In the round-up: New figures reveals Formula One lost 175 million viewers – almost 30% of its audience – over the last six years.
Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.
U.S. Bucks Trend With F1 Viewing (Wall Street Journal)
"The global viewership has slipped steadily from 600 million viewers in 2008 to 425 million in 2014."
Fox deal to halve free-to-air F1 schedule (Speed Cafe)
"Only half of the Formula One season will be broadcast live on free-to-air television in Australia under a soon-to-be-signed deal with Fox Sports."
Williams would have voted to allow Marussia to run old car in 2015 season (Sky)
Claire Williams: "We’ve been very clear on our position around Marussia and their entry: we want a full competitive line-up on the grid next year and we will do anything to support Marussia coming back in."
F1 revolution could tempt Newey back (Autosport)
Christian Horner: "If the regulations change and become a little bit more open, and more enticing, then perhaps that will whet his appetite to get further involved."
Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne not expecting 'miracles' (BBC)
"I am encouraged by the performance of the new car, though it is one thing to do a quick lap, another to do an entire race"
What we can learn from testing at Jerez (MotorSport)
"So, what we think Jerez showed on a best-fit basis, but we cannot be certain, is that Mercedes is still setting the pace, but only by around half a second from Williams and Ferrari and that we have no idea at all yet of the relative pace of Red Bull and McLaren."
Venezuela and the game of ostrich (ESPN)
"The PDVSA-sponsored driver told the attendant media that he was unconcerned, saying 'I am not PDVSA. I am not an expert in oil. For sure, the oil price is suffering at the moment.' When asked whether he was worried, Maldonado's response was 'why?'."
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Comment of the day
Not many people sympathised with Derek Warwick’s view on last year’s battle between the Mercedes drivers in Bahrain, but at least one person saw where he was coming from:
I think he’s right to point out that Mercedes took a gamble on letting them fight. They must have been confident that the constructor’s title was going to be an easy fight.
When it comes to weighing up your publicity angles, they obviously acknowledged that most fans (as demonstrated very clearly right here) want to see all of the cars allowed to race. They knew it was a risk worth taking and good publicity to be seen to allow their guys to race.
That being said, if it was my team; no way. You’d be able to fight it out after lap one, then until the last pit stop, then you’d be told that your fight is over. And fighting this close would get both drivers spoken to. You’re driving my car, for my team. Don’t like it? Find a new contract to sign.
I love team orders they’re a major part of the sport. One of the reasons I love them? Well, because I love seeing them ignored even more than seeing them issued.
From the forum
- Why you should book your accommodation early if you’re planning a trip to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix
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On this day in F1
The Lotus name returned to Formula One five years ago today as the team (which later became Caterham) launched the T127 for the 2010 season:
158 comments on “F1 loses 175 million TV viewers in six years”
12th February 2015, 0:08
Does that photo imply Vettel is the one to be blamed? LOL
12th February 2015, 3:44
That was the first thing that popped into my mind. I was thinking about what Vettel might say if he was asked about that in an interview; i.e. if he thinks his 4 years of dominance with Red Bull were the reason.
12th February 2015, 4:29
I dont expect to stop watching F1 anytime soon, but I suspect vettel was just as bored as I was with 10 or so other teams not being able challenge.
F1 lesson so many fans seem unable to grasp: it’s not the team* that dominates that makes it boring, it’s the lack of competition.
I know a few casual ferrari fans that have stopped watching over the past 5 years due to ferrari’s sad state. Is that Vettel/Redbull combinations fault? Is that Newey’s fault? I worry for the people who answer yes.
12th February 2015, 5:14
Bored…hmm… maybe not. The word you are looking for is ‘grateful’
12th February 2015, 8:31
He was clearly grateful. Bowing to the car, thanking the team and acknowledging nothing lasts forever, and helping pack gear so that everyone could celebrate together after securing his 4th championship – so no, i wasnt looking for the word grateful because he clearly was, however, was he bored? possible.
12th February 2015, 5:23
Ummm … say what? “10 or so other teams”??
“Unable to challenge”??
It’s amusing that people who claim to be bored to tears watching one driver win a race by 7 seconds can be enthralled watching a different driver win by 20 seconds.
12th February 2015, 8:22
You may have misread my statement. Either way to clarify I love watching F1 drivers at their best, so I’ll never be bored of someone winning. What i get bored with are teams that cannot build and challenge. Life is all about timing, Lewis and Vettel are just doing what any competitor at their level, in their position, should do, their job – WIN. Whats boring and turns people off the sport is the quite the opposite, it’s the other teams failure which leads to boredom. This was just as true for mercedes a few years ago as it is for redbull today.
So no, i wasnt bored watching lewis or vettel dominate, I was bored with the competition.
12th February 2015, 16:37
as far as i remember, vettel one his first championship when he was behind by like 15 points coming into the last race. then in 2010, Mclaren could have won but Hamilton crashed in Italy by his own doing. in 2011, yes Redbull was dominant, but in 2012 Mclaren were the fastest team throughout the season. in 2013 vettel was only dominant in the second half of the season. people forget all these fact, Vettel EARNED his wins, only in 2011 and later half of 2013 was he unchallened – and being in top form, he still earned it. Vettel is NOT to blame, f1 is to blame, it is a pretentious, snobbery form of motorsport. Mercedes domination was far ahead of Vettels domination by the way.
12th February 2015, 21:23
@kpcart, i truly agree with every word. I just find it hilarious that so called
‘fans’ of the sport make blanket statements like vettel had 4 easy championships. Selective memory seems to be the most important characteristic of F1 fans on this forum. So i play dumb and try to pander to the masses.
12th February 2015, 18:36
I’m one of those people who has stopped watching. I did so after watching every race religiously (almost all of them live) plus every practice and qualifying session that I could get my hands on for the last quarter of a century.
Why did I stop watching? Terrible rulemaking. I stopped after the third or fourth race of the year, having gone into the season already knowing which team would win both championships before the first practice session of the first race even started.
I haven’t decided if I’ll watch again this year yet, but it’s quite likely I won’t, because the rules as written give one engine manufacturer an unassailable advantage over all others.
The fix is quite simple: Remove homologation completely, and allow the engine manufacturers to compete. Right now, we have a homologated advantage for one manufacturer, and only limited changes can be made by its rivals (even more limited during the season). When homologation was introduced, the intent was that it would create a level playing field, with all manufacturers being brought to at least near-parity before being homologated. Now, it has the precise opposite effect.
Watching one team dominate solely because its rials aren’t allowed to make the significant changes they’d need to in order to catch up is simply not racing. At this point, I would say that if we can’t get rid of the engine homologation, then engines should simply be made a spec part, and we should stop pretending that this is a car+engine formula.
As-is, the situation is simply untenable. F1 is now dull as dishwater to watch — there should never be a situation in which you can predict the outcome of both championships and almost every race before the year has even started.
F1 is now a hollow shell of what it once was, and the appeal is almost completely gone for me — and I say that as somebody who until very recently was a big fan of Mercedes, and who has benn perfectly happy during periods of Ferrari and Red Bull dominance. The difference there was that there was nothing in the regulations that prevented their rivals from being able to catch up, if they were smart enough and good enough at their jobs. That’s no longer the case.
12th February 2015, 22:07
You need to read the rules for the ICE, it’s almost impossible that 1 engine can be so entirely different to the others that they cannot catch-up between seasons, if they are clever enough, no team caught up with the RBR aero but you can’t blame the rules for that.
12th February 2015, 8:26
The photo reminds us that Auntie Beeb’s toxic dwarf plays a substantial part in turning off those who prefer factual reporting to insipid, gossip-mongering pot-stirrers, but who have no choice but to pay a propaganda tax that indulges BBC holiday-makers who pose as reporters (and are increasingly becoming very Scotch) in 9 months of globe-trotting.
The other culprit who’s decimating the viewing figures in my house is the screeching, prickly, factoid-factory: David Croft. If Sky nabs Coulthard, reassigns Ted Kravitz, or maybe brings back the brilliant Louise Goodman to sit next to Brundle in the commentary box, its show will be 100% excellence, where it is now 90% unmissable and 15% unbearable (Croft is such a lumpy cheeseball, he will not fit into 10% no matter how hard I try).
