Monaco Grand Prix receives slight bump

The Monaco Grand Prix received a slight increase compared with other Formula One races so far this season but still recorded significant year-on-year decreases, unofficial overnight viewing figures show.

Live coverage of the race was broadcast on Sky Sports F1, across an extended slot from 12:00 to 15:50, the longer run-time due to the rain interrupted race. The programme on Sky Sports F1 averaged 623k (8.5%), down 21.8 percent on last year’s audience of 797k (8.7%). In 2014, on the back drop of Nico Rosberg’s error in qualifying, the race programme averaged 1.10m (11.9%).

Channel 4’s highlights programme averaged 2.15m (14.9%), its highest highlights number of the season so far. Monaco traditionally rates better than the races around it due to the prestige factor so this should be no surprise. Neverthless, Channel 4’s number is still down 37.4 percent on BBC One’s average audience in 2015 of 3.44m (23.3%). As usual, Channel 4’s programme smashed its own slot average.

The combined audience of 2.78 million is the second highest of 2016, slightly behind Bahrain’s audience of 2.84 million viewers. It is, however, down 34.4 percent on 2015’s Monaco Grand Prix combined audience of 4.23 million viewers. It is also the lowest average for Monaco since 2006, a pattern that is now being repeated as the season progresses.

Sky Sports F1’s race coverage peaked with 980k (13.3%) at 14:15 as the race settled down following a frantic opening 30 laps. Channel 4’s highlights programme peaked with 2.79m (17.6%) at 19:25. The combined peak of 3.77 million is down 26.5 percent year-on-year (Sky: down 18.8% and Channel 4 vs BBC: down 28.9%). As always, the figures exclude platforms such as Now TV, All4 and Sky Go.

Live coverage of qualifying on Sky Sports F1 averaged 354k (5.6%), marginally down on 2015’s number of 389k (5.8%). The problem is a steep 41.4 percent drop for Channel 4’s highlights programme which averaged 1.30m (9.8%) from 17:45 to 19:30, compared with 2.22m (18.4%) for BBC One last year.

Again, the combined audience of 1.65 million is the lowest for Monaco since 2006. Next up is the Canadian Grand Prix. The year-on-year drops for Montreal will be particularly severe, given that the BBC has covered the race live in previous years.

The 2015 Monaco Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.


Scheduling: The 2016 Monaco Grand Prix / Indianapolis 500

The last weekend of May is usually a special occasion for motor racing fans, and this year is no different with both the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 taking place! In the UK, the Monaco round of the Formula One season airs exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 with highlights being broadcast in an early evening slot on Channel 4.

The usual Channel 4 team is joined by Mark Webber this weekend, his third appearance of the year with the team. The 100th Indianapolis 500 airs exclusively live on BT Sport 1 in an extended five and a half hour time slot. Suzi Perry was originally down to present BT’s coverage of the blue riband event, but plans have since changed. BT will not be taking the US international feed in its entirety, with Ben Evans, Keith Collantine, Oliver Webb (in London) and Jonathan Green (in Indianapolis) filling in the gaps. Green will be interviewing the drivers before the race. Caution periods aside, the race will air commercial free.

On the scheduling front, Thursday’s action in Monaco will also air live on Sky Sports 1. I believe it is the first time under the current contract that the GP2 Series has aired live on Sky Sports 1. A second edition of The F1 Show airs on the traditional F1 ‘rest day’ on Friday, but like the reduction in length to the usual show, this show has also been cut from one hour to 30 minutes compared with previous years. Below are all the details you need…

Channel 4 F1
28/05 – 17:45 to 19:30 – Qualifying Highlights
29/05 – 17:45 to 20:00 – Race Highlights

Supplementary Programming
29/05 – 07:05 to 08:00 – Historic Monaco Grand Prix Highlights

