Scheduling: The 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix

After one of the best Formula 1 races of the modern era, the Grand Prix paddock heads to the Hungaroring for the final stop before the Summer break.

At least two on-screen talent have already started their F1 break. Germany was Ted Kravitz’s last race for Sky until Italy, meaning that neither him nor his Notebook output will be present this weekend in Hungary, or in Belgium after the break.

Over on the BBC, Jennie Gow is not with 5 Live out in Hungary, instead W Series lead commentator Claire Cottingham takes up station in pit lane.

The Budapest schedule takes up a different feel this weekend, with Formula Two and Formula Three swapping places on Saturday. The reason for this is that Formula Three qualifying takes place on Saturday morning, not Friday evening as at earlier rounds.

For UK viewers, Sky have opted to prioritise The F1 Show over the first Formula Three race, the latter airing on a short tape-delay.

Elsewhere on the scheduling front, MotoGP returns from its Summer break in the Czech Republic. But fans without BT Sport will discover that free-to-air highlights on Quest are now airing in an even later slot. The broadcaster has moved their highlights from 22:00 to 23:00, likely due to poor viewing figures.

It is a busy weekend, with the British Touring Car Championship and World Rally Championship also returning from their Summer holidays.

Channel 4 F1
03/08 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying Highlights
04/08 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
02/08 – 09:45 to 11:55 – Practice 1
02/08 – 13:45 to 15:50 – Practice 2
03/08 – 10:45 to 12:30
=> 10:45 – Practice 3
=> 12:10 – Paddock Walkabout
03/08 – 13:00 to 15:30 – Qualifying
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying
04/08 – 12:30 to 17:00 – Race
=> 12:30 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event from 13:00)
=> 13:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:00 – Paddock Live (also Sky Sports Main Event until 16:30)

Supplementary Programming
01/08 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
01/08 – 17:00 to 17:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
02/08 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
03/08 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The F1 Show
07/08 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
01/08 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
04/08 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Race Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)

MotoGP – Czech Republic (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
02/08 – 07:45 to 15:15 – Practice 1 and 2
03/08 – 08:00 to 15:15
=> 07:45 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
04/08 – 07:30 to 15:00
=> 07:30 – Warm Ups
=> 09:15 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Czech Republic (Quest)
05/08 – 23:00 to 00:00 – Highlights

British Superbikes – Thruxton
03/08 – 15:30 to 18:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
04/08 – 13:00 to 18:00 – Races (Eurosport 2)
07/08 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

British Talent Cup – Czech Republic
03/08 – 15:15 to 16:15 – Race 1 (BT Sport 2)
04/08 – 14:15 to 15:15 – Race 2 (BT Sport 3)

British Touring Car Championship – Snetterton (ITV4)
04/08 – 10:45 to 18:30 – Races

Formula Two – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
02/08 – 11:55 to 12:45 – Practice
02/08 – 15:50 to 16:30 – Qualifying
03/08 – 09:00 to 10:15 – Race 1
04/08 – 10:15 to 11:15 – Race 2

Formula Three – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
03/08 – 07:55 to 08:30 – Qualifying
03/08 – 16:00 to 16:55 – Race 1 Tape-Delay
04/08 – 08:55 to 09:45 – Race 2

Porsche Supercup – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
04/08 – 11:40 to 12:15 – Race

Speedway Grand Prix – Poland (BT Sport 3)
03/08 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races

World Rally Championship – Finland (All Live)
Also airs live on WRCPlus.com (£)
01/08 – 17:00 to 19:00 – Stage 1 (BT Sport Extra 3)
02/08 – 06:00 to 19:15 – Stages 2 to 11 (BT Sport Extra 1)
03/08 – 06:00 to 18:00 – Stages 12 to 19 (BT Sport Extra 1)
04/08 – 05:30 to 12:45 – Stages 20 to 23 (BT Sport Extra 1)

World Rally Championship – Finland
01/08 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Stage 1 (BT Sport 1)
02/08 – 01:00 to 02:00 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
02/08 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Stage 11 (BT Sport 1)
02/08 – 22:30 to 23:00 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
03/08 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Stage 18 (BT Sport 1)
03/08 – 21:15 to 21:45 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
04/08 – 07:30 to 08:30 – Stage 21 (BT Sport 1)
04/08 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Stage 23 [Power Stage] (BT Sport 1)
05/08 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (5Spike)

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


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Button stands out as Sky celebrates their 150th F1 race

Last weekend’s German Grand Prix was an instant classic, as Max Verstappen stormed to victory in a wet-dry race at Hockenheim.

