F1 makes big gains on social media and sees TV audiences rise

2017 F1 season

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Formula One’s television audience grew by 6.2% in the largest 20 markets last year according to figures released by Formula One Management.

Ferrari’s most competitive season for seven years appears to have been reflected in a 19.1% rise in viewership in Italy. Significant rises were also seen in China (42.2%), Switzerland (14.3%), Denmark (14.1%) and Brazil (13.4%).

According to FOM, 352.3 million unique viewers watched F1 programming at least once last year. This number has fallen every year since 2010 but, FOM says, did not decrease last year. Brazil remains F1’s biggest single market with 76 million viewers, down by 1.8% compared to 2016. Significant rises in unique viewers were record in Mexico (22.6%, Italy (16.7%) and the USA (13%).

The largest 20 markets for F1 by cumulative television audience are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the USA.

Formula One’s social media activity has seen a significant rise in users, with 11.9 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. According to FOM this is a 54.9% rise compared to the previous year and makes F1 the fastest-growing sports brand on social media, outstripping the Champions League soccer tournament, Formula E, America’s National Football League and Major League Baseball. However several of these brands have more total followers than F1:

F1’s managing director of commerical operations Sean Bratches says they are “encouraged by the growth in audience numbers across linear and digital platforms”.

“Central to our efforts last season was to improve the fan experience across our platforms and it is encouraging to see the engagement that fans around the world have with Formula One media.”

“Our work continues as Formula One fans will see material changes in 2018 with respect to both incumbent experiences and the creation of new ones. It is a good time to be a Formula One fan.”

2017 F1 season

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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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32 comments on “F1 makes big gains on social media and sees TV audiences rise”

  1. I’ve seen a huge change on F1’s YouTube channel – earlier there would be an occasional puff piece type of video, but these days you can be assured of several videos across a race weekend, including those that highlight key moments.

    FOM have always been aggressive in taking down videos others put up of even parts of racing action. But I’d say that this is the best deterrent of all – put up the clips on the F1 channel itself, removing the motivation for others to do likewise.

    1. I also found it funny that the official channel literally copies all the ideas of the youtubers like
      – Toto’s table breaker remix
      – pre race press conf video highlights
      – top 10 overtakes
      – top 10 crashes
      – top 10 shocking moments

      things like that

      1. What would you prefer them to do? They are all obvious and correct videos to be producing on the official channel, can you blame them?

        1. I prefer them to do funny cat videos.

          Buy yeah I found it funny so I just wrote what I thought about it !

      2. When in Rome… produce content popular in Rome…

      3. Those are literally the basic things any fan would want.

        1. I know I know, @major-dev

          its just that I find it funny when I see a cool F1 video on youtube and then I think “oh this must be from the youtuber BwoahTV or something” but then I look at the channel and its Formula 1.

  2. 16.7% increase in Italy. Well that would defiantly put more strength into Marchionne promise to quit F1 if Ferrari do not get what they want, I would think.
    It would be interesting to know how much of the increases in Mexico and the US is down to the improved Ferrari performance.

    1. Sergio’s threat to leave Ferrari has nothing to do with Italian viewership or the importance of Italy to F1.
      His threat is firmly about what he thinks Ferrari (and Ferrari alone) bring to the table in F1. Clearly, there is a disagreement about the importance of Ferrari to F1.

      1. Sorry but I must disagree, F1 is first and foremost a business and it’s the fans that keep it going. If you think that the increase in viewer numbers in Italy have nothing to do with Ferraris improved performance….

        I clearly said that the improved viewer numbers would strengthen Marchionnes argument. If you can’t see that I’ll lend you my classes.

        1. Sorry, what I meant was that Sergio’s decision to give a threat was not motivated by seeing the rise in Italian audience. He definitely knows that the size of the Italian TV audience are not as relevant in the grand scheme of things.

          His decision to give a threat was simply based on his opinion of how important Ferrari is to F1.

          1. While the increased numbers in Italy can’t hurt Marchionne’s argument, I don’t think it changes much either. F1 knows exactly what Ferrari means to them, and Ferrari knows exactly what F1 means to them, especially financially. They’ll have tonnage of data on this kind of thing (viewership) but it’s not like the bottom line is that since Ferrari is so important to F1 that means Ferrari should or will get unrealistic advantages other teams are not afforded, to the degree they have been under BE. Yet another stat saying that when Ferrari wins races viewership goes up in Italy, isn’t really news, is it?

            As Brawn just said in the interview with Brundle, Ferrari and F1 are not that far apart on their thinking about the future, and there is highly likely going to be agreement all around that will see Ferrari stay. It is not the case that if Marchionne doesn’t get everything he asks for they’ll walk.

  3. How is The Netherlands not part of the 20 largest markets? Surely bigger than Romania, Denmark, Belgium, Greece and Poland you would think..

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      5th January 2018, 18:16

      For balance, the figures in the UK dropped again. I didn’t realise how many more people watched Channel 4 compared to Sky!