Sky Sports F1
26/05 – 08:45 to 11:00 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports 1)
26/05 – 12:45 to 15:00 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports 1)
28/05 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
28/05 – 12:00 to 15:00 – Qualifying
29/05 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
25/05 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
25/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
25/05 – 21:00 to 21:15 – Paddock Uncut
26/05 – 16:00 to 16:30 – Team Press Conference (also Sky Sports 1)
26/05 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The F1 Show (also Sky Sports 1)
27/05 – 17:00 to 17:30 – The F1 Show: Monaco Special
29/05 – 16:15 to 17:15 – Historic Monaco Grand Prix Highlights
01/06 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
26/05 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/05 – 12:55 to 14:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
28/05 – 12:55 to 14:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
29/05 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 – Monaco (BT Sport 1)
29/05 – 11:00 to 12:00 – Race

FIM CEV Repsol – Aragon (BT Sport 2)
29/05 – 09:45 to 15:00 – Races

GP2 Series – Monaco (Sky Sports F1)
26/05 – 11:00 to 11:50 – Practice (also Sky Sports 1)
26/05 – 15:10 to 16:00 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports 1)
27/05 – 10:10 to 11:40 – Race 1
28/05 – 15:00 to 16:20 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 (BT Sport 1)
29/05 – 15:30 to 21:00 – Race

World Superbikes – Donington Park (Quest TV)
28/05 – 11:00 to 13:15 – Qualifying
28/05 – 14:15 to 16:15 – Race 1
29/05 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Support Races and Race 2

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

Last updated on May 28th.

News round-up: Verstappen shines on Pauw, 3D graphics from FOM make appearance

Alongside the pieces I posted a few weeks ago, there are a fair few smaller things that I want to mention, which I will do over the course of the next two round-up’s. First up, analysis looking at Sky’s “35 million” digital reach and ESPN’s movement in the Formula 1 online world.

Verstappen continues to shine in his homeland
The rise of Max Verstappen continued in the Netherlands following his win at the Spanish Grand Prix. Verstappen appeared on late-night chat show Pauw on Friday night on NPO1. To put the appearance into context for UK readers, it is the equivalent to Lewis Hamilton appearing on The Graham Norton Show on BBC One.

Verstappen’s appearance on Pauw averaged a strong 1.18m (27.1%) from 23:02 to 23:57 according to ratings bureau Kijkonderzoek. Pauw has typically averaged around 750,000 viewers over the past few weeks, so Verstappen’s appearance boosted numbers by over 50 percent. I’m surprised no one has started a rumour about the Dutch Grand Prix yet…

ESPN increases Formula 1 coverage
One website that has increased its Formula 1 presence this year is ESPN. The website now features video round-ups fronted by Jennie Gow and Maurice Hamilton alongside written content from a variety of writers. Given that ESPN have no Formula 1 rights, it is a strong website and worth a visit if you have not done so already.

On the subject of website reporting, the BBC F1 website has adapted. Despite not being able to publish content with Formula One Management (FOM) video material, the team has still uploaded content featuring Jack Nicholls, Allan McNish and Tom Clarkson. Eagle eyed viewers will have noticed that the recent videos from Russia and Spain were filmed with the relevant back drops in sight, but outside of the FOM perimeter zone. The BBC cannot film inside a circuit during a Formula 1 race weekend, but there is nothing stopping them from filming 50 meters outside of the circuit, as they are doing so at the moment.

Producing a good supplementary magazine show
Now that we are five races into the 2016 Formula One season, it is a good chance to talk about Sky’s revamped programming line-up. Axed is the studio editions of The F1 Show, with all other episodes reduced to 30 minutes in length. As a result, the F1 Report airs every week instead of bi-weekly. The changes to The F1 Show during race weekends have been a welcome change, making it easier to catch up on practice coverage with a shorter, snappier show.

The F1 Report has not changed from a content perspective meaning that the viewer is short-changed year-on-year. The show is clearly produced on a shoe-string budget and that is one of the issues I have with the show. It is odd that Sky have for years produced brilliant supplementary shows to their football coverage such as Sunday Supplement and Goals on Sunday yet have failed to produce one good, stable supplementary magazine show for their Formula 1 coverage that hasn’t required multiple changes. We’re in season five and the supplementary magazine show is now in iteration three or four.

