ITV’s MotoGP highlights stumble as BT increases

Highlights of the first MotoGP race of 2015 stumbled off the starting blocks last night as BT Sport recorded a record high for its MotoGP coverage, unofficial overnight viewing figures show.

Last year, BT Sport’s coverage from Qatar averaged 126k (0.8%) from 15:00 to 20:30. The MotoGP portion averaged 187k (0.8%), peaking with 230k (1.1%). The programme length this year was slightly shorter due to rugby coverage preceding it, with new programme The Chequered Flag following at 20:00. Yesterday, from 16:00 to 20:00, BT Sport 2 averaged 172k (1.1%), which is up on the equivalent number of 142k (0.8%) from twelve months ago. For the MotoGP race, from 18:30 to 20:00, the channel averaged 212k (1.1%), peaking with 263k (1.4%). By all three measures, BT Sport was up year-on-year, by around 15 percent. BT’s numbers are actually a record high for them.

Those of you that follow my F1 posts know that, even if the pay TV broadcaster does increase its numbers, it is rendered redundant if the free-to-air broadcast struggles. And that is the case with ITV4. ITV4’s Qatar highlights programme last year from 20:00 to 21:00 averaged 492k (2.2%), peaking with 603k (2.6%). This year, the programme averaged 372k (1.6%), peaking with 455k (1.9%). So whilst BT gained, ITV4 lost a quarter of its audience. The end result is that, combined, coverage averaged 584k versus 679k last year, a drop of 14 percent. Again, I would remind readers that in 2013, BBC Two’s live coverage averaged 1.67m (6.9%), peaking with 2.12m (8.4%).

It’s probably worth noting that, over the course of last year, ITV’s higlights dropped off towards an average of 300k. The first 2015 rating is slightly above that. Whether 2014’s first programme was an anomaly for ITV because it was the start of the new deal, remains to be seen.


Vettel’s win draws 4.16 million to Malaysian GP

An average audience of 4.16 million watched Sebastian Vettel win the Malaysian Grand Prix, unofficial overnight viewing figures show.

As with Australia two weeks ago, the change in start time compared with 2014 means that it is difficult to make too many direct comparisons year-on-year. Nevertheless, live coverage on BBC One from 07:00 to 10:30 averaged 2.03m (33.6%), peaking with 3.23m. In comparison, last year the race averaged 2.45m (32.7%) an hour later, from 08:00 to 11:15, peaking with 3.26m. There is a big difference in the average, which I would put down to more viewers flicking on the TV as the race progressed due to the earlier start time than last year.

Sky Sports F1 added 473k (7.7%) from 07:00 to 10:30, peaking with 720k, compared with an average of 574k (7.7%) and a peak of 826k from last year. I don’t think you can read too much into the respective numbers, both BBC’s and Sky’s live showings were down around 17 percent year-on-year. That’s no shock, the race started earlier, meaning that less people were around. Sky’s peak did suffer as well mind, whereas BBC’s peak numbers are almost identical. Any loss in live numbers was made up by BBC in their re-run programme, which averaged 1.66m (14.7%), significantly higher than last year’s 1.07m (12.5%).

What the numbers mean is that 2015’s combined average of 4.16m is up on 2014’s 4.09m, but down on 2013’s “multi 21” controversy. The combined peak of 5.77m is not too far away from 2013’s peak of 6.01m. Overall, the pattern remains the same as Australia: slight, but optimistic gains year-on-year, which should be taken as a positive.

The Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying session delivered exceptional numbers for both BBC and Sky, with increases across the board. A few disclaimers, as this was a very unusual situation – qualifying began at 09:00 UK time, whereas the race began at 08:00 UK time, although due to the clocks going forward, it really felt like 07:00, which is why the live figures look a lot closer between qualifying and the race. Also, the qualifying numbers include the rain delays of varying proportions.

Live coverage of qualifying averaged 1.83m (24.6%), peaking with 2.30m, up on 2014’s 1.41m (24.0%). Sky Sports F1 averaged 395k (5.1%) from 08:00 to 11:00, peaking with 639k. 2014’s live action on Sky averaged around 300k. BBC’s highlights programme averaged a further 1.27m (13.3%). The combined audience is a very impressive 3.49m, which is good, yet bewildering at the same time. I’m not entirely sure why qualifying did as well as it did, Saturday’s session is one of the most watched qualifying sessions in recent history. The combined peak was a whopping 4.38m.

Sebastian Vettel’s emergence for Ferrari on Sunday will only be good news for viewing figures. Yes, a British driver doing well is good for viewing figures, but a good champion needs an equally good challenger. A Vettel versus Hamilton battle this season is good news for the whole of Formula 1. It will be interesting to see how the viewing figures, both here and in Germany, fare going forward.

If you’re looking for MotoGP viewing figures, they will be posted mid-week.

The 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

Details about BT’s MotoGP 2015 plans filter through

Some details about BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage for the 2015 season are beginning to filter through.

