Radio 5 Live unveils British MotoGP schedule

BBC Radio 5 Live have announced their scheduling plans for the British round of the MotoGP World Championship. The station, which normally does not cover the championship, will be covering the weekend’s events.

As revealed in May, Jennie Gow will be presenting the coverage alongside Tommy Hill, whilst Harry Stafford will be alongside Gow on the Friday. On the TV side of things, there will be an extra half an hour of build-up and an extra half an hour of reaction on race day. Disappointingly though, only qualifying will be live on BBC One (as it has been for the majority of the year), the race coverage is still on BBC Two. It would have been nice to have given it the BBC One Sunday slot, in my view.

Here are their coverage plans:

Thursday 29th August
20:30 to 21:30 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday 30th August
09:00 to 12:15 – Practice (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

Sunday 1st September
13:00 to 14:00 – MotoGP Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

I don’t know if BBC Radio covering it is a precursor to potentially covering the series next year when TV coverage moves to BT Sport next year, but time will tell.

Motor sport ratings (week ending 11th August, 2013)

The reason this piece is up later than usual is because, there are not many motor sport ratings on BARB to actually report. Sky Sports F1’s top ten is a delayed, so unfortunately there is no rating to report for the fantastic Journalists special of The F1 Show.

An impressive rating that has been reported however are highlights of the World Rally Championship (WRC) round from Finland. Although the ITV4 airing did not make the top ten on Wednesday (9th August) at 20:00, the timeshifted airing made ITV4 +1’s top ten at 21:00, averaging 37,000 viewers. I suspect the ITV4 airing averaged over 100,000 viewers, which obviously would be the highest WRC has been in several years, thanks to ITV4 reaching many more people than ESPN previously did. I haven’t seen any detailed WRC figures, but if I do, I will post them.

I revealed back in March that the rights are for this season only. I really, really hope that ITV4 continue screening it in 2014, it would be disastrous if the series was thrown back into the abyss where viewing figures are concerned. Thankfully, if the figures above suggest, the World Rally Championship is again showing signs of life in the UK after a torrid few years.

Elsewhere, the viewing figures for Motors TV’s top ten ranged from 4,000 to 13,000 viewers, NASCAR and V8 Supercars their highlights.

The ratings picture: The 2013 Verdict so far

Having looked at both the BBC and Sky Sports F1 teams along with their respective programming, part five of ‘The Verdict so far’ series brings us to the UK television ratings. Which is, quite simply, a measure of Formula 1’s popularity. Have Formula 1’s ratings dropped further since 2012, or have they rebounded? In this blog post, we shall find out the answer.

Before I start though, again it is worth reiterating figures I use. All of the figures in the blog are programme averages, unless stated otherwise. This is because these are the figures most readily available, and I do not have industry access to the viewing figures. Therefore, I am relying purely on the figures I already have and those that are reported in the public domain. I also have the Formula 1 viewing figures going back to the early 1990’s, those can be sourced from Broadcast magazine. All figures in this particular piece are official consolidated ratings from BARB, which include recordings within seven days.

For those of you that haven’t followed my ratings, we have seen since 2000 three ‘phases’. Phase 1, from 2000 to 2006 saw ratings drop from 4 million viewers to under 3 million viewers thanks to the lack of British interest and Michael Schumacher’s dominance. With Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button on the horizon, and Formula 1 returning to BBC, meant that phase 2 from 2007 to 2011 saw ratings rise, from just over 3 million viewers to 4.6 million viewers. Phase 3 is simply 2012. Ratings dropped half a million between 2011 and 2012. Whilst the change of broadcasting rights was definitely one reason, as I outlined in my 2012 piece at the end of last year, the ‘Summer of sport’ in this country was another factor which has to be accounted for.

Official ratings from BARB show that, as it stands, 2012 was a blip. So far, Formula 1 is rating in between 2010 and 2011’s mid-season average and is back to the viewing figure levels pre-2012. As always, the figures comprise of:

– Sky live and BBC highlights
– Sky live, BBC live and BBC re-run (Asian based races)
– Sky and BBC live (non-Asian based races)

However, it is not all rosy. Further analysis shows that, versus the same races last season, BBC’s Formula 1 ratings have increased 21 percent, whilst Sky Sports F1’s ratings have dropped 9 percent.

