Scheduling: The Japanese Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel’s victory in the Singapore Grand Prix means that the gap between him and Fernando Alonso has closed as they and the rest of the Formula 1 field head to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Sky Sports F1 have full live coverage of every session over the race weekend, with BBC screening extended highlights on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. BBC Radio 5 Live will be covering all the action live as normal, but as noted in his weekly blog post, Jaime Alguersuari will be absent from the next three rounds. James Allen is also taking a short commentating break, meaning that Jonathan Legard and Mercedes test driver Sam Bird will be commentating on the 5 Live output from Japan and Korea as a result. On Sky, there is a slight change as Ted Kravitz will not be with the team on Friday, instead David Croft will present The F1 Show alongside Georgie Thompson. Kravitz will join the team, however, on Saturday and Sunday.

As noted last week, there are two new programmes on Sky Sports F1 on the Thursday which, for this week only, I have noted below.

Thursday 4th October
07:00 to 07:45 – F1: Driver Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 to 18:00 – Sporting Greats: Stirling Moss (Sky Sports F1)
19:30 to 20:00 – Britain’s Next F1 Star (1/6) (Sky Sports F1)

Friday 5th October
01:45 to 03:50 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1)
01:55 to 03:35 – F1: Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
05:45 to 08:00 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
05:55 to 07:35 – F1: Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
08:00 to 08:45 – F1: Team Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
10:00 to 11:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Saturday 6th October
02:45 to 04:10 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1)
02:55 to 04:05 – F1: Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
05:00 to 07:45 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
05:55 to 07:05 – F1: Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13:00 to 14:15 – F1: Qualifying (BBC One)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Sunday 7th October
05:30 to 10:15 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1)
06:55 to 08:45 – F1: Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)
14:05 to 16:05 – F1: Race (BBC One)
16:05 to 17:05 – F1: Forum (BBC Red Button)

As always, if anything changes I shall update this blog if necessary.

Formula One Management to direct Japanese Grand Prix this year

The Japanese Grand Prix is to be directed by Formula One Management (FOM) this year, I can confirm.

Alongside Monaco, Japan is one of two races that has in recent years been directed by Fuji Television leading to inferior direction compared to FOM, and focussing on the home drivers’ more such as Takuma Sato and Kamui Kobayashi. The move will therefore please Formula 1 fans around the world, and means that they no longer have to complain about Fuji Television’s direction! The race has been directed by FOM before, but that was only for F1 Digital+ from 1997 to 2002, and only available to a small number of people.

I do wonder if the move has anything to do with dwindling Formula 1 popularity in Japan. Although the Grand Prix is usually a sell-out each and every year, according to a blog post written by James Allen last year, television viewing figures have dropped from 17 million viewers in the early 1990’s to 2 million viewers live on pay television and 5 million viewers on terrestrial television. With the drop in viewership, it is possible that Fuji Television could no longer justify the costs in producing the World Feed to FOM when asked.

It shall be interesting to see if any new camera angles are in force next weekend with FOM taking over duties.

Sky Sports F1 – Top 10 ratings (week ending 16th September, 2012)

From BARB, thankfully there is no data delay this week so it is straight onto the top 10:

1 – 35k – The F1 Show (Friday, 20:00)
2 – 29k – Porsche Supercup: Hungary (Thursday, 20:10)
3 – 17k – Porsche Supercup: Germany (Thursday, 19:55)
4 – 17k – F1 Legends (Sunday, 22:00)
5 – 15k – Italian Grand Prix Replay (Monday, 19:00)
6 – 12k – The F1 Show (Sunday, 16:34)
7 – 11k – Italian Grand Prix Highlights (Wednesday, 20:02)
8 – 11k – Italian Grand Prix Highlights (Monday, 16:30)
9 – 10k – Italian Grand Prix Highlights (Sunday, 19:31)
10 – 10k – Italian Grand Prix Highlights (Tuesday, 18:00)

A rather ordinary top 10, not much to note there it has to be said. There is no motor sport in any of other top 10’s, except Motors TV (unsurprisingly) with 19,000 viewers topping their chart for the World Rally Championship highlights airing on Friday 14th September.

