Motor sport ratings (week ending 8th September, 2013)

 It is another week in the world of BARB, and after a brief hiatus in Belgium, we have Sky Sports F1 ratings! Phew. The Italian Grand Prix race programme officially averaged 476,000 viewers, up 19,000 viewers from the overnight rating. Comparisons with 2012 where this is concerned are largely invalid because of course Sky screened the race exclusively live last year. BBC’s airing of the race fell outside of the top 30.

Elsewhere on Sky Sports F1:

369,000 – Live Qualifying (Saturday, 12:00)
96,000 – Live Practice 3 (Saturday, 09:45)
67,000 – Live GP2 Race 1 (Saturday, 14:35)
53,000 – 1995 Italian Grand Prix Highlights (Saturday, 11:15)
—> see below for why the above is not entirely accurate…
51,000 – Live Practice 1 (Friday, 08:45)
46,000 – Live GP3 Race 2 (Saturday, 16:15)
41,000 – Live Practice 2 (Friday, 12:45)

A mixed bag of ratings above. The support races did well, in fact GP3 recorded a record high when comparing with Saturday races only which is fantastic to see! It was the second highest ever Saturday rating for GP2, only beaten by the German Grand Prix free weekend last year. The reason I call this a mixed bag though is because the F1 Legends edition featuring Alain Prost was absent.

Probably one of the most high profile people you will have on there and it fails to muster even 41,000 viewers which is disappointing. I don’t know why Sky via @SkyF1Insider promote an interview being aired tomorrow featuring Prost, but fail to promote an entire programme featuring Prost. That, I’m afraid is Sky logic for you. I know which one is more important for Sky to promote and it is definitely not the piece which will only make up a small portion of a long show…

Finally concerning Sky, the 53,000 viewers for the 1995 Italian Grand Prix highlights is not entirely accurate. Sky during those 45 minutes had major transmission problems, with TX seemingly flicking from the 1995 highlights to various other programming: Gear Up for Italy I think was one and Herbert’s Lemon was the other. It was all a bit of a mess, in all honesty!

Motors TV’s highest rating of 14,000 was for the Irish National Rally Championship, but other than the Formula 1, it was a quiet week in the land of motor sport and UK TV ratings.

Pushing along new innovations

Occasionally, from time to time, the people who control the World Feed (Formula One Management), are criticised, for a variety of reasons. This can vary from missing that crucial race winning moment or just simply providing a stale output. By ‘stale’ I mean sticking to the same old approach race after race, such as the usual start replays which tend to appear on lap 3, typically just after DRS is activated! Camera angles is another one. Compared to the Formula 1 of past, the majority of camera angles nowadays are designed to fit in as many adverts as humanely possibly. Sometimes, I do feel that the speed, and the sense of direction is not captured as well as it could have, due to camera angles being placed specifically to fit commercial and advertising needs.

This has led to virtual advertising. For the most part, this is fine. However, on occasion, it can lead to it being too obvious.

Fly Emirates: An example from FOM on how not to do virtual advertising...
Fly Emirates: An example from FOM on how not to do virtual advertising…

The image above is from Silverstone at Luffields. My motto tends to be that, where possible, the car should be the focus of the shot. Whether it is car racing towards you, or a change of direction as I alluded to at the start. For me, I don’t think that either of the two apply in the image above. The Fly Emirates advertising dominates the image and is in fact a complete distraction away from what my eyes are meant to be looking at. Deliberate? Possibly. I’m not a particular fan of these. The virtual advertisements that are subtle are the best. Yes, it means that I still spot them, but at the same point they end up not being a dominating part of the image as is the case above.

For all the criticism though, I do feel that FOM have made some significant strides forward this season where innovation is concerned. The first main one for me is helmet cam. First seen back at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix on David Coulthard’s car (albeit for only two corners), the innovation has been seen significantly more this season in Valtteri Bottas’ car. As always, it is a joy to have the helmet cam to see just how much work goes on behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car, and is probably one of the more important strides forward, I feel. Furthermore, the helmet cam has made its way down to GP3 with the camera being attached to Daniil Kvyat’s helmet, which I think is important as it gives the series more of an importance if innovations are being used further ‘down the chain’.

...but for every criticism, there is a positive, this being one of them from Monza.
…but for every criticism, there is a positive, this being one of them from Monza.

The recent pit lane changes by FIA as a result of the bouncing tyre at the Nurburgring meant that FOM cameramen were restricted to the pit lane wall during Qualifying and the Race. Instead of just keeping it at that, FOM decided to attach cameras to team personnel and the traffic lights pole, in one case. This resulted in some fantastic images being beamed around the world from the Monza pit lane as viewers got up close and personal with the pit crews as they were fast and frantic at work. The two examples last weekend with Red Bull and Ferrari, so I hope that continues for the remainder of the season.

