistics, including not only the video watched, but also how long the fan continued to watch the video for, helping FOM to influence future content additions further down the line. There are some key additions that need to occur (such as the ability to search based off tags and a no spoiler option).

It is great to see F1 TV off the ground, both Access and Pro, for those have access to the latter. Now, it is time to see the platform grow and mature…