Meanwhile, over in Italy…

Whilst the UK schedule for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix can be found here, I thought it would be interesting to compare the UK’s Sky Sports F1 offering with that over in Italy on Sky Sport F1. It was last June when it was announced that Sky would be broadcasting Formula 1 in Italy. Their new channel was announced in December.

From the outset, during non race weeks, the Italian schedule looks broadly similar to what the UK offers. The main difference is that Sky Italia’s channel is on air all day, unlike their UK counterpart which is only on air in the evenings. Starting off with Classic F1 races, as detailed before on this blog, Sky here in Britain screens Classic races for recent years in full, with five races before each weekend. The approach by Sky Italia is different though, instead of airing full races, they air five half an hour highlights more frequently. This may be because no full Italian commentary exists in the Formula One Management (FOM) archives meaning Sky Italia are not left with much choice, or it may be an editorial decision.

Elsewhere, like in the UK, an F1 Legends strand is present, with former Italian drivers’ such as Jarno Trulli being interviewed. One programme Sky in the UK do not have that their Italian colleagues do have is a programme entitled ‘Race Anatomy‘. The programme, presented by Marta Abiye and Fabiano Vandone airs a day after the race and looks in-detail at the issues during the race weekend. It appears similar to the Midweek Report, albeit on a bigger budget and running at an hour in length. The same two presenters present a programme called High Tech, 30 minutes, which looks at the technical issues in Formula 1.

The actual race weekend schedule is as follows (all times Italian):

Wednesday 22nd May
14:55 to 16:00 – F1: Driver Press Conference
16:00 to 16:30 – Paddock Live Show

Thursday 23rd May
09:45 to 10:00 – Paddock Live
10:00 to 11:30 – F1: Practice 1
11:30 to 12:00 – Paddock Live
12:00 to 12:30 – GP2: Practice
13:45 to 14:00 – Paddock Live
14:00 to 15:30 – F1: Practice 2
15:30 to 16:15 – Paddock Live
16:15 to 17:00 – GP2: Qualifying
17:30 to 18:15 – Porsche Supercup: Practice
18:15 to 18:45 – Paddock Live Show
18:45 to 19:30 – F1: Team Press Conference

Friday 24th May
09:30 to 10:15 – Porsche Supercup: Qualifying
11:00 to 11:15 – Paddock Live
11:15 to 12:30 – GP2: Race 1
12:30 to 13:00 – Paddock Live
17:00 to 17:30 – Paddock Live Show

Saturday 25th May
10:45 to 11:00 – Paddock Live
11:00 to 12:00 – F1: Practice 3
12:00 to 12:30 – Paddock Live
13:00 to 14:00 – Paddock Live Qualifying
14:00 to 15:15 – F1: Qualifying
15:15 to 16:00 – Paddock Live Qualifying
16:00 to 17:15 – GP2: Race 2
17:15 to 17:45 – Paddock Live Show

Sunday 26th May
09:45 to 10:30 – Porsche Supercup: Race
12:30 to 14:00 – Paddock Live Race
14:00 to 16:00 – F1: Race
16:00 to 17:00 – Paddock Live Last Ride

Sourced from the official Sky Italia website.

There are some small but noticeable differences between Sky Italia’s Monaco Grand Prix schedule and Sky UK’s schedule. The first noticeably is that there are four x 30 minute editions of The F1 Show (Paddock Live Show) spread over Wednesday to Saturday instead of two x 60 minute editions like there is over here. I think having a Saturday show is a very good decision on their behalf as it gives them ample opportunity to reflect on all of Saturday’s action. Elsewhere, the Italian channel has live coverage of the Porsche Supercup series, screening all sessions live. Over here, the rights are held by British Eurosport. I don’t know whether Sky UK had the opportunity to screen it live but passed, but in any case the UK channel only screens highlights.

A final point is the length of their practice three analysis, it appears that Sky Italia do not rush off air after the session like the UK channel does. Overall though, aside from a few exceptions, the coverage length and depth between the few channels appears very similar in what they provide.

Sky Sports F1 – Top 10 ratings (week ending 12th May, 2013)

From BARB:

1 – 383k – Live Spanish Grand Prix (Sunday, 11:30)
2 – 303k – Live Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying (Saturday, 12:00)
3 – 92k – Live Spanish Grand Prix Practice 3 (Saturday, 08:45)
4 – 77k – The F1 Show (Friday, 17:00)
5 – 71k – Live Spanish Grand Prix Practice 2 (Friday, 12:45)
6 – 48k – Legends (Saturday, 11:10)
7 – 42k – The F1 Show (Friday, 20:15)
8 – 41k – Legends (Saturday, 11:30)
9 – 36k – Inside Track: Brundle and Hamilton (Saturday, 11:17)
10 – 34k – Spanish GP3 Race 2 Replay (Sunday, 17:23)

A really bad set of ratings for the channel, highlighted by the fact that their main race day rating being their second worst ever for a European round, only ahead of last year’s Belgian Grand Prix. In their first season you could make the excuse that the channel is still getting up to speed, but across the board, ratings were down versus 2012 (it is worth noting also that the 2012 race day programme was longer than the 2013 race day programme due to the Williams pit fire).