The last innovation worth a mention has to be Paul di Resta’s thermal imaging tyre camera, which was frankly fantastic last weekend. I hope that the thermal imaging looking at the tyres doesn’t turn out to be a one hit wonder, and again I hope we do see it again before the end of the year. The only thing I think that needs to be added down the line is maybe some sort of temperature gauge to show how hot the orange colours really are, for example. In the past, there have been many innovations that have been thrown to the dustbin, and I hope that doesn’t happen here.

It has been a good patch though for FOM where innovations are concerned and I think that needs to be noted. Yes, there are bits which need to improve, but overall it has been a job well done by the whole production team recently. Now all we need is for their social media team (if they have one?) to get their act today, then we will all be happy bunnies.

All images, copyright Formula One Management, 2013.

Getting the ‘exclusive’

With a lot of rumours in the Formula 1 paddock at this time of the year, inevitably when things are concerned we get to see which journalists are right, which ones were wrong and who broke what exclusives, and crucially got the details correct. Now, you may be wondering “does it matter”? To the fans, who are reading the news, probably not. But to the journalists themselves, I would say that it does matter. Journalists, in their nature, exist to get a big story, to get that story that the rest of the fleet have been looking for. After all, getting exclusives drives internet traffic, it drives social media, it can, if you are a relatively small company drive the entire business.

Those that can remember back to Monaco will remember both Jonathan Noble and Andrew Benson, for AUTOSPORT and BBC respectively breaking the Mercedes “tyre gate” exclusive. It means a lot to journalists to get the story. So, imagine if you had a reporter or a journalist who has broken that exclusive, to look and find another website actually claiming to have an exclusive that is not theirs. In the case of Sky Sports F1, they have done that twice in the recent weeks. I know that I have been critical of them in the past, but unfortunately this past week, it is evident that they have been shouting from the rooftops about their own team bringing viewers ‘exclusives’ that were broken by another paddock journalist beforehand.

The first is Natalie Pinkham claiming David Croft “got the scoop” on Rob Smedley, Felipe Massa and Ross Brawn going to Williams. 96 people retweeted that, possibly for the detail, it is just a pity the bit about getting the scoop is far from the mark. If that actually turns out to be true then Ted Kravitz and also Autosprint deserve the credit. Kravitz noted Brawn going to Williams as early as last Sunday, whilst Autosprint on Thursday put the linked article online. So again, I am unsure Sky got the exclusive. It is not just Sky who do this though. Not necessarily with exclusives but ripping off other website’s articles. On the morning of September 5th, AUTOSPORT published a 2014 draft calendar. This then appeared on just about every other Formula 1 website imaginable. Many credited or linked the original source which is fine, but there are websites which just took the calendar and passed it off as their own, original journalism.

Finally, Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari. On August 1st, Pekka Franck (a Finnish journalist) broke the story on the SuomiF1 website. So Franck had the scoop, many weeks before the British journalists who swarm the paddock. This did not stop Johnny Herbert, David Croft and Pete Gill in this article claiming that their own Mark Hughes that the exclusive! Hughes, as well as his Sky duties works for AUTOSPORT, but thankfully AUTOSPORT employees on Twitter did not post about Hughes supposedly getting an exclusive. You could claim that Sky did not know about Franck breaking the story given that he is not a British based journalist. By that measure, I’m still not sure Hughes was the first.

I go back to the question I posed at the start of this post: “does it matter”? It is all about journalistic standards. If you are getting news from another website and basically doing a Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V job then in the very least you should be accrediting them and saying “yeah, I took X from Y, but am adding my Z bit of analysis and thoughts to it”. In Sky’s case, it is ripping off another journalists work and claiming it as their own – albeit not as an article, but in tweet form. Bad standards, in my view. And in the first attempt, it feels like an attempt to fuel someone’s ego. Deliberately? Who knows. But I don’t think, in the past year and a half I have seen Sky genuinely get an earth shattering Formula 1 exclusive on the scale of the Mercedes tyre fiasco or the Raikkonen contract or do an Eddie Jordan. In the words of Marc Priestley: “Finding it hilarious how many people seem to claim to have ‘broken’ the news first. It’s brilliant.”

Maybe “Sky sources” just don’t exist in the Formula 1 paddock meaning that they have to take other journalists exclusives and claim them as their own…

Update on April 5th, 2014 – It looks like I have a good reason to update this today. Sky Sports during their practice coverage AND also The F1 Show last night were hyping a ‘Mercedes exclusive’ with Martin Brundle and Mark Hughes. The feature played out during the Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying show. Whilst there was no problem with the feature itself, in fact it was informative, and definitely did a great job at explaining the advantages of the split turbo, it actually wasn’t an exclusive!

