Scheduling: The 2017 Chinese Grand Prix / Argentine MotoGP

The 2017 Formula One season moves onto Shanghai for round two of the championship in China, as fans hope for the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel to continue.

The Chinese round of the season switches with Bahrain, which follows the next weekend. Coverage from China will be broadcast exclusively live on Sky Sports, with highlights on Channel 4 later in the day. Readers may have noticed that, compared to last year, Channel 4’s highlights are slightly longer in length but are also being broadcast in a later time slot than 2016.

Over on BT Sport, their MotoGP coverage from Argentina is headed up by Craig Doyle for his first round of the 2017 season. In terms of returning championships, the World Touring Car Championship is back this weekend, live on Eurosport 2 from Morocco. Eurosport are also broadcasting the MAC3 time trial this season, which I do not believe was broadcast last year. Eurosport have split qualifying and the MAC3 time trial into two separate slots on the EPG (thanks Alex in the comments for the correction).

A noticeable omission in the schedule below is the Virgin Australia Supercars series. The series was broadcast live on BT Sport last season, but the arrangement appears to have stopped with taking over from the start of 2017. Unfortunately, it looks like that will not be airing the series live for the next few rounds at least, hence why it does not feature below.

Channel 4 F1
08/04 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Qualifying Highlights
09/04 – 14:30 to 16:45 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
07/04 – 02:45 to 05:05 – Practice 1 (also on Sky Sports 1)
07/04 – 06:45 to 08:55 – Practice 2 (also on Sky Sports 1)
08/04 – 04:45 to 06:10 – Practice 3 (also on Sky Sports 1)
08/04 – 07:00 to 09:40 – Qualifying
09/04 – 05:30 to 10:10 – Race
=> 05:30 – Track Parade
=> 06:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 06:30 – Race
=> 09:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
05/04 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
06/04 – 08:00 to 09:00 – Driver Press Conference
06/04 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
07/04 – 09:00 to 09:30 – Team Press Conference (also on Sky Sports 1)
07/04 – 09:30 to 10:00 – The F1 Show (also on Sky Sports 1)

BBC Radio F1
06/04 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
07/04 – 02:55 to 04:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
07/04 – 06:55 to 08:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
08/04 – 04:55 to 06:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
08/04 – 06:55 to 08:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
09/04 – 06:30 to 09:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

IndyCar Series – Long Beach (BT Sport//ESPN)
09/04 – 21:30 to 00:00 – Race

MotoGP – Argentina (BT Sport 2)
07/04 – 13:00 to 20:00
=> 13:00 – Practice 1
=> 15:45 – Reaction and Build-Up
=> 17:00 – Practice 2
08/04 – 13:00 to 20:15
=> 13:00 – Practice 3
=> 16:00 – Qualifying
09/04 – 13:30 to 15:15 – Warm Up
09/04 – 16:30 to 22:00
=> 16:30 – Moto3 race
=> 18:15 – Moto2 race
=> 19:45 – MotoGP race
=> 21:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Argentina (Channel 5)
10/04 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

World Rally Championship – France
07/04 – Day 1 Highlights
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (BT Sport 1)
=> 22:35 to 23:05 (
08/04 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Stage 1 (BT Sport//ESPN)
08/04 – Day 2 Highlights
=> 22:00 to 22:30 (BT Sport 3)
=> 23:05 to 23:35 (
09/04 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Power Stage (BT Sport 1)
09/04 – Day 3 Highlights
=> 22:00 to 22:30 (BT Sport 2)
=> 22:35 to 23:05 (
11/04 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (Channel 5)

World Touring Car Championship – Morocco (British Eurosport 2)
08/04 – 15:15 to 17:30
=> 15:15 – Qualifying
=> 16:30 – MAC3 time trial
09/04 – 16:30 to 18:30
=> 16:30 – Race 1
=> 17:30 – Race 2

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


MotoGP jumps to highest audience since 2015

The 2017 MotoGP season started in fine fashion this past weekend according to unofficial overnight viewing figures, thanks to a strong number for Channel 5’s highlights programme.

BT Sport decreases…
As usual, BT Sport 2 aired live coverage of the MotoGP weekend. Their coverage overran by 45 minutes due to the delayed MotoGP race, running from 15:30 to 20:45. The whole programme averaged 120k (0.8%), down marginally in audience and share on 2016’s average of 132k (0.9%). It is BT Sport’s lowest audience for a season opener. Like Formula 1 earlier in the day, warm weather and Mother’s Day hit MotoGP’s viewing figures. In addition, a factor for MotoGP will have been the England football game, which aired on ITV from 16:25 to 19:30.

The MotoGP race itself, which aired from 18:30 to 20:45, averaged 175k (0.9%), down around 13 percent on the equivalent 2016 figure of 201k (1.2%). The red flag periods will not have helped the race segment; also, BT’s lowest for the first round of the year. There is some solace in the peak figure. BT’s coverage on Sunday peaked with 247k (1.3%) at 19:50, a marginal drop on 270k (1.5%) on 2016, down also on 2015 but up on the 2014 peak audience.

