Survey: Your Formula 1 2014 television viewing habits

Last year, I did a poll on this blog looking at blog readers Formula 1 television viewing habits. The poll was successful, with around 200 responses. I released the results in April and did some analysis. A year on since then, and now heading into year three of the current BBC and Sky contract, I thought it would be a good idea to replicate the poll to see what has changed, and if anything has changed drastically.

For those that did this last year, the questions are largely similar, but there are a few minor differences.

Q1: Where do you currently reside?
Q2: Have your viewing habits or situation changed between 2013 and 2014?
Q3: What pay-TV platform do you subscribe to?
Q4: BSkyB subscribers: What is your status regarding Sky Sports F1?
Q5: Virgin Media subscribers: What is your status regarding Sky Sports F1?
Q6: What shows on Sky Sports F1 have you watched?
Q7: How did you consume Formula 1 in 2013? [Sky live races]
Q8: How do you plan to consume Formula 1 in 2014? [Sky live races]
Q9: How did you consume Formula 1 in 2013? [BBC and Sky live races]
Q10: How do you plan to consume Formula 1 in 2014? [BBC and Sky live races]
Q11: BBC F1 – 2013 vs 2014
Q12: Sky Sports F1 – 2013 vs 2014
Q13: Have the changes to the BBC team made you…
Q14: Have the changes to the Sky Sports F1 team made you…
Q15: Sky Sports F1 as a standalone channel: the price per month?
Q16: Further comments

Questions 1 through to 3 are overview questions, whilst questions 4 to 10 drill down into your individual consumption of Formula 1. After that are the BBC and Sky Sports F1 year-on-year comparisons for questions 11 to 14. A new addition concerns the possibility of having Sky Sports F1 as a standalone channel. I personally would be interested in such an option, but I’m interested in seeing how much blog readers would be willing to pay for it realistically.

Note that if you live outside of the United Kingdom, you will be taken straight to Question 16, where you are welcome to write some comments on the broadcasting situation in your country. There are also branches throughout, no one should see both questions 4 and 5. If anyone does spot any issues, do let me know. And as noted, comments made there may be used when analysing the results in a future blog post. If there are many comments from international readers, then I may do a future post around that subject.

The survey can be found here. The results will be published in mid-April 2014.

ITV4 wins rights to screen MotoGP highlights

ITV4 is to screen MotoGP highlights throughout the 2014 season, The F1 Broadcasting Blog can confirm.

The channel, beginning with Qatar, will be screening highlights shows from Monday 24th March at 20:00. This will continue throughout the remainder of the season, with the highlights shows also being uploaded to the ITV Player. The announcement bolsters ITV’s motor sport portfolio even further, from the Isle of Man TT, onto the British Touring Car Championship and now MotoGP. I assume this will be a package provided by Dorna, a bit like the World Rally Championship, rather than an ITV created package.

Last May, BT Sport were announced as the exclusive rights holders to screen the MotoGP World Championship from 2014 through to and including 2018, along with the feeder Moto2 and Moto3 series’. On several occasions, I pressed Dorna, asking why they were, in my opinion, “shrinking the audience by potentially 75 percent if not more” with no free to air coverage. Interestingly, the latest BT Sport announcements last month concerning MotoGP still contained this: “BT Sport has a five-year deal with Dorna Sports for exclusive rights to televise motorcycle racing’s premier contest.”

I have no idea what has prompted an almost 180 degree u-turn from Dorna on their stance. Whether this was always the plan, I do not know, however it looks suspect to me that the word ‘exclusive’ is mentioned in every BT Sport announcement, yet that won’t actually be the case. It is great news for the MotoGP fan that cannot afford BT Sport, as it means that there will be some form of free to air coverage available, almost a ‘shop window’ for the championship is the best way I could describe it. Yes, it is not live coverage, but it is better than nothing at all which is what the reality was going to look like.

A statement from ITV will be added to this post either today or on Monday, with hopefully more concrete details.

Update on March 10th – In a statement to The F1 Broadcasting Blog, ITV said “Although we can’t give out schedule information, I can confirm that we do have the rights to the [MotoGP] highlights.” For all MotoGP fans, this is fantastic news, and also welcome news. I would be surprised if we don’t get a press release in the next few days, but we shall see.