– BBC F1 (3.18 million vs 3.83 million)
– Sky Sports F1 (699,000 vs 638,000)

The Sky drop is further reflected in their channel reach, which has dropped half a million during live race weeks this year:

Sky Sports F1′ s weekly viewership reach at the half way point of the 2013 season. Source: BARB.
Sky Sports F1′ s weekly viewership reach at the half way point of the 2013 season. Source: BARB.

As the graph shows, only two races for them this season have increased in terms of reach, Monaco, one of their exclusive races, and Hungary due to no Olympics clash. Regarding programme averages for them, only Britain, Monaco and Hungary have increased. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find many positives for Sky as the picture is mainly decreases. Overall, the 2013 season is currently averaging 4.47 million viewers, or 4.70 million viewers when taking into account Sky’s long programming length.

– 2009 – 4.38 million
– 2010 – 4.41 million
– 2011 – 4.62 million
– 2012 – 3.89 million / 4.10 million
– 2013 – 4.47 million / 4.70 million

Typically, viewing figures drop in the second half of the season due to the run of Asian based races, whilst Belgian and Italy tend to be low too. Nevertheless, the headline figures are very, very positive. If you were to look at the first ten races of previous seasons, then you get:

Averages (Aus, Mal, Chn, Bah, Spa, Mon, Can, GB, Ger, Hun)
– 2009 – 4.30 million
– 2010 – 4.63 million
– 2011 – 4.86 million
– 2012 – 3.82 million / 4.06 million
– 2013 – 4.47 million / 4.70 million

Which places 2013 between 2010 and 2011 as I noted earlier. I expect 2013 to drop like 2010 and 2011 did, to end up with a season average of around 4.20 million / 4.50 million. The only reason 2009 increased towards the end of the year was because of Jenson Button, whilst the first half of 2012 was hurt by other sporting events as I’ve said multiple times. However, if Lewis Hamilton does put up a title fight, the figures of the season so far could be maintained.

Now, some people will rightfully say “yeah, but Germany was inflated by Wimbledon, so in reality 2013 is not up versus 2012”. Removing Germany takes the average down to 4.30 million / 4.53 million viewers. So at this stage it makes some difference, but come the end of the season, it will mean an increase of about 0.1 million to the total average, which is not a significant amount in the grand scheme of things.

If we are to compare further back, using data from 2000 onwards for Australia, Spain, Monaco, Britain and Hungary, we see the following:

Averages for the above five races
– 2000 – 4.29 million
– 2001 – 3.83 million
– 2002 – 3.49 million
– 2003 – 3.37 million
– 2004 – 2.99 million
– 2005 – 3.09 million
– 2006 – 2.58 million
– 2007 – 3.52 million
– 2008 – 4.12 million
– 2009 – 4.31 million
– 2010 – 4.54 million
– 2011 – 4.74 million
– 2012 – 3.79 million / 3.98 million
– 2013 – 3.95 million / 4.16 million

Interestingly, while that does show an increase, the increase is not as severe as the main headline figure. I think, in every season, some Formula 1 ratings have good luck and bad luck attached to them, and at the end of the year, it balances it all out. By the above measure, ratings are up versus 2012, but not as much as I said above.

A similar method would be to look at the first ten races only of the season:

Averages for the first ten races
– 2006 – 2.85 million
– 2007 – 3.66 million
– 2008 – 3.74 million
– 2009 – 4.36 million
– 2010 – 4.45 million
– 2011 – 4.66 million
– 2012 – 3.88 million / 4.12 million
– 2013 – 4.47 million / 4.70 million

At this point, no matter how many averages you take, the overriding point is that viewing figures are up versus last year. Are they near to 2011? It appears so, but the full picture will emerge as the season progresses, and more importantly if a title fight emerges. I’m pleased to see ratings increase, it is never a good sight to see ratings drop, so I’m happy to see a turn in the right direction. What is interesting is that all of the increase is due to the BBC. The move to sacrifice screening Monaco live has paid off dividends, it meant that they could pick Canada as a live race and being in primetime meant higher viewing figures for the latter.

Another brilliant move of their behalf was choosing Germany as a highlights race. It meant a combined average of 6 million viewers, which is unheard of for Formula 1 today. It is with BBC where the viewers lie, and clearly there is a section of the audience who have decided not to view Sky live this season and instead settle with the highlights. Cost? Who knows. I suspect it is one of the reasons. If everyone with the HD Pack and no Sports Pack has a nasty surprise in the off-season, then Sky’s figures could drop further. Unfortunately that is what the viewing figures show. I may be called “anti-Sky” for saying that about Sky’s figures, but the figures do not lie.