Off the circuit, the weekend marked Sky Sports’ 150th race covering Formula 1, having started back in 2012. Seven and a half years later, I look at Sky’s season so far…

Strength in numbers
Despite the ever-changing world of broadcasting, remarkably Sky’s Formula 1 line-up is still mostly intact compared with their original 2012 team.

Simon Lazenby has presented every race from track side, with David Croft in the commentary box. Martin Brundle has remained alongside both most of the time, as has Ted Kravitz.

In addition, Natalie Pinkham, Anthony Davidson, Johnny Herbert, and Damon Hill remain with Sky. Recently, Paul di Resta and Nico Rosberg have also joined the line-up. Heading into 2019 and the start of a new broadcasting deal, Motorsport Broadcasting expected change, and predicted such changes two years earlier.

The appointment of Scott Young as Sky’s new Head of Formula 1 at the end of 2017 meant that the coverage was bound to move in a different direction over time.

In the off-season, Sky added 2009 champion Jenson Button and Karun Chandhok to their roster. 2019 started on a rocky note, as a decision to drop Kravitz from Sky’s line-up was u-turned from within, the saga badly handled throughout as this site exclusively revealed at the time.

Irrespective, both Button and Chandhok have proven to be fantastic additions to Sky’s line-up during the first half of 2019, bringing a fresh perspective with them.

Chandhok brings all the expertise and knowledge with him from his three years at Channel 4, whilst Button is arguably the best new on-screen personality on the UK F1 broadcasting scene in years.

The signs of a great broadcaster were present throughout Button’s racing career during interview segments, and it is no surprise the way he has easily settled into his role with Sky, even if he is only with them for five races this year. Button’s contributions are insightful, yet down to earth, in equal measure.

Chandhok was unfairly criticised in the opening races for ‘not being Ted,’ Kravitz’s commitments cut down to 14 races this season.

Both are excellent broadcasters in their own unique way, Kravitz with his Notebook output, and Chandhok with his analytical Sky Pad segments alongside Anthony Davidson, the latter of which continues to be a highlight of Sky’s F1 coverage.

With 14 people now part of Sky’s F1 on-air team (including Rachel Brookes and Craig Slater), does the broadcaster run into the risk of having ‘too many cooks’ present? Of course, Sky uses most of the 14 in rotation, with seven to nine people present during a race weekend.

Is that too much? In my view, the amount of on-air people is fine, but the way Sky uses them can be improved.

Karun Chandhok and Jenson Button analyse the incident between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton during the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix (watch the video on Sky’s F1 website).

Feeder series stay neglected
Which brings us to the ‘feeder series problem’ that continues to be a problem for Sky.

Sky have made small, positive steps in this area recently. Most Formula Two sessions now contain a brief build-up, with Lazenby, Chandhok and Davidson engaging in brief chatter.

On occasion, we also hear a pre-recorded interview with one of the Formula Two stars, such as Jack Aitken and Nyck de Vries, helping introduce fans to the future stars. But Formula Two continues to feel like the unwanted bit on the side.

Sky’s F1 qualifying coverage should seamlessly link into the first F2 race, yet Sky have never experimented on this front, whilst each F2 race features zero analysis and wrap-up.

The social media element has suffered so far in 2019, with few tweets from the official @SkySportsF1 Twitter account for either Formula Two or Formula Three. Will Esler, who was one of Sky’s main F1 social media reporters and built up Sky’s F2 and F3 social content, left their team towards the end of 2018, resulting in a significant drop in quality.

Both feeder championships deserve promotion during Sky’s main F1 programming. Formula 1 themselves are finally realising the value of F2 and F3, promoting both championships across social media, but Sky are not following them.

Coincidentally, the lack of promotion extends to Sky’s IndyCar coverage, with Sky only sporadically referencing IndyCar during their commentary, despite Sky airing IndyCar on the F1 channel this season.

During the British Grand Prix weekend, Sky stayed on-air live during the Friday lunch break. However, apart from two live links from Lazenby, the remaining 55 minutes of the hour featured two extended pre-recorded VTs and adverts.

Sky could have spent the hour focusing on the stars of tomorrow, producing a nice bit of television for the aficionados, in a similar vein to BT’s MotoGP offering, but Sky opted not to.

To make matters worse, Sky had 13 of the 14 on-air team on hand at Silverstone, making it difficult to justify why Sky did not use the hour wisely.

If Sky want to take extra cooks to a race, fine, but Sky should use their cooks across a variety of menus (F1, F2 and F3) instead of sticking to the same recipe (F1).

Documentaries come to forefront with strong storytelling
One of the areas where Sky have improved this season is with their documentaries strand, their storytelling the strongest in a long time.