If broadcasters want viewers, make F1 F1 again. The FIA and Organ Grinders have turned their backs on the soul of the sport and are heading ever further in the opposite direction.
Soon, there will be foregrounded this and that mandated token of various genders or communities, and then there will be the Interactive Hair-Boost (IHB), granting the driver who’s deemed to be sporting the coolest balding Mohican 5 Championship points per Tweet about his feelings.
What there won’t be are the Neweys, the Brawns, the Murrays, or even Schumachers or Sennas. Eventually, no self-respecting racer, designer, manager or engineer will lower himself to grace what should be the top tier of motorsport. They’ll build their own pinnacles, and F1 will be gone in all but the drone of the clone-cars driving around fewer and fewer tracks.
There is a chance to go back to move forward; to go back to what ignites the imagination of the geniuses. This, in its turn, will reignite the passion of true F1 fans. There’s one year to do it. If the regulations aren’t slackened to lure back the visionaries, adventurers and developers, the decline will become a cliff off of which the whole circus will drive itself.
Steve Freegard (@smfreegard)
12th February 2015, 10:22
Coulthard over Croft? Louise Goodman? No thanks.
12th February 2015, 14:21
Make Brundle the #1 and Croft the #2, instead of the current opposite. Easy. Fixed.
12th February 2015, 17:19
Crofty is a genuine fan of the sport, like Kravitz, not some generic sports reporter told to go cover F1. If you have a problem with Lazenby then fine, but with Crofty we have a genuinely passionate chap who does a pretty fine job.
13th February 2015, 6:56
Russel Brand, Katie Hopkins and Ken Livingstone are also genuine fans of the sport. I don’t want them commentating on it because they’d be similarly incapable of the presenting skill, although hugely less irritating to listen to in all their obnoxious finery.
The Croft Cheese Slice is a bellowing ninny and fount of mostly flawed facts, about which he gets very antsy when they’re corrected by one of the attendant experts who is far better informed. At every point during a race or qualifying that is most action-packed and exciting (the parts we sit down to enjoy – the start, the overtake, the tangle, the pole lap, the purple sector times cascading) Croft seems to think I would prefer to have that action ruined by him screaming at a volume that would drown out even a 1995 V12 Ferrari engine if it were fired up next to me on the settee.
Although I have paid thousands of pounds for Sky coverage, purely for F1, I am now forced to either hover over my mute button whenever anything good happens so I don’t hear Croft’s shrill, ear-flapping, hollow verbosity, or, turn to the otherwise inferior BBC for live coverage if it’s available. I may as well have not paid Sky thousands of pounds.
Being a pedantic wikileak of data that is often proved to be wrong is not a qualification as a commentator, and especially since he holds the seat that is supposed to chair, if you will, the council of experts around him – like Brundle, Kravitz, Hill and Herbert, et cetera.
If Croft doesn’t go this year, Sky loses not just my domestic account, but also business subscriptions that have cost a barely credible amount in the tens of thousands.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
12th February 2015, 8:41
No – just wanted a picture of an F1 driver talking to a camera crew :-)
12th February 2015, 8:47
Oh. Could’ve told me before I wrote all that crap.
12th February 2015, 9:01
Vettel and RedBull are partly responsible, although not necessary their fault. If Mark Webber was like Daniel Riccardo then would have loved the on track fight provided RedBull allowed it, even though I am not a RedBull fan.
12th February 2015, 12:59
Exactly. If Mercedes had a number 1 driver who was dominating the other one, then 2014 would have been 5 times more boring than either 2011 or 2013. But it was because Mercedes gave them an equal chance and constantly made sure they had equal machinery that we had a very fascinating season (imo).
If there had been a teammate battle at Red Bull in 2011 or 2013 then the championship would have been much more intriguing.
12th February 2015, 10:41
Its just not Vettel though. Yes, 2013 was dull but 2010 and 2012 were some of the best seasons in recent history, and we even had some truly enthralling races in 2011 also. For me the answer is multifactorial, but with one standout consideration: the exponential rise in pay-to-air coverage.
12th February 2015, 13:26
@countrygent Agreed…and combine that with 08 being earmarked as the year the global recession started…whole countries economies collapsing, massive job loss…way fewer people with the confidence in their job security to pay escalating costs to follow F1. Should it be any surprise viewership of F1 has declined since 08, even if it had it’s ducks in a row…perhaps even if they hadn’t gone the pay way?
12th February 2015, 15:04
@robbie But in a comparative approach this model casts Germany as a clear outlier to the trend. Whilst Italy’s case can be defined as an effect of the receding influence Ferrari has at F1’s top table, and France untimely lost its free-to-air coverage during the Sarkozy presidency’s aggressive austerity strategy, Germany fails to satisfy these logical models. It has recently seen a homegrown star take four consecutive titles, has faired much better than most nations on the European continent following the financial crisis and continues to field free-to-air coverage via RTL. I am struggling to define the German decline, but sense that the German public never held Vettel in the same esteem they held Schumacher. Could it even be competition from other sports following the year Germany took the World Cup?
12th February 2015, 0:09
I disagreed with Warwick of course, but agree with the point raised in COTD that Mercedes’ confidence about their advantage last year made it easier for them to allow the battle. In 2013 when they were fighting RBR, Ferrari and Lotus, the same team refused to let them battle in Sepang. Fair play to them for allowing the 2 drivers to fight on track last year though.
12th February 2015, 0:14
Although having been led by Ross Brawn at that time it wasn’t completely the same team, at least not with that kind of attitude.
12th February 2015, 9:03
I also believe that with Ross Brawn at helm, even with that kind of advantage he would not have allowed the inter team battle.
12th February 2015, 0:49
I don’t have a view on Warwick. Looking back at Warwick’s life, I think I know where’s this is coming from, not to mention is follow up career. I have a view however a very different view about Mercs foreign politics. I still debate what Lowe actually said over the radio.
I think this msg was a cease fire. It’s ambiguous because everyone but Ferrari, fail to give clear concise team orders over the radio, it’s usually either code or an ambiguous command, not everyone can be as straight forward as Ross Brawn. Lack of decisiveness results is no driver follow up, they won’t comply unless the order is clear, boys are boys. Admitting that the msg was team orders is difficult but even more difficult it is to admit that you have no authority. In the end everything worked out fine, so play along, and in this case it was a smart move, and as the year went by it became clear that Mercs pit orders were not to follow, cue many times Lewis went against his race engineer and was proved right.
12th February 2015, 13:05
Mercedes were generally pretty fair to their drivers in 2013 as well, the call in Malaysia was due to the cars having so little fuel left that Merc were afraid they were going to run out of fuel if they started fighting (as opposed to them doing it just for the sake of giving one driver more points for the championship Ferrari style).
12th February 2015, 0:24
And another country loses its F1 free to air TV. The sport is struggling for fans yet the continue to push the sport into the margins! The coverage in Australia was ‘ok’ before (Sky coverage with random ads inevitably whenever there was some action), but now will be even worse. And like most, the way fox prices I cant just buy F1 – I have to buy a base package first, so it’s $500 a year suddenly!
When Bernie kicks over and someone who understands the internet comes in, maybe we will get global streaming with selectable commentary feeds. Technologically this is not at all hard. And the money then would go straight to F1. Seriously. Champ car did it in 2007 I think – and it wasn’t that bad (and included telemetry, multiple angles, etc). I would pay good money for that service, as I know many others would too!
12th February 2015, 0:59
Sadly it’s actually $600 a year and $750 for the first year! And that’s only in SD, it’s another $10 per month for HD. Absolutely ridiculous
12th February 2015, 1:21
Wait til the Christmas specials come out, there should be a much better deal for Foxtel packages by then.
Either way, it’s still expensive and something we shouldn’t need to pay to watch.
I suspect within a few years, the majority of people watching F1 will do so via free online streams.
ColdFly F1 (@)
12th February 2015, 9:37
Foxtel Christmas Special to see next year or FIA DVD to see this year #RockHardPlace
13th February 2015, 2:55
$870 a year… So if the only thing you’ll watch is F1 you’ll be paying $46 per race. Ouch.
