Scheduling: The 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix / Montreal ePrix

The 2017 Formula One season heads towards the last stop before the Summer break, the Hungarian Grand Prix. For one motor sport series though, the end of its current season is here…

This weekend marks the season three finale for the Formula E championship! Channel 5 and Spike will air the final two races, which take place in Montreal. For the second race in a row, scheduling is not great, with the series seemingly ‘demoted’ from Channel 5 to its sister channel Spike.

If it was not for a Spike Fight Night on the Saturday, the complete weekend would be airing on Spike, which suggests that Channel 5 is losing faith in the series, this coming off the back to the inaugural New York ePrix being shunted onto Channel 5’s Facebook page. The highlights of the season finale air on Channel 5 beyond midnight, the main channel taking a Dirty Dancing re-run.

Jack Nicholls is back to talk about the on track electric dancing, alongside Dario Franchitti in the Formula E commentary box. Back to the Formula 1 world, Lee McKenzie is back with Channel 4’s F1 team following her stints covering Wimbledon and the World Para Athletics Championship.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
29/07 – 18:00 to 19:30 – Qualifying Highlights
30/07 – 17:15 to 19:30 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
28/07 – 08:45 to 10:55 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
28/07 – 12:45 to 14:55 – Practice 2
29/07 – 09:45 to 11:10 – Practice 3 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
29/07 – 12:00 to 14:30 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
30/07 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
26/07 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
27/07 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Driver Press Conference
27/07 – 20:00 to 20:15 – Paddock Uncut
28/07 – 15:30 to 16:30 – Team Press Conference
28/07 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The F1 Show
02/08 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
29/07 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
30/07 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula E – Montreal (online via Channel 5’s social media channels and YouTube)
29/07 – 12:55 to 14:10 – Race 1, Practice 1
29/07 – 15:25 to 16:10 – Race 1, Practice 2
30/07 – 12:55 to 14:10 – Race 2, Practice 1
30/07 – 15:25 to 16:10 – Race 2, Practice 2

Formula E – Montreal
29/07 – 16:45 to 18:10 – Race 1, Qualifying (Spike)
29/07 – 20:30 to 22:10 – Race 2 (Channel 5)
30/07 – 16:45 to 18:15 – Race 2, Qualifying (Spike)
30/07 – 20:30 to 22:15 – Race 2 (Spike)
30/07 – 00:35 to 01:15 – Race 2, Highlights (Channel 5)

British Touring Car Championship – Snetterton (ITV4)
30/07 – 10:45 to 18:00 – Races

Formula Two – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
28/07 – 10:55 to 11:40 – Practice
28/07 – 14:55 to 15:25 – Qualifying
29/07 – 14:55 to 16:25 – Race 1
30/07 – 09:15 to 10:30 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
29/07 – 08:25 to 08:55 – Qualifying
29/07 – 16:30 to 17:30 – Race 1
30/07 – 08:05 to 09:00 – Race 2

IndyCar Series  Mid-Ohio (BT Sport/ESPN)
30/07 – 20:00 to 23:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
30/07 – 10:30 to 11:25 – Race

World Rally Championship – Finland
27/07 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Harju (BT Sport 1)
28/07 – 18:30 to 19:30 – Harju II (BT Sport 2)
28/07 – Day 1 Highlights
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (BT Sport 1)
=> 22:35 to 23:05 (Motorsport.tv)
29/07 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Ouninopoha (BT Sport/ESPN)
29/07 – Day 2 Highlights
=> 21:30 to 22:00 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (BT Sport 3)
30/07 – 08:00 to 09:00 – Oittila (BT Sport 1)
30/07 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Power Stage (BT Sport 1)
30/07 – Day 3 Highlights
=> 22:00 to 22:30 (BT Sport 3)
=> 22:35 to 23:05 (Motorsport.tv)
01/08 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (Channel 5)

As always, the above will be updated if anything changes.

Update on July 26th – One major update this afternoon. Martin Brundle will not be in the commentary box this weekend, as he is recovering from his Silverstone stomach bug. Expect Paul di Resta  or Anthony Davidson to be back in the co-commentator chair alongside David Croft. If it is Davidson, it will be their first live race commentary together since they were with the BBC from 2009 to 2011. Also, Jack Nicholls’ Formula E commentary means that John Hindhaugh fills his void for Sky Sports F1’s Porche Supercup coverage on Sunday.

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Hamilton’s Silverstone dominance peaks with 4.45 million viewers

Lewis Hamilton’s victory in British Grand Prix recorded solid audiences over the weekend, but was down slightly on 2016, overnight viewing figures for the United Kingdom show.

