Strong social media growth for Formula E as Hamilton continues F1 onslaught

Motorsport Broadcasting has tracked the social media figures for a range of stakeholders over the past five years.

In the latest analytical piece, we look at Formula E’s growth across social media, Lewis Hamilton’s gargantuan reach, and how Twitter is fast becoming an archaic platform.

As always, this site uses publicly available data to piece the jigsaw together, such as the number of followers.

Whilst the figures presented do not give a reliable indicator as to the engagement per series, the figures do give an idea as to whether a championship or team is attracting a new audience, which is critical for the growth of the sport moving forward.

This site tracks the social media fortunes of thirteen different championships at a variety of levels. The list ranges from the likes of Formula 1 and MotoGP on a global level, down to the domestic championships, such as the British Superbikes series and the British Touring Car Championship.

As each entity operates at a different level, expecting the same amount of growth from all of them is unrealistic.

The series on the move from a percentage perspective is Formula E, having grown its social media following by 160 percent since the middle of 2018. From 893,000 followers last Summer, the championship now has 2.33 million followers, a staggering growth for the electric series.

However, analysis of the underlying figures raises some suspicions as to whether Formula E’s growth is all natural. Whilst their Twitter reach has stalled, their Facebook following has jumped significantly from 497,000 likes last Summer to 1.60 million likes currently, an unusual rise considering that growth was slow for the first half of 2018.

In comparison, Formula E’s Instagram growth is more natural: 217,000 likes in May 2018 to 361,000 likes in December 2018, and now 544,000 likes, with the percentage increases modest along the way.

The other big mover is Formula Two, whose social media following has increased by 65 percent in the past year. However, the raw volumes are low, as Formula Two’s portfolio of channels increased from 215,000 followers to 355,000 followers in the past year, Instagram contributing most to the gain.

MotoGP and Formula 1 continue to lead the way. Between December 2018 and now, MotoGP’s portfolio has increased by 1.12 million fans, with F1 jumping by 2.36 million fans. F1’s growth has actually slowed compared to last year, a legacy of how F1 playing catch-up on social media after years of neglect from Formula 1’s owners.

Formula 1’s presence on Netflix, with Drive to Survive, should help the figures grow, but to what effect is difficult to say. Although the Netflix documentary launched to a huge buzz within F1 circles during March, the impact it has may serve as an undercurrent to these statistics throughout the remainder of 2019 as non-F1 fans find the series, rather than present a ‘big bang’ effect immediately.

In addition to Netflix, F1 has made significant movements on the social media front in recent years, so any movement will be down to a multitude of reasons for them. The series has experienced a good first half of 2019 on Instagram, with F1’s number of followers increasing by 24.6 percent, from 5.60 million fans to 6.97 million fans.

An extra emphasis on Instagram helped the World Rally Championship in the first half of 2019. Their following on the platform increased from 734,000 fans to 996,000 fans, representing a larger than usual jump at 35.7 percent, and helping the series to a 9.8 percent increase overall across the main social media platforms.

F1’s teams
The same core principles apply when analysing Formula 1’s ten teams: Instagram growing, Twitter slowing and Facebook holding the core of the audience. However, Instagram is making serious inroads on Facebook on this front, and again is the place for stakeholders to direct their resources.

F1 and F1.5 gap is prevalent across social media, although McLaren joins the top three teams, with the remaining six teams forming F1.5. The story remains the same as before, as Red Bull continues to close the gap on Mercedes.

Between July 2018 and now, Red Bull’s following increased by 1.99 million fans, with Mercedes’ increasing by 1.50 million followers. Mercedes’ following continues to reach the edge, with McLaren recording a larger gain.

Red Bull continues to seize the initiative on Facebook. The Milton Keynes based team increased their following by 835,000 likes in the past year, compared with an average increase across the grid of just 135,000 likes. Mercedes have failed to improve their Facebook reach in nearly three years (stagnating at around 11 million followers), with Racing Point further down the grid also struggling.

Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari remain in close formation on Twitter with Ferrari having the edge, but Instagram is where all teams have seen their reach increase significantly. Since July 2018, McLaren’s audience on the image sharing platform has increased by over one million fans, with the other three big teams following behind.

The Netflix effect appears to have had, at headline level, a positive impact for Renault and Haas. Helped by the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo, Renault’s following has increased from 3.66 million followers last Summer to 4.27 million followers currently, a strong increase considering their growth figures had slowed somewhat up until that point.

