The top 10 posts of 2017

New beginnings, and the end of an era in at least one respect, 2017 had both. #AlonsoRunsIndy caused a major traffic spike for The F1 Broadcasting Blog in April and May, with record numbers reading about the Indianapolis 500. Elsewhere, it was also the end for two legendary MotoGP commentators. Here is what you read most out of the content published during 2017.

10. BT Sport likely to retain UK TV rights for MotoGP – August 29th
One of the key broadcasting stories that is likely to conclude early in 2018 is the destination of MotoGP’s live television coverage from 2019 onwards. This writer spoke to Dorna during the 2017 British MotoGP weekend, and with it found out that BT Sport are likely to retain MotoGP beyond 2018.

9. UK – Alonso’s Indy 500 exploit peaks with 203,000 viewers – May 29th
Fernando Alonso’s participation in the Indianapolis 500 was a huge driver for a large portion of readers visiting this site during May. His stint in the famous race provided BT Sport with a major boost, increasing their Indianapolis 500 audience year-on-year by 975 percent!

8. Channel 5 to continue World Rally Championship coverage in 2017 – January 12th
Remaining on four-wheels of a different kind, it emerged straight after the Winter break that the World Rally Championship will remain on Channel 5. MotoGP would soon join the series on Channel 5…

7. ITV and MotoGP part company ahead of 2017 season – February 16th
…after they parted company with ITV, who had been covering highlights since 2014. The move came as a surprise given that MotoGP was an easy schedule filler for ITV4 and was rating reasonably well for the broadcaster in that slot.

6. Liberty Media helps bring F1 social media strategy on-track – August 20th
Amazingly, the only Formula 1 article to make the top ten. Relatively speaking, there have been no major news for UK fans from Liberty Media. The piece that did make the top ten surrounded Formula 1’s social media strategy, with an increased following because of the additional resources poured into the platforms.

5. Channel 5 secures MotoGP highlights package – March 15th
The parting of ways between ITV Sport and MotoGP prompted some chatter around whether Channel 4, Channel 5, or even the BBC would swoop in for the MotoGP highlights package. In the end, it was Channel 5 that secured the deal, announced shortly before the season opener in Qatar.

4. Scheduling: The 2017 Indianapolis 500 – May 17th
I posted the finalised Indianapolis 500 schedule on this site half way through May. Disappointingly though, no free-to-air broadcasters aired the event, which had significantly more attention than usual this year due to Alonso’s appearance. And, this is not Indy’s last appearance in the top ten either…

3. Discovery threatens to pull channels, including Eurosport, from Sky platform – January 25th
A spat between Discovery and Sky started off 2017, and escalated rapidly with Discovery threatening to remove their channels from Sky’s platform. The movement gained traction on social media, but in the end the two sides agreed a deal, ensuring Eurosport remained on Sky.

2. Julian Ryder to bow out of MotoGP commentary role following 2017 season – November 9th
One of the lessons of covering this site is to expect the unexpected. That was the case in November when news emerged that Julian Ryder was to hang up his MotoGP commentary gig, following Nick Harris into pastures new. Whoever is alongside Keith Huewen in the BT Sport commentary box in Qatar will have big shoes to fill.

1. The 2017 Indianapolis 500: how, and where you can see it in the UK – April 12th
There was immediate interest in the Indianapolis 500 as soon as news came out around #AlonsoRunsIndy. Reacting straight away, the number one post of 2017 outlined how viewers in the UK could watch the 101st running of the famous event, which formed part of the 2017 IndyCar series season.

Alongside the top ten posts, there are a few other posts from across the year that I want to highlight. In September, I was lucky enough to go behind the scenes look inside the British Superbikes outside broadcast (OB) truck (here and here). If you are at all interested in how motor sport television broadcasts are produced, I strongly encourage you to have a read of both of those pieces.

Elsewhere, I have also interviewed numerous motor sport personalities this year, ranging from former ITV F1 pit lane reporter Louise Goodman (here and here) to Sky’s Formula 1 presenter Simon Lazenby, and onto Motorcycle News (MCN) writer Simon Patterson, amongst others throughout the racing year.

The 2017 top ten only featured one Formula 1 post, however I suspect that there will be a lot more on the broadcasting side to discuss in 2018 where F1 is concerned…


The magic 2017 numbers

Whilst 2017 may not have attracted as many hits as 2016 due to the novelty factor around Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage disappearing, The F1 Broadcasting Blog readership was still dispersed between a variety of countries.

The main year-on-year increase comes from the USA, whose percentage share has nearly doubled since 2015, heading from 3.8 percent in 2015, to 5.4 percent last year and now 6.4 percent this year, a sign of increased interest in the sport from state side. The UK percentage continued to drop marginally, now down to 72.2 percent from 75 percent in 2014. Elsewhere, Australia suffered a significant drop compared with 2016, falling behind Ireland as a result.

