Scheduling: The 2015 Monaco Grand Prix / Berlin ePrix

Next weekend sees two of the three blue riband events take place in the form of the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500! The Monaco Grand Prix is exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, with the Indianapolis 500 exclusively live on ESPN. For those without the F1 channel, qualifying for Monaco is also live on Sky Sports 1.

Over on the BBC, their radio output is depleted due to Test Match cricket on 5 Live Sport Extra meaning that practice commentary will be via the website only. I know it is the luck of the draw sometimes, but I’m mildly amused that BBC’s qualifying highlights show is longer than their race highlights show, which is certainly a first since their current deal came into effect at the beginning of 2012. In terms of supplementary programming, Sky are airing their first Tales from the Vault programme of 2015 looking back at past Monaco races.

The Indianapolis 500 is being broadcast live on ESPN from 16:00 next Sunday. As noted earlier, it appears that BT’s output has been reduced with less studio coverage. If that changes, I will update the schedule, but it doesn’t appear that way at the moment. Over at Formula E’s Berlin ePrix, Mike Conway will again be alongside Jack Nicholls in the commentary box with Andy Jaye presenting the coverage for ITV.

Below are all the details you need for the blue riband events, plus much more…

BBC F1
BBC One
23/05 – 17:10 to 18:45 – Qualifying Highlights
24/05 – 17:05 to 18:35 – Race Highlights

BBC Radio
21/05 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
23/05 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
24/05 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Supplementary Programming
22/05 – 18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)
23/05 – 16:10 to 17:10 – F1 Rewind (BBC Two)
23/05 – 18:45 to 19:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
21/05 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1
21/05 – 12:45 to 15:00 – Practice 2
23/05 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
23/05 – 12:00 to 14:15 – Qualifying (Sky Sports 1)
23/05 – 12:00 to 14:45 – Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
24/05 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
20/05 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
20/05 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut: Monaco
21/05 – 16:00 to 16:45 – Team Press Conference
21/05 – 17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show
22/05 – 17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show
22/05 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Tales from the Vault: Monaco Special
27/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – Midweek Report

GP2 Series – Monaco (Sky Sports F1)
21/05 – 11:00 to 11:50 – Practice
21/05 – 15:10 to 15:50 – Qualifying
22/05 – 10:10 to 11:40 – Race 1
23/05 – 15:05 to 16:20 – Race 2

World Series by Renault – Monaco (BT Sport 2)
24/05 – 10:00 to 11:00 – Race

Formula E – Berlin (online via FIAFormulaE.com)
23/05 – 07:10 to 08:10 – Practice 1
23/05 – 09:25 to 10:10 – Practice 2

Formula E – Berlin (ITV4)
23/05 – 11:00 to 12:15 – Qualifying
23/05 – 14:00 to 16:30 – Race
24/05 – 08:30 to 09:30 – Highlights

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 (ESPN UK)
24/05 – 16:00 to 21:00 – Race

Speedway Grand Prix – Czech Republic (British Eurosport 2)
23/05 – 18:00 to 21:00 – Race

World Superbikes – Donington Park (British Eurosport 2)
23/05 – 11:45 to 13:00 – Superpole
24/05 – 11:15 to 16:30 – Races

As always, if anything changes, I will update the above schedule.

News round-up: Formula E exposes good and bad of social media; BT reduce Indy 500 output

In the first of three round-up posts catching up on the stories of the past month, this blog looks at Formula E amongst other topics that have caught the spotlight.

Formula E – the good, bad and dodgy
The inaugural season of the Formula E series is coming to a conclusion, with four races remaining. In the past month alone, there has been evidence of the good, bad and perhaps dodgy things that have been occurring across its output.

The announcement that the 2016 Formula One season is provisionally set to start in April should be seen as good news within Formula E circles. Assuming that the second season it scheduled well, and initial indications suggests that will be the case, then Formula E should be able to gain momentum through January, February and March 2016 before the Formula One season begins and inevitably takes away a portion of its reach. Starting off with the good news, and that is that Formula E is using new technologies effectively and to their advantage, for example live video streaming app Periscope. Using Periscope allows fans to get closer to the action, giving them a virtual behind the scenes pass, meaning that they can interact with teams’ and drivers’ instantly.