The only bright spot for the channel is The F1 Show which appears to have settled at about 70,000 to 80,000 viewers. I think what is not helping Sky Sports F1 this year for the non-exclusive races is that BBC are now screening practice sessions live on BBC Two. BBC Two is more accessible than the Red Button, meaning that some viewers may be more enticed to watch on BBC instead of Sky. So whilst BBC Two gets about 600,000 viewers for practice, it depletes Sky’s figures slightly but more importantly means that those viewers get into the habit of watching BBC’s coverage for that particular weekend, denting Sky for the remainder of the weekend.

Elsewhere, the lack of GP2 and GP3 live action in the top ten is depressing, but unsurprising. The same applies for the fantastic Max Mosley programme which aired straight after the race programme ended. If you don’t promote with supplemental material and social media promotion, you don’t get viewers. Colour is needed. Interaction is needed. Bring it to life. Here is the weekly reach for the channel for all race weeks since the channel began:

Sky Sports F1' s weekly viewership reach as of the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix race week. Source: BARB.
Sky Sports F1′ s weekly viewership reach as of the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix race week. Source: BARB.

As you can see the viewership reach was the second lowest ever, only behind the race week for the Korean Grand Prix in 2012. Heading into 2013, Sky would have been wanting to keep their existing audience, at the moment the ratings appear to only be going in reverse gear.

Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1

Note: This article was originally published back in January. Since then though, the pricing in some parts have changed, and new customers now must purchase the Sports Pack to view Sky Sports F1, as revealed back in March. The original article is still getting a substantial amount of interest, hence why I am republishing it with amended and up to date details.

One of the key questions fans that want to watch every F1 race live in 2013 over the Winter will have been asking is ‘how much does Sky Sports F1 cost to view?’. The answer, is that you are likely going to have to part with at least £100.00 – maybe more. But how much exactly? That answer depends on what you want to watch.

Starting with Sky, the first option is to switch from your current provider to Sky, purchasing the Sports Pack on top of the required Entertainment Pack. The Sports Pack costs £21.00 a month, meaning that when you include the compulsory Entertainment Pack, this option will put you back £42.50 a month. Given that 12 months is the minimum subscription (see the small print here), this is £510.00 a year, which is probably not the most desirable option for those just wanting their dose of Formula 1.

If you then want to watch every Formula 1 race in HD, as well as the above you need the HD Pack for £5.25 a month. However, if you scroll down, on the right hand side you see:

To get 6 Sky Sports channels in HD you need:

– Sky+HD box with Sky TV
– HD ready TV
– Sky Entertainment Extra+
– Sky Sports
– HD Pack

In other words, if you want to watch Formula 1 in HD, the basic Entertainment Pack is not enough, you need the Entertainment Extra+ Pack instead. So to watch Formula 1 in HD, you need the Entertainment Extra+ Pack, which is £31.50 a month, the Sports Pack, £21.00 a month, and the HD Pack, £5.25 a month. This is £57.75 a month, which is £693.00 a year.

Moving away from TV, and we move towards viewing Formula 1 via Sky Go’s Monthly Ticket system. Unfortunately, Sky do not offer the Sports Pack on its own, instead like with TV you have to add the Entertainment Pack at a cost of £35.00 a month. The benefit of Sky Go’s Monthly Ticket is that it is simply that – a monthly ticket which you renew, if you wish, every month. With that in mind, the 2013 calendar is as follows:

– May 26th – Monaco (Monte Carlo) – Sky
– June 9th – Canada (Montreal) – BBC and Sky
– June 30th – Britain (Silverstone) – BBC and Sky
– July 7th – Germany (Nurburgring) – Sky
– July 28th – Hungary (Hungaroring) – Sky
– August 25th – Belgium (Spa) – BBC and Sky
– September 8th – Italy (Monza) – BBC and Sky
– September 22nd – Singapore (Marina Bay) – Sky
– October 6th – Korea (Yeongam) – Sky
– October 13th – Japan (Suzuka) – BBC and Sky
– October 27th – India (Buddh International Circuit) – BBC and Sky
– November 3rd – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) – Sky
– November 17th – United States (Austin) – Sky
– November 24th – Brazil (Interlagos) – BBC and Sky

If you want to watch all the remaining races live:

– ticket 1 can be used from May 14th to June 14th (Monaco)
– ticket 2 can be used from July 1st to August 1st (Germany and Hungary)
– ticket 3 can be used from September 15th to October 15th (Singapore and Korea)
– ticket 4 can be used from October 30th to November 30th (Abu Dhabi and USA)

Four tickets at £35.00 is £140.00 at most for the remainder of the season.