Why not cut out the sleazy middleman and get a sub from SkyHD and a VPN for less than half the price.
Jay Menon (@jaymenon10)
12th February 2015, 1:27
Im really happy that Foxtel is taking on the F1 broadcast, this is with the hope that programming will be good. As you can tell, Im not a huge fan of Ten’s coverage.
I dont understand why people get so upset about loosing F1 on FTA TV. Just about every other major sport is on pay tv, so whats the big deal? How come people dont complain about needing to pay to watch football? Perhaps its because the price per game is significantly less, considering you have about at least 20 live games per week?
I understand that F1 has traditionally been on FTA, but we have to get with the times. Sure, the sport is loosing fans, but how come when the English Premier League rights were bought by Sky, the league’s viewership figures quadrupled, or maybe more? Perhaps the EPL worked better at promoting their product?
F1 hasnt done itself any favours in promoting its product. Bernie was essentially condemning his own product on live TV last year, while its defending World Champion was saying it was rubbish…that has probably got something do it the drop in viewership? The stark contrast between F1 and the EPL is that the latter has very successfully sold itself as the “best league in the world”. While the purists may disagree, every chairman, coach, manager and player keeps repeating it, hence the EPL is known as the “best league in the world”. The TV rights contracts for the EPL has gone through the stratosphere, and TV companies are happy to embark on bidding wars to purchase them, as the demand for it so high. Fans and sponsors flock to the EPL, and the viewership is still growing regardless of the cost.
It isnt an apple to apple comparison, but you have to agree that the EPL has gone to great lengths to market its product effectively, while F1 hasnt, because it is run by a bunch of people who have an undeserved sense of entitlement. This arrogance is why F1 finds itself in the mess that its not, not because its being taken off FTA TV.
12th February 2015, 2:53
I’ve been calling myself the ‘best human in the world’ for years now, and my TV money hasn’t gone up one iota… can you tell me what I’m doing wrong?
Jay Menon (@jaymenon10)
12th February 2015, 4:33
…you’re obviously not selling yourself very well then @effwon :)
12th February 2015, 3:29
People get upset because those of us who can’t afford $600+ a year for broadcasting now have to find alternative means to watch the races.
Sure, pay-TV often provides far better coverage, but their current business model of “packages” makes Foxtel unaffordable for many viewers.
Fortunately for myself, I’m technically-savvy and will more than likely stream via VPN. But I shouldn’t need to do that, not to mention it’s not exactly legal. I don’t *want* to need to stream it, my internet connection is pretty hopeless; but it seems I’m going to have no choice.
12th February 2015, 7:26
Yes tv viewing figures increased for football. However crowd attendance dropped significantly. also as you pointed out even at the high price charged for football coverage it still works out quite cheap on a per match basis while f1 packages cost something running close £50 per race if that is all you want to watch as to get f1 on sky you have to have the full sports package first!
12th February 2015, 8:57
I am thrilled too that Fox Sports are getting the coverage, as I expect that they will get the practice sessions, qualifying and ad free races. Channel 10’s ‘exclusive’ coverage has been, umm.. appalling. I still don’t get why 10 cant have the races, i mean all of them and lets say half the qualifying. I can’t see why Fox Sports would disagree. But the FOM need to get with the times and show other things like extras on the internet- I can’t think of a better use for the F1.com website.
12th February 2015, 13:38
There are some clear distinctions between F1 and other sports.
Firstly, the vast majority of fans of most popular sports are fans of at least one other. So, for example, a football fan is likely to be a fan of, say, cricket or rugby. As such, they get “more for their money” when buying the sports package.
By contrast, there are a lot of F1 fans who are not fans of most sports. Myself, I occasionally watch rugby, but otherwise none at all. I don’t even watch football when the world cup is on. This means I have to pay for the full sports package, at incredible cost, for F1 alone.
Secondly, most sports have more than 20 events per year to watch. They will have something on most weekends, and often through the week, too. By contrast, F1 is on 20 weekends a year, with only 2 competitive events each. Again, VFM drops.
Finally, there are many who cannot afford Sky Sports. For the more mainstream sports, this is not such a big deal. There are many pubs which show the games live, and you can even get away with spending nothing there (just drink tap water). There are few which show the F1 and, if there is a big football game on the Sunday, even they will often switch over.
As an example, take someone who is quite happy with FTA TV for everything except F1. In order to get all the F1 with Sky in the UK, in SD, you must pay £36.80/month (and I am taking the current offer price) for a whole year. This works out as £441.60, or about £22/weekend. This is a lot of money.
There are slightly cheaper ways to do it, but it’s still a lot to pay for just one sport.
12th February 2015, 21:28
There are also those of us who, although we can afford to pay for TV coverage, will refuse to do so out of principle. I detest Murdoch and his evil empire far more than I love F1 (which is saying a lot, believe me). So I won’t part with one red cent to him to watch F1. Can someone point me in another direction to get my F1 fix, otherwise I’ll have to go without altogether.
Jay Menon (@jaymenon10)
12th February 2015, 23:13
Ok fair enough…but the point I’m trying to make here is that this is the way the world is headed…we have to pay for everything…but in return, I expect very good service.
I pat 134 AUD per month for my Foxtel package, and I have zero complaints. I can watch all the latest shows (when I want to) and I get just about major game across various different sports spread across 7 HD channels. From a motorsport perspective, we get just about everything except F1 of course..motoGP, WEC, WRC, FE, Rally Cross, WTCC, Indycar, NASCAR…its all there….so as far as Im concerned, its really good value for money.
13th February 2015, 9:17
But, as I said;
– if the only sport you watch is F1, you are paying $134/mo just for F1, which is not good VFM, and
– if you cannot afford $134/mo, you cannot watch F1.
I know the world is heading for pay-TV for everything. However, the way media companies charge for it puts it out of reach of many. It is great that you can afford it, and that you can watch more sports that you want to. But not all F1 fans can. $134 (about £70) per month could be half of a person’s food budget (or more than, I know of families who spend only £25 or less on food per week). There are F1 fans of all income levels, and putting it out of their reach with no viable (legal) alternative makes F1 elitist.
Plus, these arguments do not even cover the loss of casual fans and loss of potential fans.
12th February 2015, 22:20
@jaymenon10, apart from the possibillity of fewer commercials the race and qualifying coverage will be exactly the same coverage you have been watching on 10 network, Foxtel and Sky are both Murdoch companies.
David Bretz (@cynical)
13th February 2015, 1:29
Because of scheduling and other issues I only watched 5 races last year. I couldn’t see the sense in sitting up until the early hours of the morning to watch Mercedes 1-2 finishes. Now I won’t be watching any as I can’t afford to pay the Foxtel charges just to watch a half dozen races. F1 is the only thing I ever watched on television so I don’t even need one now.
13th February 2015, 3:04
Not that I want to pay for F1, but in the US I would pay for decent F! coverage. NBC coverage absolutely sucks and I feel bad for the commentators, you can plainly see they are miserable being so restricted. It is painfully obvious how little NBC cares for the sport as they always seem give it just enough time for the race +5 minutes extra. Very limited interviews, almost no behind the scene stuff, the main commentators are all in the studio with the exception of COTA and the sole commentator in the paddock rarely gets more than a few seconds of air time. I hate to admit it but I torrent the crap out of Sky’s coverage so I can enjoy all the sport has to offer and form an emotional bond to it. NBC doesn’t get it, their coverage is akin to the wife telling you twice a month to hurry and get it over with, clothes on, there will be no foreplay or taking pictures or whatever, and that you have max of 4 minutes no matter what happens before she ‘changes programming’.
I would love to have the option to pay for live HD Sky service or, even better, would gladly buy a season pass in iTunes via my Apple TV to stream it, even delayed.
12th February 2015, 0:38
F1 loses nearly a third of its audience, meanwhile another country loses free-to-air coverage…
I don’t understand how anyone could possibly think the cause of the decline is anything but the obvious one.
12th February 2015, 4:14
Bernie doesn’t think it’s a decline if fewer people are giving him more money overall. If he makes more with pay TV, he’s happy.