Although there is still half of the season ahead, and viewing figures could drop substantially, I think the recovery proves that the Olympics was a major factor in Formula 1’s ratings dropping. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – even if every Formula 1 race last year was live on BBC I think ratings would have dropped. Without stating the obvious, 2012 was a big, big year for the UK and Formula 1 just was not a part of that, nothing was going to change that fact. The only surprise for me was the severity of the drop. But, it is good to see ratings back up. How much are they up, we will know the answer at the end of the season.

Qualifying also recovered from 2012, and surprisingly an average of 2.88 million so far means that it is the most watched Qualifying ‘season’ so far since records began. That surprises me a lot. Aside from Britain, which averaged 2.36 million viewers on BBC and Sky, every Qualifying programme has recorded an average above 2.6 million viewers, which is a fantastic achievement when you consider only five years ago the average was less than 2 million. Of course, it goes without saying that some race weekends had Qualifying on the fringes of primetime, but that should not take away from the above.

Outside of the main sessions, practice remained level with last year, whilst The F1 Show increased slightly, but the averages remain below 100,000 viewers. GP2 has increased from 34,000 to 38,000 for its feature and sprint races, GP3 has remained at 21,000 viewers for its average. Unfortunately, the signs of life that the support races have shown are few and far in between. That is it for the mid-Summer verdict on the blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the pieces, and as always comments are welcome.

Note: All the figures quoted here are the averages for the whole race programme, not the race average as these figures are unavailable. Figures are official figures from BARB and Broadcast magazine. While I have made comparisons and analysis of figures, I should note that I do not have every single ratings figure. The figures for that races that I am missing are:

1992 – Australia, San Marino, France, Portugal, Japan (live and both for AUS, JPN)
1993 – France (live), Japan (highlights)
1994 – Pacific (highlights), San Marino, France, Hungary, Japan (live)
1995 – Australia, Argentina, San Marino, Spain, Japan (all live)
1996 – Canada, Japan (all live)
1997 – Japan (live)
1998 – Australia,France, Japan (all live)
2000 – Malaysia (live and re-run), Japan (live)
2001 – Japan (live)
2003 – Malaysia; Japan (both live)
2004 – China (live)

If anyone is reading and has any of them ratings, leave a comment.

Scheduling: The 2013 Belgian Grand Prix

After a four week Summer break, F1 is back! The drivers and teams head to the Ardennes forest in Belgium for the Belgian Grand Prix from Spa. The race starts the second half of the Formula 1 season with nine races in 13 weeks. Before you know it, it will all be over. Both BBC and Sky are live this weekend, so expect the usual full line-ups from both sides.

Alongside their usual Classic races, Sky are also broadcasting a three-part Lost Generation series, which I have outlined below. Also, in a moment of brilliance, MotoGP clashes with the F1 again, it is not a direct clash as the MotoGP race is in the F1 build-up, but still frustrating if you want to keep track of everything. The day is rounded off with the IndyCar Series from Sonoma, with coverage on ESPN UK.

Saturday 17th August
20:00 to 20:40 – F1: 1985 Belgian Grand Prix Highlights (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from Murray Walker and James Hunt
– repeated on Friday 23rd August at 12:05

Sunday 18th August
20:00 to 22:15 – F1: 1998 Belgian Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from Murray Walker and Martin Brundle
– repeated on Sunday 25th August at 06:05

Monday 19th August
19:30 to 20:00 – The Lost Generation (1/3) (Sky Sports F1)
– focussing on Roger Williamson
20:00 to 22:00 – F1: 2000 Belgian Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from Murray Walker and Martin Brundle
– repeated on Friday 23rd August at 18:00

Tuesday 20th August
19:30 to 20:00 – The Lost Generation (2/3) (Sky Sports F1)
– focussing on Tony Brise
20:00 to 22:00 – F1: 2008 Belgian Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from James Allen and Martin Brundle
– repeated on Saturday 24th August at 17:15

Wednesday 21st August
19:30 to 20:00 – The Lost Generation (3/3) (Sky Sports F1)
– focussing on Tom Pryce
20:00 to 22:00 – F1: 2010 Belgian Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle
– repeated on Sunday 25th August at 20:15

