F1 has lost one-third of its TV audience since 2008

2016 F1 season

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Official figures from Formula One Management indicate television audiences fell to above 400 million last year, further illustrating the sport’s declining popularity.

The new data means F1 has lost one-third of its worldwide audience since 2008 – around 200 million viewers. How many of those are now watching the sport via other means, legal or not, is unclear. The sport has drawn criticism for moving away from free-to-air broadcasts in favour of television deals.

In the UK half of all live races disappeared from free-to-air television in 2012. This year it has left the BBC, whose two main channels have the greatest reach of any in Britain, for Channel 4 (presenter Steve Jones pictured).

However the Channel 4 deal will end after 2018, beyond which all races except the British Grand Prix will only be shown on pay TV.

Ecclestone signals social media U-turn

Ecclestone has rethought social media
The figures emerged in an interview Bernie Ecclestone gave at at the Advertising Week Europe 2016 conference. Despite the fall in viewer numbers, F1 is still broadcast in over 200 territories and claims to be ‘one of the most-watched annual sporting championships globally’.

During the interview Ecclestone signalled his willingness to reconsider his long-held opposition to promoting F1 on social media.

“I couldn’t understand it,” he said. “People said to me ‘ah yes, but the young kids are doing this’. And I said ‘but the young kids don’t buy the articles that our sponsors sell, so it doesn’t help us a lot’.”

“That’s what I thought. I’ve been educated. And I realise how important it is. I couldn’t see at the time how what I was told could possibly help Formula One.”

Formula One Management claims to have already generated more than one billion social media impressions in the year to date, engaged with 21.5m people on Facebook and generated 10.5m video views. Ecclestone said FOM will continue to support social media promotion “wherever we can”.

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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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104 comments on “F1 has lost one-third of its TV audience since 2008”

  1. All of the smart global brands markets through social media because they know the new generations (gen y particularity) will soon have this disposal income to by their product.

  2. The Blade Runner (@)
    20th April 2016, 12:24

    Anything that people find more difficult to do now than they did before they do less

    1. This is the prefect summary of how I feel. The tech exists and I have a pipe dream of being able to subscribe to streaming F1 from F1 directly live and on demand without commercials (When cars are on track) with the ability to watch when I want. East Coast US makes a lot of races at times watching live simply doesn’t fit in with life.

      1. Ha!! Try watching it on the west coast, three hours earlier; 5:00 am races? No thanks; I’ve given them up. FOM is missing a huge market here. I also don’t understand their insistence in taking down every single video of races. They could be gathering fans on youtube. Also, I understand that promoters are not allowed to use video of F1 in advertising for their races; shouldn’t FOM be helping the tracks draw fans? Weird.

    2. So few words, so perfect explanation. In a world where everything is “free”, like windows 10 for example, F1 is trying to hude behind a paywall.

      Everyone who wants to and has google access, can simply search Stream F1 race… And you can have it.

      In our country free to air F1 has poor commentator, low budget support and commercials. Havent watched it since 2012. But Sky F1 stream is just great.

      If F1 simply monetized F1 stream of SkY F1 to entire world… We would be getting somewhere.

      1. Surely sky (and other pay channels) is part of the problem, it might make financial sense in the short term but for viewing figures and sponsors free to air is the way to go.

        1. FOM just need to look at how leagues like the NBA reach a huge audience. It’s not rocket science.

    3. So true!

  3. 2008 is also the year the global economy went into a spin cycle. Companies and media reevaluating how much and where to spend marketing dollars to their greatest effect. Many entities trimming way back. Much job loss and uncertainty. Exactly the wrong time to raise prices on everything, yet with the need being there in order to survive or stay profitable, as long as you can get it anyway and not price yourself out of the market.

  4. Suggested caption for the photo of Ecclestone:

    ‘F1 Supremo attempts to log into his MySpace profile on his Nokia Lumia, yesterday’.

    1. ‘F1 Supremo attempts to send a fax to max mosley on his ericsson mobile phone’.

      1. ‘F1 supremo attempts to add vinyl collection to new Zune’.

      2. I’m pretty sure Bernie faxes people with actual fax machines that pre-date mobile phones.

        1. I would have thought he uses carrier pigeons, or perhaps Morse Code.

          1. I’m sure he would if the pigeons didn’t spread feathers all over the place, or if it was easier to transmit currency signs via Morse ;)

  5. does watching an illegal stream of skysports count as a tv viewer? I know several people resorting to that, its either that or not watch, as the series is not worth paying to watch.

    1. I would say it doesn’t and this is what people are resorting to now, as pay TV limits the number of people who can watch it. Just recently a friend of mine cancelled his Foxtel subscription here in Australia, as it was a huge waste of money (around $100 per month), when his family can get something like Netflix for $15 per month, and watch most TV shows and movies they want to watch. He misses out, but at the end of the day it’s a decision that comes down to value for money.

