UK TV audience falls by one million at Sky’s first F1 race

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Viewing figures from the first race weekend of 2012 indicates a fall of over a million viewers in the UK.

There was no live free-to-air coverage of the race in Britain. The race was shown live on Sky while the BBC broadcast highlights later in the day.

Sky declined to issue details of their TV audiences for their F1 programming over the race weekend when asked by F1 Fanatic.

However multiple sources have reported their first F1 broadcast attracted a peak audience of 1.02 million viewers.

This represents a fall of over 2 million compared to the figure recorded by the BBC for last year’s live race.

The BBC reported a peak of 3.2 million people watched their highlights programme, over one million more than their repeat of the race in a similar time slot attracted last year.

Combining the figures suggests around one million fewer people in the UK watched the first F1 race of the season, a fall of over 20%.

However Sky commentator Martin Brundle, who left the BBC to join the broadcaster, praised the figures, saying on Twitter: “Very happy Sky F1, BBC F1 (and hopefully BBC 5 live) had strong Australian F1 audiences. So important for British [motorsport], Silverstone and F1 generally.”

Half of this year’s ten races will be shown live on the BBC, starting with the Chinese Grand Prix.

F1 on television

    Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    115 comments on “UK TV audience falls by one million at Sky’s first F1 race”

    1. I wonder, as pubs would have been showing the race live but they would count as a single viewer with perhaps 40-50 people there at one time.. It’s curious to think about what the actual reach was? One thing for sure is there has been a drop off due to people being forced to pay if they want to watch these races live

      1. Maybe we could get F1 in Pubs to do a headcount?

      2. they aren’t counted at all… read up on how they “work” the numbers. they have a few thousand (not sure how many the UK) households which records what each person in household watches etc, and then do some voodoo math to get a figure that represents the entire country.

      3. I doubt F1 is showed in enough pubs to make any real difference to these figures.

        1. You’re right not at the moment, but I already have 4 friends who I have arranged to see races at the pub with but not at 7am!

          Think it will be more popular as it gets to Europe and summertime.

            1. Whichever interpretation of the figures you take it is really not good, is it?

              The Concorde Agreement relating to the broadcasting of the sport states: ‘The Commercial Rights Holder may not permit Formula 1 events to be shown only by pay television in a country with a significant audience if it would materially adversely affect audience reach in that country.’

              Is this bad enough to state the audience reach has been materially affected? If so does it now prove the deal does not conform with the Concorde agreement and the people how can make a difference can start throwing their weight around? We need someone on our side with some good ammunition.

      4. But this wouldn’t make much difference in the sky vs BBC debate…. the same amount of people (probably?) would watch it in a pub no matter what channel it was on?

    2. Why do you assume that people who didn’t watch the live coverage chose to watch the BBC highlights? Perhaps they watched a repeat on Sky…

      1. I didn’t assume anything – as it says in the article, Sky would not provide the data.

        However there’s an obvious reason to make such an assumption – if someone is shelling out £360 quid a year for Sky to watch F1, it stands to reason they’re doing so to watch the race live instead of delayed.

        1. As for as I know the average numbers take into account recordings.

          The main reason for the difference is BBC is in 99% of UK households were as sky sports or sky hd is in 25-30% Uk households.

          Had to laugh at Brundles tweet! sure Martin!! The only thing increasing is your bank balance!

          1. i don’t think that’s the case actually. Brundle is well off at this stage and doesn’t need to make money his primary motivation. At the autosports awards he said the main reason he moved was because the bbc bigwigs treated the f1 team so badly around the time the rights were sold.

            1. Another factor is that Sky will basically bend over backwards to give him the freedom and scope that he wants, it’s no coincidence he recently drove a modern Ferrari.

        2. I knew someone would say that. Obviously if you’re going to fork out specifically for F1 then you were going to get up and watch it.

          But remember that not everyone who watches a Grand Prix is necessarily a die-hard F1 fan. There are people who have received the F1 channel as a result of already being a Sky Sports or HD subscriber (my household included), and therefore had no such motivation to watch it live.

          Besides, I might be wrong here, but wasn’t the race on at 7am instead of 6am last year due to the clocks changing? If so, that makes comparing the figures a little tricky. You’re best waiting until a standard 1pm race start before making fair comparisons.

        3. Agree, why would you not watch the race live on sky! regardless of what package you have sky wise, I presume you have sky installed surely you are going to watch the race live on sky and not the BBC highlight show. It would be like paying for first class seats and deciding to sit in economy…lets face it this article has confirmed the inevitable which every one (without sky) would say would happen.

        4. No Keith, for that to be true then everyone with Sky would hav had to have bought it specifically for F1. People who already had Sky prior to the announcement that F1 was moving to Sky may either be watching the race repeat on Sky or the highlights (that cut out the boring bits) on BBC.
          Personally, I noted that one couldn’t always be certain when the repeats were starting on Sky and so the BBC stated time was more attractive.

    3. Tom Haxley (@)
      22nd March 2012, 12:00

      “The BBC reported a peak of 3.2 million people watched their highlights programme, over one million more than their repeat of the race in a similar time slot attracted last year.”