Top 10 Countries – Percentage of all hits
01 – 72.2 percent (2016: 72.7) – United Kingdom
02 – 6.4 percent (2016: 5.4) – United States
04 – 2.4 percent (2016: 2.3) – Ireland
03 – 2.2 percent (2016: 2.7) – Australia
05 – 1.6 percent (2016: 1.8) – Netherlands
07 – 1.3 percent (2016: 1.0) – Spain
06 – 1.3 percent (2016: 1.6) – Canada
09 – 1.1 percent (2016: 0.9) – Germany
10 – 1.1 percent (2016: 0.8) – Italy
08 – 0.9 percent (2016: 0.9) – France

Generally, any breaking stories receive immediate attention via social media, which was the case in 2016. With less major stories in 2017, the social influence decreased compared with 2016, Reddit halved year-on-year showing the volatility of social media platforms.

Search engines benefited as a result, with casual fans who do not normally follow this site heading here to find out more information around the Indianapolis 500 and Julian Ryder’s MotoGP departure.

Top 5 Referring Websites
01 – 73.8 percent (2016: 63.1) – Search engines
02 – 18.6 percent (2016: 21.8) – Twitter
03 – 3.4 percent (2016: 6.0) – Reddit
04 – 2.7 percent (2016: 3.5) – Facebook
05 – 0.2 percent (2016: n/a) – AUTOSPORT Forum

The shock departure of Ryder, announced at the start of MotoGP’s final 2017 weekend, dominates the search tallies, with not much else getting a look in.

Top 10 Search Queries
01 – julian ryder
02 – f1 broadcasting
03 – f1 broadcasting blog
04 – formula 1 f1 broadcasting blog
05 – amazon
06 – f1 braudcasting
07 – list of channel 5 motogp commentators
08 – julian ryder motogp
09 – f1 viewing figures
10 – motogp commentators

The numbers ebb and flow depending on what is flavour of the month. Outside of the top 10 search queries listed above, readers were also interested in details about the UK’s World Rally Championship coverage and the Indianapolis 500.

An odd search term that appears just outside of the top 10 is ‘a1 grand prix’, as this article written in 2014 about the defunct World Cup of Motorsport series is number one in Google’s search rankings! 2018 will no doubt see more surprises, and traffic spikes to go with it, along the way.

Statistics compiled and correct as of December 18th, 2017.

Merry Christmas from The F1 Broadcasting Blog

2017 has been a positive year for top-flight motor sport worldwide, with a competitive championship battle for three-quarters of the Formula 1 season, whilst the MotoGP title went to the wire in Valencia. State side, Fernando Alonso attempted the Indianapolis 500, drawing more attention to the event in the UK than it usually would have had.

For me, I have tried to build on the strengths of 2016, bringing you closer to the broadcasting side. By attending the AUTOSPORT Show, the British MotoGP round and looking behind the scenes with the British Superbike championship, I hope I have achieved even a tenth of that goal.

It has been a pleasure to interview some famous faces in motor sport, and I am hopeful that 2018 will continue in the same regard. Unlike many motor racing websites out there, I run this site alongside my day job (also involving data, the horror!) so I may not update it as frequently as other sites out there, but nevertheless it is always a pleasure.

This holiday season, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thanks for all the positive comments and thoughts throughout this year on here and on social media, my fifth full year running the site. Stay safe, wherever you are heading.

Owner of The F1 Broadcasting Blog

Happy 5th Birthday!

The journey of The F1 Broadcasting Blog started in early 2012. I had been toying with the idea of starting a Formula 1 blog site for some time, but never quite hit the right note.

I have been watching motor racing since 1999, and wanted to start writing about the sport, alongside my University studies (now turned full-time job which I thoroughly enjoy). Like most people, my first attempt of blogging consisted of writing race reports. Quite quickly, it felt like a chore to write the reports. I love watching motor racing, but writing about the action did not interest me, it did not click.

Motor racing is not just about the cars or bikes on the circuit, there are a range of topics associated with the sport left unexplored by the mainstream press. Broadcasting has many different avenues that can be dissected. Scheduling. Viewing figures. Television rights. Social media. On-screen graphics, and so on. With that in April 2012, The F1 Broadcasting Blog was born. Broadcasting is an area that I am passionate about, and I hope that comes across in the opinion and analysis pieces I post.

In the five years since inception, the site has recorded over 1.5 million total hits with visitors from around 200 countries. I am immensely proud of how far this site has come since then, breaking stories to readers around the motor sport broadcasting landscape. Last year, I attended both Channel 4’s Formula 1 launch and the British MotoGP in a professional capacity, with the intention to bring readers closer to the sport, something that continued at the AUTOSPORT Show in January and will continue moving forward.