Another app that the electric racing series has been using is Grabyo, which allows rights holders such as Formula E to post short video snippets straight to Twitter instantly, which is exactly what they did with the turn two crash at the Monaco ePrix. The key word with both Periscope and Grabyo is ‘instant’. Because instant communication is what social media thrives on, and it is fantastic to see Formula E exploiting these new apps to their advantage. Planned or not, it always helps when someone with nearly eight million Twitter followers shares one of these clips, as footballer Cesc Fàbregas did a few hours after last Saturday’s race. I’d be fascinated to see just how many people Formula E managed to reach with the Grabyo clips, and how many people then went and watched a few more of their clips.

There were a few negatives coming out of the Monaco ePrix weekend. The first surrounded the direction, which, as expected for Monaco was controlled by the local host. The camera angles that viewers saw were typical of Monaco, they were the same as the angles used during the F1, and given Formula E’s lack of speed, it didn’t paint the series in the best of ways. However, it did make me appreciate the fantastic work that Westbury Gillett and team have done so far this season in bringing out the best of Formula E with brilliant direction that gets the cameras as close to the cars as humanely possible.

Accounts related to Destination Luxury 'mass retweeting' content related to Formula E.
Accounts related to Destination Luxury ‘mass retweeting’ content related to Formula E.

There are two personnel changes to keep an eye on next Saturday. Mike Conway replaced Dario Franchitti as colour commentator for Monaco due to Franchitti’s Indianapolis 500 commitments, which presumably means that Franchitti will not be commentating on next Saturday’s Berlin ePrix either. Elsewhere, Andy Jaye is replacing Jennie Gow as ITV presenter for Berlin and the Moscow ePrix in early June, as Gow is covering the Monaco and Canadian Formula 1 events for BBC Radio 5 Live. Jaye covers speedway for British Eurosport, so is a good choice to replace Gow. As of writing, ITV have not confirmed coverage plans for the London ePrix on June 27th and 28th, however, the Sunday action clashes with British Touring Car Championship, so one of them will need to be moved to ITV.com, or hopefully moved to ITV’s main channel.

The last Formula E note is frankly bizarre. I tweeted about Formula E at the end of April and was slightly surprised to see that 108 ‘people’ had retweeted the tweet. After closer investigation, including looking at some of the other Formula E tweets, it was clear that it wasn’t actually 108 unique people. At least 50 of those accounts originate from a group called Destination Luxury (DLX). I’m not sure whether this falls under the category of Formula E buying Twitter followers in order to boost the retweet numbers, but it looks a bit strange to me in any case.

Two steps forward, three steps back?
2015 started off brilliantly for Formula One Management (FOM). A slick-looking graphics set. A new-look website. Advances in the social media department. Unfortunately, the appalling direction is a continuing frustration with the bi-weekly Formula 1 product. The direction came to the forefront of this blog’s attention during last year’s Canadian Grand Prix, where it has remained ever since.

Is this an appropriate shot for the start sequence?
Is this an appropriate shot for the start sequence?

Decisions made by the directors (or whoever controls the pictures that viewers worldwide see) are left to be desired. For me, there are two major issues at the moment. The first surrounds the start sequence. Recently, FOM have been experimenting with shots such as the above for the race start. The problem that I have is that the shot is inappropriate for the race start, irrespective of how many seconds the shot remains on the World Feed for after the green light. By all means use it half way through when there is not as much action, but don’t use it at the start. The direction was further exasperated in Spain when FOM went to a helicopter shots during the first lap. On lap 1, I want to identify cars as easily as possible, and track the running order. In essence, the shots need to be stable for this to happen. I don’t like FOM’s direction as of late, and unfortunately it is part of a downward trend that has been taking place for many years now.