Update on March 21st – Press release from ITV can be found here. ITV’s Director of Sport Niall Sloane said: “I’m delighted we will be able to bring viewers live coverage of wheel-to-wheel racing in the world’s most famous cities in Formula E, and the high-octane action of the MotoGP circuit. These new deals, along with those for domestic events, highlight the importance of motorsport to ITV4 and add to the wealth of free to air coverage we’re able to bring motorsport fans throughout the year.”

Update on March 24th – ITV are taking BT’s commentary from Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder, with Gavin Emmett doing voice over. They’re also taking BT Sport’s interviews. The show structure appears to be extended MotoGP highlights for the first 40 minutes, with shorter Moto2 and Moto3 highlights. The programme was indeed a BT Sport production.

New FOM graphics for 2014 and Coulthard gets a tablet

The BBC F1 magazine was released yesterday, and in it contains a few interesting tidbits from BBC F1’s editor, Mark Wilkin.

The first is that, according to Wilkin, we will be getting a complete overhaul of the World Feed, with a new graphics set. Wilkin, speaking to the magazine, said “Together with our Host Broadcast partners, FOM, we have been developing a new graphics package, with much more information. This will enable commentators Ben Edwards and David Coulthard to be aware of what is happening on the track and in the pitlane and to be able to interpret it for the audience.” Given that specific reference is made to Edwards and Coulthard, it is clear to me that Wilkin is referring to the World Feed, although I imagine BBC’s own graphics have been tweaked slightly too.

A new graphics package is not a surprise, 2014 is a ‘new formula’, and it makes sense to overhaul everything from the bare bones upwards from a graphics perspective. It would be the third major iteration in graphics since 2004, the first from 2004 to 2009 was in the form of ‘squares’, with the second, more ‘swoosh’ style from 2010 to 2013. It is not too surprising to see BBC working with FOM on that, and they would not have been the only broadcaster to get involved, Sky would have been involved to along with a host of other foreign broadcasters. Obviously FOM never officially confirm graphic set changes, so I think we will have to wait and see until Australia to see what exactly has changed regarding the graphics, but there will be at least some change anyway.

Meanwhile, BBC have invested in a tablet for David Coulthard to use in the paddock. Wilkin notes that Coulthard “will be able to review footage and control the pictures”, and that the addition will be “a new dimension for the post-qualifying and post-race analysis which promises to be an exciting part of the coverage.” Whilst I am happy that it is in the paddock, and not in a cupboard like Martin Brundle had to suffer in the early part of 2011, this appears to be a rip-off of the Sky Pad. Of course, Sky have ripped off BBC ideas in the past (from the basics back in 2012 vs BBC in 2011) but it doesn’t make it any better. It’ll be interesting to see it on screen though, but whether it is actually a necessity, I don’t know. The last thing we want is for both shows to look and feel identical aside from the talking heads.

Lastly, highlights of the Brazilian Grand Prix appear to be getting a primetime slot. The magazine has a start time of 20:00, presumably both BBC Two, for both days. I expect that this hinges on whether it is a title decider or not, a title decider involving a British driver could see a very late move to BBC One (although this is unlikely), but on the other hand if the title has already been decided then it could well be 22:30. In other words I don’t think this tells us much.

Update on March 14th – Now that practice is taking place, we can see that there is some change, but only minor tweaks. I’ve seen a few people suggest that what I reported was incorrect, I quoted Wilkin who is clearly very high up in the BBC F1 chain! I did add a disclaimer above too “I think we will have to wait and see until Australia to see what exactly has changed regarding the graphics, but there will be at least some change anyway”. It would have been nice to get a complete overhaul, but that is not the case.

Scheduling: The 2014 Australian Grand Prix

It has been over one hundred days since Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to win the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix to close off what was a dominant end of the season for him. Every year, it feels like the Winter is longer than the previous one, despite it being statistically quite the opposite with the Grand Prix season finishing later as the years progress. The rule makers can change things all they want, but one thing remains the same: the excitement that most fans feel when March comes around every year. Formula 1 is back!