But can you get it even cheaper? Sky have announced that their internet TV service NOW TV will be available on a pay-as-you-go basis for £9.99 a day. What this means is that you can watch the seven remaining Sky exclusive races for £69.93. If you want to add Qualifying to that, however, this will increase to £139.86. My own personal opinion is that £9.99 a day is too steep – I guess it depends though whether you are just interested in F1 or Sport as a whole, if it is the latter than the Sky Go Monthly Ticket may appeal more, whereas F1 only fans may be more enticed into buying several NOW TV pay-as-you-go days. However, at the moment NOW TV and Sky Bet are running an offer whereby you create a Sky Bet account and get a free NOW TV Sky Sports day pass if redeemed before the end of May. This means that there is a free and legal method of watching the Monaco Grand Prix live.

NOW TV, whilst cheaper than Sky Go and Sky’s TV packages, is not the cheapest way to go. Enter Sky Sports TV for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android for £4.99 a month. Of course, you need to actually have one of these items and be prepared to watch it on a smaller screen, but at £4.99 a month, four calendar months of F1 (see ticket section above) means at a cost of £19.96, it is by far the cheapest option.

Over on Virgin Media, their Sky Sports Collection pack is available for £25.75. Add the TV M+ package on top of that and you are looking at £39.75 a month, or £477 a year. As of writing, Sky Sports F1 is not available on BT Vision or Freeview, meaning that the above are the only viable options.

To summarise:

– £693.00 a year – Sky TV – Entertainment, Sports and HD Packs
– £510.00 a year – Sky TV – Entertainment + Sports Packs
– £477.00 a year – Virgin Media TV – M+ + Sky Sports Collection
– £209.79 – NOW TV – Practice, Qualifying and Race (remaining seven exclusive weekends)
– £140.00 – Sky Go Monthly Ticket
– £139.86 – NOW TV – Qualifying and Race (remaining seven exclusive weekends)
– £69.93 – NOW TV – Race (remaining seven exclusive race days)
– £19.96 – Sky Sports TV App (four separate ‘months’)

All prices correct as of Saturday 18th May 2013. Information contained in this blog post is subject to change.

Scheduling: The 2013 Monaco Grand Prix

From a fairly confusing Spanish Grand Prix, it is time for the glitz and glamour in the Formula 1 world: the Monaco Grand Prix! One of the shocks when the BBC and Sky picks came out at the end of last year was the the Monaco Grand Prix will be screened on Sky Sports F1 exclusively live. As thus, BBC viewers will either have to listen to it on the radio, wait for the highlights or find another method of viewing.

Sky’s coverage during the weekend is broadly similar to last year, with an extra The F1 Show again on the schedule. The Qualifying show is 20 minutes longer but there are no other changes versus last year. As normal, there are five classic races – 1992 and 1996 in highlights form with 2003, 2008 and 2011 as full races. Aside from that, there is some special programming within the schedule. ‘Monaco: The Greatest Race of All’ first airs on Friday 17th May following The F1 Show, as Steve Rider asks drivers past and present their thoughts on the Monte Carlo race. I suspect it is bits from his ‘F1 Legends’ interviews cut into one programme, but we shall see. ‘GP Uncovered’ is a strand of archive programming looking back at past Monaco Grand Prix races. If you don’t have access to Sky Sports F1, the strand is repeated also on the main Sky Sports channels.

On BBC, due to cricket and golf on the schedule, neither Qualifying or Practice 3 are live on BBC Radio, both sessions you can only listen to online. Also not on the schedule is the GP3 Series, despite being on the Monaco Grand Prix schedule last year, they will be having a standalone race towards the end of June. I’ve also added the Indianapolis 500 to the schedule, it is unfortunate that only two men and their dogs will be watching that prestigious event…

Friday 17th May
20:00 to 21:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
21:00 to 21:30 – Monaco: The Greatest Race of All (Sky Sports F1)

Saturday 18th May
20:00 to 20:30 – GP Uncovered: 1955 Monaco Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– from the D. A. Clarke archive
– repeated on Friday 24th May at 19:30
20:30 to 21:15 – F1: 1992 Monaco Grand Prix Highlights (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from Murray Walker and James Hunt
– repeated on Friday 24th May at 18:00