12th February 2015, 5:06
I agree that Bernie doesn’t care if fewer people are watching, as long as he’s making more money, but sponsors sure care! This is just going to make it more difficult for the teams to attract new sponsors and keep the ones they already have.
13th February 2015, 3:53
Agree. We’ll be down to just 18 cars on the grid soon! Oh, wait..
12th February 2015, 6:23
Free-to-air viewers aren’t Rolex wearers, that is the only spin I can see Bernie putting on this.
12th February 2015, 6:47
Makes you wonder at their sanity, again, doesn’t it @jacksteeg.
12th February 2015, 9:07
They are clearly cashing on Daniel Riccardo’s popularity and thinking short term profit. For sure long term new fans cannot come with pay TV. I think long term prospect is something nobody at FIA or FOM or whoever is in control cares about.
12th February 2015, 10:20
The importance in the decline of free-to-air coverage is especially true when it is considered that in 2014 we had just about every component of some of the most popular years in F1 history. We had great wheel-to-wheel racing throughout the year, we had an intense battle for the championship between teammates, as we had in the Senna-Prost heydays, we had inter-team rivalry, as we had in 2007, and as we also had in 2007, we had the emphatic arrivals of a new star in the shape of Daniel Ricciardo. So what is the problem? The formula? A decline in homegrown success for countries like Germany and Italy? Bland “characters”? Too much complexity? Or, has F1 misjudged its audiences’ ability to foot a several hundred pound bill for the pleasure of watching the action?
Whilst the answer is likely a blend of all of these factors, the global contagion of pay-to-air coverage is certainly the most logically dominant factor in the not long-distant aftermath of global economic crisis, and while much of the European continent continues to have economic conditions that impose grave implications upon living conditions. There is no room in this formula for recreational expenditure, and in that regard it is difficult to imagine a worse time for the pay-to-air culture to take such an exponential leap. Does Bernie want a sport for the financial elite, where he can market Rolex and a competitively priced first-class flight to Dubai to a thin crowd of rich people? Clearly, although in my view the idea of an elitist F1 makes me feel rather queasy.
12th February 2015, 13:34
@countrygent Just responded to your post higher up on this page with something similar about the bad timing of pay F1 coinciding with the global recession, which hit in 08, as I now see you have inserted on this post. Agree with you completely.
12th February 2015, 1:01
Viewing figures could drop to zero and I doubt Bernie would care, so long as another country is prepared to pay his prices for what’s left of the sport to come to their country.
12th February 2015, 1:08
This site seems to have a massive downer on F1 lately. Most stories are negative and the whole tone of the site is one of indifference.
12th February 2015, 1:26
I agree, although it’s not just this site. So much negativity everywhere I turn. I love sports and F1 in particular because it is a distraction from all the real issues of the world. I am so excited for this season, but it seems that every day I am being told that my excitement is somehow misplaced. I totally acknowledge that there are issues with the sport and a lot of improvements could be made, but screw all the hate, F1 FOR LIFE!
12th February 2015, 1:48
Looking at the stuff happening in F1 lately, if negativity is perceived it’s not surprising.
Viewing figures dropping, the existence of the Strategy Group, FIA rendered near-powerless, ‘owners’ like Bernie and CVC who care for nothing except short-term financial gain, customer cars being floated repeatedly, races going to the highest bidder, fans being priced out of viewing on TV/attending races, small teams dying because of disgraceful revenue deals, sponsorship drying up, constant whining by teams who feel they have a divine right to win, uncontrolled self-interest setting agendas, the route to F1 becoming absurdly expensive, mid-grid teams needing pay drivers just to survive, gimmicks…
And that’s just a quick vomiting of a short stream of consciousness which trundled through my mind as I was writing without really thinking about it. I’m not one to go jerking my knee all over the place but for the first time in my F1-viewing life I’m starting to feel a tiny bit of concern for the sport’s future.
Either it’s going to die altogether, or become something I don’t love any more. That worries me, and probably worries others. So if Keith is negative (I don’t know if he is), I’m fully supportive. Maybe if enough people with the power to have their voice heard by a few thousand others are sufficiently negative, something might change.
12th February 2015, 6:54
I think it’s more despair than negativity. Certainly is from my perspective. I’m fortunate that I can afford Foxtel and I can get to a race every now and then so I’ll pay up but I’ll be paying a full Foxtel subscription to view just one program,F1. I’ve looked at Foxtel a few times and the programming never got me excited enough to open my wallet. Retrograde but so long as I see every Session for every race then I guess it might be worth it.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
12th February 2015, 8:16
If there are a load of positive stories about F1 I’ve overlooked please let me know about them because it would be nice to have one for a change.
In the meantime, I humbly suggest not shooting the (proxy) messenger.
12th February 2015, 10:12
Would you prefer artificial spin? Telling news as it is can be depressing but it is truthful.
Just for you, It’s fantastic that I’ll not be watching F1 again this year. It’s great to follow a sport by reading alone. Takes you back to how sports used to be. I’m going to dust off my crystal set as listening to sport gives it more depth than watching colour pictures for yourself. I hope more people are priced out of F1 as its good for business long term. Sugar and happiness to all.
13th February 2015, 9:19
12th February 2015, 1:22
are those lost by lack of interest in the F1 “formula”? or the lack of greedy F1 taking away free-to-air viewing all over the world or having to sell your kidneys to even be able to attend an event?
12th February 2015, 4:40
I’m quite sure I’ll be roasted for my views… but I have no problem with the F1 circus pushing itself even further into the rarefied luxury atmosphere. Im positive the loss of the back markers is not an accident. I want to see F1 without budget caps, I dont care if every team runs 5 cars, I want it to be aspirational, out of the reach of common folk. Culling the heard was the best thing for F1 and I think the so called ‘tragic’ loss of the 90m/yr teams is part of a long term strategy. You have to destroy before you can rebuild.
12th February 2015, 6:57
Got that Ayn Rand thing going layercake. And yes, there is merit in marketing F1 as a luxury brand. You just don’t want to leave too many people behind.
12th February 2015, 13:39
Lol, 5 dominant Mercs would leave a lot of people behind.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
12th February 2015, 18:09
Several of the richest teams don’t even want to run three cars, so in the scenario you envisage F1 will have died before we get to that point. Would that bother you?
12th February 2015, 21:35
I’d imagine at the point teams are running 5 cars the profit distribution model would have changed significantly and it would be a decision the teams not only want but asked for. It is an exaggerated statement but it’s clear F1 is in for some change in the next 5-10 years and honestly I dont want an F1 with back markers. Id take a 25 car grid composed soley of Redbull/Merc/Mac/Ferrari/Williams any day over 10 cars that are quick and 10 more that just show up. That would mean 5 drivers battling in the same machinery and if teams to each other we’d have some epic races. As a journalist you can make a story out of anything – the romance of the little team that could will be replaced by something just as interesting. But hey thats just me in the minority.
12th February 2015, 22:14
Also, Keith, we know F1 teams have a habit of saying ‘no’ right up until the point they say ‘yes’.
12th February 2015, 1:27
2010 was the last f1 season on free-to-air TV in my country. Haven’t watched a single race on TV since then, but I did stream.
I think that’s what’s happening to some extent. Not all people can be bothered with streaming and all that goes with it, but I would bet that half of those “lost” viewers are still watching, but not the way Bernie intended them to.
TV in the current format is an obsolete medium. And the fact that FOM is acting as if it isn’t won’t help with those viewing figures either.
So in one sense, F1 itself isn’t any worse than it was 6 years ago. It isn’t necessarily loosing viewers due to being worse or less interesting or whatever, but I think the biggest worry is that it isn’t attracting any new ones either.
I’m a hard core fan, but I started watching F1 by seeing it on a TV at my friend’s house while we were doing something else, playing on a floor with Legos or whatever. Then he told me how he once saw some cool race, and so I decided to watch it the next time I caught it at home. And from there I went on to become a fan.
Today, I don’t know how anyone can become a fan when you’d need to be a hard core one in the first place to even think about shelling the amount of money they are asking for the pay channels.