      1. Same here a couple weeks ago after 2 decades of beign a fan, I canceled my comcast “premium” service that included nbc sports channel (F1 broadcaster) because I was paying a fortune to watch F1 every other week and access to 300 channels broadcasting 24/7 crap (infomercials). Comcast only gives you access to nbc sports if you “upgrade” your service and pay monthly 130 USD!

    2. I’m on the US west coast and European races start at 5:00am for me. I have started not looking at results and bit torrent downloading the Sky broadcast. I can watch it in great definition and drink a beer whilst doing so. Stealing? yes, I guess so. If FOM offered a viewing at any time packet I’d be there.

  6. F1 should really look into what Clarkson, Hammond and May have done by going to Amazon Prime

    1. Lewisham Milton
      20th April 2016, 14:40

      You mean, package it with a load of other things nobody wants? Like Sky?
      Who cares what those three do any more, Top Gear was way past its best anyway.

      1. More people care than you think. Don’t make your opinions into facts.

      2. I guess the point is that they disappeared behind the amazon paywall and faded into history

        1. If F1 went to Amazon I would be very happy since I’ve already bought it for top gear. The problem with pay channels isn’t the individual cost it’s the amount of them you need to watch everything.

        2. OldIron, as you say, in their case the three men have gone for the big payout – Amazon’s CEO is effectively giving them an open chequebook for their show, and the three men are being paid vastly more per episode (to the point where it was rumoured that Clarkson’s fee per episode is now higher than his annual salary when working for the BBC, which would be a completely unsustainable salary for any other media organisation).

          In that sense, they are doing exactly what many complain about Bernie doing – cashing in on the current popularity of the show to extract a lucrative deal from a subscription service that wants to muscle out free to air broadcasters.

  7. pastaman (@)
    20th April 2016, 12:46

    “I couldn’t see at the time how what I was told could possibly help give me the short term cash that I want.” FTFY Bernie.

  8. I’m sure the teams are going ape behind the scenes. I was reading that Marchionne has called for Bernie to go, and that will count. Pay-TV is the exact opposite of what manufacturers and sponsors need.

    But perhaps Tata Communications will have something to offer, I have a vague memory of seeing something?

    1. So long as people are prepared to pay ever increasing subs F1 will stay as it is. Look at boxing. People pay £$1000.s to watch it exclusively. As a result most people could not tell you who the world heavy weight champion is or when the last defense was. F1 wants to do the same and is being helped by short-sighted fans who love to moan but still feed the machine.

      1. Although this is true for many sports, it doesn’t work like that in F1. A huge percentage of the team’s operating budget comes direct from sponsorship. Sponsors are much less inclined to invest in F1 because of shrinking TV audiences, hindered further by the ever increasing pay wall.

        The whole marketing model of the teams depends on getting as many people as is possible to see their cars. A subscription fee to watch is at odds with this ethos.

        The two winners of the TV deal – Sky and FOM

        The two losers – Teams and fans.

        Let’s hope it changes before more teams go to wall…

      2. It’s not staying as it is though @Tiomkin, that’s the trouble. It’s a different model from boxing because Honda, Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari are in it to sell cars, not collect TV money. Merc were quoting €1.5 Billion as the value of their F1 exposure last year.

        The last figures I saw for the UK were 600k viewers on Sky and 3.4 million on BBC down to 2.4m or so on Channel 4. So take away those FTA viewers and it’s a disaster for the manufacturers, and all the other sponsors too. And in 2020 they are free, so CVC will be picking up the phone when they call.

  9. Maybe he says that ’cause he made some money out of the Youtube channel….

  10. i watched the last race on a stream. i saw a few of sky’s pre-race ads, so they got something out of me! had it been live on a freeview channel there is no question i would’ve streamed it. it’s just about the simplest case going – the sky deal is screwing the sport.

  11. “I couldn’t understand it,” he said. “People said to me ‘ah yes, but the young kids are doing this’. And I said ‘but the young kids don’t buy the articles that our sponsors sell, so it doesn’t help us a lot’.”

    There, in a nutshell, Bernie Ecclestone shows exactly what his motive is – making money by keeping sponsors happy. No interest in allowing as broad a demographic as possible to become better-aware of, then develop, cultivate & perpetuate an interest in, a sport for pure enjoyment of the sport.

    He is poisonous to the future of GP motor racing & the sooner he withdraws his avaricious talons from the ever-weakening body of F1 the better.

    1. Nor indeed has he cottoned on to the idea that “young kids” suddenly turn into salary-earning adults with disposable incomes.
      Catch an audience young, and F1 could have it for life.

      1. Just described my youngest, been watching since he was 12, now just turned 30, is an MSc, doesn’t own a TV and requires financial services for mortgage, insurance and pension. He wants it all on the internet and mobile devices.

    2. Short sighted as sponsors are happiest when as many as possible are watching for maximum exposure. Things like the Sky deal are short term gain long term pain but then he will not be around long term so wants the money now. I am sure sponsors refusing to pay will eventually lead back to free to air racing but we will all have to go through the pain short term. What sponsors want is most important but what they want is the fans watching.