      Sure thats the most important stat – the sky stat is useless as there is no real data to compare it to (last years was free to air, you cant compare something paid for to something free). Next year we can do a fair comparison Aus on Sky to Aus on Sky and see if Sky can build the audience up.

      If the BBC got more viewers this year than last year, then everything is vindicated for them (sadly)

      1. Not necessarily. Last year, I watched it live on the BBC, so did not watch the highlights program. Doubt there’ll be any way to give a fair comparison.

        1. Tom Haxley (@)
          22nd March 2012, 13:56

          @eurobrun but this year (if you dont have sky) you didnt have the choice.

          So the BBC have not only upped viewing figures by 1m, they dont have to show the race twice within a 8-10 hour period. There is less editing and less cost.

          I didnt want Sky to get F1, but these numbers scream out to me that the BBC will probably be quite happy at this point. They are doing less and still getting the viewer return :(

          1. upped viewing figures by 1m

            Over how many normally would have watched the “replay”.

            BBC total figures would be drastically cut I assume.
            @keithcollantine Any chance you know how many viewers the BBC peaked at at last years Aus GP? (or where to find out?)

            1. yes, this year the BBC got 3.2 million, last year they had 5 million (3 million live, 2 million for re-run).

              One thing i think Sky need to be aware of is that they can’t afford to put adverts during the practice sessions during the races the BBC have live. People, will turn over to BBC, and then, due to the fact they would have to press the red button etc every time, i assume they won’t switch back. This gives a prime opportunity for the viewers to get used to the BBC coverage and then possibly decide to stick with them for the whole weekend. The worst thing for Sky would be to have a massive drop in viewing figures every race the BBC have live.

      2. “last years was free to air, you cant compare something paid for to something free”

        You can bet your bottom dollar sure the sponsors will be comparing the stats….. and won’t be too happy at the moment

    4. So a back of the envelope calculation might suggest that they will generate £420M from subscriptions in a year based on 1M newsubscribers for F1.

      Anyway, A question I have is this. Is it normal for Sky to withhold viewing figures or do you think they are withholding them because they were lower than the BBC’s?

      1. @gatekiller That depends how many of the viewers were not Sky subscribers to begin with.

        1. Hence my emphasis on new ;)

        2. I heard somewhere (possible rumour) that the BBC were spending about £40M per race?

          If so, it currently looks like Sky won’t be making a profit. If this is true, I would expect them to start making a bigger marketing push to get more subscribers.

          Again, this is speculation.

          1. £40M per race. Not sure about that!

            The BBC’s total TV expenditure in 2010/11 was £2,368.1 million. They’re not going to blow a third of their budget on 20 (inc Bahrain) F1 races.

            Speculation is their F1 budget was more than the total budget for BBC4, so think ~£80m total.


          2. £40M per race is surely some miscalculation, otherwise they could easily afford the fee for staging their own race, given they built or rented an F1 track ;) Maybe they should adapt Top Gear’s aerodrome for that?

            1. I believe the figure was around £40 million for the live broadcasting rights each year.

            2. Correct. It’s for the whole year.

      2. Sky have never published viewing figures – they will always be lower than the free competition

    5. @keithcollantine, I read elsewhere (thanks to a post by @prisoner-monkeys) that the BBC highlights increase was only 100,000 on last year. Do you have a source for the BBC figure comparison?

      1. Actually @keithcollantine scrub that last question. The comparison wasn’t like-for-like – it was highlights against live. Apologies.

    6. Pretty poor figures all round really, shows F1 isn’t as big in the UK as it used to be sadly. I wonder if anyone knows what the highest viewing figures are and when they were, i’m guessing it was at it’s peak in the late 80’s, early 90’s?

      1. The poor figures may also reflect a slow global economy and high unemployment rate, rather than that F1 isn’t as big in the UK as it used to be. There may be many households that love F1 but simply can’t justify the added expense in their budget and have had to make a tough decision. We have had a poster here 3 or 4 weeks ago say he has to put his family and their needs ahead of Sky coverage, and I applauded him for that.

      2. “F1 isn’t as big in the UK as it used to be sadly”

        Nonsense. It suggests that last year a combined total of 5.3 million people in the UK watched F1.

        When you have the religion that is Football here in the UK, the Motorsport F1 attracting almost one in ten is an excellent figure. In fact, I for one have always been surprised at how F1 is in fact given near parity with major footballing events; time slots( except now of course!), news slots etc

        1. Well no it’s not nonsense, 5 million isn’t the real figure, most of us with Sky watched the BBC show too, 3 million is normal. I wouldn’t call 5% of people watching as Popular would you?

    7. using a picture of lewis like its his fault viewing figures are down.

      1. picture is because there is a Sky Sports F1 mic in it, and it was probably made by sky Sports F1 camera.