Race
As usual for the home round, the race was available live on terrestrial television, which makes it one of the races where we can make a proper comparison. However, the usual historical factors skew comparisons: Wimbledon, the weather or British fortunes in F1. All viewing figures exclude audiences who watched via other platforms, such as Now TV, All 4 or Sky Go.

Channel 4’s live race broadcast averaged 2.20m (20.4%) from 12:00 to 15:20, which compares with an average of 2.36m (17.9%) from 12:00 to 15:55 from 2016. I should note that Channel 4 did not split their shows last year, whereas the broadcaster split their programming into three chunks this year (quite clearly, the show this year recorded a decrease via both metrics). Fewer people chose to record Channel 4’s reaction to the race, which averaged just 543k (4.4%) from 15:20.

Live coverage on Sky Sports averaged 652k (6.0%) for the three and a half hours from 12:00, compared with an average last year of 736k (5.8%). Sky simulcast their coverage across Sky Sports F1 and, for the last time, Sky Sports 1. An audience of 373k (3.4%) watched on the dedicated F1 channel, with a further 279k (2.6%) watching via Sky Sports 1, a split of 57:43.

Both broadcasters recorded higher shares, but lower audiences compared with 2016. I suspect Andy Murray’s failure to get to the Wimbledon final caused this effect. Murray would have brought more viewers indoors to their television sets last year, inflating the F1 which preceded Wimbledon. This year, no Murray, resulting in no positive effect on audiences.

The combined average audience of 2.86 million viewers is down 8 percent on last year’s average of 3.10 million viewers. It means that, at the half way stage of the season and for the first time on record, not one race has reached a combined average of three million viewers. For the British Grand Prix, yesterday’s audience is the lowest since 2006. So, whilst attendances at the circuit are at their highest, the action on the circuit is not connecting to viewers at home. It does suggest though that the F1 is becoming more of a ‘may watch’ than a ‘must watch’ to the viewing public.

The Grand Prix started with 4.29m (41.0%) at 13:05, compared with 4.44m (38.6%) at the same point last year. However, the 2017 race only just hit that point at the very end, peaking with 4.45m (34.6%) at 14:25. At the time of the peak, 1.04m (8.1%) were watching on Sky, with 3.41m (26.5%) watching on Channel 4, a split of 77:23. The combined peak audience of 4.45 million viewers was the highest of 2017, but down 11 percent on last year’s peak of 4.99 million viewers.

Qualifying and Analysis
Live coverage of qualifying, broadcast on Channel 4 from 11:55 to 14:30, averaged 1.37m (15.2%), a marginal drop on the equivalent number from 2016 of 1.43m (16.2%). Sky Sports F1’s programming added an additional 413k (4.0%) on top of Channel 4’s audience, again a very slight drop on the combined Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports 1 audience from 2016 of 421k (4.7%).

There is an amusing anecdote within the figures here: Sky Sports F1’s qualifying coverage beat their race day programme, 413,000 viewers for qualifying compared with 373,000 viewers for the race! Of course, there is a valid reason for this statistic. Sky simulcast their race day programme on Sky Sports 1 spreading the audience more thinly, whereas Sky kept their qualifying show exclusive to the dedicated F1 channel. It does not matter in the grand scheme of things, after all both channels show the same content on race day.

The combined average audience of 1.78 million viewers is, as you probably guessed by now, also down on the 2016 average audience of 1.85 million viewers. The combined peak audience followed an identical trend, with qualifying peaking with 2.64 million viewers (27.6 percent share) at 13:20, around 100,000 viewers lower than 2016.

I noticed a few comments over the weekend across social media platforms saying that the British Grand Prix, from a broadcasting perspective, felt like it was another race on the calendar. The race no longer feels like a special race that broadcasters give special treatment to, like the BBC and ITV did in yesteryear, and to be honest I agree with those sentiments. There are plenty of ways both broadcasters could make the Grand Prix feel more special.

In Sky’s case, simply treating Formula Two and GP3 as part of their Silverstone schedule instead of relying on World Feed only coverage and staying on air ‘round the clock’ like BT Sport currently do with MotoGP would suffice. Charles Leclerc is currently dominating Formula Two and will more than likely be in Formula 1 next year, yet viewers currently know little about him.

Over on Channel 4, their magazine programme called Sunday Brunch was the usual affair and not broadcast from Silverstone, under a ‘Grand Prix Sunday’ banner for example. If broadcasters are unprepared to give the Grand Prix a special feeling and spice up their programming, why should viewers treat the race any differently?