    3. + 1

  12. ‘but the young kids don’t buy the articles that our sponsors sell, so it doesn’t help us a lot’.”

    He should be axed for that comment alone. Does he not realise kids watch sports and then bug their parents to take them to and buy them products related to it?? How does this all pass him by?

    I would like to ask how many of us became fans in their adulthood or childhood? I know for sure with me it was as a 10 year old.

    1. Me for one. I watched it casually in parents’ house , carried on as an adult. when Lewis appeared I really made a point of watching, until that blonde tinted fella appeared landike a red bull and now I’m cheering for the other reds.

      I’m sure Lewis wouldn’t have got the idea of F1 from Rupert Murdoch.

  13. Gavin Campbell
    20th April 2016, 13:26

    Kids may not buy high end products, but its important to desire them.

    If kids dont know a Rolex or TAG and think the premium watch brand is Apple – thats going to start eating away sales of Rolex’s and TAGs no? “no,no,no mum no-one buys rolex’s anymore – everyones onto these things now”.

    I would of prefered to see F1 stay free but adopt a little more “ahem” american advertising & social media coverage. Rolex Pole Position Lap
    Mumm Podiums etc.

    Keep that 600 million world wide figure and get some better dollars alongside it. But mostly what I don’t understand is his insistance on going for the “show” – you either have a more purist sport that fans stump up cash to see or you chase massive numbers by engineering the entertainment a little.

  14. I think the actual audience is bigger than that. But because of things like pay tv and broadcasters who constantly go to commercial (NBCSN in the US), many people (including myself) often use illegal streams to watch the races.

  15. Hurray for ilegal stream!. I’m not in that statistic because of it. Tough luck, Bernie!

    1. It’s impossible to quantify, but you may be onto something. If enough people are fed up with Sky or the general inaccessibility of watching F1, they’ll turn to torrents and illegal streams. How much of that missing third could be made up of people watching illegal streams and torrents?

      1. @tim-m It’s becoming increasingly easy to get to those streams. I’ve googled “Sky F1 stream” and come up with results in a jiffy. In the old days, it was a lot more obscure.

        I have my reliable site which I’ve been using since the Canadian GP in 2011. I’m enjoying SkyF1 at all times without paying a single thing.

        Why? well, firstly because in Latin America, the broadcast quality is absolutely rubbish. They don’t know what they are talking about. So I used to watch it on the telly and listen to the stream I get on my laptop. But nowadays, only half the races are shown live. So why even bother turning the telly on? And it’s not even free-to-air, I’m already paying to watch half the races!

    2. @fer-no65 That’s the exact point which all the doomsayers should understand. I think TV itself has lost one-third of its viewers since 2008 because (illegal) streaming has become easier. This isn’t only related to F1.

      1. I think the last time I watched GP from TV was 2011 Belgian Grand Prix, because I was travelling and didn’t have proper Internet connection. I’ve watched pretty much every race in the 2010’s by streaming.

  16. I started watching F1 in 2012 after a buddy showed me a race. I didn’t even know F1 existed before then, and I live 45 minutes from Indy. The only way I’ve been able to watch any races is by stealing them from torrent sites. I’m not going to buy a whole TV package just so I can watch the terrible NBC coverage…that’s absurd.
    If I could pay to stream each race to my chromecast I would do so in a heartbeat. Until then, F1 isn’t getting a dime from me.

  17. When a decision maker is that out of touch with the world of media and marketing, they have to go. F1 is facing an number of issues technically and the last thing that’s needed is to also have major issues in the marketing and delivery of the sport. Personally I believe they need to tear up their technical and marketing models and start from scratch. I don’t think band-aid solutions will correct what ails the sport.

  18. It really doesn’t surprise me. SKY is just not good value for money anymore.
    I had SKY for 2 years. First year I had a very good discount and the second year I negotiated a pretty decent deal. Third time around and it would cost me around £750 for the year for Sports \ Movies. As I have to consider the family viewing too I decided to drop SKY and have signed up for BT TV. BT TV will cost me £120 in total for the year (I already have the BT landline \ broadband). With it, I can now watch Indycar. I will try C4 for F1 until they stop in 2018 and then I will probably be reading the results, like I do for the county cricket.
    I know you have NOW TV option, but I really don’t want to have to remember to buy into something each time just for a race. Switching to BT saves me £630 a year. That’s a lot of money for me to justify watching F1 for a year.
    It’s extremely frustrating for SKY F1 to only be available through SKY. The exclusivity of it makes it very expensive option to watch F1 in the UK. The fact that SKY Sports alone cost so much on top, most people try and bundle in SKY Movies etc.
    But the problem for F1, is that it will become an exclusive sport that only those who want to watch other sports on SKY will have. If only I could just pay for SKY F1 and that alone I may still be with SKY and watching it.

  19. Since 2011 I’ve only missed 3 live races and I have never nor will I ever pay the extortionate rates for the subscription options. I’ve 10 or so friends with an interest in F1 from varying degrees of happy to catch some races to as dedicated as me and none of them will take a subscription.