12th February 2015, 3:49
God knows FOM is not hoping you will discover F1 via YouTube or similar service.
12th February 2015, 1:50
Ha! Tell them they’re dreamin’
There is no way i will be paying +$600 p/year to watch F1.
Its hard enough to stay up for some races, bc of the time difference. Certainly wont be paying for the privilege.
12th February 2015, 3:30
12th February 2015, 4:41
I’d gladly pay 600/yr for an HD all access subscription.
12th February 2015, 6:22
I have since 2009. Viasat motor har also nascar, speedway,f3, dtm, f1 and gp2. Last year we hade also v8 supercars
12th February 2015, 6:26
Forgot about motogp, redbull rookies cup, moto2 and moto3. And i pay 700 $ a year
13th February 2015, 3:33
The one thing that pay tv gives you is the ability to easily time shift those races from 4am to a more manageable noon. In the US we have 5 races on FTA the rest are on the what is typically a base tier of pay service. The lastest numbers say less than 10% of US households use over the air so its not likely that there is an additional cost for most US viewers.
12th February 2015, 2:40
I suppose MotoGP will also be Foxtel only for full coverage , that means there will be nothing on the 10 Network I want to watch. I don’t like doing things half heartedly so I will probably lose interest in F1 once I find I don’t know what it is people are talking about because I didn’t see the race in question. Looking on the bright side once I join the 175m lost viewers I am going to have a lot more time for my other interests and hobbies.
12th February 2015, 6:51
Maybe get back to reading about race results in magazines then @hohum, as it was in years gone by?
I have been watching F1 mostly through the internet for the last couple of years (local coverage was awful, BBC/Sky are a lot better, then because I actually ditched even having a TV), and I am perfectly fine with it. Apart from the fact that there is no official way to do so (and FOM would probably price that one right at the same 500+ EUR bracket even if he did allow it)
12th February 2015, 22:44
@bascb, when I was 13 I spent half my pocket-money on glossy car mags as that was the only way to know what was happening in motorsports outside of Australia, I have since been spoiled by TV/internet and don’t think I could muster the enthusiasm I had at 13.
13th February 2015, 7:12
I feel your pain, I think you are right about that @hohum.
12th February 2015, 3:08
Wow !!!! 173 Million …. Holly Molly !!!!! That is a lot of people…….
12th February 2015, 3:15
What more do these 175 million people want? The last 6 seasons have been the most exciting I have seen in my 24 years watching this sport.
12th February 2015, 3:25
I’m really not sure if you are being sarcastic. 2011, 13 and 14 instantly took three spots in my top 5 most boring F1 seasons since I started watching in 93.
12th February 2015, 7:14
I think that 1993, 1995, 1996, and especially 2002 & 2004 have 2014 beat hands down as far as boredom is concerned.
12th February 2015, 5:17
What are you talking about???
2010 and 2012 were great seasons.
2009,2011,2013,2014 were ridiculously boring
12th February 2015, 7:44
If fom wasn’t so greedy they could have the best fta sport in the world. Everyone souldbd happy :). One rationale for pay TV is they would do a hugely better job at promoting F1 to try and recoup their fees to fom. Bbc coverage was a step up on itv’s but sky’s is marginally better and more extensive with its dedicated channel and peripheral programming. It is too expensive though as sky are using f1 fans to subsidise the other sports they show.
Jules Winfield (@jules-winfield)
12th February 2015, 9:50
Cheap/free, high-quality and easily accessible coverage on TV?
Not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of pounds, dollars or euros annually on something that gives you twenty or so weekends of racing per year.
12th February 2015, 3:17
F1 has lost another viewer then (I live in Australia).
12th February 2015, 3:25
Soon one more :/
12th February 2015, 3:48
The loss of F1 races on FTA TV is a bit of a blow, although perhaps not so much for me since I’m already tempted to subscribe to Foxtel to see more AFL and the MotoGP/2/3 races. A bonus is the practice coverage for F1. But given that I’m a long-time F1 fan, watch with my wife, reasonably affluent, am already considering Pay TV, and still am not sure I’ll bother must raise questions as to how much the audience in Australia will drop. One more data point on the falling viewership graph, I guess.
With Ricciardo garnering a large and enthusiastic following, a drop in his profile and TV viewing numbers could spell issues for attendance at the Melbourne GP – which might affect public funding for the race, further harm the exposure of the sport, etc.
I worry that a few years down the track we’ll have lost most of the Australian fan base, the Australian GP, and the sport will be devalued enough to get back on FTA – but nobody will care.
12th February 2015, 7:01
+1 long term it could be a questionable strategy. But on selling the rights is the only way 10 can keep its hands on the overall package.
juan fanger (@juan-fanger)
12th February 2015, 11:48
Absolutely correct, Bookgrub, about the impact on the Aus GP. If all the races are not on FTA then I’ll lose a lot of interest. I am seriously considering cancelling my trip to Melbourne.
Rupert is close to achieving what my wife has been trying to do for years – defanatification.
19th February 2015, 18:55
I’ve been an F1 fan since the first race in Adelaide when I was a teenager. Fast forward to 2015 and as a middle aged engineer whilst I could easily afford to pay for F1 coverage on Foxtel I simply refuse to. The sport’s ability to attract huge amounts of money was built off the back of fans dedicating their time to watching the sport in the first place. To expect them to pay for the privilege of generating the vast sums of money that F1 already pulls in is simply ludicrous.
I’ll continue to watch the races that aren’t on FTA via streams. If the streams are no good then I’ll simply start missing races.
The knock on affect for F1 apart from the apparent loss of my viewership from their TV audience will be that if I watch less F1, my children will also watch less F1. That means they are less likely to be interested in the sport. Multiply that affect by however many more people there are like me in Australia and down the track it’s going to bite…
12th February 2015, 3:49
OK. I value watching sport. I want it presented well with as detailed coverage as possible. I believe that Foxtel will bring that. It will cost me $720 this year to enjoy all the sport I want. I follow:
• V8 Supercars
• Formula E
• European Formula Three
• Speedway Grand Prix
• English Premier League
• FA Cup
• FFA Cup
I don’t watch all of this, all the time. But I can record it and watch it later.
It’s available on my phone, tablet and PC as well. So, if I really wanted to, I could watch live if I’m away from my TV.
I think that for anything we place value on, we should want it presented as well as possible. I like to watch all the sport I like, when and where I like. I think F1’s move to Foxtel in 2016 will prove to be positive.
12th February 2015, 5:39
100% agree. The cost on its own is quite high, but I watch a lot of La Liga, EPL (inc FA Cup), NFL, NHL, NBA, Alpine Skiing, WRC, WEC and soon I can add F1 to that. It makes the cost very low for the amount that I watch it. Plus, I can record and watch later so no matter the timezones, I never miss any of my sport. And that is just the sport. My wife and I watch a lot of various other channels as well. Literally, the only FTA I /EVER/ watch was F1 and soon I won’t even have to bother with it at all.
juan fanger (@juan-fanger)
12th February 2015, 11:58
Wow, astroturfing. Nice.
12th February 2015, 22:51
I really can’t imagine enjoying an F1 race on my 5″ screen phone, let alone paying for it.
12th February 2015, 4:01
Free to air fans aren’t the target market because we can’t afford Rolex watches or Ferraris.
12th February 2015, 4:48
I don’t understand how they haven’t done the math. They could be raking in money with streaming. Think if they charged a few dollars per race or $20-30 for a season pass to watch HD streaming. If the got back 50 million of those 175 that have left, they’d have $1-1.5 billion net. Since they already provide the video feed, there isn’t that much overhead they’d have to foot. And either strike deals with channels to use their audio commentary or hire some, and boom, everyone wins.
Granted, this assumes a US cable structure, which I’m not sure other countries have or not. Basically, for cable in the US you have to purchase tiers or packages of channels. So once you get up to the tier with NBCSN, which provides F1 coverage in the states, you’re probably paying $80-100+ a month. But, NBCSN is such a small portion of that overall package, it is surely only getting a small percentage of that fee you are paying. So, if you were to charge someone a similar fee to have access to just F1 sessions, F1 would surely break even or increase revenue. And more importantly, they would increase fans. Increase in fans leads to increased race attendance, increased merchandise purchases, and increased rates F1 could request from advertisers.