      2. For real? I think its cause there is a Sky Sports microphone in the picture.

      3. The paranoia of some Lewis Hamilton fans knows no bounds :)

    8. Keith, I’m glad you included the figures for last years highlights programme. All the other reports I’ve seen excluded that only looking at the sky live figures + this years highlights, compared to last year live. Excluding last years highlights makes a big, big differance.

      Unfortunately with almost zero UK sponsors, Bernie and the money men probably don’t care about the UK viewing figures.

    9. As somone alluded to it will come down to the actual numbers of people who specifically signed up to SKY in order to watch the F1 rather than the number of people who watched the program. For them it would appear to be a way of getting more subscriptions and sign ups, then selling them phone and broadband packages i would imagine than the F1 itself, the % of existing vs new would be the interesting stat and the one that will not be shared unless very favourable to SKY (i am guessing)
      Being without sky i hope someone else can answer another question i have, apart from the F1 live (and repeats etc) what has the rest of the schedule got in terms of offering, by that i mean is it worth having when there is not a race on and will people watch it, if not then how long a dedicated channel lasts could be questioned.

    10. Another curve ball to screw up the figures aside of pub coverage…
      “Illegal viewing”.
      I know a lot of people who watched various online sky feeds or even RTL or other European broadcasters.
      I’d be interested to know what the 5 live radio figures were.

      1. I watch many sports with online feeds, 6am f1 on the laptop while in bed is perfect. Same plan for this weekend too.

        Also If I brought the sky deal, that would help murdoch defeat free to air f1 on tv. If no one brought the sky deal, then we would be back to the bbc.

    11. Well I’m fortunate to be a Sky subscriber (or is that unfortunate) which I signed up for exclusively for the F1 (there are other benefits though.)

      The coverage was close to the BBC with some nice new extra features. But the ‘main anchor’ – I don’t know his name – alongside Damon and Martin isn’t a patch on Jake. In fact he is quite irritating and clearly just a generic presenter type with no real depth or passion for F1.
      True, Jake started out as an F1 noobie but he took it up and at least appeared to become a genuine fan. Sincere or not, a testament to the fundamental difference between the BBC and Sky.

      1. Totaly agree

      2. I agree that last weekend wasn’t Lazenby’s finest hour but give him some time. As you point out Jake Humphreys (who is a great presenter) didn’t get it all overnight. I don’t think you can draw any conclusions from one race weekend – especially not about fundamental differences between the BBC and Sky. After all, Lazenby was a very knowledgeable rugby presenter…

      3. The person i miss most is DC…which surprised me

      4. Gotta say, the newfangled Table Tennis Paddle attached to Simon’s hand was nowhere near as good as the one attached to Jakes Hand. Jake actually used his.
        As far as the Sky ‘extra features’ segments go, they were a pale comparison the the Beeb’s. Loved BBC’s version of the Bob Dylan Vid. Very clever (and the song wasn’t half bad either!).

    12. Think once the lunch time races start up will see a truer picture on viewing figures.Also we are talking uk figures would like to know the Europe figures takeing into account all the bars that would have opened early in the Costa’s
      ect to get some trade before the footy starts.

    13. I think it is quite clear that 2 million of us are not prepared to pay Murdoch for live coverage and are happy to watch the BBC’s highlights

      1. Here here!

    14. What gets me in all this is where is the moral responsibility of the Sponsors – I wrote to Vodafone saying that I cannot understand how they can be happy with less viewers and basically making the rich pay more to pay for F1, but yet fewer people watching their Vidafone Mclaren’s – I got told that they could not control the media –

      I told them that money controls everything – when the sponsors wake up to fact that their products are seen by only the very rich then perhaps they may want to stand up and be counted. At this moment the sponsors are not voicing their opinions.

      We’ve seen it before – stealing as much as the market can possibly take and then taking even more – that’s where we are now. The future my friends is that the sponsors will leave and F1 will be a worse place and Bernie and his sickening daughters will be long gone.

      1. I don’t know whether I agree with the statement about products being seen by only the very rich – we have Sky Sports, and I don’t consider myself “very rich”. Nor do I think it’s a moral responsibility for the sponsors. They are just picking a platform to advertise on.

        I do agree though with your hypothesis that the sponsors don’t necessarily know where to get best value for money for their investment – and possibly don’t care. All it takes is for a board member or CEO to fancy rubbing shoulders with a Pussycat Doll or Lenny Kravitz, or (heaven forbid) actually to be interested in F1 for itself.

        I’m working at one of the big F1 sponsors at the moment, and to be honest seriously doubt that marketing have a coherent business case for sponsorship. They like to see their discipline as a science, but it’s not what I would call rigorous.

    15. When Japan went down this hybrid route of part live and part highlights on free to air TV, the ratings fell away and haven’t come back. F1 is in peril in Japan. Will they still have a GP in 5 years’ time?

      The danger in Britain is more acute, and of greater concern, because so many F1 teams and F1 infrastructure is based here. I’m amazed the sponsors haven’t demanded some of their money back. It can’t be long before they do.