It also highlights that when Sky’s coverage is good, it can be fantastic, as the segments that aired during the British Grand Prix weekend proved.

The broadcaster aired an hour-long documentary focusing on Sir Frank Williams’ 50 years in Formula 1, an excellent piece of television, and the kind of material you would expect a dedicated F1 channel to air.

In addition, Sky aired a segment in which Ross Brawn reunited Button with his championship winning Brawn BGP001.

Unlike other car segments which Sky have aired across the years, this segment held a connection bigger than the rest, which was plainly obvious (in a positive way) in the output, the whole segment well done I felt.

Sky also dealt with the tributes to Niki Lauda and Charlie Whiting appropriately in the first half of 2019, both with the right balance in my view. The Whiting tribute was lovely, yet heart wrenching at the same time, with a clearly emotional Bernie Ecclestone paying his respects.

Archive material has played its part on Sky this year. From F1’s 100th race celebrations, to reminiscing about Red Bull’s and Johnny Herbert’s first victories, it does feel like Sky are making greater use of the F1 archive than previously.

One rumour Motorsport Broadcasting heard earlier this year was that Sky were planning on packaging archive races together into smaller edits, accompanied by a voice over, so it will be interesting to see if that comes to fruition moving forward.

In an era of efficiency savings, it is difficult to see Sky repeating the success of ‘Senna Week‘ from 2014, but nevertheless I am pleased to see Sky producing excellent documentary material again.

Weekend structure not quite there
Sky’s changes were noticeable from the very first seconds of their 2019 coverage, as Outlands by Daft Punk replaced Alistair Griffin’s Just Drive, which has been front and centre of Sky’s coverage since 2012, as the opening theme.

Their weekend offering has felt more ‘all rounded’, with the addition of a practice round-up show to their Friday schedules. ‘The Story so Far’ gives viewers a digestible wrap-up of Friday’s action, allowing Sky to dissect the practice action, interviewing personalities we may not always see on screen.

If anything, The F1 Show filled this area previously, but Sky opted to move The F1 Show to Saturday’s at the start of 2018. Now in its second year on Saturday’s, I still feel that The F1 Show should revert to its Friday time slot.

It is disappointing that Sky continues to prioritise the magazine show over either Formula Two analysis, or F1 qualifying analysis, the latter a kick in the teeth considering Kravitz’s post-qualifying Notebook is no more this season.

BT Sport airs Premier League Tonight, which is a magazine show following their football coverage, tackling on and off-pitch issues that no other show in the football television landscape covers, generating conversation across social media in the process.

You would never imagine the current iteration of The F1 Show – or any show currently on Sky F1 for that matter – covering the kind of issues that PL Tonight covers.

The bugbear of Sky’s split-screen cutaways remains during their practice coverage. The odd cutaway is fine, but Sky utilises the split-screen far too often for my liking, sometimes hiding Formula 1’s own on-screen graphics.

Practice sessions can be dull, and I understand the desire to add detail, but cutting to the pit lane too much during practice risks alienating the core audience watching who just want to see cars on circuit.

Paul di Resta, Simon Lazenby and Martin Brundle interview Frankie Dettori from the Paddock Club during Sky’s 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix build-up.

Race day content continues to improve
With Sky Pad analysis and excellent VT’s, Sky’s build-ups have had some excellent moments during 2019 so far. The variety of Sky’s line-up has helped to this effect as well.

The quality of Sky’s build-ups has fluctuated this year, from the lows in Bahrain (an excessive amount of celebrity and Paddock Club coverage), to the highs of Canada and Britain, you do sometimes wonder ‘which Sky will turn up this weekend.’

However, it does feel that the quality of coverage that Sky are putting out there has improved significantly over the past few races. It is difficult to pin point the exact moment, rather it just feels like a trend in the right direction more than anything else.

Supporting Sky’s race day broadcasts this season are the usual analytical voices on hand to offer their expert opinion, led by Brundle and Davidson, with Chandhok joining the fray this season.

Sky tried to change their post-race coverage in Australia, making use of their paddock studio base, but viewers panned the change across social media (even if this writer did enjoy the fresh style).

The change reminded me of BBC’s original F1 Forum from 2009 and had the potential to evolve into something new. The change lasted one race, with the old post-race style soon returning, although I do wish Sky tried a bit harder with implementing what they had in mind instead of giving up after Australia.

One of Sky’s initial problems for the fly-away races was the ‘hard close’ at the top of the hour, resulting in a shorter post-race than in previous years, to cater for the race repeat that followed, meaning that there were always some time constraints, despite being a dedicated channel.