Craig Scarborough did a feature on it with Peter Windsor for The Racer’s Edge before Melbourne, whilst Racecar Engineering mentioned it after the first test in Jerez! So, in other words, Sky’s exclusive has already been in the public domain for two months (worryingly, Scarborough says its not even accurate). As we can see from the original article before the update, Sky have history in claiming exclusives that are not always there. If Sky want an exclusive early, why don’t they actually get Scarborough, or someone from Racecar Engineering onto their coverage to explain it? Hopefully I’m not adding to this before the end of 2014…

Blog announcement

Yes, it is that time of the year again, where The F1 Broadcasting Blog makes a blog announcement. Which can only mean one thing. I am afraid that blog activity from tomorrow will be decreasing. However, the reasons behind the decreasing activity are slightly different this year. Instead of going to complete my University degree, I will be heading onto an industrial placement for the next nine months. Before I get asked, it is not a broadcasting or motor sport related placement, I hasten to add! Although I am very much looking forward to it.

What this does mean is that I will not be blogging as much, and I’d expect blog pieces to be restricted to scheduling and ratings. I will try and get an opinion piece in here or there, but it may not always be possible, we will have to see how it goes, and in some cases where I have written opinions, I’ll schedule them to go in ‘gaps’. I have written a few pieces over the weekend, which will be going live on the blog in the forthcoming weeksa. The blog will keep running, just at a slower pace compared to the past few months. As always, I am astounded by the amount of interest in the blog, and it is a pleasure to hear that the blog is being read by figures within the paddock and by experts.

Since April 2012, the blog has amassed nearly a quarter of a million views with over two thousand Twitter followers. I’ve said it before, but those are staggering numbers for what is an F1 Broadcasting blog. Thanks for reading!

Owner and Writer of The F1 Broadcasting Blog

Scheduling: The 2013 Singapore Grand Prix

The Formula 1 season continues in full force with the first of the Asian fly away races – which takes the paddock from Singapore to Korea onto Japan and finally India and Abu Dhabi. The weekend’s action is exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, with BBC One showing highlights later in the evening. Unfortunately for BBC viewers, even with no Singapore Sling, the race is still likely to border the two hours, meaning that they will only just get over half of the race.

I haven’t mentioned the BBC Radio practice three times below as they are actually wrong so I’ll update the below once the schedule is amended (Update on 19th Sept – its disappeared completely now…). Allan McNish’s last race with the team was in Italy so I don’t expect to see him in their coverage again this year. Over on Sky, F1 Legends this week features Eddie Irvine. Some people I noticed were unimpressed with the words ‘Irvine’ and ‘Legend’ in the same sentence, but even so, I’m looking forward to this one and may end up being one of the more interesting editions.

In terms of personnel, Natalie Pinkham will not be with the Sky team meaning Rachel Brookes will be presenting alongside Ted Kravitz. Anthony Davidson is also not in Singapore, so Karun Chandhok is on Sky Pad duties. It also seems that Mika Hakkinen and Alain Prost will be appearing in some on-air capacity over the weekend.

Sunday 15th September
20:00 to 22:45 – F1: 2008 Singapore Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from James Allen and Martin Brundle
– repeated on Friday 20th September at 07:00

Monday 16th September
20:00 to 22:45 – F1: 2009 Singapore Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle
– repeated on Saturday 21st September at 15:45

Tuesday 17th September
20:00 to 22:45 – F1: 2010 Singapore Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle
– repeated on Saturday 21st September at 22:30

Wednesday 18th September
20:00 to 22:45 – F1: 2011 Singapore Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
– commentary from Martin Brundle and David Coulthard
– repeated on Sunday 22nd September at 20:15

Thursday 19th September
11:00 to 11:45 – F1: Driver Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
21:00 to 22:00 – F1: Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
21:30 to 21:45 – Gear Up for Singapore (Sky Sports F1)

Friday 20th September
09:45 to 10:20 – GP2: Practice (Sky Sports F1)
10:45 to 12:55 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1)
10:55 to 12:35 – F1: Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
12:55 to 13:40 – GP2: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
14:15 to 16:15 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
14:25 to 16:05 – F1: Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
16:15 to 17:00 – F1: Team Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
18:30 to 19:30 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Saturday 21st September
09:00 to 10:25 – GP2: Race 1 (Sky Sports F1)
10:45 to 12:10 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1)
13:00 to 15:45 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
14:15 to 15:05 – F1: Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14:50 to 15:02 – F1: Qualifying 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live)
17:15 to 18:30 – F1: Qualifying Highlights (BBC One)
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Sunday 22nd September
09:05 to 10:10 – GP2: Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)
11:30 to 16:15 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1)
13:00 to 15:00 – F1: Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)
16:15 to 17:15 – Legends: Eddie Irvine (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 to 18:30 – F1: Race Highlights (BBC One)

Wednesday 25th September
19:00 to 19:30 – Midweek Report (Sky Sports F1)

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