      1. I know nothing of the coverage of F1 in Japan, but could this not also be slightly due to the lack of any japanese constructors or engines in F1 anymore? Yes they have Kamui, but the Japanese, as with most asian cultures, are more focused on the team than the individual, so I would imagine they were more into the sport when they had a whole team to get behind.

    16. In other news, bank balance figures for Bernie Ecclestone showed an increase in income from F1 TV rights when compared to figures this time last year.


    17. I live in Canada, and just started downloading and watching the British feeds a couple of years ago (as opposed to our local). Either way, I don’t have to pay to watch, so I’m just judging purely on feel. To be honest, I found the Sky blokes to be dry, uncomfortable, and even though the coverage had more stats and technological features, it lacked interest. I know Brundle is much-loved with the UK audience, but it really seems that neither drivers nor team principles actually like him at all. So, I’ll continue to watch BBC coverage and highlights. They have that magic formula (excuse the pun). Oh, by the way, what’s with the scary transvestite name Georgie that Sky has covering the giant iPad? HAHA!!

      1. artificial racer
        22nd March 2012, 18:54

        Thats good, just publicly admit to pirating F1 broadcasts…

        Not being live is always a problem if you go down that route. But as a non paying customer the commercial interests don’t care about you.

        It does raise the point though… the team sponsors on the cars get seen by many many more people than the official viewing figures.

        1. artificial racer
          22nd March 2012, 18:56

          And for what it’s worth I happen to agree with everything you said. (USA here)

    18. It will be good to see when the european races come around and also see what the figures will be when bbc and sky are showing the race live.

      I for one will be watching the bbc when both are showing live mainly becuase im on virgin media so no F1HD so will watch bbcHD.

    19. I would love to hear the teams opinions on this, sadly I can’t see sky out the beeb asking them… The sponsors cant be happy, the fans aren’t happy, I bet the teams aren’t happy. How long can Bernie go on alienating the majority of people involved in the sport for money?!

      I cant wait for the stats when both channels are showing the races live… I’m someone who could afford to get sky just for F1, but refuse to do so as a matter of principle. I ain’t lining Murdoch’s or Ecclestone’s pockets any more than I have to…

      1. Here Here. I agree

    20. Bernie will make another castle or so of cash, leave F1 on one limb and move on. The teams are busy hacking at each others’ trunks, FOTA is a joke, new Concorde will make Bernie (along with Ferrari and RBR maybe) even richer at the cost of the teams and the sport. Viewership will keep dwindling and we all know how that will end. Wonder how much Virgin had to pay Sky to get access! How the hell did this deal go through without all the sponsors and teams protesting? Its not really a coincidence that this is a deal between two of the evil turds I hate the most – Bernie and Murdoch. Another just died recently – won’t name him!

    21. Don’t just write on here folks – complain to your teams that you can’t see their sponsorship who you wish to support.

      Complain because we know Bernie and Murdoch are just skimming the max of money out of everybody –

    22. Don’t just write to forums Guys – Write to the sponsors and complain – they have the money – they have the ultimate power.

    23. Greed and Greed is the problem. Given the chance, almost everyone will be willing to pay a reasonable amount to view the races.
      But Bernie and his CVC partners just want more and more money.

      People are faced with more and more pressing needs and F1 is almost pricing itself out of the market.
      When you are then forced to make a hard choice, puffs of smoke and engine noise will soon fall down in the list of priorities.

    24. Does make me smile the way you all bash Sky when it was in fact the BBC that sold you all out. Just one other point I have a sky subscription and you can watch the races on Sky Go with two devices registered, so I have given my sister that doesn’t have Sky my login details and she watched it live on her Pc. Wonder how many others have worked that out?

      1. Plenty :) Mum’s got my old xbox and the remaining one floats about. MAte of mine is using his brothers Sky Go on his xbox etc.

      2. We’re probably tired of bashing the BBC. There are some 8416 comments here if it helps fill the void for you:

      3. I had worked it out, but get some fact straight is wasn’t the BBC that sold us out it was Bernie and his merry men, he wanted more money and murdoch and his merry men though ahhh we can have a cash cow here!! how many adverts did I see on TV pushing f1 on sky in February/March I made the comment after seeing how ever many adverts in the one day ‘sky must be struggling to make the numbers’ And refusing to release viewing figures it doesn’t take a genius to work it out, i’m sure if a record number had watched and sibscribed to sky they would of had no hesitation is releasing figures..

    25. To bad you people in the middle of the F1 world have to deal with such horsecrap otherwise known as SKY. Start a campaign to protest the sponsors of the program and let them know that changes are needed or face the loss of product sales directly related to any future Sky broadcasts.They are holding a gun to your heads…

    26. Of course, the point that seems to be overlooked is Sky’s expected viewer ratings.. I think they were published some time ago, did anyone get them, and are they accurate to the actual ratings from Australia??

    27. Can honestly say I’m not surprised at the drop in UK viewers.

      Just to pick up on on Mark’s post, he is right, it is the BBC’s fault we’ve got this split channel broadcasting. They’ve not been the best money managers recently – I’ve mentioned it on the F1fanatic forum but I’ll mention it again because it’s relevant to this article.