Being a newer team means that the full impact of Haas’ increase is not apparent in raw volume, but a percentage jump of 39 percent cannot be overlooked. The increase helped them claw over the one million figure as well, just ahead of the now defunct Manor outfit at the time of their administration.

Outside of Haas and Renault, there are no other unusual increases. There may have been minor bumps due to Netflix, but nothing significant in the grand scheme of things.

F1’s drivers
Standing far above everyone is Lewis Hamilton, with 21.20 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, a gulf that increases by the day.

The combined following of the next nine drivers, from Ricciardo on 4.83 million followers down to Carlos Sainz on 1.33 million followers, is 21.48 million. In other words, nine smaller F1 drivers equals one Lewis Hamilton from a social media perspective!

Hamilton’s following on Facebook and Twitter have stalled, however his reach on Instagram has almost doubled since last Summer, moving from 6.89 million followers to 11.50 million followers, cementing his place at the top of the Grand Prix tree.

Behind Hamilton, Verstappen and Ricciardo made respectable increases, but further down the pecking order there are three success stories.

Despite being in only his second season, Charles Leclerc is already the sixth popular F1 driver on social media, and rising, with an increase of over a million followers in the past year, helped by his move to Ferrari and an ever-increasing Instagram presence.

The aura around Kimi Raikkonen has resulted in him becoming the fourth most popular driver on Instagram, despite having zero presence elsewhere on social media. Elsewhere, Lando Norris’ following is increasing rapidly across all social media platforms, as Norris’ following cross cuts both F1 and eSports.

As new drivers enter the sport, it is interesting to note how the skew for each driver moves increasingly towards Instagram and away from Facebook and Twitter. For example, 50.8 percent of Nico Hulkenberg’s following comes from Twitter, compared with 13.8 percent for Charles Leclerc. In contrast, 37.0 percent for Hulkenberg is Instagram related, versus 78.9 percent for Leclerc.

The younger drivers are far more likely to build a platform on Instagram in 2019, whereas the 2009 to 2014 generation of drivers focused far more on Twitter at that time, hence the wildly different skews.

If you manage any championship on social media, Instagram is the place to divert your resources. Facebook is still growing from a motor sport perspective, and remains by far the biggest social media platform, but has now fallen Instagram in terms of growth.

Facebook is better for long form content with Instagram primarily intended for short-form videos. Twitter is great for your existing audience, but not great if you want to hook new fans in, as the figures throughout this article demonstrate.

What content across social media has made your eye-brows raise recently? Have your say in the comments below.

Scheduling: The 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans

The third of motor racing’s triple crown events takes place this upcoming weekend, with the 24 Hours of Le Mans!

As usual for UK fans, the race airs live on Eurosport for its entirety. Whilst the linear television channel will take commercials, the full race will air uninterrupted via Eurosport Player, with fans able to access up to three on-board angles.

Nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen will feature throughout Eurosport’s coverage, providing analysis during the race from their augmented reality (AR) studio alongside Neil Cole.

Although the broadcaster has not officially confirmed the other personalities involved in their line-up, Motorsport Broadcasting understands that Terry Rymer, Mark Cole, and Carlton Kirby will lead the commentary team.

Thirteen hours of Eurosport’s offering will also air on Quest, the free-to-air broadcaster covering the start and finish, as well as proceedings throughout the night.

For those of you wanting a different flavour to Le Mans, organisers of the World Endurance Championship are providing their own service via the WEC app.  Martin Haven and Allan McNish lead the in-house team for Le Mans.

Elsewhere, MotoGP heads to Spain, while Italy plays host to round eight of the World Rally Championship.

World Endurance Championship – 24 Hours of Le Mans
Also airs live on WEC’s App (£)
12/06 – 15:45 to 19:20 – Practice (Eurosport 2)
12/06 – 20:50 to 23:15 – Qualifying 1 (Eurosport 2)
13/06 – 17:50 to 23:10 – Qualifying 2 and 3 (Eurosport)
=> 17:50 – Qualifying 2
=> 20:50 – Qualifying 3
15/06 – 07:55 to 09:00 – Warm-Up (Eurosport)
15/06 – 13:00 to 13:45 – On the Grid with Tom Kristensen (Eurosport)
15/06 – 13:45 – Race (Eurosport)
=> live coverage continues until 14:45 on 16/06
15/06 – Race (Quest)
=> 13:45 to 16:00 – Start
=> 00:00 to 06:00 – Through the Night
=> 10:00 to 14:45 – Finish