The top 10 pieces on the blog (by number of hits) from the past five years are as follows:

10. Channel 4 announces Formula 1 on-air team – March 2016
9. Dissecting Georgie Thompson’s decision to leave Sky F1 – February 2013
8. Davidson and Brundle highlight strengths and weaknesses in Sky’s Formula 1 team – July 2016
7. Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2013 – January 2013 (2017 piece: here)
6. Predicting BT Sport’s MotoGP team – October 2013
5. Tom Clarkson added to BBC F1 TV team – March 2013
4. Predicting Channel 4’s Formula 1 team (part 1) – December 2015
3. ITV4 wins rights to screen MotoGP highlights – March 2014
2. Georgie Thompson to leave Sky’s F1 team – February 2013
1. Gary Anderson to leave BBC’s Formula 1 team – January 2014

If you are a long-term reader from the beginning or someone who has just spotted this site, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the content coming up in the remainder of 2017.

Creator and Editor of The F1 Broadcasting Blog

The top 10 posts of 2016

There have been three major strands to 2016 from the perspective of The F1 Broadcasting Blog’s readers. The site recorded nearly half a million hits in 2016 with the main three topics of conversation: Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage, Sky Sports and the ongoing saga surrounding Motors TV. Here is what you read most out of the content published during 2016.

10. Sky Sports to broadcast F1 exclusively from 2019 – March 23rd
After all the early year activity surrounding Channel 4, I thought it would become quieter for at least a year before the noise increased again. How wrong was I. On March 23rd, the bombshell announcement was made that Sky Sports had secured exclusive Formula 1 rights in the UK from 2019 to 2024 inclusive.

9. Formula 1 hits decade low audience in UK – April 18th
With no presence on BBC television in 2016, Formula 1’s UK viewing figures dropped considerably year-on-year. Here is the Chinese Grand Prix ratings report, which paints the overriding pattern for 2016 as a whole.

8. Channel 4 confirms Australian Grand Prix build-up programming – March 5th
Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage was eagerly anticipated by readers in the build-up to the 2016 Formula One season. The first sign of their Australian Grand Prix schedule came on March 5th, as ‘Speed with Guy Martin’ was announced.

7. di Resta to replace Brundle as Sky’s co-commentator in Canada – June 9th
Martin Brundle’s appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was preceded by a “medical procedure” which meant that he was out of action for the Canadian Grand Prix. Paul di Resta was drafted in as Brundle’s co-commentator for both the Canadian and European rounds of the 2016 season,

6. Channel 4 confirms F1 ad-break plan for live races – March 15th
With Formula 1 moving back to free-to-air commercial television, readers were concerned that Formula 1 races would be littered with adverts again. The good news was that Channel 4 would continue to air live races advert free, with the broadcaster confirming their plans in a press release following their initial announcement in December 2015.

5. What the future holds for Motors TV – July 5th
The future of Motors TV has been a hot topic in 2016. The channel was removed from Sky’s television platform in July and further research revealed that the channel was in financial difficulty. The Motorsport Network (led by Zak Brown) acquired the channel in November, securing the future of its underlying assets.

4. F1 teams “blocked” Sky UK exclusivity for 2016 to 2018 – March 24th
The news that Sky Sports would be broadcasting Formula 1 exclusively from 2019 onwards prompted a lot of negative reaction. This site revealed days after that announcement that Formula 1’s teams blocked an attempt by Sky to broadcast the sport exclusively with immediate effect following the BBC’s exit at the end of 2015.

3. Motors TV removed from Sky platform (and reinstated) – February 25th
A precursor to the fifth post above, the initial rumblings around Motors TV started in February, when the channel was removed from Sky. The channel was reinstated in early March having been absent for around a week.

2. Channel 4 announces Formula 1 on-air team – March 8th
After a long wait, Channel 4’s Formula 1 line-up was finally unveiled to the assembled media (including this site) on a cold March morning. Steve Jones, Mark Webber, David Coulthard, Karun Chandhok and more were some of the stars on hand as Channel 4’s coverage launched.

1. Davidson and Brundle highlight strengths and weaknesses in Sky’s Formula 1 team – July 16th
The most read piece that was published this year, by some margin. One of my mid-season pieces focussing on the strengths and weaknesses of Sky’s Formula 1 team went ‘viral’, with 25 comments on the piece alone and a lot of thoughts and opinion generated through Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

It has been an interesting year in the broadcasting world, and who knows what 2017 will bring us. From the racing perspective, a new battle at the front of the Formula 1 field? I hope so.