      They’ve got the Olympics (Not sure of what the figure will be but it’ll surely be over £50m), the move to Salford (£70m), a blatant X-Factor copy called The Voice (£20m over two years), the Six Nations rugby (£160m over 5 years), Wimbledon (£50m a year) and BBC3 (£115m a year). Just those 6 examples that I know of all equate to around £330m. I know there’s more things the BBC are doing but I’ve singled out these 6 because in my view, they’re not great value for money.

      Because of their as of recent high expenditure, they lost track of Formula 1 and as a result, they’ve had to partially give it up and now we have this split broadcasting arrangement.

      1. I disagree for the most part. I don’t like Rugby, but many people of the UK do. I don’t like tennis but Wimbledon us hugely popular. A slightly more upmarket X-Factor, why not? X-Factor, love or hate, it is one of the biggest draws on TV. The move to Salford is the damp squib in all this without a doubt but when it was planned (in 2005) it was pre-financial crisis and the expected property sale gains vanished. Let’s face it, no one was prepared for the collapse of the financial markets.

        But I do fundamentally disagree with the cutting of F1 coverage – also hugely popular with a very loyal hardcore of fans and indeed ‘where it comes from’, so to speak.

        I consider the BBC to be a national treasure and happily pay the license fee. I know they are never going to please eveyone – but they sure ****** a lot of people off with the F1 deal.

      2. The salford move actually cost £700m, not £70m!

        1. Lol, where’d you pluck that from?

    28. I have a scary confession to make here. I watched nearly all the GPs from 1993 (ish), getting up in the middle of the night when necessary, lost in a kind of obsessive daze every race. When the sky deal was announced I felt sad, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to justify getting Sky with the family and it turned out I couldn’t get RTL due to trees. I started to make mental preparations to move away from the obsession.

      The scary bit is that last weekend I was happy to sleep, dozing through the 5live radio coverage and then watching the highlights on BBC later on. I also had some energy on a Sunday and did some house things. I’m slightly confused, perhaps this is the beginning of the end of my love affair with Formula 1? Watched the highlights, I didn’t really get into it because I knew that the events had already unfolded, and also because F1 is turning into a tyre conservation series which is not something I’m particularly keen on. Yes I watched the highlights the statistics may show, but the quality of the experience was nothing like what I remember the live races to be.

      I’m worried… I missed the live race and I’m not as bothered as I thought I’d be about it. What is wrong with me? Does this mean the end of being a fanatic? Is there more to life than this?

      1. You know, just the other day, I asked myself ‘Why do I still watch Formula 1?’

        I started watching it in 2003 when Raikkonen amazed me in Brazil. I’ve watched some great races in my time, Japan 2003 where Michael Schumacher’s sloppiness gave me hope that Raikkonen could actually pull it off. Japan 2005 where he stormed through the field from 17th on the grid, and Hungary 2006 where Button won his first ever race.

        When Kimi left F1 in 2010, I was a little disappointed but it didn’t affect my love for the sport. But then the sky/BBC deal got announced and I was so upset by it, I didn’t know what I was going to do in 2012. Quite honestly, I was very close to giving up the sport I loved, but Kimi’s return gave me another chance and I haven’t regretted it. I’m very fortunate that my brother has moved out to a new flat and bought a Virgin Media box that contained the Sky F1 channel and I’m glad I didn’t miss the live race as the Australian Grand Prix.

        1. Thanks for posting your stories Jim & James, very interesting to hear. Looking forward to seeing free practice highlights in the morning now so I think my love for F1 is not gone yet!! Websites such as this also help keep the spirit going, and to be honest I’m probably just the same as you psynrg. Just hope I can keep the passion knowing others are watching and I am not.

      2. I’ll never tire of it unless they change it to something that isn’t at least 50% the essence of F1. Whatever that may be :)

        Been following for about 35yrs now and before that it fascinated me as a toddler.

      3. Same here. I could probably count on the fingers of 1 hand the number of races I’ve not watched live coverage of (especially if you discount the couple of races a actually went to) since 1985 including watching in a foreign language when away on holidays
        However I don’t want Sky (I don’t consider it value for money for one) so I made do with 5Lives coverage for this race and then watched the highlights on the Beeb later on.
        I’ll do the same this weekend for the upcoming race but I do wonder whether I’ll still be doing the same later on in the season or just decide to do something else with my weekend – even the weekend when its live on the BBC

        What is also annoying is that where as for the last few years there’s been a free Android app to follow the live timing (very handy when at work) this year the free app is a demo and instead you have to pay £20 for the app.

      4. Exactly the same here. I thought I may miss being able to watch the races live, but in the end I was not bothered. I Listened to the Five-live coverage, expecting it not to be that good, but actually it was pretty good. Pleased Button won, so I recorded the highlights so I could do other things Sunday pm. Watched the highlights on Monday evening after work. All this after following F1 for 25yr’s and seeing great drivers and races.

        Maybe I am not as keen now due to ‘clone drivers’, continual PR speak, artificial racing with trick wings to allow ‘overtaking’.