      Channel 4 (free to air) – Their race day coverage in 2017 averaged 1.87 million viewers, a decrease of 4.5 percent on last year’s average audience of 1.96 million viewers. Their live programming averaged 2.13 million viewers, with their highlights shows bringing 1.62 million viewers to the channel. Year-on-year, Channel 4’s live shows dropped by just 2.5 percent, whilst their highlights output decreased by 8.1 percent.

      Sky (Pay TV) – Live coverage of Sky Sports’ race day programming in 2017, excluding Paddock Live, averaged 652,000 viewers, a slight decrease of 2.5 percent on last year’s average audience of 669,000 viewers.

      Source: https://f1broadcasting.co/2017/12/11/f1s-uk-television-audience-stabilises-in-2017/

      I wonder how many of the 1.87 million viewers will pay for Sky? Or will the UK lose around 3/4 of it’s F1 fans?

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        5th January 2018, 18:17

        Oops – that wasn’t supposed to be a response. Clicked the wrong button.

        You raise a good point though – I’m amazed to see The Netherlands not in the top 20…

      2. @petebaldwin Just a question…How much does it cost to get Channel 4 now? I asssume it is similar to here in Canada in that indeed it is not ‘free’ to air, but is part of channel packages that one can purchase via cable or satellite.

        Our one option in Canada is to get Sky coverage through our regular satellite packages. One can pay a little less and only get one TSN (The Sports Network) channel out of the five available, and that one channel doesn’t always have the complete Sky coverage but will at a minimum show the quali and the race. Pay a little more and you get all five TSN channels and one of those will have the complete weekend Sky coverage.

        Just curious, and without meaning to sound sarcastic at all, free to air is not free, so the question will be which fans will pay the extra it takes to get Sky, which is an amount that should be Sky coverage minus Channel 4 coverage equals X.

        1. It’s free as long as you have a TV license in the UK.

          Don’t need to buy a package to receive it over here. The adverts pay for channel 4.

          1. Just to note, the TV licence doesn’t pay for channel 4 either if you are thinking that…

            It pays for the BBC which is a bone of contention for some people as we are forced to pay it (or not have any broadcast receiving ability)

    2. @jesperfey13

      90% of new Dutch fans are purely in the sport because of Max Verstappen, they don’t care for much and only watch the race, so they…… stream illegally. Which is very bad (and I do not condone it in any way). There I said it. Dutch people like free stuff.
      So…. do they bring something to F1 then? That’s another question.

      1. Romania in the 90s had only a few tv channels and one of them broadcasted F1. It was by far the most interesting thing to watch on a sunday.

  4. We(Greece) are in the top 20!
    A bit surprising since we had never had a driver,the circuit dream seems to be frozen & the free TV coverage includes just the races(16/20 free).
    I’m pretty sure that if we had an F1 star(like Antetokounmpo in NBA),we would be addicted in F1!

    1. Yes we are! But i must say all the races in Greece is free (20/20 -2017) the 4 of them is not live, the very morning ones!

      1. @bilarxos Thats what i meanted,i just messed up the words😂😂
        I still miss free to air qualy,but we have lost that feauture since 2011 if i recall correctly…

  5. Brace yourselves for that Brazil number to plummet this year.

    1. Good talking point. I think most casual F1 fans in Brazil have already turned off after all these winless years. We were also winless from 1994 to 1999, but then we had Barrichello with very promising performances in midfield teams and presented as a future champion to the audience.

      I might be wrong, but as long as TV Globo keeps broadcasting the races, the viewers will remain more or less the same as it is today.

      In the last few years saw we lost live qualifying sessions on Free-to-air TV(except for the Brazilian GP and a few Q3 transmissions) and, on the other hand, a major shift on its focus away from the home drivers to the title contenders, especially Hamilton, in a more aggressive and ‘youthful’ coverage.

      So we already are a shrinking market, but I don’t expect a major decrease in viewership because of the lack of a home driver.

  6. That Brazilian viewership is going to take a hit this year. I think we can likely expect a Brazilian driver back on the grid before too long.

    Maybe even a surprise announcement from Williams that the world’s most retired driver is making one more comeback.

    1. @philipgb If Sirotkin cant get the money as some rumors claim,we might see Felipe back ;)

      1. @miltosgreekfan I highly doubt it. Reportedly Kvyat is the ‘plan B’ for Williams should Sirotkin fail to get the remaining seat.

        1. @jerejj Its highly unrealistic,but never say never in this world!

          1. @miltosgreekfan But you just said to never say the word “never”. So I guess we should never say never say never in this world. But even that statement should not be allowed as it says never. Hence we should never say never say never say never in this world. OK I’m done.

  7. Oh c’mon, you guys have to stop watching this, no chance in hell it will be back to free to air tv, I will have to pay my standard TV subscription of 100+ meaningless channels plus 30€ for F1


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