Thursday 22nd August
14:00 to 14:45 – F1: Driver Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
19:45 to 20:00 – Gear Up for Belgium (Sky Sports F1)

Friday 23rd August
08:45 to 11:00 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1)
08:55 to 10:35 – F1: Practice 1 (BBC Two)
11:00 to 11:35 – GP2: Practice (Sky Sports F1)
12:45 to 14:50 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
12:50 to 14:35 – F1: Practice 2 (BBC Two)
14:50 to 15:35 – GP2: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
16:15 to 17:00 – F1: Team Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)
21:00 to 21:45 – F1: 1955 Belgian Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– repeated on Saturday 24th August at 11:15

Saturday 24th August
08:45 to 09:20 – GP3: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
09:45 to 11:10 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1)
09:55 to 11:05 – F1: Practice 3 (BBC Two)
12:00 to 14:35 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
12:10 to 14:15 – F1: Qualifying (BBC One)
14:35 to 16:00 – GP2: Race 1 (Sky Sports F1)
16:15 to 17:05 – GP3: Race 1 (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Sunday 25th August
08:20 to 09:05 – GP3: Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)
09:30 to 10:35 – GP2: Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)
11:30 to 13:00 – MotoGP: Brno (BBC Two)
11:30 to 16:15 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1)
12:10 to 15:15 – F1: Race (BBC One)
15:15 to 16:15 – F1: Forum (BBC Red Button)
16:15 to 17:00 – GP Uncovered: 1958 Belgian Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
21:00 to 00:00 – IndyCars: Sonoma (ESPN)

Wednesday 28th August
19:30 to 20:00 – Midweek Report (Sky Sports F1)

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

Sky Sports F1’s output: The 2013 Verdict so far

Part 4 of ‘The Verdict so far’ series brings me to look at Sky Sports F1’s output so far this year. The first two pieces looked at each member of the BBC and Sky Sports F1 teams as I focussed on the stronger and weaker areas of their line-ups. Part three looked at BBC F1’s output, suggesting ways that they could improve their programming further. This part looks at Sky Sports F1’s output, whilst part five will move away from analysis. Part five will look at the ratings picture and compare with 2012, to see if ratings have increased or decreased since this time last year.

Throughout a race weekend, Sky Sports F1 produces:

5 hours and 45 minutes – Practice 1, 2 and 3
2 hours and 35 minutes – Qualifying programme
4 hours and 45 minutes – Race programme
60 minutes – The F1 Show
45 minutes – Gear Up… and Ted’s Notebook

This totals 14 hours and 50 minutes of programming. It compares with 12 hours and 15 minutes of programming during a live race weekend for BBC. Note that neither GP2 or GP3, or the Press Conferences are included in the total above as Sky do not produce them programmes, they take the direct World Feed without any ‘colour’ around them.

From the beginning of 2012, Sky Sports have dedicated fifteen minutes pre-session to practice. Practice 1 and 2 have been hosted by Simon Lazenby whilst practice three on Saturday mornings has this season been hosted by Natalie Pinkham (last year Georgie Thompson). There tends to be about 15 to 20 minutes of discussion after the Friday practice sessions, however, only three to five minutes after practice three, with Sky continuing their ‘rush off the air’ technique. The latter is particularly frustrating, especially if an incident worth talking about takes place towards the end of that session.

An addition this year is Ted Kravitz’s Development Corner, which we have seen from time to time after practice one. Kravitz, on the Sky Pad, takes us through the latest technical developments as well as comparing different designs. It is definitely one of their better additions during the race weekends this year. Apart from that, there is not much to talk about, as not much has changed in terms of pre and post practice sessions for Sky, the producers choosing to keep to the same approach as 2012. I do wish, and this applies for Qualifying too, it seamlessly linked into GP2, but unfortunately for the moment it seems that particular boat has passed.

The major change comes during the actual session. Whilst it is true that Formula One Management (FOM) control the World Feed, the restrictions placed upon Sky have decreased for 2013. Last year, Sky were able to cut away from the World Feed during practice, but it had to be a full screen cut away to their own footage, they were not allowed to go picture-in-picture or anything similar to that. This season, Sky have a lot more freedom, they are allowed to go split-screen and are allowed to have their own captions over FOM’s World Feed where necessary. The captions are very useful, as it means we are treated with Mark Hughes’ predictions heading into each session which are insightful from time to time. The split-screen though is overused. In my opinion, only show us things we need to see! Cutting to split-screen every two minutes is quite annoying, especially as sometimes it doesn’t show us anything in particular. I do like the split-screen, but it can be unnecessary.