        I’ll take the BBC coverage while it lasts I think.

    29. Stuart Fenton
      22nd March 2012, 17:36

      I am lucky enough to have access to a Sky Go account so watched the race on there. I felt that the Sky coverage was pretty characterless and clinical. To me it felt they took a uniformed approach that would work on say football and just applied it to F1.

      I watched the BBC highlights show and it was already miles better. I can’t put my finger on it but the BBC have a charm and character that Sky is currently lacking (baring in mind that it was their first broadcast). And I also don’t think that Crofty and Brundle go together too well.

      I am of course biased and want sky F1 to fail because I think if it is a success, then it will spell a complete bye bye for terrestrial F1 coverage.

      1. Pretty much agree with all the above but I’d give Brundle & Croft some time to jell. Damon seemed uncomfortable but then so did Coulthard when he joined the Beeb crew and developed brilliantly.

        But yeah, characterless and clinical sums it up perfectly.

    30. I chose not to give my money to Murdoch, so I listened to R5 Live instead. I thought BBC might show some races live, but so far only highlights and Radio.

    31. The problem with the super rich is they want more and more money and they don’t know when to stop. Eventually they’ll have killed their source of income and they’ll move on to the next thing.

    32. As I noted elsewhere, the viewing figures for Australia appear to be at an 8 year low:

    33. This is nothing more than what the majority of people on this site predicted when the Sky F1 deal was announced. Even during good economical times this deal would have put noses out of joint, nevermind doing this when we are in our worst recession for decades. Just goes to show how out of touch the F1 heirachy are from their fanbase, and as for Martin Brundle, do me a favour? Ofcourse he is on the Sky F1 team out of the goodness of his own heart and not for the money, perish the thought!
      The basic facts are that ITV failed to make F1 a successfull venture for themselves, the BBC have jumped ship and Sky will too when no one ‘pays’ to watch live F1 races. Greed, greed, and yet more greed! Serves them all right!

      1. Agree with you 100% and have you seen the price of official team merchandise.
        £39.99 for a T-Shirt, i’ll take 3 please NOT!!!

    34. “UK TV audience falls by one million”.
      I am not sure I understand this entirely. I can make sense out of this number only when I understand how much percentage of the TV audience is the UK TV audience.

      If the UK TV audience is just 1% of the total TV audience, if I lose one million there but gain ten million out of the remaining 99%, it is still a better number, isn’t it?

      1. If you gain ten million of course thats good. But losing 1 million fans is another matter, especially from a fanbase that is one of the oldest and best informed in the world. It shouldn’t be presented as if they lost 1million fans to gain 10million. The population in the UK has sustained freeview for ever and if you were to strip away all the pointless extras, for a normal race coverage, it can do so again. The attractiveness of F1 for sponsors has always been its viewers and they will pay more attention to a direction that has lost 1million viewers at the start of a season with one of the best line ups in the history of the sport and more unanswered questions than ever. Combined with the relentless promotions during preseason I would say that the figures are probably higher than would otherwise be and the real pain is yet to come.
        I would suggest that writing to the F1 sponsors will have a greater influence than writing to the teams. At the very least the sponsors can use the feedback to negotiate better deals forcing action from the teams to redress the matter.

    35. I watched the sky coverage(for free otherwise I would have watched RTL) and the BBC highlights program and I enjoyed the BBC coverage more. Antony Davidson is the only presenter I would rate on the Sky coverage. Brundle seems less interesting and the BBC have benefited from his absence IMHO. I will be interested to see how long Sky’s “Brundle focused” approach will last. He’s obiviously getting a big pay packet for this and fair play to him but he’s not the super pundit that either he or Sky think he is. In fact I found him quite off putting for the most part and his grid walk has seemed to suffer from this more intense approach which seemed aimed at outdoing the BBC more than covering the grid. The viewing figures have only confirmed the comments made by fans that this would be a mistake. In my view a free to air race without the frills would still beat the Sky coverage hands down. All the extras like in car coverage etc are more fun when watching reruns IMHO. The normal FOM coverage with the timing screen is more than perfect viewing for me. The teams cant be happy that they lost 1 million fans during the race and seeing as they took a payout from Sky to agree to this, their sponsors should look for a refund of part of their sponsorship.
      It seems to me that unless the whole world goes for payview there will always be a free to air option that can be accessed somewhere and fans will find it.
      They may turn it around but I think Sky are going to take a bath on this one.

    36. I liked the sky race coverage , but that is a big drop in viewers.
      I hope this will not diminish he UK’s F1 fan base , as that would likely have a big impact on F1, bearing in mind eight of F1′s 12 teams are based in Britain.

    37. Being at university, I cannot watch the Sky races live and will have to watch the Sky races via the BBC extended highlights later in the day. I watched the Qualifying and Race sessions on the BBC’s extended highlights programmes each day and thought they did a stellar job with the short amount of time they had to play with. I think not enough track action was shown from the qualifying, however, this is probably due to the fact there were so many suprise results from qualifying that it was difficult to compute the pace of some the cars (e.g. Williams, and a McLaren front row in front of the Red Bulls). However, the shortened coverage of qualifying I think will get better throughout the season as we get more used to the pace of the cars.