Now that we’re five races in, I maintain the view that FOM’s 2015 graphics are better than their predecessors. However, are they at the standard of Dorna’s MotoGP graphics? No. Dorna themselves have taken the MotoGP graphics forward another set this year. Innovative, awesome and creative are three words that I’ve used on Twitter to describe Dorna’s graphics set in the last month alone. The problem FOM now have is that they need to exploit the current graphics set to their best potential, which is what Dorna are doing. The latest move from Dorna is movable graphics, which have been used in NASCAR for a while. But over in Europe at least, the move is a new step. FOM’s production and direction side seems reluctant to positive change that will benefit the product that the viewer at home sees. Instead, they seem to be moving the product to suit other agendas. Mind you, I suspect the direction is the least of F1’s worries right now…

BT reign in IndyCar coverage
With BT Sport focussing all of its efforts on MotoGP, it appears next weekend’s coverage of the Indianapolis 500 on ESPN will be a copy of the US feed rather than BT adding any of their own colour to it like last year. Coverage starts at 16:00 next week, with no Motorsport Tonight segment like last year in the schedules. Last year, BT Sport 2 went on air at 15:30, with an hour of studio talk before handing over to their American colleagues. It shouldn’t be too much surprise if BT have decided to just take the American feed, because the approach they took last year was derided a fair amount on social media, with the negative comments outweighing the positive comments. In fact, it looks like both Motorsport Tonight and its MotoGP Tonight counterpart have been permanently axed from BT’s schedules in exchange for The Chequered Flag and BT presenting every MotoGP race on site.

This week has been a reminder that series such as IndyCar only get coverage in the UK whenever a bad crash happens. Multiple media outlets covered the heavy crashes of Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden during practice for the Indianapolis 500 including the BBC and The Times. Let’s hope that the next eight days pass without any other major crashes occurring during the build-up to the Indianapolis 500.

Spanish Grand Prix falls to seven year low

After a promising start to the year, Formula 1 ratings in the UK have hit the rocks, with the Spanish Grand Prix falling to its lowest number since 2008, according to unofficial overnight viewing figures.

Race
Live coverage of the race, which was broadcast exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, averaged 674k (7.0%) from 12:00 to 15:30. The exclusivity aspect is interesting, given that BBC covered the Spanish Grand Prix live in 2012, 2013 and 2014. This is the first year since they acquired the rights from ITV that BBC have not covered Spain live. However, Sky’s numbers were boosted very little. Last year’s coverage from 12:00 to 15:30 averaged 642k (5.5%) in comparison. The share may be up 27 percent, but the raw number is up only 5 percent, implying that there could be external weather factors associated in Sky’s increase not being as big as expected. It is, however, Sky’s second lowest ever number for an exclusive European-based round, only in front of the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which averaged 667k.

BBC’s highlights coverage did not make up any ground as a result of Sky’s lower than expected numbers. Highlights, which aired on BBC One from 17:05 to 18:30, averaged 2.90m (19.7%). In comparison, last year’s live coverage averaged 3.44m (28.7%). For a BBC highlights programme, that is a poor number, although the share stands out for me more, under 20 percent share of the available audience is unusual. The combined audience of 3.57m is the lowest since 2008 for the Spanish round. Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain were up year-on-year, whilst China was stable, so the drop in viewers for Spain is unexpected and surprising. As always with viewing figures, it remains to be seen if this number is just a blip and nothing more, or whether it is part of a trend.

Qualifying too strong for Formula E
The Formula E series moved to Europe with the Monaco ePrix attracting a peak audience of 239k (2.5%) on Saturday afternoon. Live coverage of the race on ITV4 averaged 151k (1.6%) from 14:00 to 16:35, with the peak coming as the race concluded at 15:45. The coverage thrashed the GP2 Series on Sky Sports F1, which averaged 32k (0.3%) from 14:35 to 16:05, although it wasn’t enough to beat Formula 1 qualifying itself. Live coverage of F1 Qualifying on Sky Sports F1 averaged 336k (3.9%). Bear in mind that ITV4 is available to a lot more people than Sky Sports F1, and you start to see the scale of the task ahead for the electric series.