Yes, their football coverage covers multiple layers across multiple leagues on a much larger scale than F1. But F1 has: on and off track across multiple series (GP2 and GP3) which Sky should be driving people towards. The opinions and voices on The F1 Report so far in 2016 have not been strong enough to persuade me to watch every week. Besides, if I want to get general opinions, I can read AUTOSPORT or You do get the occasional good guests who are worth listening to, such as Will Buxton, but these are far and few between. Sky’s failure though came far, far earlier in the chain by repeatedly failing to exploit the studio episodes of The F1 Show.

FOM share 3D graphics with Sky
Viewers who watched the horrifying accident between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez at the Australian Grand Prix via any of Sky’s outlets would have probably also watched 3D graphics of the incident. The footage, provided by FOM and based on GPS data, was used by Sky in Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom to analyse the accident. The traces showed that Gutierrez crucially braked earlier than Alonso, contributing to the accident. Channel 4 did not air the 3D footage during their highlights show, either because of time constraints or because they did not have access to the footage.

To date, I believe this is the first and last time we have seen 3D footage from FOM based on GPS. I was expecting FOM to produce something in Spain as a result of the Mercedes crash on lap one, but alas, nothing was aired. With or without 3D footage, it should be noted that the Sky Pad analysis we saw from Anthony Davidson was fantastic on both occasions. Davidson is comfortably one of Sky F1’s best assets, and is someone who Sky should try to keep for as long as possible going forward.

Counting viewers and readers
Every time I see a statistic, my first thought is to wonder how it is calculated, especially when it comes to audience figures. Sky Sports recently celebrated their 25th anniversary and mentioned this statistic: “35 million+ unique users of and Sky Sports apps.” How accurate is that figure?  Being a data junkie, a few questions come to mind.

Is that a worldwide figure or UK only figure? If it is the former, then the UK figure will be lower by a fair amount. Although the statement says ‘unique’, is that strictly true in that one person may use Sky Sports services in various different ways (iPad, Android, desktop, laptop, work phone to name just a few). So can a figure across multiple devices truly be classified as unique? Just because 20 million people use iPad and 15 million use Android, that does not mean 35 million people use iPad or Android, as there will be overlap in people who use iPad and Android.

I’m intrigued to know what unique means in this instance, I suspect the reality is that there is a significant amount of double counting involved to arrive at that figure. Beware if you see that figure used in public in future to defend the Sky UK’s exclusive Formula 1 deal from 2019…

No further discussion about Sky’s 2019 deal
Surprisingly since the announcement about the aforementioned deal, we have had little comment from those in the business (I exclude journalists here). No one, to my knowledge, has publicly commented on it from the teams’ perspective. We have had a brief comment from FIA president Jean Todt who, speaking at a presser during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend said that he is “not happy that F1 is disappearing from free-to-air TV in key markets.” Apart from that, no public comment.

On the back drop of Sky’s 2019 deal, but not linked, the digital team at Sky pulled an article offline about the GPDA statement concerning the governance of Formula 1. I requested comment from Sky, unfortunately an official line from them was not forthcoming, despite the best efforts of this writer to press on the issue.

Scheduling: The 2016 Berlin ePrix / Italian MotoGP

The penultimate stop on the 2015-16 Formula E calendar takes the championship to Berlin this weekend. It marks round eight of ten before the season concludes with a double header in London in early July.

On the Formula E broadcasting side, Allan McNish is co-commentator alongside Jack Nicholls due to Dario Franchitti’s Indianapolis 500 commitments. It is a replica of BBC’s 5 Live team with Jennie Gow presenting for ITV, the only difference is that Tom Clarkson has yet to get involved with Formula E! Due to Peston on Sunday, Formula E’s highlights programme on ITV airs slightly later than usual on Sunday morning at 11:00.

Speaking of the famous American oval race, BT Sport//ESPN will be covering both Indy 500 qualifying days live for the first time ever. The move is an attempt by the channel to boost their IndyCar coverage in response to feedback from fans. Elsewhere on free-to-air television, British Superbikes is airing live on Quest TV due to coverage of the French Open Tennis and the Giro d’Italia cycling tour on Eurosport.