The F1 Show
The F1 Show continued this season on Friday evenings, with Ted Kravitz alongside Natalie Pinkham. I noted many times last year how for me The F1 Show was the strongest part of the line-up because of Kravitz’s presenting alongside Georgie Thompson, the two gelled together extremely well, and the show flowed nicely from the get go. It was therefore unfortunate when it was noticed that Pinkham would be taking over Thompson’s role for this season. I know some people disagree with me, but as a presenter I prefer Thompson compared to Pinkham. So far this season, I have seen nothing to change my assessment on that.

The show is still definitely worth watching, and produces some fantastic features, such as the Lost Generations mini-series, but I am not warming to Pinkham as a presenter. With Pinkham as presenter it feels too light hearted and bubbly, whereas with Thompson you could get serious discussion going as well as the light hearted bits in between. Kravitz is still great as the main presenter, and I really hope that doesn’t change any time soon. I’m not really open to the thought of Simon Lazenby taking over the role because as we seen during the audience special a few weeks back it leads to too much back slapping, whereas Kravitz does not really get involved with that, and rightfully so.

Although I enjoy it, I do think sometimes that it should be a TV version of The Racer’s Edge. The Racer’s Edge has some time constraints, but doesn’t feel rushed and lets the guest finish whatever point they are making, whereas on The F1 Show everything has to be fitted into an hour. I do wish they extended it to 90 minutes, have 70 minutes on the main features then take viewers questions from Twitter. None of this ‘send in your video clips’, just questions and answers. It worked well in the last twenty minutes each week on Ford Monday Night Football last season, so why not do it on The F1 Show? I should note: I do enjoy The F1 Show as it is, and have no problem with the current format, except I think now is the time to move it up a notch and make it more relaxed and less formulaic on a weekly basis. A move to Thursday evenings may help in that respect, as you’re more likely to get your core audience watching on Thursday evenings than Fridays.

As in 2012, Sky dedicate an hours build-up to Qualifying with a 90 minute build-up for the race, both fronted by Simon Lazenby. The Qualifying build-up is largely similar to that of BBC, as the run time is similar. With that in mind, the structure as you would expect, and that hasn’t changed for 2013. The structure they use for their race programme has changed slightly, though. The first half an hour of the programme is now mostly on the track parade with Natalie Pinkham interviewing the drivers, albeit in a FOM role rather than a Sky role. It is something that has definitely been worth adding into the programme and I’m glad they chose to go down that route.

Unfortunately, the ad breaks are still a pain for the races that Sky broadcast exclusively live. In my view, they should adopt the same advert policy for every race weekend, but I don’t think that will happen any time soon. As time goes on though I guess they will become less of a nuisance in the race build-ups and viewers will accept it. The VT’s are a bit of a mis-match here and there. Some are good, whereas others I do find cringeworthy. Yes, it is good to see them trying new things but sometimes it does not come across well on screen. Some of the introduction VT’s fall into this category, I know I fall in the minority here based on the Twitter comments, but I’m not a fan of the poetry ones. As with everything here, it is personal preference and taste, so each to their own.

In terms of discussion, the fact that the line-up has settled down this year has helped a lot and has led to a more chat and less of a formulaic questions and answers style from early in 2012. Also, the Sky Pad has become significantly more integrated into the pre-show with it being moved outside. One of the highlights now is seeing the pole man taking Brundle around his lap on the Sky Pad. It is definitely good that it is the driver taking us around the lap, telling us about the moments he is having and where the time is won or lost instead of us being told that by someone else, as has been the case for many years.

Following each race, Sky Sports F1 is on air for about 90 minutes until between 16:00 and 16:30. The length is the same as what it was last year, but they have filled the time better this year in my opinion. Last year I felt the post show dragged and that it did not flow as well, this being down to Lazenby’s inexperience where Formula 1 was concerned. This has improved significantly for 2013, with Lazenby settling down and looking much more comfortable during the shows. It probably helps in this respect that I think BBC’s post-race coverage has got worse this year as I explained in my previous piece, Sky’s post-race is probably now equal, if not better than BBC’s.