Going the way they are, by the time they get around to making it more reasonable on cost and more convenient with technology, there won’t be anyone left to stop the bleeding.
12th February 2015, 11:50
@hobo – http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/116761/
This is why. Because this idiot, who went past his sell by date several decades ago, is still allowed to be in charge of this once-great sport.
12th February 2015, 5:32
YES YES YES! As an Aussie, I cannot be any happier to hear that F1 is coming to pay television. I have been tired of Channel 10’s pathetic coverage for years and been desperate to get a proper level of coverage without having to pirate it.
12th February 2015, 23:00
@trido, Ha,Ha,Ha, it’ll still be the Sky TV coverage that you watch for free on 10, you’ll be paying to watch practice and, initially, fewer commercials.
13th February 2015, 2:45
I was telling my wife last night that I was ecstatic about this news and that even without practice coverage, as long as the frequent and long ad breaks are gone (And there will be no ads, Fox does NOT have ads while a sporting event is in action, only in scheduled spots) I would be happy. Happier still if they kept the Sky commentary. So you might think you’re being funny and clever, but what you said is exactly what I am willing to pay for.
Also, it means no more Alan Jones and his crazy nutter views as well as Greg Rust. That alone is worth it considering I already subscribe to Fox Sports for a half dozen other sports.
12th February 2015, 7:01
As for “could bring back Newey” sentiments. Sorry, but I am not thrilled (how many times did he give us a season dominated by one car). And if the way to do so are the proposals by a bunch of seniors (nothing against seniors, but these guys seem to have really put on their rose tinted spectacles) to make the cars look a bit like when they were in their heyday, sorry but no.
I am excited that F1 can get an incredible 800+ HBP out of over a 3rd less fuel than they could with the V8 and its only the START of the development. That is a great sign that car makers will be able to give us great driving cars that are also efficient in the future.
12th February 2015, 7:23
@bascb, I can’t help but feel that the subtext of Horner’s statement asking for the regulations to become “a little bit more open” is that it would only apply to aerodynamic developments which, of course, is Newey’s specialisation.
12th February 2015, 8:45
Have you ever seen the cars Newey designs for Gran Tourismo? Why anyone would complain about letting that mans head run free is beyond me. The man has no interest in designing cars that look like the past, F1 should be the pinnacle of everything including brainpower. Also it’s a bit confusing when you talk about fuel efficiency and somehow dismiss the most successful aerodynamicist in the history of the sport – are you suggesting that Newey couldnt increase the efficiency of todays engines if the aero rules were opened up?
12th February 2015, 9:57
No, because most likely he would design a car to generate more downforce in stead of going for a slippery, low-drag design which benefits efficiency.
12th February 2015, 10:38
You don’t understand, Newey makes them BOTH, that is his genius. Anyone can make a high downforce car. For example, blown diffusers that pour petrol into the exhaust have proven to be more efficient on a racecar than burning the fuel in the engine, sounds crazy but true. Neweys cars are just a efficient as anything else.
12th February 2015, 19:16
@Alex W, Renault made it quite clear that the engine maps they had to develop to enable the blown diffusers on the Red Bull cars to work increased fuel consumption by about 10%. http://www.racecar-engineering.com/news/renault-blown-floor-uses-10-more-fuel/
I wouldn’t exactly call it efficient to burn significantly more fuel in the exhaust system in order to produce more downforce…
12th February 2015, 21:39
There isnt a lot of respect for genius in the sport of F1. If you’re smarter than the rest, be prepared to be held back.
12th February 2015, 10:04
I agree with this. People tend to forget quite quickly how boring the Newey dominated years were (Williams, Mclaren maybe less so due to engine failures:), Red Bull), and how awful some of the designs were for the sport (exhaust blow diffusers). They call it a black art for a reason, as it is very difficult to control in terms of regulations, and the costs are just insane due to wind tunnel testing. I believe the solution is somewhere in the middle. Open up regulations, but limit the amount of money a team is allowed to spend on aerodynamic testing (not research). This way a team can only test a few concepts a year which will work for them and therefore have to either come up with a complete design that they can fine tune, or create certain modules which improve on a steady basis.
13th February 2015, 7:17
Wait… That boils down to “I don’t want the best, because the others are not as good”. Is this what our desperation for a show has come down to?
We could also just start putting extra weight in the best cars, so the others could catch up…
(I was certainly no fan of RBs dominance, but there MUST be a better way than not having the best minds and drivers in F1)
12th February 2015, 7:12
Second link explains the first one.
Alex Brown (@splittimes)
12th February 2015, 7:18
Viewership down, but profits up! Seriously, who is surprised by that?
12th February 2015, 7:42
This song by Danish group Carpark North called More. Gave this song a listen, I`m pretty sure it is dedicated to Bernie & Co.
The part before chorus:
12th February 2015, 8:25
Being an Australian, and having witnessed some truly horrific F1 coverage. Nothing will beat the 80’s where Channel 9 saw fit to appease its F1 audience and its golfing audience by alternating between the 2 sports during the Monaco GP, that one, is one that will haunt me for a while. The Ch10 coverage has been questioned by many aussies, but I’m happy to defend them, Ch10 have had dedicated coverage of the F1 and have never did last minute schedule changes like Ch9 use to do constantly, to the point where you’d wait up all night waiting for the Tennis or Golf to finish before they’d fire up the F1, and with those sports, there was no fixed end time, so you had to wait.
That having been said, I would like to say that the television policy in Australia is absurd, it mandates that every live sport must be offered to the free to air channels first, before a pay tv provider can weigh in. So, the fact that Ch10 has sold the rights off to Foxtel for live races is somewhat ground breaking. From my point of view, I’m priviledged to be able to afford Foxtel, not that I have it, but if thats where F1 is going to be telecast, then I will be getting it.
A friend at work told me his friend works at Vision stream who rollout the cable infrastructure for foxtel customers, and they’ve been told that at the end of the year they’re current contract is ending, and with the emergence of the Foxtel Go package, which is a streamed service, it is expected that Foxtel will announce that it will start offereing Foxtel via an online stream, and as long as you have a adsl2+ internet service, foxtel will have the option to offer you the service at a cheaper rate, as there is no infrastructure costs associated with such an offering. The stream can be connected to a single device, like a computer, xbox, tablet or smart tv.
So, in short what I am saying is, there is hope for those that can’t currently afford Foxtel in its current state. As the curent Foxtel Go package with sport costs $50 per month, with no infrastructure needing to be installed, as long as you have internet and a compatible device to stream it on.
12th February 2015, 11:08
Foxtel already offer Foxtel Play, a online streaming only service, on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, PC and Mac. Is this what you are referring to?
I have been using it for a year for sport. $50 a month – great value, but no HD and you are unable to record. I have just switched to a standard HD satellite service and can now record those overnight races and games in HD.
12th February 2015, 12:03
This is the same service I am talking about. However you cannot signup to it today unless you have a cabled unit already.
Further to your point ch10 no longer show races in HD either, only qualy, so I dont think this is s great detraction from the service. Recording is a problem, but I think there are solutions that aren’t foxtel specific where you could record content streaming through your PC
12th February 2015, 21:07
I’m not sure what you mean there by cabled unit? I signed up to Foxtel Play with no other previous contact with Foxtel. I just had my PS3 and an ADSL broadband connection.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
12th February 2015, 8:45
The Wall Street Journal story has obviously attracted a lot of discussion. I think it’s important to keep in mind these are television viewers we’re talking about and there’s been a significant upheaval in how most of us watch TV in recent years.
So the question I have is this, out of those 175 million, how many have:
1. Watched F1 via legitimate online sources instead (e.g. BBC iPlayer) which won’t be counted towards that figure
2. Watched F1 via illegitimate online sources instead (i.e. pirate streams) which won’t be counted towards that figure
3. Not watched F1
Do any of you fall into one of these categories?
12th February 2015, 10:24
I think I don’t fall in any of the categories for explaining the drop. But only because I have been using one of the first second options for most of the last 8 years already.