    It’s just a hunch, but I think being on pay TV might be hurting viewing figures.

  20. On a simplistic level, FOM makes money from PPV. Teams make money from sponsors, who need our eyeballs on the product. This dichotomy will drive change, either in FOM policy and leadership or in the number if teams that can survive without advertising sponsors.

  21. F1 should go beck to a free to air TV so tha we can all wach.

  22. The descent is a steady one: 25 million viewers lost since 2013 (when there was a one-off drop of 50 million). At that rate, F1 will have no viewers at all in 2032.

    It’s worse than that, though, as the figures count viewers of each race separately. The per-race figures since 2012 are:

    2012 – 500 / 20 races – 25 million/race
    2013 – 450 / 19 races – 23.684 million/race
    2014 – 425 / 19 races – 22.368 million/race
    2015 – 400 / 20 races – 20 million/race

    F1 has lost 25% of its actual viewers since 2012, which only includes the post-split-broadcast-in-the-UK era of F1 broadcasting. Bernie’s quest for ever-more races not only increases his income from tracks, but makes his full-season TV figures look more impressive than they necessarily are.

    This also means that around 20% of current legal-channel F1 viewers were in the UK in 2015 (a conservative estimate that assumes everyone who watched Sky also watched BBC). Even switching to Channel 4 appears to have lost around 1 million viewers F1 has each race. Going pure-Sky would lose another 2 million, even if it is assumed losing the other half of the Grands Prix will tempt a few hundred thousand more people to get Sky (and thus make its F1 channel logically viable).

    Before BBC lost the rights to F1, the 2019 estimated viewing figures would have been around 16.25 million. With the switch to Sky, that estimate must realistically be dropped to 13.25 million. And then, if 5 million viewers are lost every 4 years (as per the trend), there will be no F1 viewers in 2029. Though given that pay TV companies rely on profits to justify buying channels, and by 2024 (the end of Sky UK’s exclusivity) Sky will be chasing about 20% of 7 million potential viewers (1.4 million), of whom 25% appear willing to pay for F1 (350,000)… I think you can see why Sky may be a tad reluctant to pay Bernie fees for a sport netting similar figures to many sports charging pay channels less money (cricket, boxing, endurance racing…)

    FOM should have had a serious think about all this before going ahead with the decision to leave free-to-air entirely, as it will be remarkably difficult to make up the money lost by this.

    1. The important point here is this isn’t a Pay TV problem, it is an F1 Management problem. They write the contract, read the tenders, and accept the one that suits them. By accepting the highest paying tender, even though it comes with far less viewers, they are accepting F1 teams will have to lower the price of advertising space on their cars, which makes them more reliant on the TV rights payout, which is unfairly distributed.
      I guess one question that needs to be asked is does this result in enough income for the teams at the back of the grid to compete with those at the front of the grid?

      1. It didn’t 5 years ago, and each year the equation gets worse. Hence why the non-manufacturer teams are either funded by new-to-the-sport rich individuals who may or may not get bored in a few years when the bilateral contracts fall due again (Haas and Manor) or one spanner in the works off leaving (be that voluntarily in the case of Red Bull and Toro Rosso, or forcibly in the case of Force India, Sauber).

        1. @alianora-la-canta I disagree. F1 might have disappeared behind the Pay Wall for you 5 years ago, but for the fans in New Zealand, which is where I live it was about 10 years ago. F1 is almost a forgotten sport as far as the public here are concerned. It isn’t uncommon for the most popular local radio station to forget to announce who won a race.
          Before it disappeared behind the Paywall it appeared to be very popular, even though people had to stay up to midnight to watch the races live. Then it vanished behind the Paywall, and now hardly anyone bothers with it. Not only does hardly anyone know who people like Lewis Hamilton (he’s been here), Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen (he came here), etc, are, but the brand recognition is also lost on the public as well.

          1. @drycrust I think I may not have phrased my previous comment well enough. I was answering the question ending your previous reply: “Does this result in enough income for the teams at the back of the grid to compete with those at the front of the grid?” question with “It didn’t 5 years ago”. In other words, the system doesn’t provide enough income for the teams at the back to compete with those at the front and hasn’t done since at least 2011.

            I don’t use the 10-year comparison because that was a rather disrupted time for F1, and even with equal monies, the teams at the back would have still been at the back – Midland was lurching from owner to owner back then, Super Aguri would never have been allowed to take an entire title ahead of its A-team Honda and Toro Rosso would only have done so if the FIA had decided that making the V10s outpowered compared to the replacement V8s would be politically advantageous for similar reasons. As such, it’s not really possible to tell if the income level was correct 10 years ago, as there were too many other complicating factors.

            To address your reply to my post, you make an important and distinct point that the authorities should have considered before going aggressive on the pay TV route. After all, people don’t pay money into series if they no longer recognise or care what they are. From your information, New Zealand is well on the way to being lost to F1 for all intents and purposes, and goes some way towards explaining why the UK has an increasing proportion of the world viewership, despite its people not being happy with the pay-TV arrangement either.