      The race coverage was good as well, being shorter (not by much, as they showed a good chunk of the race- not missing out on much). This will be good for the more casual F1 supporter and those who are busy with studies/work at the weekend I’d imagine as if you are only really into the racing and not too fussed about the build up, politics and post race analysis, it is a fantastic compromise. I definitley found that trying to watch all the coverage of an F1 weekend on the BBC last season became laborious and very difficult to find the time due to the vast amount of info and in-depth analysis they produced (don’t get me wrong- I loved the build up coverage but couldn’t find the time to watch it- only just the race).

    38. I’ve followed F1 for almost 50 years and like many was upset when the Sky deal was annouced. My main gripe is that I have to pay £360pa, just to watch F1 on Sky when I have absolutely no interest in watching the other 100 odd channels that come with the subscription. If it has to be PPV, then why can’t it be just that – pay for the 20 races – which incidentally only run for 9 months of the year.
      The real worry I think that faces F1 fans is when the BBC have had enough in 2015 and Sky increase their subcription as will surely happen.

      1. I agree with you completely. I have followed F1 for 25 years (it really does not seem that long ago that Senna, Prost, Mansell and Piquet ruled). I have not felt the urge to subscribe to sky. If F1 disappears from the BBC, then I doubt even then I will be persuaded to subscribe.

        My fix of motor racing will come from attending a few club/national level events. This will still work out cheaper than sky, over the minimum 12 month contract I would be forced to take.

        Sky really need to pray that Jenson and Lewis are winning. A Red Bull show will not help viewing figures and the hooking in of potential new subscribers.

        I reckon that £10 a race weekend is a fair price if PPV came to fruition. In reality, F1 would charge the earth, because, well, it is F1. The people running the show really need to stop having a laugh and take a reality check.

        1. I already had Virgin Media, and £10 per race weekend is roughly what it works out to to get the SkySports package (assuming you cancel it in the off season), so I thought I’d give it a go. The coverage was pretty terrible though, and I told my dad that he didn’t miss anything by just watching the BBC highlights. I’m going to give them another couple of races and if they don’t improve it’ll be adios to Sky.

    39. Not unexpected news at all really. I knew the figure would be high just by proxy of most people not having premium television.

      The fact is that most of the world is in financial trouble and many big companies to boot. FOM and CVC are so much in trouble that CVC are wanting to sell major shares to try to recoup some loss. Another way of doing that is not to let the television companies pay any less just out of the goodness of their heart.

      I believe that this pay-TV thing will be relatively short-term for the sport in the UK. Once FOM get their act together and the BBC or perhaps ITV can sort themselves out financially then we may be blessed with ‘free-to-watch’ F1 again.

      However, short-term is subjective and I hazard a guess it will takes years.

      FOM and FOTA (what’s left of it) know how important the UK base is and it will always be high on their agenda.

    40. It would be interesting to know how many f1 fanatics subcribe, and who’s determined to hold out and who just cant afford.

    41. It’s going to be interesting to see the UK viewing figures after the early morning China weekend, when its on the BBC.

      Subtract number of Sky viewers from Aus/Malaysia, from BBC China figures, and the number you are left with is the amount of people streaming Sky on t’internet :D

    42. I wonder if the 2 am US audience even managed to beat 1 million viewers.

    43. According to the UK’s BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board), these were the average daily viewing figures in millions (and %age of total audience) for BBC1 and SKY1 in these periods:

      BBC1 : 20.90m (50.9%)
      SKY1 : 1.94m (3.4%)

      BBC1 : 29.14m (50.8%)
      SKY1 : 1.52m (2.6%)

      When the next set of figures are released, they’ll include the Australian GP weekend.

      If SKY1’s coverage got roughly 0.75m or more viewers, it should show up on this page in the ‘other’ category.
      (BBC1’s coverage will need roughly in excess of 4m viewers to appear on their table.)

      I think the BBC1 figures for Australia have probably flattered them as a lot of F1 junkies/SKY-phobics will have wanted their first bite of F1 under the new highlights arrangement but many will not have liked the taste. Some will fold and subscribe and some will not bother again.
      I myself didn’t like the BBC qualifying coverage at all. We got approx 40-45mins of qualifying footage in a 75min programme and that included Jake links between the sessions.
      (I read either here or elsewhere that the BBC are not allowed to show more than 75% of the action on a SKY weekend.)
      I’m currently thinking that in future I’ll record the BBC1 qualifying shows and watch the intro and exit pieces for the Fri/Sat news and the grid order. Trying to watch something where someone else has effective control of the FFW button is far too annoying for me.

      And finally, considering how vehamently opposed the BBC were about Ch4 getting the F1 coverage, they’ve rather meekly and without fuss conceded the rights to another of their jewels, the Grand National (big horse race for non-UK readers) to guess who?…..