Sunday 19th May
20:00 to 20:40 – GP Uncovered: 1957 Monaco Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– from the Castrol archive
– repeated on Friday 24th May at 21:30
20:40 to 21:20 – F1: 1996 Monaco Grand Prix Highlights (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from Murray Walker and Jonathan Palmer
– repeated on Friday 24th May at 18:45

Monday 20th May
20:00 to 20:40 – GP Uncovered: 1957 Monaco Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– from the JFPT archive
– repeated on Saturday 25th May at 11:20
20:40 to 22:55 – F1: 2003 Monaco Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from James Allen and Martin Brundle
– repeated on Friday 24th May at 22:10

Tuesday 21st May
20:00 to 20:30 – GP Uncovered: 1962 French Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– from the Castrol archive
– repeated on Saturday 25th May at 17:30
20:30 to 23:00 – F1: 2008 Monaco Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from James Allen and Martin Brundle
– repeated on Saturday 25th May at 22:25

Wednesday 22nd May
14:00 to 14:45 – F1: Driver Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
19:45 to 20:00 – F1: Gear up for Monaco (Sky Sports F1)
20:00 to 20:30 – GP Uncovered: 1958 Monaco Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– from the Hepolite archive
– repeated on Sunday 26th May at 18:30
20:30 to 23:30 – F1: 2011 Monaco Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from Martin Brundle and David Coulthard
– repeated on Sunday 26th May at 08:15

Thursday 23rd May
08:45 to 11:00 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1)
08:55 to 10:35 – F1: Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
11:00 to 11:35 – GP2: Practice (Sky Sports F1)
12:45 to 15:00 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
12:55 to 14:35 – F1: Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15:10 to 15:55 – GP2: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
16:00 to 16:45 – F1: Team Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
20:00 to 21:00 – F1: Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday 24th May
10:10 to 11:35 – GP2: Race 1 (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Saturday 25th May
09:45 to 11:10 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1)
12:00 to 15:05 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
15:05 to 16:10 – GP2: Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)
17:35 to 18:50 – F1: Qualifying (BBC One)
19:45 to 20:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Sunday 26th May
11:30 to 16:00 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1)
13:00 to 15:00 – F1: Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)
16:00 to 17:00 – F1 Legends: Gerhard Berger (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 to 20:30 – Indianapolis 500 (ESPN)
17:35 to 19:05 – F1: Race (BBC One)
– note: For Scotland viewers, the race is on BBC Two at 18:35

Wednesday 29th May
19:00 to 19:30 – Midweek Report (Sky Sports F1)

Spanish Grand Prix drops to four year low

The Spanish Grand Prix dropped to its lowest rating since 2009, overnight figures show. BBC One’s programme from 12:10 to 15:15 recorded an average of 3.285 million viewers, a 29 percent share. Sky Sports F1’s exact programme figure is unknown, however, it failed to make ITV Media’s top 10, meaning it had under 483,000 viewers from 11:30 to 16:20.

The joint average is therefore around about 3.77 million viewers – however that is an estimate and could be slightly lower depending on Sky’s exact figure. Either way, using my usual ‘35 percent theory‘, applied to Sky Sports F1 only to account for its longer run-time, brings the average up to 3.94 million.

Spanish Grand Prix – Official Ratings
2002 – 3.72 million
2003 – 3.20 million
2004 – 3.04 million
2005 – 2.72 million
2006 – 2.33 million
2007 – 3.15 million
2008 – 3.51 million
2009 – 3.89 million
2010 – 4.04 million
2011 – 4.75 million
2012 – 4.09 million / 4.28 million
2013 – 3.77 million / 3.94 million*

* overnight figure and approximation of Sky Sports F1 figure

The figures unfortunately do not point to a positive trend. The combined factors of lack of British success and football competition will not have helped. In 2011, Sebastian Vettel was fighting Lewis Hamilton for victory until the last lap, whereas in comparison yesterday was a Fernando Alonso dominating performance, a relative turn off for the British audience.

The peak figures are again not the greatest, a combined peak of 4.83 million viewers, with a 36.1 percent share. BBC had 4.13 million at its peak, with Sky recording 703,000 viewers. The split was 86 percent versus 14 percent, which compared to last year is bigger in BBC’s favour. BBC’s peak is down 470,000 year-on-year, with Sky’s peak down 350,000, despite having a much lower audience reach. The 2011 peak was 6.2 million, so the difference of having a last lap showdown can account for an extra 25 percent of your audience.

Monaco should be interesting from a ratings perspective, as it is a Sky exclusive race. Given that it is considered one of the ‘crown jewels’, surely Sky must see some kind of uplift from its usual exclusive race weekend ratings. I imagine they will be hoping for more viewers, at least a peak of nearly 2 million if the weather in the UK plays in their favour.

The 2012 Spanish Grand Prix ratings report can be found here. Note: The ratings information comes from Digital Spy, TV Ratings UK and BARB.