            (F1 half-disappeared behind the paywall for me at the start of 2012, which would be 4 years ago – I can see why you considered this close enough to take that angle in your reply).

  23. Come 2019 the UK audience will dip drastically, as Sky carries on monopolizing , and people refuse to pay their hiked up prices, there will be those that scramble for illegal streaming, but the majority will switch their attentions to other motorsports, such as Formula E, WEC, BTCC, etc.
    F1 as a whole, will lose viewers, so will lose sponsors, the sponsors who rely on people watching, and with no sponsors, that means little or no income, and being it relies heavily on money, with no income, ( apart from that paid by Sky), then the shutters come down, simple as !!!
    Sky will be the main reason the Sport will be on its knees, plus the over inflated entry prices to the races, (and the ridiculous prices put on merchandise) …
    So for F1, its near time to call the undertaker…..

    1. They need to take action soon or the sport is just going to become a postscript in history. It’s happened before. IF it is only shown on pay tv, terrestrial tv will just stop reporting on it as well. Then the other media outlets as well apart from Sky of course.

  24. So refreshing to have an article and comments about TV decline not be about someone’s petty issues with the sport, but about the realities of Pay-TV vs free-to-air vs streaming.

  25. 2008 – the last year of very cool cars in F1

    1. Wide 2017 cars could be quite nice, we just won’t be able to see them which is the difference. I actually missed the race last weekend. I tried to find a decent stream, but no joy, then I gave up. I listened to the race on radio5 whilst cooking, it was quite good actually.

  26. “further illustrating the sport’s declining popularity.”

    Or…. further illustrating increasing numbers of people illegally streaming F1 since it’s gone to Pay TV.

  27. Lies, Damn Lies and statistics. The problem with this article is that it only looks at one of the facts. Declining viewers. What it doesn’t look at is increased revenue. Don’t get me wrong, I am not defending this at all. Declining viewers is a problem for me and may be a problem for the sport in the future. My opinion is that the sport should be free to air for all, but not many of the good sports are these days unfortunately. The writing is on the wall for all sports and it won’t be long before they are all behind the paywall.

    However, If we are looking at the sport from a business sense (and Bernie is), the declining figures are a short term blip. The reality is that F1 viewers have dropped because viewing is going behind the paywall. However, it’s not just F1. All sports are going behind the paywall. In the short term, viewers drop for all sports, but revenue also increases for those sports, so they don’t care and know it is a short term thing until more people start paying for sport.

    I say that this is a short term blip, because eventually, if you want to watch any sport, you will have to pay. However, once you pay, you get all of the sports. I started paying last year because F1 went behind the paywall in Australia. However, I can watch an amazing amount of sport now. As more and more sports go behind the wall, more and more people will pay and F1 viewership will go up again. The casual viewer will return because people paying to see baseball may also watch F1. Right now, they have lost the casual viewer who isn’t prepared to pay, but eventually, if you like tiddlywinks, you will have to pay to watch it. Tiddlywinks supporters may also choose to watch F1 if they get it in their package.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it, but it is a reality. Sports need to make money and going behind the wall is attractive. If every other sport is doing it, then it will (has) become the norm.

    What must be remembered is that going behind the paywall increases revenue for the sport and their participants. Right now, F1 has the highest revenue ever despite falling viewership. That means that Sauber gets a lot more more money than they would have had it viewing still been free to air.

    The down side of course for Sauber is twofold. Firstly, falling viewership means that they can’t charge as much for sponsorship. This may be a positive in a way since the big advertising teams will lose comparatively more. However, F1 has a poor distribution model and teams like Sauber get a low percentage of the money. If they get 5% of $100m or 5% of $1b it matters not. It still means that the big teams are getting a lot more money.

    1. @mickharrold

      The problem is F1 doesn’t provide the value to justify being behind a pay wall. If you’re a football fan your team plays 38 matches per season, with 380 in total just in the Premier League. Football is also a very social sport, you have the lads round to watch a match or you go down to the pub to watch it.

      Fights are big ticket events, and again very social so you can justify the pay per view cost.

      I watch one or two races sociably, most aren’t on at convenient times to do so though so I’m sat watching most alone. And there are only 19 races. Yes I know you get qualifying as well, but 38 competitive events vs 380 for a football fan and they really think I’m going to lay down the cash for a full subscription to get it? I’m also not going to be down at the pub watching a 6am race on a Sunday morning. There is no value for an F1 fan to pay to view unless they also love other sport or are just so wealthy that it’s small change to them.

    2. It hasn’t worked out that way. Revenue’s been falling for most of the pay era (this year appears to have experienced a blip upwards, albeit about $500 m of a blip – given what has been revealed about the TV situation in the UK, that is almost certainly 8 years of Sky UK bonus revenue in advance and thus won’t repeat). Most years, teams have had less money than the year before from FOM.