Sky’s post-race is enjoyable, although you need a juicy moment in the race for the post-race content to light up, as we saw in Canada with the incident between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

A post-race broadcast can only be as good as the race, a poor race lends itself to a poor post-race broadcast, and vice versa. When F1 is on top, the whole broadcast bounces up with it.

Inevitably, a calendar of 21 races means that some race weekends will not feel special, which is the risk Formula 1 as a collective take when they expand the calendar. Is it therefore unfair to blame them if one of two of their build-ups do feel ‘run of the mill?’

Sky has a vast amount of resources on offer, yet BT Sport’s MotoGP platform and WRC All Live can produce a similar level of coverage, with fewer resources.

After all the points outlined above, has Sky’s coverage evolved positively since 2012? Have your say in the comments below.


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News round-up: New Formula Two documentary coming soon; Facebook touts MotoGP success

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, initial details surrounding a new Formula Two documentary emerge, whilst Facebook touts MotoGP’s success on the social media platform.

The regular round-up is intended to give you a bite sized round-up of the latest news making the rounds, as well as interesting snippets that I have picked up along the way. The snippets I mention would not normally be mentioned in longer pieces, so consider the round-ups additional to the other material posted.

ICYMI: Round-Up #3 (July 1st): Sky F1 to air special Williams documentary; Formula E wins award for TV product

ICYMI: Round-Up #2 (May 28th): F1’s US audience figures increase; Formula E hits the big screen

ICYMI: Round-Up #1 (May 13th): Turner returns to F1 fold; F1 adjusts OTT pricing; Barrat joins Formula E’s TV team

Formula 1

  • Formula 1 are working on a new documentary shining a light on their feeder series Formula Two, this site can reveal. Details are sketchy, but I understand Martin Turner and Formula Two’s television producer Mark Tomlinson are two names working on the documentary, filming interviews during recent race weekends.
  • Joe Saward reports that Formula 1 could be returning to NBC in the US, taking F1 away from incumbent rights holder ESPN.
    • F1 left NBC for ESPN at the end of the 2017 season, following a dispute between F1 and NBC. At the time, NBC wanted to retain exclusive digital rights to F1, something F1 were unwilling to let happen, as this would have prevented the over-the-top F1 TV product from launching in the US.
    • Since then, NBC’s owners Comcast have bought Sky UK, so a return to NBC for F1 would make strategic sense for all parties. Maybe NBC no longer sees F1 TV as a major threat either, which does not spell good news F1 TV’s subscriber numbers if that is indeed the case…
  • Readers may remember that back at the Canadian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas spun coming out of the second corner during qualifying.
    • The spin aired live on some outlets, such as Radio 5 Live and Channel 4 (during their highlights show), but other outlets, such as Sky Sports F1, did not air it live.
    • Each camera operator has a ‘push to live’ button meaning that, if an incident is unfolding in front of them, they can push a button that bypasses the director and allows them to go live to air (although clearly this should only be used under exceptional circumstances).
    • In Canada, the feed Sky was taking was different to that Radio 5 Live, Channel 4 and others took – there are four different ‘World Feed’ options, catering for different regions.
    • At the time of the Canadian qualifying session, the ‘push to live’ mechanism was only being sent to two of the four feeds. The issue was rectified for race day.
  • Formula 1 has launched F1 Tracks, a music playlist that will be updated on a weekly basis across major audio streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple and Deezer. The tracks are filtered into four categories (Pace, Mechanical, Spirit and Fan).
    • To quote F1 themselves in response to a fan question on Twitter, F1 Track “gives us a dynamic platform for fans that brings [music and sport] together – and allows us to create exciting promotional opportunities within F1 such as getting talent in to races for performances, DJ sets, interviews, and others.”
  • Fans heard a new voice on the World Feed during the British Grand Prix weekend. Jake Sanson commentated on Formula Two practice and qualifying, as well as all of Formula Three’s sessions alongside Alex Jacques.
  • The most recent series of Top Gear featured a segment looking at the Lotus 79, which won the 1978 Constructors’ Championship. Honestly, this is an excellent VT from start to finish, and is Top Gear at its strongest.
    • Chris Harris narrates the piece, and takes the Lotus 79 out on-track in the latter half of the segment. The piece also features contributions from Peter Wright (R&D at Lotus from 1975 to 1983), Mario Andretti and Clive Chapman.
    • UK readers can watch the segment on BBC iPlayer here (46 minutes in), the episode available on iPlayer for the next eleven months.