In my opinion, Formula E has been brilliant so far in its inaugural season, but the viewing figures are not moving a muscle on ITV4. ITV’s advertising seems to have stopped, which is preventing viewing figures from improving. They need to get the message out in my opinion about the series, but are failing to do so. The scheduling hasn’t been great, but it looks like season two will be better in that regard. You could argue that they have lost faith in the series already, but ITV did air Formula E qualifying live on ITV4 for the first time this past weekend to an audience of 42k (0.6%). When you look at the audiences though, I think that Formula E needs ITV more than ITV needs Formula E. The moment Formula E goes to BT Sport live is the moment you kill the series in this country. And that wouldn’t be good for anyone involved.

Elsewhere, Formula 1 qualifying highlights on BBC One averaged 2.25m (16.8%).

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

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Survey: Your Formula 1 2015 television viewing habits

After a week dominated by polling, The F1 Broadcasting Blog continues the trend with our annual survey. For the past two years, I have conducted a survey on this blog looking at your Formula 1 television viewing habits. Both times the survey has attracted a vast range of responses, with 350 viewpoints aired last year. I released the results in April 2014 and did some analysis. Just over a year on since then, and nearly at the halfway stage of the current BBC and Sky contract, it is a good time as any to conduct some analysis.

I’ve made multiple changes to the survey in response to last year’s feedback, and have published the branches below for sake of complete clarity.

Page 1 – General
Q1 – Where do you currently reside?
Anyone outside the United Kingdom will be taken to Page 10.
Q2 – What is your age?
Q3 – What is your gender?

Page 2 – Platform
Q4 – Have your viewing habits or situation changed between 2014 and 2015?
Q5 – What pay-TV platform do you subscribe to?
BSkyB subscribers will skip Page 4.
Virgin Media subscribers will skip Page 3.
‘Other’ will jump to Page 6 and skip Page 8.
‘None’ will jump to Page 6 and skip Page 8.

Page 3 – BSkyB subscribers
Q6 – What is your status regarding Sky Sports F1?
‘I was a subscriber’ will skip Page 8.
‘I have never been a subscriber’ will skip Pages 5 and 8.

Page 4 – Virgin Media subscribers
Q7 – What is your status regarding Sky Sports F1?
‘I was a subscriber’ will skip Page 8.
‘I have never been a subscriber’ will skip Pages 5 and 8.

Page 5 – What do you watch
Q8 – What shows on Sky Sports F1 have you watched?

Page 6 – Sky exclusively live races
Q9 – How did you consume Formula 1 in 2014?
Q10 – How are you consuming Formula 1 in 2015?

Page 7 – BBC live races
Q11 – How did you consume Formula 1 in 2014?
Q12 – How are you consuming Formula 1 in 2015?

Page 8 – BBC live races
Q13 – Which broadcaster do you watch live when BBC are live?

Page 9 – Year-on-year comparisons
Q14 – BBC F1 – 2014 vs 2015
Q15 – Sky Sports F1 – 2014 vs 2015

Page 10 – Comments
Further comments can be made here.

There’s a few additions to last year, notably the age and gender parts at the start of the survey. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t provide a breakdown of the demographics of the blog. Whilst I can hazard a guess of what the demographic is, I’ve never had it explicitly confirmed, so this survey would be a good opportunity to do so.

The options on Pages 3 and 4 have been cleaned up. We’re in year four of Sky Sports F1. Initially I think there was five or six options for the questions on those pages, which looks messy and difficult to decipher, so I’ve made it simpler: you either are a subscriber, you were a subscriber, or you’ve never been a subscriber, depending on pay-TV company.

A question concerning what option Sky subscribers choose when both BBC and Sky are live has been added on Page 8. This was suggested by multiple readers last year, one said that “the end result of the survey will tell you whether people who have Sky still prefer to watch the BBC when it’s live.” Hopefully the addition of question 13 will give us a clearer picture where that is concerned. Regarding pay-TV, ‘None’ has been added to question 5, following up again on a suggestion made last year.

Like last year, the survey will remain open for around a month. Again, although the survey is related to Formula 1, viewpoints are welcome on other formulae in the comments area at the end of the survey. If there are any errors in the survey, leave a comment below this post and I’ll adjust if necessary.

The survey can be found here. The results will be published in mid-June 2015.