MotoGP – Catalunya (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)

14/06 – 07:45 to 15:15 – Practice 1 and 2
15/06 – 08:00 to 15:15
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
16/06 – 07:30 to 15:00
=> 07:30 – Warm Ups
=> 09:15 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Catalunya (Quest)
17/06 – 22:00 to 23:00 – Highlights

British Superbikes – Brands Hatch
15/06 – 15:30 to 18:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
16/06 – 13:00 to 18:00 – Races (Eurosport 2)
19/06 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

British Touring Car Championship – Croft (ITV4)
16/06 – 11:15 to 18:15 – Races

Speedway Grand Prix – Czech Republic (BT Sport 2)
15/06 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races

Virgin Australia Supercars – Darwin (BT Sport 1)
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
15/06 – 07:15 to 09:15 – Race 1
16/06 – 04:30 to 07:00 – Race 2

World Rally Championship – Italy (All Live)
Also airs live on (£)
13/06 – 17:00 to 19:00 – Day 1 (BT Sport Extra 2)
14/06 – 07:00 to 18:00 – Day 2 (BT Sport Extra 2)
15/06 – 07:00 to 19:30 – Day 3 (BT Sport Extra 2)
16/06 – 06:45 to 12:45 – Day 4 (BT Sport Extra 1)

World Rally Championship – Italy
13/06 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Stage 1 (BT Sport 3)
14/06 – 22:30 to 23:00 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
15/06 – 07:00 to 08:00 – Stage 10 (BT Sport 3)
15/06 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Stage 13 (BT Sport 1)
16/06 – 08:00 to 09:00 – Stage 17 (BT Sport 1)
16/06 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Stage 19 [Power Stage] (BT Sport 1)
17/06 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (5Spike)

As always, the schedule will be updated if details change.

Hamilton’s Monaco victory performs solidly in UK

Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Monaco Grand Prix performed solidly, official consolidated figures from BARB show.

Consolidated audience figures include viewers who watched via the TV set within seven days of broadcast, and exclude commercial breaks. Figures in this article should not be compared to previous overnight ratings posted on this site.

Due to incomplete data, comparisons for Sky’s F1 coverage are difficult, however, all of Channel 4’s figures are publicly available. In addition, Channel 4 aired the Grand Prix live in 2017 and 2018, which also should be factored into the viewing figures.

Unfortunately, the ever-changing slot lengths also make direct comparisons tricky, meaning that the figures must be taken at face value.

Live coverage of the race aired across Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event. At press time, audience figures for Main Event are unavailable. The race airing from 14:03 to 16:24 averaged 845,900 viewers on Sky’s F1 channel. Including Main Event will push the race average for Sky to around one million viewers.

Last year, a combined audience of 707,000 viewers watched across F1 and Main Event (excluding an additional simulcast on Sky One) from 14:05 to 16:36. In 2017, 688,000 viewers watched across the two channels across a longer slot from 12:30 to 15:37.

Sky’s 2019 figures are also significantly higher than 2016, when the race last aired exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 to an audience of 786,000 viewers from 12:30 to 15:50, although this is over a longer time slot.

As mentioned, exact comparisons are extremely difficulty, however it does appear that Sky made noticeable gains on race day compared to previous years. On Sky Sports F1 alone, Pit Lane Live averaged 247,700 viewers from 12:30, On the Grid brought in 507,000 viewers, with Paddock Live averaging 227,900 viewers from 16:24.

The F1 increase helped the Indianapolis 500, which recorded excellent figures following the Grand Prix.

Highlights of the Grand Prix aired on Channel 4 from 19:00 to 21:00 to an audience of 2.02 million viewers, their highest audience of the year so far.

Last year, the free-to-air broadcaster aired Monaco live, with 1.01 million viewers watching the build-up (12:59), 2.50 million watching the race itself (13:33) and 970,000 viewers watching the post-race analysis (16:29). In 2017, the same three components averaged 920,000 viewers (11:59), 2.30 million (12:32) and 720,000 viewers (15:20) respectively.

If you use the first two components to pull out a rough three and a half hour average, encompassing the build-up and the race itself, then 2017 averaged 2.07 million viewers, with 2018 averaging 2.26 million viewers.