The slightly lower than expected numbers follow on from the trend that we saw with BT Sport’s coverage in the latter stages of 2016, but should not be seen as a major concern at this stage in proceedings.

…but Channel 5 benefits
In 2016, ITV4’s highlights programme on Monday evenings from 20:00 to 21:00 averaged 285k (1.4%) across the whole season. Channel 5’s Qatar programme averaged 486k (2.7%) in an earlier time slot from 19:00 to 20:00. Although slightly below Channel 5’s slot average, this is a good number for MotoGP on their return to the channel. Demographically, the championship lost viewers amongst the younger audience against Channel 5’s slot average, but this is a problem that all of motor racing has right now.

It is the highest highlights number since the 2014 Qatar MotoGP, ironic almost in some ways given that was when the pay TV deal started. The strong numbers at the beginning of the 2014 season came off the back of publicity surrounding the BT Sport deal. I think, even taking into account the relative profile of Channel 5 versus ITV4, Dorna will be pleased to see a good Channel 5 average. Channel 5’s audience built consistently throughout the hour, peaking with 645k (3.5%) at 19:50.

The combined audience of 662,000 viewers is the highest for MotoGP since the 2015 season finale and the highest for a season opener since 2014.

Top 5 – MotoGP audiences since the move to BT Sport (source:
01 – 679,000 – 2014 Qatar (BT Sport + ITV4)
02 – 676,000 – 2015 Valencia (BT Sport + ITV4)
03 – 662,000 – 2017 Qatar (BT Sport + Channel 5)
04 – 603,000 – 2015 Italy (BT Sport + ITV4)
05 – 601,000 – 2014 Italy (BT Sport + ITV4)

I am hopeful that Channel 5’s audience may improve from here, especially considering that the channel is starting to build up its motor racing portfolio. Some cross promotion with Formula E and the World Rally Championship will boost all three series and help increase the viewing figures further.

The 2016 Qatar MotoGP ratings report can be found here.

Scheduling: The 2017 Australian Grand Prix / Qatar MotoGP

A changing of the guard has occurred in Formula 1 over the winter. A champion retired on top of the world. A mass-media corporation ousted an elder statesman, who grappled with the sport for a lifetime. The machinery has become faster, louder and maybe even sexier.

The Formula 1 roadshow that greets us next weekend for the Australian Grand Prix is a significantly different one to the one that left us last November in Abu Dhabi. Nevertheless, for everything that changes, some aspects remain the same.

Channel 4 and Sky Sports have retained broadly the same line-up as last season. Steve Jones will continue to lead Channel 4’s line-up, with the likes of David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Karun Chandhok providing analysis. Over on Sky, Simon Lazenby begins their sixth season of covering Formula 1 as presenter, Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill are nearby as always in the wings.

The major change for Sky this season is that former Williams technical director Pat Symonds will provide commentary on a number of races alongside Brundle and David Croft. It will be interesting to see how Sky uses Symonds during the race itself, whether they will use him throughout the race or in the quieter phases only.

Over on the BBC, Jack Nicholls returns as 5 Live lead commentator with Allan McNish, Tom Clarkson, Jennie Gow and Mark Gallagher again completing their line-up. Nicholls will miss the Hungarian round this season due to his Formula E commitments. On the scheduling front, note that Friday’s timings are half an hour earlier than previous years, so practice one starts at 01:00 UK time, whilst Sky’s weekend coverage is simulcast on Sky Sports 1. For those with ultra HD, F1 will be available in 4K for the first time through Sky Q.

MotoGP also makes its return next weekend, with Channel 5 providing highlights on Monday evenings, replacing ITV4 in this respect. BT Sport will continue to cover the championship live, with Suzi Perry presenting live for 11 of the 18 races including the opening race of the season in Qatar. Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder will again be covering commentary this season, whilst the likes of Gavin Emmett and Neil Hodgson will be down in pit lane.

NOTE: Clocks go forward one hour on Sunday 26th March, with the change from Greenwich Mean Time to British Summer Time. The times listed are for GMT on Saturday and before; BST for Sunday and afterwards…

Channel 4
25/03 – 13:00 to 14:50 – Qualifying Highlights
26/03 – 14:00 to 16:40 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
24/03 – 00:30 to 02:45 – Practice 1
24/03 – 04:45 to 06:55 – Practice 2
25/03 – 02:45 to 04:10 – Practice 3
25/03 – 05:00 to 07:40 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports 1)
26/03 – 04:30 to 09:10 – Race (also Sky Sports 1)
=> 04:30 – Track Parade
=> 05:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 05:30 – Race
=> 08:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
22/03 – 20:30 to 21:00 – Report: Australia Preview
23/03 – 04:00 to 04:30 – Driver Press Conference
23/03 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut: Australia
24/03 – 07:00 to 07:30 – Team Press Conference
24/03 – 07:30 to 08:00 – The F1 Show
29/03 – 20:30 to 21:00 – Report: Australia Review

21/03 – 20:30 to 21:30 – Preview, Part 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live)
23/03 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview, Part 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live)
24/03 – 00:55 to 02:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
24/03 – 04:55 to 06:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
25/03 – 02:55 to 04:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
25/03 – 05:55 to 07:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/03 – 05:00 to 08:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Supplementary Programming
20/03 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Crash and Burn: The Story of Tommy Byrne (BBC One Northern Ireland)
=> also 27/03 at 21:00 on BBC Four