Coming up in the next few weeks on the site will be the annual mid-season viewing figures analysis as we dissect the audience patterns year-on-year and try to establish what has, and has not, been a rating draw this year.

The 2016 British Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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Austrian Grand Prix viewing figures tumble year-on-year

Just two weeks after a season high, the Austrian Grand Prix struggled to attract viewers compared with last year’s running, overnight viewing figures show.

Race
Sky Sports’ exclusive live coverage of the race aired to an audience of 588k (7.2%) from 12:00 to 15:30. This is a poor number, lower than Monaco and Baku despite both events being non-exclusive. Sky Sports F1’s programme averaged just 390k (4.8%), with 197k (2.4%) watching the simulcast on Sky Sports 1.

Sky’s coverage dropped on a third compared to their 2016 average of 866k (9.9%). The total television audience was down slightly yesterday year-on-year, but the audience share from 2014 to 2016 has always been around 9 percent, so yesterday represents a drop of 2 percentage points.

Highlights on Channel 4 were not immune to the audience drop. Their programme, which aired from 17:45 to 20:00, averaged 1.75m (11.7%), a drop of half a million viewers compared with 2016. The figures are worrying considering that this is the stage of the season where momentum should be building before the Summer break.

The combined average audience of 2.33 million viewers is down 26 percent on last year’s combined audience of 3.15 million viewers. It is the first time the Spielberg round has dropped below three million viewers since its return to the calendar.

Qualifying
Live coverage of qualifying across Sky Sports 1 and F1 was also down year-on-year in both audience and share. Coverage from 12:00 to 14:30 averaged 298k (4.8%), down on last year’s figure of 422k (5.3%).

Channel 4’s highlights programme, which aired from 17:30 to 19:00, averaged 1.09m (9.2%), down on last year’s audience of 1.32m (9.2%), but level in share. The combined average audience of 1.38 million viewers is down 21 percent on last year’s combined audience of 1.74 million viewers.

From a ratings perspective, this was not a good news weekend for Formula 1, more disappointing coming off the controversy from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Of course, weather does play a factor, but to record lower audience shares year-on-year is not good news for either broadcaster. Earlier in the season, we had one or two occasions where the audience went down, but the audience share went up, whereas in Austria both metrics decreased.

The 2016 Austrian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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Scheduling: The 2017 British Grand Prix / New York City ePrix

The 2017 Formula One season heads to Silverstone for the half stage of the championship, the British Grand Prix. For the second year in succession, the race clashes with the Wimbledon finals, which will not help domestic or international viewing figures. The weekend also symbolises the half way point of the current contract between Channel 4 and Formula One Management, with their three-year agreement due to end next season.

The free-to-air broadcaster will have a broad presentation team with David Coulthard, Mark Webber, Eddie Jordan, and Susie Wolff all alongside Steve Jones. However, Whisper Films will be without Lee McKenzie for the second race in a row, this time McKenzie is part of Channel 4’s coverage of the World Para Athletics Championships, which starts on Friday evening. The main supplementary offering from Channel 4 is the latest edition of F1 Meets, this time with 1992 champion Nigel Mansell.

Sky is without Anthony Davidson, as he is in Germany for the 6 Hours of Nürburgring. Expect the usual faces of Paul di Resta and Johnny Herbert to be back with Sky, whilst Natalie Pinkham and Rachel Brookes will be appearing. Sky is the main beneficiary of the hastily arranged four-day weekend, with Formula Two and GP3 practice moved to Thursday. To be honest, I am not sure how fans will benefit from the adjusted Silverstone schedule – it feels like an attempt by Liberty and the track to extract more money from the paying punter with very little in addition, but there you are.

Elsewhere, the penultimate weekend of Formula E takes place in New York, with Martin Haven, Bob Varsha and Dario Franchitti on commentary duty. As discussed already, Channel 5 are airing the first race of the weekend on tape-delay. No word yet if there will be any legal way for UK viewers to watch the race live.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
14/07 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1
14/07 – 12:55 to 15:00 – Practice 2
15/07 – 09:55 to 11:25 – Practice 3
15/07 – 11:55 to 14:30 – Qualifying
16/07 – 12:00 to 16:30 – Race
=> 12:00 – Build–Up
=> 12:35 – Race
=> 15:10 – Reaction