12th February 2015, 11:44
@keithcollantine – The majority I know have stopped watching F1. In my office, there were various people who used to talk about F1 but they don’t anymore as they don’t have Sky. I’ve explained to most about the various ways to get it for free but they aren’t interested.
I imagine the split is something like 1. 10% 2. 10%. 3. 80%
F1 has gone from something that I can talk to people about (like I would with football) and lots would offer up interesting opinions but that’s gone now. It seems the whole casual market has been destroyed and you’re left with only the hardcore F1 fans who are willing to pay hundreds of pounds to watch F1 or are willing to mess around with pirated streams.
I was looking at the cost of Premiership football to Sky with the new deal they have just signed. It works out at £10,000,000 PER GAME. That cost is passed on to Sky Sports subscribers (you have to be one to watch F1 in the UK now).
So in effect, the Sky/F1 deal works well for Sky because it helps bump their subscribers up to pay for the extra football bill, it works well for Bernie who gets a load of money from Sky and as per usual, it’s terrible for the fans and the sport as a whole. Business as usual then.
12th February 2015, 17:10
Option1 live (ORF live-stream), option2 later in the week. Thing is, while (nearly) everybody had a TV in the 90ies, it´s only roughly 50-60% of the people I know who even own one. I have none since more than a decade. I imagine the percentage of TV-owners is higher in older generations, but as far as I know TV-viewing-figures are falling alltogether, not only considering F1.
12th February 2015, 22:07
I’m number 2. Coverage in Canada is sparse with no option to purchase an international alternative (e.g. Sky or BBC). So it’s Bit Torrent for me.
13th February 2015, 7:19
I’m on the streaming crew through Viaplay (Denmark).
13th February 2015, 7:20
(So that would be 1, legitimate)
12th February 2015, 9:41
I guess Formula One’s decline in viewing figures is down to a combination of factors: Schumacher retires, Germany switches off; Alonso struggles at Ferrari, interest in Spanish-speaking countries declines; switching from free-to-air to pay-per-view, the average audience age increases, because the sport doesn’t attract as many new fans.
I’ve been watching F1 for twenty years, but even I find my patience tried when watching highlight programmes – as good as the BBC is, the narrative of the race is broken up and the programme tends to descend into a fragmented series of “stuff that happened”. It’s not as engaging as watching a live race. This doesn’t make me want to fork out for Sky, it just means I feel less involved with the championship.
ColdFly F1 (@)
12th February 2015, 9:52
There are two things wrong with this.
1) 63% is (up to) 37% less than what the teams get in most other organised sports;
2) Teams now miss out on car sponsorship opportunities, as sponsors want to have the maximum reach.
note: FOM pays out on Profit which is a lot less than Revenue (TV deals/etc). FOM has amassed some $3.5B in debt by paying BE et. al. huge dividends. Those debts need to be serviced and that interest reduces Profit.
Thus the teams are paying indirectly for Bernie collecting those enormous amounts.
12th February 2015, 10:30
To be fair, the percentage would more be 32-35% for a sport that is somewhat professionally orientated (i.e. promotor activities get about 2-5%) but, yes, very valid point raised there @coldfly
Let’s not be dulled to sleep by being told that its 63% (which is far too low already) when in reality the “cost” that get substracted from the revenue goes towards paying the owners in the tax tric of debt/interest. There is a reason companies who want to buy things look at EDBITA instead of profit.
12th February 2015, 10:31
To be fair, the percentage would more be 32-35% for a sport that is somewhat professionally orientated (i.e. promotor activities get about 2-5%) but, yes, very valid point raised there @coldfly
Let’s not be dulled to sleep by being told that its 63% (which is far too low already) when in reality the “cost” that get substracted from the revenue goes towards paying the owners in the tax tric of debt/interest. There is a reason companies who want to buy things look at EDBITA (without the link) instead of profit.
12th February 2015, 9:59
Keith, number 3 for me — I watch less F1 since only 10 races are now available live FTA on BBC.
I guess Bernie doesn’t care if viewership goes down and pay-TV providers are happy to pay out. I’d love a pay per view solution but I guess the economics don’t add up for FOM. There would be a lot of risk between races and seasons as viewing figures would not be stable, whereas with the current deals the risk is with the pay TV platforms (who generally have a wide portfolio of sports to offer). Plus I guess the existing deals prevent FOM from offering pay per view itself as these would of course dilute subscriber numbers for the broadcasters.
The sports world is moving to Pay TV more and more. It sucks, especially for those of us who watch little TV or any other sports on TV (I have precisely zero interest and time for anything that Sky offers apart from F1), but I guess it’s something we have to live with.
12th February 2015, 11:04
I just read a tweet announcing that WTCC increased viewership by 16% year-on-year in 2014.
I saw a few WTCC races from last year and I can tell the raw racing, the ‘product’ as one can say, is half as exciting as that of F1. No pit stops, no fuel or tyre strategy (just the tactic of how best to use up the one set of tyres that is on the car), next to no overtaking bar the all-important start… It’s like the worst of F1 from the early 2000s. On the top of that, it also had one dominant manufacturer, Citroen.
And it still managed to lure more viewers.
That, for me, just serves as yet another example that F1’s plummeting viewership is much more down to not focussing on the right things, in other words bad, inefficient marketing. E. g. decreasing free-to-air coverage.
Reading the article, I get the impression that Bernie wants to increase revenue from broadcasting rights so that even the small teams are a bit better off in terms of being able to operate in the black with the current sky-high cost environment. (Instead of redistributing the pool.) It is all well until we consider the interest of the sponsors – my guess is that this might be one of the main reasons teams are having an increasingly hard time finding sponsors, because the above notion is good for everybody, except the sponsors. After all, who wants to advertise in a sport which is pursuing a business model that deliberately wants to decrease its audience…
It is a bit funny, because we talk about differing situations here – WTCC has massive untapped potential on its targeted markets (Asia, South America) as does F1 in America. Of course, their numbers differ.
And F1, on a global level, this way may have decreased its dependency on sponsorship money, so it might be a bit better able to weather another economic crisis (when sponsors typically decrease exposure), but is it really want to spend a whole other economic cycle on preparing for the worst, instead of leveraging its currently best-in-decades racing product!?
12th February 2015, 11:07
On another note, NBC was, in some way, lucky to get the Canadian thriller of all GPs on its main station – I can imagine masses of people tuning on to F1 after that, it was that epic.
12th February 2015, 13:12
NBC chose Monaco, Canada, USA, and Brazil as their main network races. Makes sense as they were all shown live.
Fox used to choose the 4 races in June/July (usually starting with Spain) as their main network races, aired on tape delay (except Canada) with no pre or post race coverage.
The change to NBC is the reason US viewing has improved. It may not yet be on the level of some European countries (we still get plenty of ads) but at least you get the impression that they care about putting on a good broadcast.
12th February 2015, 12:45
Further underlining my worries over sponsorship interest is the fact that the title sponsor money sums went down significantly over the past decade or so – there is an article on this topic out there, comparing the Martini-Williams deal to the Philip Morris-Ferrari deals, etc., google it, if you want.
Meanwhile Ron Dennis is absolutely ignorant about this and just said title sponsors are gone due to costs being higher… (I’m not saying they aren’t, but there is two sides to the story.)
12th February 2015, 11:15
The thing that gets missed on this site is that just by being here, we are much more interested in F1 than the average viewer and are more likely to spend the money to watch F1.
I know lots of people who watch F1 who simply enjoy the spectacle. In my office, Monday mornings used involve a group of around 10 of us talking about the race from the previous day but now, it’s down to 2. We’re both what you would call “F1 Fanatics” but the others aren’t bothered anymore because it’s too expensive. If you want to watch F1 in the UK, you have to pay your share of the billions of pounds Sky have just paid for Premiership football. You can’t just pay to watch F1, you have to pay for Sky Sports which includes everything else and will only go up and up as Sky spend more and more on Football.
I appreciate that F1 is being run as a business and that shareholders etc expect money but the split has to be 50% profit and 50% good of the sport. At the moment it’s 100% profit, 0% good of the sport.
12th February 2015, 13:14
Well, looks like I’ll be streaming F1 races online in 2016 then.