      Some sports (BTCC most notably) have come out from behind the paywall recently and prospered. Formula E is trying to do the same, but may yet be put off by ITV’s treatment of it.

      People, in the main, aren’t paying for sport. They’re doing other things with the money, often even when they could have afforded the sport. Only the dedicated sports fans, the particularly wealthy or those for whom it’s effectively discounted due to already using related services are able to justify anything close to the amount it costs to get even one “pay” sport. The amount it costs to get Sky Sports will buy you a pretty good experience at nearly any F1 venue in Europe (even a race-day Monaco trip is manageable on that particular cost).

      In the UK, you already need to deal with at least 4 different companies (Sky, Virgin, BT, Freesat with a card supplier and an online supplier which may or may not be one of the first three). Some of them can’t be combined with one another, or can only be combined if you are a business such as a pub or gym. Only the latter two can be considered cheap.

      Sports have to make money, but this simply isn’t a viable way for F1 to make money in the long run. If Bernie had been in a position to offer all international motorsports, it would have been a different matter, as there would have been enough material to provide a football-esque value-added effect that compensates for all this.

      I watch the majority of F1 races socially (before pay TV, it was all of them). But an all-Sky situation would force me to watch all of them alone, except the Chinese Grand Prix since that conveniently times itself for when my WEC-following friends and I can go to the Silverstone Wing and use it for warm-up entertainment.

  28. Perhaps all the manufactured scandal and politics maybe created a circus a previous generation loved? Perhaps this sport really is run by a bunch of children?

    All I know is that I find it increasingly hard to devote so much energy to following this sport. It gives me so little in return. Aside from the drivers, it’s like one big rich old white-guy festival (look at my ego, look at my watch/yacht/girlfriend/crappyproduct). I don’t think it’s surprising that Gen Y is saying, “Nah.”

  29. “…And I said ‘but the young kids don’t buy the articles that our sponsors sell, so it doesn’t help us a lot’.”

    Bernie doesn’t seem to have realized the chance of getting NEW sponsors who like to cater to the ‘young kids’.

    1. Besides these so called kids are now 30+ buying Hondas, Renaults and maybe Mercedeses. Without F1 they might aswell be buying Toyotas, Peugeots or BMWs…

      Not sure what products he is selling, but pretty sure F1 is not about wrist watches…

      1. Yes, but they’re not F1’s sponsors. They’re the teams’ sponsors and Bernie is trying to weaken the teams…

  30. Ecclestone’s problem really is that he’s unable to see the world through any filter other than that of an ageing, white, male, billionaire. For him, brands like Rolex are great, the bees knees, exactly what everyone wants. It’s totally true for an octagenarian philanthropist. But for the rest fo the world, Rolex is lame. A boring, stuffy brand for old men. Let’s face it, even James Bond stopped wearing Rolexes decades ago. And that’s a pretty good barometer of cool – Bond still drives an Aston, and Aston Martins are still the coolest cars in the world. Again, probably not if you’re a white-haired millionaire, you probably think that Ferrari is a cool brand. You probably think that casinos and expensive lady companions are the coolest things going. But they aren’t. Everything about that whole lifestyle is utterly lame.

    Of course, I still like F1, despite the old-man-stink that seems glued to it (hey, when did F1 stop being about cool guys in their twenties and start being about old farts in their 80s?), but these days getting access to F1 involves putting money into the pocket of another very unpleasant, old, white billionaire. And not only do I resent having to do that, I also resent having to pay for a package, the vast majority of the cost of which goes towards paying for boring rubbish like kickball. By contrast, most WEC is FTA and if I don’t happen to be at my TV, I can get access to WEC races for a tiny, exclusive amount per year. I can also catch up if I missed it, something you can’t do with NowTV.

    I think that’s the problem. Not only am I having to pay for F1, I’m paying a huge amount of money for something which is pathetically bad. I enjoy the F1, but I don’t like the football and I hate the coverage that I get for my payment. It’s awful value for money. But then who could really expect all of these elderly millionaires to understand what value for money looks like to a normal human being?

    1. Wow what a rant Aston Martin Chris sorry Mazda the coolest of all brands not driven by old people whatsoever.

      A philanthropist would not buy a Role they would give the money to charity. Is a white billionaire worse than a black one? James Bond is a fictional character, Ferrari sell to a wide age group I always think of Aston for old men, Ferrari sell more cars and hold their value better meaning there is far more demand for Ferrari.

      WEC is cheap to get a foothold in the market if they ever come slightly close to F1 then they will go behind a pay wall same as Moto GPS.

      Agree on the casino lifestyle being lame but James Bond is often in casinos?

      Cannot agree on the pretty ladies being lame unless you bat for the other side, drive a Mazda and wear a cheap watch.

      1. WEC is already behind a paywall. The difference is that every race, in many markets, is also freely accessible. They are able to make the arrangement work. It worked in quite a few markets in F1 (but not others) before Bernie decided on the split-race model.

