A drop in the number of people watching live Formula 1 races has been blamed on the sport’s move towards pay television deals by CEO Chase Carey.
In a Liberty Media corporation earnings conference call this week Carey admitted the average viewership of F1 races had fallen by 4% compared to last year.
Italian pay television broadcaster Sky Italia took over the exclusive live broadcasting rights for the championship in a three-year deal beginning this season. F1 is moving increasingly towards pay television deals in other markets, such as the UK, where Sky will also have exclusive live broadcasting rights from next season.
Carey said F1’s viewership has increased elsewhere, including the USA and China, “where viewing figures are showing particularly strong uplifts.”
“Fans reacted positively to our enhancements in cameras, sounds, graphics, and other elements in our broadcast and we have more to come,” he added. “69% of our fans say F1 TV coverage has improved while just 13% say it’s worse.”
He admitted there had been some problems with the launch of the sport’s over-the-top direct streaming service F1 TV, the introduction of which was postponed from the Australian Grand Prix to the Spanish round. “This year’s priority is get the product to where we want it to at this point in time to really give it a proper commercial launch next season,” he said.
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