    44. Apologies, SKY1 should read SKY SPORTS 1 – the numbers are correct though.

    45. have been a real F1 fan since Mansell in 92 but now the magic of watching it on free to air tv is gone ,and im not paying for sky ,last weekend i felt rather lost and not involved anymore sort of normal maybe ,highlights do not interest me especially after the beeb broadcasting the results on the news with the caption on the top of the screen” permission of bbc sport” ,to**ers , bit like that old likely lads sketch where they have to hide all day so as not to hear the football match score ,one very sad and let down fan bernie ,the beeb ,sky you all deseve each other

    46. I’m watching the Sky F1 channel via my Xbox thanks to a friend. The pre and post race segments are truly awful. Never before when watching an F1 programme have i been so bored out of my mind! Simon Lazenby has no chrisma and hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about, Georgie Thompson is pointless along with the Skypad. Damon Hill looks lost and confused. Anthony Davidson is wasted in the studio he should be in the pitlane. The pre-recorded segments are dull. It’s so lifeless and bland. I love EJ and DC and i’m going to have to record the BBC just for the pre and post race banter. What a mess this deal is, really puts me off F1. I really hope Sky fails at F1.

    47. stephen brady
      25th March 2012, 18:34

      I’m seriously wetting myself here,bernie sold his soul to the devil, and those figures make my day an average of 800,000 from the start of programme to end, lmao at it,roll on the european races,

    48. The new numbers are in.

      The Australian GP failed to make the top 30 programmes for the week for BBC1 so we can only say the number of viewers was below 4.28m
      On SKY SPORTS 1, the GP achieved 710k viewers.

      1. They were mentioned in today’s round-up:

    49. Been watching F1 for FREE since 1996, do not see why I should subscribe to SKY to watch it and I won’t either. Quite comfortably with listening to it on the BBC and catching a few glimpsies here and there online when something dramatic has happened. Other than that I watch the highlights on the BBC. The sooner people loyal to F1 realise if they refuse to pay for it and watch it on SKY, it will be brought back free on tv to stop the decline in viewers if not by anything else the advertisers who need I watching.

    50. Have no idea why they have used Hamilton’s face, he is the one that finally pulled in the veiwers to watch the sport back in 2007 and 2008, since then F1 seems to be kicking themselves in the wotsits and have done everything to stop the excitment Hamilton brought to F1, the people he attracted and have completely ruined it and took all of it for granted.

    51. Peter Jennings
      8th April 2012, 20:16

      Irrespective of whether the viewing figures are better or worse, the fact that people are prepared to pay 100’s of pounds to a organisation that thinks hacking into dead childrens phones, bribing police officers, encouraging and financing criminal behaviour to bring down competitors, is OK. You Sky fans out there either have very short memories or somehow manage to be able to push these things to the back of your mind as long as you get what you want when you want it. Let’s not forget, if Sky can hack the phones, then the Sky boxes could be filled with all sorts of goodies. Makes the mind boggle, doesn’t it?
      The BBC had given up the contract a year early, so they couldn’t wait to get out of there. Anyway, it leaves lots of space for more propaganda and filler. The BBC are a business and couldn’t care less whether they are breaking promises, Royal Charters, Concorde Agreements, and with the sort of people they have as directors these days it’s no wonder. Go look for yourself.
      Most of what I have heard over recent years regarding F1 (and i’m a long standing fan), is all gathered around the fact that they have to tighten their belts to keep the sport going. If that’s the case, why keep adding venues to a world-wide callender? If it is done for more tv contracts, that would increase the revenues and negate any belt-tightening would it not? I don’t see any lifestyles being tightened in F1.
      So think on chaps, is your pub going to be open at 6-7am? Will Sky give you credit if you lose your job?
      Do yourself a favour and keep the money you would pay to Sky and the like and buy a few tickets to Silverstone and see the real thing.

    52. I am a F1 fan but dont live in the UK but we get the BBC channels here .
      Even if I lived in the UK hell would have to freeze over before I gave murdoch any money and to be honest after reading about what sky’s F1 coverage is like Im so glad I cant.
      One thing that really annoys me is TV channels that think that putting females with no clue ( or care) about what they are covering into TV presenting roles thinking that this will atract viewers.
      The viewing figures will be scrutinised by the sponsors and it is they who will pressure F1 to be brought back to 100% FTA, wait and see. ( we all know what Bernie is like with his U turns right ? )
      I am perfectly happy watching the hightlights show , in fact it is the whole race anyway I just have to keep away from news channels until it starts.
      For Bahrain I watched the race on RTL7 with Radio 5 commentary , this worked a treat as the video feed is the same the world over so the actual race noise over radio 5 matched the RTL video feed. RTL7 does run adverts during the race but they split the screen so that the live race is still visible.
      Mark my words F1 will be back on FTA once the sponsors start analysing the figures , cant wait to see what the Silverstone and Monaco numbers are.

    53. I didn’t watch this year. Discussed that only half the races where shown on the bbc and some only the highlights. What use are the highlights? I can’t get sky due to trees behind my house. So you have lost this viewer!

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