  31. @mazdachris Bernie loves people like you. You hate him and all he stands for yet you give him money? Why do you think Bernie is the way he is? Elderly Billionaires DO understand the value of money and they know how to maximize it.

  32. I think it’s mostly down to pay-TV. I used to pay to watch F1 until the end of 2012 season, then the Finnish broadcasters doubled their price. It used to be 4,90 € per month, 44.1 € for the 9 month season. This year they more than doubled it again, now the cheapest you can get it for is 24,95 € per month. It’s more than five times as much as I used to pay and that’s the price if you get the 12 month contract instead of the 9 month season. Basically you’d be paying for three extra months.

    Now, you do get the entire sports pack for the 24.95 € deal whereas in 2012, the 4,90 € deal was for F1 only, plus the feeder series’. But for people like me, who are only interested in Formula 1 and other motorsport, it’s a complete waste of money. I have no interest in paying 5 times more for sports that I, or anyone else in my family, don’t watch.

    Back in the early 2000s there were almost 2 million viewers at most and the averages were always well over a million. Now we are lucky to hit 500 000, usually it’s somewhere just over 400 000 viewers per race.

    Formula 1 needs a WWE Network style solution. Just get rid of the TV broadcasters altogether, no one watches TV anymore anyway. They just keep raising the prices to get more money. It’s all about online streaming, that’s the future just loo at Netflix. I’d certainly be willing to pay 10 € a month for F1 if I got to watch lots of extra content as well as old races like you do on WWE Network. It seems like the only thing F1 is taking from WWE is the “best for business” attitude which involves doing the opposite of what the fans want.

    1. @retardedf1sh I agree that the future is streaming services but i’d point out that the WWE Network hasn’t exactly been a massive success, Its done OK but nothing more.
      The figures they released last October had 1.2m subscribers worldwide, Given the amount of fans who watch WWE programming thats a very small number.

  33. While i’m not going to try & say that F1 hasn’t lost viewers I will point out that something to consider when looking at the figures is that they don’t include those who watch F1 via online services legal or otherwise & they also don’t include those who watch via catch up services.

    People who watch races live via a service like NowTV, SkyGo or even through a broadcasters website via a computer/laptop, mobile device or one of the various internet tv boxes you can buy now are not counted because many broadcasters either don’t have access to or simply decide not to release those figures.
    And of course those who watch via illegal streams & other less than legal methods also don’t get counted obviously.

    1. In the UK, all of these are counted – and in the case of NowTV, Channel 4’s online site and SkyGO they’re counted on an exact per-household basis, something not possible with terrestrial TV (or, to a lesser extent, the BBC’s online website because it doesn’t require registration).

      And the reason illegal methods aren’t counted is because nobody in F1 earns money directly from them.

  34. Am i understanding this right? It used to be 600mil viewers with no pay tv and now is 400mil viewers some with pay tv and soon to be all with pay tv?
    So if you are Bernie you have to look at “600mil viewers that don’t pay” or “only 400mil that pay”?

    Seams pretty obvious to me which one i’d prefer…

    1. P.S. i am not feeding the “beast”

    2. It’s not quite that binary. Germany and some smaller European countries still have free to air tv broadcasts. I am sure people from surrounding countries also tune in to watch those.

      1. You can watch the German RTL chan on FreeSat, and listen to the Radio 5 commentary.

        But for those who use Sky’s NowTV, read the small print. You can watch on two devices, so share with a friend or family.

    3. It’s 400 million, some of who pay and some of whom will be lost in the next few years.

    4. Those ‘600 million who don’t pay’ do pay, indirectly, through the advertisers who want their ads on while those 600 million are watching. It’s who is paying, not if they’re paying.

    5. By that logic the Super Bowl should have been on pay-per-view at least thirty years ago, yet companies will pay millions for a 30 second commercial for a free-to-air event that is about the same length as some F1 races.

  35. Not sure what the point of the article is, F1 seems to make an effort to alienate their fan base with rule changes, going green, going quiet, going to pay per view, it is constant assult against what the fans want and now they are noticing the fan base is declining? Classic.

  36. If I wanted to pay a fortune for a few short bits of pleasure every year, I’d just get married again!

  37. If that statistic is based on F1 audience watching F1 on their TV, I’m not part of it. Since we don’t have a free to air F1 broadcast, I’ve started watching all reces on live sctreeming or some other methods. So I’m sure that the situation is not that bad.

    1. It is, because F1 earns nothing directly from those using non-TV or radio means to watch, unless they are part of approved TV/radio broadcasts (such as Channel 4 or Sky’s online feeds).

  38. I know plenty of ex F1 fans and it wasn’t the pay wall that put them off, it was the event itself.

  39. It’s so blatantly, simplistically obvious why TV viewing numbers are down.

    Here in Australia every race was free for a while, and for a few years free in HD. My mother, for example, used to watch every single race. But she can’t afford payTV so now follows the races using the free F1 app, and watches the occasional race when they’re on free to air (which goes away completely next year)

    Personally I’m HAPPY to pay for payTV for the extra sessions, commercial free races and behind the scenes, even with a free option. So why can’t they have both? I know it’s down to the networks and the deals, but having the options benefits everyone.