Compared to 2017 and 2018, the 2019 highlights show does not fare too badly. However, the 2016 highlights comparison averaged 2.48 million viewers over a slightly longer time slot. Whilst the 2019 figure is still down, it is down less than compared to previous races.

Looking at the figures in totality, the Monaco round rated in a similar ballpark to previous years, with a slight Channel 4 decrease being countered by a good increase for Sky. How well it rated is difficult to say given that the picture is incomplete, but the figures are promising nevertheless.

Qualifying and Analysis
Live coverage of the qualifying session on Sky Sports F1 averaged 476,100 viewers from 13:50, compared with 332,000 viewers from twelve months ago. An average of 228,400 viewers watched Sky’s build-up, also an increase on 2018’s figure of 169,000 viewers.

Both figures exclude their respective simulcasts. In 2018, the session also aired on Sky One, with this year’s session simulcast on Main Event.

Highlights on Channel 4 jumped to their highest Monaco figure on record. An audience of 1.59 million viewers tuned in from 18:30 to 20:00, an increase on last year’s live average audience of 1.26 million viewers from 12:55.

Considering the way the season is turning out, the audience figures across the Monaco weekend are surprisingly good. By no means are they spectacular, but neither do they show signs that F1’s audience figures are collapsing across the board.

Up next, the championship heads to Canada, where Channel 4’s highlights programme airs late at night. Expect the viewing figures between Channel 4 and Sky to be relatively even as a result, with Sky recording some of their highest figures of the year.

The only downside for them is the clash with the UEFA Nations League final, which could severely dent the potential audience on offer.

Indianapolis 500 soars to record UK audience

The Indianapolis 500 soared to its highest ever audience of the modern era last weekend, official consolidated viewing figures from BARB show.

Consolidated audience figures include viewers who watched via the TV set within seven days of broadcast, and exclude commercial breaks. Figures in this article should not be compared to previous overnight ratings posted on this site.

Background and Historical Comparison
For the first time ever, the race aired live on Sky Sports F1. Historically, the race, which forms part of the IndyCar Series, aired on Sky Sports through the 2000s. Both the series and the race moved to BT Sport under the ESPN banner at the start of 2013. The series has a small, but passionate following in the UK, and that is reflected in most of the audience figures.

However, in 2017, BT Sport’s coverage of the Indianapolis 500 averaged 141,000 viewers from 16:30, a number boosted significantly by the presence of Fernando Alonso, a year-on-year increase of 900 percent! BT’s programme started half an hour than Sky’s offering did this year, but the race back in 2017 also started earlier, so the comparison is like-to-like.

Last year with no Alonso, audience figures dropped back to their usual levels of around 40,000 viewers on BT. 2019 is IndyCar’s first year back on Sky, but audience figures have not jumped significantly so far. That was, until the 500 came around…

The Indianapolis 500 averaged 172,000 viewers from 17:00 on Sunday 26th May on Sky Sports F1, IndyCar’s highest ever audience in the modern era.

Furthermore, the IndyCar average is across a four-and-a-half-hour time slot, suggesting that those watching did so for most of the broadcast, as opposed to a downward trend throughout. BARB does not publish consolidated peak figures, but it is likely that the 500 peaked with around 250,000 viewers.

IndyCar retained most of the audience that were watching Sky’s F1 post-race show. Paddock Live from Monaco, which preceded events from Indianapolis, averaged 228,000 viewers from 16:25 to 17:00.

Excluding Formula 1, it is Sky Sports’ highest audience for a live motor race since the launch of A1 Grand Prix nearly fourteen years ago! The World Cup of motor sport’s inaugural race from Brands Hatch in September 2005 attracted an audience of 247,000 viewers to much fanfare back then.

Of course, that statistic also means that the 2019 running of the 500 out-rated every Formula 1 feeder race in the past seven years, which is great for IndyCar, but not so good for Formula Two. Sky did not repeat the 500 in the days following the race, whereas Formula Two races are repeated ad nauseam on the channel.

The audience figures are slightly below what MotoGP gets on BT Sport and ITV4 get for British Touring Cars, but not a million miles away.

For me, the viewing figures this time around are more surprising than 2017. The 2017 audience boost can be equated to Alonso, and we all knew that race was going to receive a sizeable boost, whereas this time, the boost cannot be equated to a specific person.