GT Racer (@gt-racer)
12th February 2015, 13:15
Something that is often missed in the talk of the falling TV figures is that there declining from the 2008-2011 all time high.
Looking just at the UK for a second, Hamilton’s arrival in 2007 & the massive hype the British media put behind him say the TV figures in the UK rise significantly in 2007/2008 & his 2008 championship win & Button’s success in 2009 saw that rise again.
Then in 2011 the introduction of DRS/Pirelli tyres raked in a lot of casuals with early 2011 seeing the highest TV ratings in F1’s history.
However the Tv figures were already starting to go down by the 2nd half of 2011 as the fans who disliked DRS/Pirelli tyres were turning off (As the RTL/Sky Germany internal surveys show) & the casual fans who had tuned in based on the early season madness were also starting to turn off.
The TV figures in 2014 were down on those all time high’s, But there still higher than they were Pre-2007 & there still significantly higher than they were in the late 90s/early 2000s.
Shoudl also be considered that the Sky/BBC combined figures in the UK are still on-par if not a higher than what ITV were getting on a consistent basis from 97-07.
GT Racer (@gt-racer)
12th February 2015, 13:29
I’d also point out a point someone else made on here last week, Its not just F1 moving to PayTV, Its a trend that sport in general has been doing for 10-15 years now in part because of how much it cost’s to produce live sport nowadays.
I said not long ago that the main reason BBC went to Sky with the current share deal is because the BBC could simply no longer afford to produce the level of live coverage they were between 2009-2011 because they underestimated how much they would be spending when the signed the deal in 2008.
ITV ended there F1 contract early for the same reason’s, They could no longer afford to produce the coverage they were producing.
The PayTV providers have much larger budget’s so the broadcast cost’s are less of a problem & this is why you see those providers able to produce more coverage, To have more programming, Produce more features & have an overall higher quality production.
12th February 2015, 14:01
Not so. Things only have the value that people put on them. A game of football has never been worth £50 million, but people ask that amount and get it because fans are will to stump up. A barrel of oil is the same product as it was in the ’50s but today it’s worth less that last year because the market said it was not worth the asking price. F1 is the same. It’s not worth the money being asked by it’s owners. But if people are willing to stump up the asking price then they would be fools not to take it. F1 will keep increasing it price until the masses say enough is enough. No driver is worth a million a race and i’m sure they would drive for a lot less. But because the masses allow/pay it they will get the money. I look forward to the day when the bubble bursts and F1 dies as nobody cares anymore. Perhaps then sanity will be restored. A sport need fans to survive.
13th February 2015, 7:27
Errrrr, it is worth _exactly_ what people are willing to pay. Same with drivers, they are worth what teams are willing to give them.
12th February 2015, 14:26
” global viewership has slipped steadily from 600 million viewers in 2008 to 425 million in 2014…The major reason is that over the past three years, the sport has migrated from free-to-air broadcasters to pay channels in a slew of countries.”
Now that the WSJ has said it will Bernie accept it. Sure the ‘show’ has to be a good one, but if no one wants to or can pay for the ‘show’… well the numbers speak for themselves, don’t they?
12th February 2015, 15:00
I will tell you who’s to blame. It’s the team owners. Why? Because they don’t have the gumption to pack it up
and take the sport back from Bernie and CVC. What do Bernie and CVC add to the sport? Far as I can tell,
they just take from the sport. The teams provide EVERYTHING except the race tracks. Once the teams got the sport back, they could put somebody in charge who works for them and wants F1 to succeed.
13th February 2015, 7:28
– And those that provide the race tracks has to pay for that priviledge.
12th February 2015, 16:14
roll up roll up, another story on f1 going to the wall. f1 fanatic? f1 neurotic more like.
I don’t really care whether 400mill watch it or 2 billion. Its still f1, still means the same to me.
John H (@john-h)
12th February 2015, 19:06
Some like to think about the wider picture I guess.
12th February 2015, 19:54
I think if you understood you would care. Fewer viewers means sponsorship is less attractive, and that comes on top of the cost of running a team already outweighing sponsorship value as we’ve seen with Lotus and McLaren for example.
So the money is going to come less from advertisers and more directly from fans, through ticket prices and pay TV. That means you.
Also Bernie gets to control the distribution of that money, so he can easily kill off backmarker teams and introduce customer cars. Customer cars that are not prototypes raced by a constructor…
12th February 2015, 16:44
F1 means nothing to many people anymore, previous it was a sport that meant “the fastest”, “the loudest”, “the most spectacular” and “the most prestigious” – but the sport is no faster then a decade ago, and tv coverage of other fast series like Nascar has increased internationally. it is not the loudest, it is no where near the most spectacular – what with cars overtaking with fake aids, and the prestige factor has died
as times have change, things have moved on, the social media era has bought classes together, so the fake prestige of winning a race with a dominant car is disapearing. i think that is the worst think about f1, one team dominating. it was ok in the 80s, 90s but even in the schumacher era you could see people were getting annoyed, and now it is hitting a tipping point.
The classist f1 run by old fuddy duddys has to think of something new to raise its profile.
12th February 2015, 22:13
Funny you shoudl mention that because currently Nascar has no TV coverage in the UK & several other European territories because existing deals expired at the end of 2014 & have currently not been extended or replaced.
Additionally Nascar’s TV figures both in the US & around the rest of the world have also been declining the past few years. Nascar’s circuit attendance has also been in decline.
Looking through the figures, A lot of MotorSport has seen Tv numbers in decline the past 5 or so years & many of the smaller categories got into severe financial troubles as a result with several (Most notably British F3) going under.
12th February 2015, 22:15
Good for Claire! That lady is the most forward thinking and relevant team principle in the paddock. The so called “Piranha Club” should take note, I see Claire taking on more f1 responsibility generally as the years go on and hooray for that. She’s a racer and also a keen business person. Claire may just be the saviour of the sport, as her father was many moons ago.
13th February 2015, 7:33
I’m pretty sure that Williams has traditionally been seen as part of the piranha club… :)
12th February 2015, 23:21
This number is very big!
13th February 2015, 14:39
f1 should look at Nascar. loud, not fuel efficient, not bothered with road car revelance, but they still get manufacturers involved (just with a fake painted grill on front of car!) – and the sport is a true spectacle, you sit in a stadium and see cars driving fast and loud, which is what motorsport fans want to see. also closer racing. more Americans watch Nascar then Indycar, and far more then F1. Even here in Australia Nascar races are being shown free to air! and heaps of people tune in to watch. if only we got WEC also.
15th February 2015, 1:51
WSJ: “The major reason is that over the past three years, the sport has migrated from free-to-air broadcasters to pay channels in a slew of countries.”
… making advertising space in F1 less valuable. Fewer eyeballs=less bang for the sponsor’s buck.
Sure, FOM gets the rights money up front, but there’s a tradeoff in this reduced attractiveness to sponsors (not to mention the long tailoff of fewer viewers breeding yet fewer viewers down the line). But hey, it’s not as if teams are struggling to find them, going out of business, and resorting to Kickstarter just to make it to the next race or anything, right?
Oh, wait… that’s exactly what’s happening, isn’t it? Blame the global economic climate all you like, guys, but the fact of the matter is that you’re calmly and methodically strangling the lifeblood out of your business in exchange for a quick high.
(PS. Just discovered the site a week or two ago. Keep up the good work!)
19th April 2015, 22:52
I’m very disappointed about F1 losing it’s popularity. My only concern is the boredom of F1, not from the drivers or teams but from the competition itself with too much rubbish such as regulations like engines for example, team orders are the worst and what’s boring about F1 is the overtakes and battles. That does not stop me from watching F1 and don’t get wrong I like F1 even though I am a MotoGP fan. But MotoGP has grown popularity fast with riders, bikes, classes and exciting battles with epic overtakes. One last thing I need to say is that my solution for F1 is to bring back the competitive atmosphere and bring back the popularity level like the Michael Schumacher era.
Thank you and have a nice day
19th July 2015, 1:50
I think thebbbc will be happy mow Lewis Hamilton is winning everything wont be watching it anymore
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