On two wheels, Suzi Perry will not be presenting BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage due to illness. Below are all the scheduling details you need…

MotoGP – Italy (BT Sport 2)
20/05 – 08:00 to 15:00
=> 08:00 – Practice 1
=> 10:45 – Reaction and Build-Up
=> 12:00 – Practice 2
21/05 – 08:00 to 15:15
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
22/05 – 07:30 to 09:15 – Warm Up
22/05 – 09:30 to 15:00
=> 09:30 – Moto3 race
=> 11:15 – Moto2 race
=> 12:45 – MotoGP race
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Italy (ITV4)
23/05 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Highlights

Formula E – Berlin (online via YouTube)
21/05 – 07:10 to 08:10 – Practice 1
21/05 – 09:25 to 10:10 – Practice 2
21/05 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Qualifying

Formula E – Berlin
21/05 – 14:00 to 16:30 – Race (ITV4)
22/05 – 11:00 to 12:00 – Highlights (ITV)

British Superbikes – Brands Hatch Indy
21/05 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Qualifying (British Eurosport 2 and Quest TV)
22/05 – 12:30 to 18:00 – Races (Quest TV)
25/05 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

DTM – Austria
21/05 – 16:30 to 17:45 – Race 1 (BT Sport//ESPN)

Euroformula – Belgium
21/05 – Race 1
=> 13:25 to 14:20 (Motors TV)
=> 13:30 to 14:30 (BT Sport//ESPN)
22/05 – Race 2
=> 12:15 to 13:10 (Motors TV)
=> 12:15 to 13:15 (BT Sport//ESPN)

Formula 3 Europe – Austria
21/05 – Race 1
=> 09:30 to 10:30 (BT Sport 1)
=> 09:35 to 10:40 (Motors TV)
22/05 – 10:10 to 11:15 – Race 2 (Motors TV)

Formula V8 3.5 – Belgium (BT Sport//ESPN)
21/05 – 12:00 to 13:30 – Race 1
22/05 – 14:45 to 16:00 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 Qualifying (BT Sport//ESPN)
21/05 – 21:00 to 23:00 – Day 1
22/05 – 21:00 to 23:00 – Day 2

International GT Open – Belgium
21/05 – 14:30 to 16:00 – Race 1
=> 14:20 to 16:00 (Motors TV)
=> 14:30 to 16:00 (BT Sport//ESPN)
22/05 – 13:15 to 14:45 – Race 2
=> 13:10 to 14:45 (Motors TV)
=> 13:15 to 14:45 (BT Sport//ESPN)

Virgin Australia Supercars – Winton Supersprint (BT Sport 1)
21/05 – 06:30 to 08:15 – Race 10
22/05 – 04:15 to 06:30 – Race 11

World Rally Championship – Portugal
20/05 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Stage 2 (BT Sport 2)
22/05 – 09:00 to 10:00 – Stage 3 (BT Sport 1)

Last updated on May 19th at 18:00 to reflect Suzi Perry’s illness.

Update on May 21st at 15:15 – Allan McNish commentated on Formula E practice and qualifying but had to pull out of the race commentary itself at the last minute, according to lead commentator Jack Nicholls.

Over one million viewers watch Verstappen’s debut win in the Netherlands

An audience of over one million viewers in the Netherlands watched their countryman Max Verstappen claim his first Formula 1 win, viewing figures show.

According to the ratings bureau Kijkonderzoek the Spanish Grand Prix, which aired live on Ziggo Sport, averaged a massive 1.01m (35.5%) from 13:55 to 15:48 local time. The post-race section rated even higher than the race itself as word of mouth spread, averaging 1.13m (34.3%) from 15:48 to 16:37. The race and post race segments were the 6th and 9th most watched programmes of the day respectively and comfortably Ziggo Sport’s most watched programmes as well.

It is worth noting that Ziggo Sport is a pay-TV station, which makes the figures even more impressive. Given that the Netherlands has historically not been a big market, I have not kept tabs on their figures throughout the years, but have found something worth mentioning. The 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix averaged 674k (15.1%) on RTL7 whilst the Canadian Grand Prix in the same year averaged 537k (7.7%), albeit against football opposition. And both of those were on free-to-air television!

I’ll try and track the Netherlands figures in more depth as the year progresses. If the signs are anything to go by, the viewing figures are only going to increase if Verstappen continues his rise in Formula 1…