MotoGP – Qatar (BT Sport 2)
23/03 – 14:00 to 19:45
=> 14:00 – Preview
=> 15:00 – Practice
24/03 – 14:45 to 18:45 – Practice
25/03 – 14:30 to 18:30 – Qualifying
26/03 – 13:45 to 21:00 – Races
=> 13:45 – Warm Ups
=> 15:30 – Moto3
=> 17:15 – Moto2
=> 18:45 – MotoGP
=> 20:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Qatar (Channel 5)
27/03 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

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

Channel 5 secures MotoGP highlights package

Channel 5 will broadcast highlights of the MotoGP championship this year, Dorna have confirmed. The broadcaster will air the package in a Monday evening slot.

Mark Sharman, Channel 5, said: “We are thrilled to bring viewers the very best of MotoGP and add another headline act to our motor racing portfolio with the world’s fastest motorcycle racing Championship. It will be a mind-blowing season – one for the books. Complementing our live coverage of Formula E and the World Rally Championship highlights, this further demonstrates our commitment to offer top class sport to our viewers”.

Manel Arroyo, Managing Director at Dorna Sports, commented: “With so much emphasis on British talent this year, we are delighted that highlights of every MotoGP round this coming season will be available for British audiences on Channel 5. Our British riders in every category are in top form so it should be an exciting season for our British fans. We are looking forward to getting the 2017 FIM MotoGP World Championship underway in a couple of weeks time in Qatar”.

The move bolsters Channel 5’s existing motor sport portfolio alongside Formula E and the World Rally Championship. It is great to see that MotoGP will have an increased presence, moving from ITV4 to Channel 5, rather than the opposite way down the pecking order. For Channel 5, it marks a return to covering the championship having previously done so in the early 2000s. The overnight audience for the highlights package should increase. ITV4’s coverage in 2016 averaged 285k (1.4%); a barometer Channel 5 should be able to double.

North One Television will continue to produce the highlights package. North One also produces BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage, so do not expect any fundamental change to the style (or timings) used.

News round-up: Sky linked with MotoGP; F1 App updates for 2017

In the news round-up, more speculation on where MotoGP could be going next, whilst the official F1 app is given an early Spring clean ready for the 2017 season.

Sky set to take MotoGP off BT Sport?
A report from Bikesport News has linked Sky Sports with MotoGP’s UK rights, which BT Sport currently holds until the end of 2018. In response to their report, Sky’s Euan Fordyce said, “I’m afraid we don’t comment on rights we don’t currently have, so we are unable to help on this occasion.”

I do not know what prompted the report, however given the amount of money BT Sport have splashed out to retain the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, it is not surprising to see Bikesport News’ piece.

Their piece does corroborate with what was reported on this site last month. It looks like the relationship between BT and Dorna is not as rosy as it could be, but I do not want to emphasise that point simply because media outlets reported the same on the BT/UEFA front, and we know what happened there…

Sky Sports were previously involved in MotoGP in the early 1990s under its previous mantra, with Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder providing commentary. The rights soon moved over to British Eurosport as Sky focussed on the Superbike World Championship

As of writing, there is no official news about who will be broadcasting MotoGP highlights in the UK, but expect some news on that front imminently.

Superbike action resumes
The World Superbike Championship was the first major international series to get back underway at the end of February live on Eurosport, and with it, there was a personnel change. Gregory Haines, who was lead World Superbikes commentator for Dorna in 2016, has moved over to Eurosport, succeeding Jack Burnicle as their World Superbikes commentator.

In the overnight viewing figures, the first round of the season from Philip Island peaked with 55k (6.2%) at 04:30 on Sunday morning (including VOSDAL) as the second Superbikes race of the weekend concluded. As a comparison, last year’s MotoGP race from the same track on BT Sport 2 averaged 126k (10.7%), peaking with 176k according to numbers supplied by

Elsewhere in the superbike world, ITV have extended their contract to cover the British Superbike series in highlights form until the end of the 2020 season.

F1 App updates for 2017
The official Formula 1 app has received an update ready for the 2017 season. Aside from an update to the user interface, there is no major change for readers. There was some confusion around whether the content will be different depending on location, however this site can confirm that users will receive the same content regardless of location.

On a related note, I mentioned last October that users in the Netherlands were testing a new version of an app featuring in-car footage during live sessions. This site understands that live in-car footage is still on the cards to feature, but at what stage during the season is unclear due to hurdles that need to be cleared. The delivery method also needs to be agreed with each broadcaster.

ITV F1 – twenty years on
ITV’s F1 coverage launched twenty years ago this week, with the 1997 Australian Grand Prix. As readers may have noticed, there has been a running theme so far throughout the year so far looking at various aspects of ITV’s coverage, including flashback pieces looking at past races (thanks to all who said that they would like to see these continue).

There is a lot of reading over here for those of you that fancy a trip down memory lane and want to relieve some more ITV F1 goodness.