Yes, the race did follow Sky’s Monaco programming on the very same channel, but the gap between Monaco concluding and the Indianapolis 500 starting was nearly two hours, enough time for the audience to dwindle, as we have seen on many occasions in the past.

However, it should be acknowledged that BT’s programme in 2017 essentially had to ‘self-start’ from an audience perspective, whereas the 2019 audience was already there and waiting on the same channel.

If Alonso drives in 2020, and manages to qualify next year, it will be interesting to see if there is any boost beyond 2019’s figure. The target audience will already be watching Sky Sports F1, so any further boost may be limited.

As in 2017, do not expect IndyCar’s numbers to suddenly jump moving forward. However, being on the same channel as Sky’s F1 offering provides a platform for IndyCar’s numbers to gradually increase.

Sky need to prepared to increase resources to help the cause, including bespoke UK commentary during US ad-breaks. The argument for doing that has surely increased following the successful trial run during the 500, bringing Sky back in-line to the level of coverage that BT Sport offered.

For now, at least, the IndyCar Series had another, somewhat unexpected, day in the sun from a UK perspective. And based on the quality of both the 500, and the Duel in Detroit over this past weekend, they absolutely deserve it.

Scheduling: The 2019 Canadian Grand Prix

Formula 1 heads for its annual June trip to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix!

The Grand Prix airs exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, and with it, both Ted Kravitz and Jenson Button are returning to Sky’s line-up for the weekend.

Stefano Domenicali joins Steve Jones and David Coulthard over on Channel 4. Their highlights air later than in previous years due to the contractual restrictions imposed on them by Sky. Qualifying starts at 19:00 on Saturday, with the race starting at 19:10 on Sunday.

Adding three hours onto the expected end time (20:00 for qualifying and 20:40 for the race) takes you to 23:00 and 23:40 respectively, hence why Channel 4’s programming starts when it does over the weekend.

The race faces the UEFA Nations League final, which kicks off at 19:45. The final will see either Portugal or Switzerland face Netherlands or England. Although the tournament is nowhere near the scale of the football World Cup or Euro’s, the clash does demonstrate an unwillingness from Liberty to work their way around major football clashes.

Elsewhere, the W Series line-up is radically different in Misano, as both Kravitz and Coulthard are on duty in Canada. Allan McNish replaces Coulthard as W Series analyst and co-commentator for Misano. MotoGP reporter Amy Dargan replaces Kravitz, whilst Becky Evans (aka Queen B) serves as an additional correspondent.

Channel 4 F1
08/06 – 22:50 to 00:20 – Qualifying Highlights
09/06 – 23:00 to 01:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
07/06 – 14:45 to 16:45 – Practice 1
07/06 – 18:45 to 20:45 – Practice 2
08/06 – 15:45 to 17:30
=> 15:45 – Practice 3
=> 17:10 – Paddock Walkabout
08/06 – 18:00 to 20:30 – Qualifying
=> 18:00 – Pre-Show
=> 18:55 – Qualifying
09/06 – 17:30 to 22:30 – Race
=> 17:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 18:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 19:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 21:00 – Paddock Live
=> 22:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
06/06 – 16:00 to 16:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
06/06 – 22:00 to 22:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
07/06 – 21:00 to 21:30 – The Story so Far
08/06 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Show
12/06 – 20:00 to 20:30 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
09/06 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

W Series – Misano (Channel 4)
Qualifying airs live across Facebook and Twitter
08/06 – 14:45 to 16:00 – Race

Euroformula – Spa (BT Sport 3)
Also airs live on YouTube
08/06 – 14:30 to 15:30 – Race 1
09/06 – 12:45 to 13:45 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Texas 600 (Sky Sports F1)
07/06 – 23:30 to 01:00 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
08/06 (Saturday night) – 01:00 to 04:00 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)

International GT Open – Spa (BT Sport 3)
Also airs live on YouTube
08/06 – 15:30 to 17:00 – Race 1
09/06 – 13:45 to 15:15 – Race 2

World Superbikes – Jerez
Also airs live on World Superbikes’ Video Pass (£)
07/06 – 09:25 onwards (Eurosport 2)
=> 09:25 to 10:25 – SBK: Practice 1
=> 13:55 to 14:55 – SBK: Practice 2
=> 14:55 to 15:55 – SSP: Practice 2
08/06 – 09:30 to 14:15 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
09/06 – 09:30 to 15:15 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
12/06 – 22:00 to 23:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

The listings will be updated if plans change.