If you want to jump straight to the schedule, click the links below…

Thursday 6th March
Friday 7th March
Saturday 8th March
Monday 10th March
Tuesday 11th March
Thursday 13th March
Friday 14th March
Saturday 15th March
Sunday 16th March
Wednesday 19th March
Classic F1

The Australian Grand Prix as always is the traditional curtain opener, as they say, there simply is not a better place for a race. So, what has changed on the broadcasting side of things in the off-season? If you watch Sky Sports F1 throughout the season, you will be glad to know that no one has left, and only one addition in Bruno Senna. Simon Lazenby is back as presenter for a third season, alongside Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert and Anthony Davidson. Senna will be there for seven races, so used in rotation with the three already mentioned. Martin Brundle (entering year 18!) and David Croft remain as commentators, with Natalie Pinkham and Ted Kravitz roving the pit-lane. Steve Rider is also back presenting F1 Legends, and whilst Juan Pablo Montoya may not exactly be deserving of the title ‘F1 Legend’, I am definitely looking forward to that edition, airing in the post-Melbourne slot. I’ve moved all the classic F1 details down the page, for anyone looking for that.

Whilst Sky’s line-up is largely the same, it is made stronger by the fact that BBC have made their line-up, in my opinion, weaker. The trio of Suzi Perry, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard return, Coulthard also joining Ben Edwards again in the commentary box. This is Jordan and Coulthard’s sixth season as pundits, both having been members of the BBC team since they regained the coverage in 2009. It is also Lee McKenzie’s sixth season with the broadcaster, Tom Clarkson joining her in the pit lane. Mark Webber will also be part of the team, but it is unclear whether he will be at any races with the team as it was not mentioned in the press release. However, Gary Anderson has been axed. For those out of the loop, I direct you to the original announcement, his view point on it all, and Ben Gallop’s statement on the matter.

Over on BBC Radio 5 Live, Allan McNish’s role extends so it covers all platforms (although I am not entirely sure how he will factor into BBC TV’s coverage) and more races. Meanwhile James Allen and Jennie Gow return for a third full season. Jack Nicholls will be lead commentator for four races, the first being China. BBC’s TV coverage of Qualifying is on BBC Two due to the Six Nations coverage involving England over on BBC One. For some confusing reason though, repeats bump it out of its 13:00 slot and into a slot that is two hours later. I assume the rationale behind it is so it doesn’t clash with Italy vs England. Instead, it will clash with Wales vs Scotland, and talking of Scotland, viewers up there will get the race one hour later than the other nations and on BBC Two. The final note to make is that Sky have split their shows into three, which first happened in India last year. Of course, whilst there may well be some spinning where ratings are concerned as a result, The F1 Broadcasting Blog promises to lay all things out black and white regarding viewing figures. Hopefully…. here’s the schedule!

Thursday 6th March
21:00 to 22:00 – F1: Season Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday 7th March
20:00 to 21:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)

Saturday 8th March
21:00 to 22:00 – Horse Power (Sky2)
– repeated on Friday 14th March at 10:30 on Sky Sports F1
– behind the scenes documentary at Ferrari, produced by Whisper Films

Monday 10th March
21:45 to 22:00 – Pinkham’s F1: Part 1 (Sky Sports F1)
– the basics about Formula 1 for novices

Tuesday 11th March
19:00 to 20:00 – F1: Season Preview (BBC Red Button)
– also available on the BBC F1 website
21:45 to 22:00 – Pinkham’s F1: Part 2 (Sky Sports F1)
– the basics about Formula 1 for novices

Thursday 13th March
04:00 to 04:45 – F1: Driver Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
20:45 to 21:00 – F1: Gear Up for Australia (Sky Sports F1)
21:30 to 22:00 – F1: Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday 14th March
01:00 to 03:20 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1)
01:25 to 03:05 – F1: Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
03:20 to 03:35 – Inside Track: All Change for 2014 (Sky Sports F1)
05:15 to 07:30 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
05:25 to 07:05 – F1: Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
07:30 to 08:15 – F1: Team Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
09:30 to 10:30 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
– simulcast live on Sky Sports 1
18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Saturday 15th March
02:45 to 04:15 – 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)
– simulcast live on Sky1
05:55 to 07:05 – F1: Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
06:00 to 08:45 – F1: Qualifying (Sky1 + 1)
14:55 to 16:25 – F1: Qualifying Highlights (BBC Two)
19:45 to 20:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Sunday 16th March
04:30 to 09:15 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1)
=> 04:30 – Track Parade
=> 05:00 – Race
=> 08:30 – Paddock Live
05:30 to 08:00 – F1: Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)
09:15 to 10:15 – Legends: Juan Pablo Montoya (Sky Sports F1)
11:15 to 12:00 – Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4)
– featuring Murray Walker
14:00 to 16:00 – F1: Race Highlights (BBC One)
– note: For Scotland viewers, the race is on BBC Two at 15:00

Wednesday 19th March
20:30 to 21:00 – Midweek Report (Sky Sports F1)

Classic F1 on Sky Sports F1
For this season, I’ve made the move to separate the classics out of the main body, primarily because Sky are not repeating races straight after the first airing in that block. Whilst they are still airing about 100 classic races this season, the two repeats are being finely spread throughout the year, meaning that the Australian repeats will not turn back up until say August at a guess. The idea that Sky are broadcasting more classic races though is incorrect I believe, they are not, the difference this year is that the scheduling is consistent, even though it does mean that the race weekends themselves are a bit more bare.