  40. Yorkshire Ladd
    21st April 2016, 12:00

    Having been a fan of FI since the 1970’s today’s F1 is a poor imitation of what it was. The reason F1 is losing audiences is there is little racing, the pole sitter will usually win, cars can’t overtake without tricks like DRS because of the aerodynamics, there is little or no engine development in the year, insufficient testing for teams to develop their cars, tyres that are so poor drivers cannot drive flat out because of degradation, and much more. Then on top of that we are being forced to pay by the likes of Sky to watch it, I am not prepared to pay for a sport that is controlled by people whose only interest is maximising the money they can make from the sport. The day free to air stops will be the day I stop watching completely, although if I miss a race or forget about it these days I don’t care. In the past I did everything possible to make sure I saw it.

    1. Well said, I agree with everything you say, I also believe Mercedes where instrumental in changing to the new formula because they had that technology already developed, greasing Ecclestone’s palm has been done many times in the past.

  41. “People said to me ‘ah yes, but the young kids are doing this’. And I said ‘but the young kids don’t buy the articles that our sponsors sell, so it doesn’t help us a lot’.”

    That’s shows again that Bernie and Co. only care about short term profits. He couldn’t care less what becomes of F1 in 10 years because he’ll knows either be dead or far removed from F1. By not including younger fans, who will grow up to become fans with more spending power in the current and future vision of F1, they are guaranteeing a shrinking audience in the years to come.

  42. At least UK viewers have the option of watching quality, un-interrupted race presentations. Here in the U.S. the only F1 option is NBCSports, which is only available via bundled cable subscription plans.

    NBCSports F1 has so many commercial interruptions during the race that you miss more than 1/4 of the race. Then, when they return from a commercial, they usually cut to some mindless interview for another minute before returning to the race action. NBC only sends the pit lane reporter to the races, the two main commentators are watching it in the studio. The NBC commentators are mediocre, frequently getting their facts wrong). It’s hard to imagine anyone who was previously unfamiliar with F1 getting interested in following the sport via an these low-rent broadcasts.

    Of course this has driven me and many of the F1 fans that know to the other options (VPNs, illegal streams, BitTorrent – bless them all). The only loser there is F1.

  43. The solution for F1 is to negotiate new deals to offer the excellent Sky broadcast globally (with no interruptions during the race). This should be available in pay cable AND as and independent streaming option that doesn’t require a cable subscriptions.

    They already have that for the UK via Now TV, where you can pay to stream either a full week of Sky Sports Pass (including F1 Practice, Qualifying & Race) for £10.99 ($15) or 1 day Sky Sports Pass (including F1 race) for £6.99 ($10). I consider those prices to be on the upper end of reasonable. They just need to expand that globally NOW (pun intended). F1 knows that they will eventually do something like this but every year they drag their feet, they are losing millions of fans.

  44. Bernie is delusional and he is all about maximizing profits with a short term outlook.

    Uneven distribution of money to the teams, example Ferrari v Sauber.
    Moving F1 to Sky, restricting global reach.
    Having no consideration for the future younger generation of audiences.
    Double points because yeah we really want to see gimmicky racing.
    Tires that degrade after x laps, spectators do not want to watch drivers nursing tires, I want my overtaking to take place on the circuit, not in the pit lane.
    On the subject of tires, how is that cost control when tires have a performance cliff and need changing, anyone remember the awesome Goodyear tires of the early 1990’s.
    Tires that explode well within their safety margins, Vettel@Belgium and how this was brushed under the carpet.
    The talk about bringing back refueling because yet again I want the pit lane for my overtaking.
    F1 losing historical circuits in favor of circuits around the world run by dictators.
    Qualifying…reverse grids…give me a break…

  45. Formula 1 should create the Netflix of racing (at least open wheel racing). Let countries have their own free tv service with commercials and crappy commentators. As an alternative provide a platform for around 100/year which does not only show live racing without interruption but also has a library of all races, thus if a race is in a different timezone you can still watch it when it is convenient. Add your feeder series for more content and to promote future talent.

  46. This is too large number.

  47. Lost views mostly due to the new rubbish formula and the boring dominance of Mercedes and the 2 boring Mercedes drivers.

  48. There is no way I’m going to pay for Sky to watch F1 or any other program. All the TV I watch, be it sport or anything else, is Freeview. I would suspect I’m not alone and see this as a significant contributing factor, although I admit not the only reason for the drop in viewing figures.

  49. I think the declining popularity is, and by no means an exhaustive list, is the apparently closed door policy to the formula 1 world by young stars of the future. The sport and it`s entrants are mostly rich kids with rich tax exile families, paying big money to get these people into the f1 seats and the whole f1 circus. At best, the industry is closed to ordinary kids aspiring to be formula 1 drivers and this sort of helps in losing interest in a world they have no chance to access.

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