Abi Griffiths and Craig Doyle will be sharing presenting duties again for the 2015 season. Griffiths noted on Twitter that she will be flying out to Qatar on Wednesday, meaning that coverage from Qatar at least will be presented on-site. This was also the case last year though when Melanie Sykes presented, so we will see what happens regarding the remainder of the year.

The rest of the team is the same: Keith Huewen will partner Julian Ryder in the commentary box, whilst Neil Hodgson and Gavin Emmett will be back as reporters. Iwan Thomas is returning, presenting a programme called The Chequered Flag that will air in the hour following the MotoGP race on BT Sport. It will be repeated multiple times after the original showing. MotoGP Tonight is not listed in the schedules for Tuesday 31st March, nor is its counterpart Motorsport Tonight. It is unclear whether the show has been axed, although we’ll soon find out when the schedules for the following week come out.

BT Sport will continue to broadcast every race weekend exclusively live, with ITV4 broadcasting highlights of every race on Monday evenings.

Update on March 28th – James Toseland is with BT this weekend, so I’ve removed that bit from the article. Also, confirmation from Gavin Emmett in their qualifying show that Craig Doyle and Toseland will be on-site at every race this season, which is great to see and presumably means that the studio has been dumped for 2015.

FairFX to sponsor Sky’s F1 coverage for remainder of 2015

FairFX is to sponsor Sky Sports F1’s coverage for the remainder of the 2015 Formula One season, it has been confirmed. The travel company will sponsor their coverage across TV, mobile and online. FairFX will follow, Santander, Rolex and Shell in sponsoring Sky F1.

Ian Strafford-Taylor, who is FairFX’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to have agreed this partnership with Sky Media to sponsor Formula 1, on Sky Sports. The massive global following of Formula 1, combined with the innovation and cutting-edge technology it represents is a perfect fit for FAIRFX, which uses smart digital technology to deliver better value and service to over 400,000 global travellers and holidaymakers. As channel sponsor we will be able to reach a much wider audience for our products more quickly.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I had never heard of FairFX until this press release. Given that the sponsorship deal was not concluded earlier, it appears that Sky have struggled to find a sponsor for the coverage, in a similar way that ITV did back in 2006, with Swiftcover eventually becoming their sponsor from round four that season.

Scheduling: The 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix / Qatar MotoGP

The Formula 1 paddock heads from Australia to Malaysia for round two of the season. Round two is the first live race for the BBC this season, with coverage airing on BBC One as usual.

Elsewhere, the 2015 MotoGP championship begins on BT Sport. In the second year of their exclusively live contract, as of writing, no details about their coverage have been officially announced, I’ve compiled what we know so far here. As revealed on this blog earlier this year, ITV4 will again be broadcasting highlights on Monday evenings. Also beginning is the IndyCar Series live on ESPN, an agreement which will run through to 2022.

NOTE: Clocks go forward one hour on Sunday 29th March, with the change from Greenwich Mean Time to British Summer Time. The times listed are for GMT on Saturday and before; BST for Sunday and afterwards…

BBC TV – Sessions
27/03 – 01:55 to 03:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Two)
27/03 – 05:55 to 07:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Two)
28/03 – 05:55 to 07:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Two)
28/03 – 08:00 to 10:30 – Qualifying (BBC One)
28/03 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Qualifying Replay (BBC One)
29/03 – 07:00 to 10:30 – Race (BBC One)
29/03 – 10:30 to 11:30 – Forum (BBC Red Button)
29/03 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Race Replay (BBC One)

BBC Radio – Sessions
27/03 – 01:55 to 03:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
27/03 – 05:55 to 07:30 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
28/03 – 05:55 to 07:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
28/03 – 08:55 to 10:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
29/03 – 07:30 to 10:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

BBC News Channel
27/03 – 18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1
28/03 – 18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1

Sky Sports F1
27/03 – 01:45 to 03:50 – Practice 1
27/03 – 05:45 to 08:00 – Practice 2
28/03 – 05:45 to 07:15 – Practice 3
28/03 – 08:00 to 10:45 – Qualifying
29/03 – 06:30 to 11:15 – Race
=> 06:30 – Track Parade
=> 07:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 07:30 – Race
=> 10:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
26/03 – 07:00 to 07:30 – Driver Press Conference
26/03 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut: Australia
27/03 – 08:00 to 08:45 – Team Press Conference
27/03 – 10:00 to 11:00 – The F1 Show
01/04 – 20:30 to 21:00 – Midweek Report

MotoGP – Qatar (BT Sport 2)
26/03 – 15:00 to 19:45 – Practice
27/03 – 14:45 to 19:00 – Practice
28/03 – 14:30 to 18:30 – Qualifying
29/03 – 16:00 to 20:00 – Races
29/03 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Qatar (BT Sport Xtra)
29/03 – 13:50 to 16:00 – Warm Up

MotoGP – Qatar (ITV4)
30/03 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights

IndyCar Series – St Petersburg (ESPN)
29/03 – 20:00 to 21:30 – Race

As always, if anything changes, I’ll update the schedule.