Supplementary Programming
15/07 – 11:25 to 11:55 – F1 Meets… Nigel Mansell

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
14/07 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports 1)
14/07 – 12:45 to 15:00 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports 1)
15/07 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
15/07 – 12:00 to 14:30 – Qualifying
16/07 – 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
12/07 – 18:00 to 21:00 – London Live (also Sky Sports 1 and Mix)
12/07 – 21:00 to 21:30 – F1 Report: Preview
13/07 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Driver Press Conference
13/07 – 18:00 to 19:00 – The F1 Show
13/07 – 21:15 to 21:30 – Paddock Uncut
14/07 – 16:35 to 17:30 – Team Press Conference
14/07 – 17:30 to 18:00 – The F1 Show
19/07 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
13/07 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
15/07 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
16/07 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula E – New York City (online via Channel 5’s social media channels and YouTube)
15/07 – 12:55 to 14:10 – Race 1, Practice 1
15/07 – 15:25 to 16:10 – Race 1, Practice 2
16/07 – 11:55 to 12:55 – Race 2, Practice

Formula E – New York City
15/07 – 16:45 to 18:10 – Race 1, Qualifying (Spike)
15/07 – 20:30 – Race 1 (Channel 5 Sport’s Facebook)
15/07 – 22:00 to 23:30 – Race 1 (Channel 5)
– note: airing on a one-hour tape delay
16/07 – 13:45 to 15:15 – Race 2, Qualifying (Spike)
16/07 – 17:30 to 19:10 – Race 2 (Channel 5)

Formula Two – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
13/07 – 16:00 to 16:45 – Practice
14/07 – 15:15 to 15:45 – Qualifying
15/07 – 14:55 to 16:25 – Race 1
16/07 – 09:15 to 10:30 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
14/07 – 16:05 to 16:35 – Qualifying
15/07 – 16:25 to 17:25 – Race 1
16/07 – 07:55 to 08:50 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Toronto (BT Sport 1)
16/07 – 20:00 to 23:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Britain
16/07 – Race
=> 10:15 to 11:15 (Eurosport)
=> 10:30 to 11:10 (Sky Sports F1)

World Endurance Championship – Nürburgring
16/07 – Race
=> 11:30 to 18:45 (BT Sport 3)
=> 11:45 to 18:20 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 17:15 to 18:15 (Eurosport)

Given the late changes to the British schedule in recent weeks, there is a high probability of further additions, so please keep an eye on this post for any schedule changes.

Update on July 12th – As hinted at above, the schedule change is London Live! The event will be streamed online and aired on Sky Sports 1, F1 and Mix.

Update on July 13th – A familiar face to UK F1 television viewers is back for the first time in nine years this weekend, as Louise Goodman is the super substitute for Lee McKenzie.

Update on July 15th – At the eleventh hour, its been confirmed that Channel 5 will stream the first Formula E race this weekend via their Sport’s Facebook page.

Scheduling: The 2017 Austrian Grand Prix

The titanic battle between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton heads to central Europe for round nine of the 2017 Formula One championship, the Austrian Grand Prix.

Channel 4’s team will be missing Lee McKenzie for both the Austrian and British rounds of the season as she plays a part in the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage and Channel 4’s Women’s Euro 2017 programming. As of writing it has not been confirmed who is replacing McKenzie, last year it was Holly Samos who filled the role in her absence.

Elsewhere, the BBC’s presence on Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra is slim over the weekend. Thanks to Wimbledon and the second Test between England and South Africa, only the race itself will be broadcast live across the airwaves.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
08/07 – 17:30 to 19:00 – Qualifying Highlights
09/07 – 17:45 to 20:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
07/07 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1
07/07 – 12:45 to 14:55 – Practice 2
08/07 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
08/07 – 12:00 to 14:30 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports 1)
09/07 – 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
05/07 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
06/07 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Driver Press Conference
06/07 – 21:00 to 21:15 – Paddock Uncut
07/07 – 15:30 to 16:15 – Team Press Conference
07/07 – 16:15 to 16:45 – The F1 Show
12/07 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
09/07 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula Two – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
07/07 – 11:00 to 11:45 – Practice
07/07 – 14:55 to 15:25 – Qualifying
08/07 – 14:30 to 16:00 – Race 1
09/07 – 09:15 to 10:25 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
08/07 – 08:25 to 08:55 – Qualifying
08/07 – 16:05 to 17:05 – Race 1
09/07 – 08:05 to 09:00 – Race 2

Porsche Supercup – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
09/07 – 10:25 to 11:05 – Race

IndyCar – Iowa 300 (BT Sport 1)
09/07 – 22:00 to 01:00 – Race

World Superbikes – Laguna Seca (Eurosport 2)
08/07 – 18:45 to 20:00 – Superpole
08/07 – 21:15 to 23:15 – Race 1
09/07 – 21:15 to 23:15 – Race 2

The above schedule will be updated if anything changes.