07/03 – 21:00 to 00:15 – Race of the Century Winner (2011 Canadian Grand Prix)
08/03 – 21:00 to 23:15 – Race of the Century Second (2008 Brazilian Grand Prix)
09/03 – 21:00 to 23:00 – Race of the Century Third (2005 Japanese Grand Prix)
10/03 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1985 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
11/03 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1986 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
12/03 – 21:00 to 21:30 – 1987 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
13/03 – 21:00 to 22:30 – 1989 Australian Grand Prix
14/03 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1996 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
15/03 – 21:00 to 22:00 – 1994 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
16/03 – 21:00 to 21:30 – 1990 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
17/03 – 21:00 to 23:45 – 1998 Japanese Grand Prix
18/03 – 21:00 to 23:15 – 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix
19/03 – 21:00 to 23:30 – 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
20/03 – 21:00 to 21:35 – 1988 Japanese Grand Prix Highlights
21/03 – 21:00 to 23:15 – 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix
22/03 – 21:00 to 23:15 – 1998 Hungarian Grand Prix
23/03 – 21:00 to 21:30 – 1989 Italian Grand Prix Highlights
24/03 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 2000 Belgian Grand Prix
25/03 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix Highlights
26/03 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 2000 German Grand Prix

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

Update on March 8th – Very interesting to see that Qualifying is being simulcast on Sky1 (thanks Withito in the comments), which makes it available to many more people. Hopefully Sky promote this.

Update on March 10th – A few minor Classic F1 alterations, along with an Inside Track addition in the main schedule. I’ve also added the BBC F1’s TV season preview.

Bruno Senna added to Sky’s F1 team

Bruno Senna will be part of Sky Sports F1’s team for the upcoming season, it has been confirmed. He will be present at seven races, whilst also appearing in special programming celebrating the life of Ayrton Senna.

Senna, who raced in Formula 1 between 2010 and 2012, will be at Malaysia, China, Hungary, Singapore, Russia, USA and Brazil. As well as being a guest on The F1 Show, Senna will offer analysis on the Sky Pad and be in the commentary box with David Croft, presumably for practice at those races. Speaking to the Sky Sports website, Senna said: “I’ve worked with Sky Sports F1 from the other side of the microphone, and always been impressed with their dedication and creativity so I’m delighted to be joining the team. I’m particularly excited to get my hands on the touchscreen technology and I hope to reveal a few tricks of the trade but also show just how skilled these drivers are. The 2014 rules and regulations, driver changes and new circuits we’re seeing this year promise for a fascinating season with everything to drive for – I can’t wait to start.”

Martin Turner, Sky Sports F1’s Executive Producer, added: “We got to know Bruno in the paddock when he was driving, and I’m thrilled he’s joining us – he’ll make a brilliant addition to our team. His passion for the intricacies of F1 and knowledge as a recent F1 driver who’s driven these tracks and raced these teams will make for fascinating viewing. With Anthony Davidson and Bruno manning the touchscreen and offering insight this season, we’ll bring our viewers a unique perspective on what it’s like to line up on the grid and race wheel to wheel with Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen and co.”

The morale of this lesson is not to read too much into anyone within broadcasting claims to have ‘very exciting news‘ or ‘literally bursting‘ to tell people. Don’t get me wrong, Senna’s a good signing, and I can see their logic considering he is a recent driver in a more ‘current’ formula of Formula 1, plus it allows them to rotate a bit more. But another driver to add to the line-up means that we now have five drivers, potentially six if you include Karun Chandhok. I would have preferred a former team personnel to add a bit of variety, instead of the ‘talking heads’ with drivers. It seems like both BBC and Sky are going down the route of adding former drivers to the line-up. Yes, the drivers of course are the main focus, but there is more than them that makes Formula 1 what it is. Like I say, its good news, nothing more, nothing less.