Alongside the usual post-race interviews, Ted Kravitz’s Notebook has continued as part of the post-session wrap up on race day. His Qualifying Notebook is later on in the schedule, it would be sensible in my view to stick it on live between GP2 and GP3 instead of filler so that viewers have something to watch in between the two races. The Sky Pad has also become an integral part of the post-race show with Anthony Davidson analysing the race. Arguably, as I alluded to above, Sky’s post-race is more analytical than BBC’s and in my view digs deeper into the race than the latter.

At this point, I do not think that there are many ways for Sky to improve the way they present the post-race debrief. The only thing I would say is for Sky to get rid of the VT’s that they wrap around the breaks, this would allow them a few extra minutes of analysis or maybe to interview another driver live. The team radio pieces are good to lead into the break though, I will give them that. I’ll end this little block by talking about their Malaysian Grand Prix post-race show. That hour after the race was probably one of the best post-race shows that I have seen, and that is saying a lot. I also think that hour shown that Sky are not afraid to go off their usual approach.

Other programming
When analysing Sky’s coverage this season, what some people tend to forget is that their coverage actually began in February. At first, it seemed like Sky were going to show no testing coverage, or at least that is what their provisional schedules suggested. That soon changed, with a 15-minute round-up each day along with Ted Kravitz’s Notebook after each days proceedings being added to the schedule. More impressively though, Sky managed to twist FOM’s arm, so that they allowed Sky to film and broadcast the final test live, and in 3D. Ignoring the last bit, as 3D in my eyes is a gimmick, having testing live was very important for Sky, as it allowed them to fill the channel with content ahead of the new season. I enjoyed it to dip in and out of. Will they do it again in 2014? I hope so, as arguably that pre-season will be the teams’ most important in recent years.

It goes without saying that, as Sky Sports F1 is a channel and not a programme, you would expect to see a significant amount of programming in-between races. Thankfully, that area has improved for 2013. In 2012, the channel was missing some key features, such as Classic F1 races notably not in the schedules. For 2013 though, Sky are showing five classic races in the build-up to every race weekend. It is these classic races that help whet the appetite ahead of a race weekend. Their GP Uncovered series, ranging from the 1950 to 1970s has also featured in the build-up to the more traditional races, such as Monaco and Britain. The inclusion of these this year is definitely a plus.

The Midweek Report has began this season on Sky. Initially online, it was moved to a Wednesday slot at 19:00 on Sky Sports F1, which made sense, there is little point producing programming only for online. Presented by Anna Woolhouse, she is joined by two guests to review the previous race. It is good for what it is (clearly on a shoe-string budget against a green screen), although I admit that I have not watched every edition. Alongside the above, the F1 Legends series with Steve Rider has continued, whilst ‘Architects of F1’ has also began. I say began, it is basically the same programme, just under a different banner with different people. Saying that, the edition with Max Mosley was definitely worth a watch. Elsewhere, we have the GP2 and GP3 Series also on the channel, which Sky to their credit have been mentioning more on The F1 Show recently. I just hope that sometime in the future, it is more integrated into the weekend schedules and maybe given a presenter so it can build more of an audience.

One problem though with the majority of the other programming is promotion. It is still a problem, and a major problem. It did improve at the start of the season, but they appear to have fallen back into the trap of failing to promote. Take the Architects of F1 programme with Max Mosley. It was a fantastic programme, with some interesting quotes from Mosley. Why not run some quotes online and put them into an article, try and generate some discussion around the programme? Anything to try and get more people watching. At the moment it seems that one side is badly letting down the entire channel and depleting the ratings in the progress. Which is sad to see, as outside of race weekends the channel has produced some fantastic programming which is not being recognised sometimes.

The reality is, so far this season it has been about settling down for Sky, getting into a rhythm now that they are firmly into their contract. The main developments have been into trying to build their schedule further so it looks like a proper channel. The weekend coverage will tweak over time, but is now set in stone. In the first two parts of ‘The Verdict so far’ series, I have looked at each member of both the BBC and Sky Sports F1 teams. Parts 3 and 4 looked at their respective programming. There is only one part for me to look at. The ratings. Have they improved on 2012, or have they dropped even further? The final blog piece will be up next week.