Singapore Grand Prix holds up well against tough competition

The Singapore Grand Prix held up well yesterday afternoon on BBC One and Sky Sports F1, although live football on Sky Sports 1 inevitably dented the Formula 1, meaning that ratings also were at their lowest since 2008.

The race programme on BBC One averaged 3.37 million viewers (24.6% share) between 12:10 and 15:20, whilst Sky Sports F1 averaged a further 443,000 from 11:30 to 16:30. That brings the average to 3.81 million viewers, which compares as follows to previous years:

Singapore Grand Prix – Past Ratings
2008 – 3.73 million
2009 – 4.30 million
2010 – 4.43 million
2011 – 4.34 million
2012 – 3.81 million

Even if you were to strip out Sky Sports F1’s average so you were only working from their average from 12:10 to 15:20, you would not see a major increase, in fact it would still remain lower than previous years.

The BBC One programme peaked with 4.09 million viewers (31.6% share), interestingly as soon as the race started at 13:05. Including Sky Sports F1, that would rise to about 4.9 million viewers, possibly tipping 5 million. The fact that the viewership peaked at the start suggests that the football did play a factor. On a normal day I would have expected it to peak just before Lewis Hamilton went out. The football viewing figures support the theory that Liverpool vs Manchester United did dent the Formula 1, it averaged 1.99 million on Sky Sports 1 between 13:00 and 15:30, peaking with just under 3 million viewers, by far the biggest Super Sunday rating so far this season.

Looking at the official ratings on the BARB website, the 13:30 kick-off games on Sky Sports 1 from 2009 through to 2011 on the day of the Singapore Grand Prix averaged 220k (2009 – a Championship game), 753k (2010) and 441k (2011 – a Championship game). So the fact that Sky Sports 1 averaged 1.2 million viewers more yesterday than previous years against the Singapore Grand Prix, yet the Grand Prix only lost half a million viewers I think is a credit to how well the Formula 1 holds up against tough competition.

Having said that, I do have to question why Sky decided to schedule a top tier Premier League match against the F1 race? I know they don’t dictate the scheduling of Premier League games within the season, but they could have put Liverpool vs Manchester United on at 12:45 on Saturday or tonight at 20:00. To swing that around however, would Sky Sports F1 have got a million more viewers yesterday if the football was not on? No. Would BBC F1 have got a million more viewers yesterday if the football was not on? Now that, is an interesting question… (Update, see Stevvy’s comment below regarding the scheduling of the football)

Qualifying on Saturday averaged two million viewers between 13:00 and 15:30. Once you include Sky Sports F1, it will be a slight drop versus 2.4 million from last year, but nothing significant.

Some of the 2012 ratings are sourced from the Media Guardian website.

Two new programmes appear on Sky Sports F1 schedules

Two new programmes have appeared on the Sky Sports F1 schedule for the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, and it appears both programmes are not only new to the channel, but completely new.

“Sporting Greats” with Stirling Moss the featured person airs on Sky Sports F1 on Thursday 4th October at 17:00, lasting for 60 minutes. Looking on Google, it appears this is part of a wider Sky Sports series profiling legends at the moment, so the Moss episode appears to be new. In any case, I do find it odd that a F1 Legends programme and a Sporting Greats programme were both commissioned in the same year concerning Moss. Seems to be a waste of resources somewhere though, although I assume the two different programme editors did not consult each other in developing the programmes. UPDATE – This has now changed to a F1 Legends repeat.

“Britain’s Next F1 Star” is a new six-part series, which begins on Thursday 4th October at 19:30. Seb Morris on Twitter noted on Thursday that he is “looking forward to watching all the documentaries” which confirms that it is a new series to the channel. Furthermore, this tweet from Henry Hope-Frost confirms that he is voicing over the programme, and that it is being produced by USP Content alongside Scalextric. The six-part series will feature these six racers:

– Seb Morris
– Jordan King
– Joshua Hill
– Alice Powell
– Alex Brundle
– Dean Smith

Assuming they air every Thursday, the final episode will air on Thursday 8th November. Very pleasing in my opinion to see a new, original programme on the channel. Hopefully Sky give it ample advertising outside of the F1 channel so that other viewers know that the programme exists.