Elsewhere…

  • Facebook are touting MotoGP as one of their success stories on the platform. The social media outlet says that MotoGP “aimed to drive incremental referral traffic to its website differently, through a strong links publishing strategy on Facebook with a video focus.”
    • After implementing the strategy, MotoGP saw their referral traffic from social media to their website increasing by 40 percent year-on-year, with referrals from Facebook leaping by 90 percent year-on-year.
  • The new electric SUV off-road racing series Extreme E, which is operated by Formula E, has signed a multi-year broadcast deal with Fox Sports. The deal, which covers USA, Canada, and the Caribbean, will see Fox Sports cover the first three campaigns beginning with the inaugural series in 2021.
    • Bill Wagner, who is Fox Sports’ EVP and Head of Programming, said “FOX Sports is excited to add Extreme E to its programming line-up in 2021. Extreme racing in extreme environments, all using the latest electric technology makes for inviting programming across multiple audiences.”
  • The BBC published an article looking at Shiv Gohil’s Formula E photography which is worth a read (here).
  • Greenlight Television have announced that King of the Roads will air on Motorsport.tv. All ten Road Races will air on a same day basis on the over-the-top platform.

Spot any stories making the rounds worth mentioning? Drop a line in the comments section.


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Scheduling: The 2019 German Grand Prix

Germany plays host to the half way stage of the Formula 1 season, as the paddock heads to Hockenheim.

After live coverage at Silverstone, it is back to highlights for Channel 4 for the remainder of the season, as Billy Monger joins the team for the weekend alongside regulars Steve Jones, David Coulthard and Ben Edwards. Sky’s coverage of qualifying and the race airs across their F1 channel and Main Event.

Due to the different contractual arrangements in play between F1 and circuit organisers, Formula Two and Formula Three are again absent, leaving a lighter weekend schedule for fans attending the Grand Prix. The last time Formula Two (or GP2 as it was known then) raced at Hockenheim was back in 2016.

Elsewhere, the IndyCar Series heats up, with only four races remaining following the Mid-Ohio round. It is also a busy weekend on the endurance front, with Spa and Suzuka playing host to four- and two-wheel racing respectively.

Channel 4 F1
27/07 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying Highlights
28/07 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
26/07 – 09:45 to 11:45 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event until 11:00)
26/07 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
27/07 – 10:45 to 12:30
=> 10:45 – Practice 3
=> 12:10 – Paddock Walkabout
27/07 – 13:00 to 15:30 – Qualifying
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event from 14:00)
28/07 – 12:30 to 17:30 – Race
=> 12:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 13:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:00 – Paddock Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 17:00 – Notebook (also Sky Sports Main Event)

Supplementary Programming
25/07 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
25/07 – 17:00 to 17:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
26/07 – 16:00 to 16:30 – The Story so Far
27/07 – 15:30 to 16:00 – The F1 Show (also Sky Sports Main Event)
30/07 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
25/07 – 19:30 to 20:30 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
27/07 – 14:00 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
28/07 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup – 24 Hours of Spa
Also airs live on YouTube
27/07 and 28/07 – Race
=> 15:15 to 17:00 (Eurosport 2)
=> 21:00 to 22:30 (Eurosport 2)
=> 09:30 [Sunday] to 10:50 (Eurosport)
=> 14:00 to 16:00 (Eurosport 2)

IndyCar Series – Mid-Ohio (Sky Sports F1)
27/07 – 19:30 to 21:30 – Qualifying
28/07 – 20:30 to 23:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Germany (Sky Sports F1)
28/07 – 11:20 to 12:00 – Race

Suzuka 8 Hours (Eurosport 2)
28/07 – 03:15 to 12:00 – Race

Virgin Australia Supercars – Ipswich
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
27/07 – 06:45 to 08:30 – Race 1 (BT Sport 2)
28/07 – 04:45 to 06:45 – Race 2 (BT Sport 3)

This article will be updated if details change.


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British Grand Prix bowled out by tough competition

Coverage of the British Grand Prix was squeezed on Sunday afternoon, as the Formula 1 race faced tough competition from Wimbledon and the Cricket World Cup final, overnight viewing figures show.

All overnight viewing figures exclude people watching in pubs and bars, as well as those watching via on demand platforms, such as Now TV and All 4.

Although Motorsport Broadcasting no longer has access to audience data, a number of figures have been published in the public domain, the sources for which are at the foot of this article.

Television
Live coverage of the Grand Prix averaged 1.8m (13%) on Channel 4 from 13:10 to 16:45. The figure includes their pre-race build-up and post-race reaction.

Channel 4’s coverage reached a five-minute peak of 2.8 million viewers as Lewis Hamilton won the race. The peak audience increases to 3.7 million viewers when including Sky Sports F1’s offering, resulting in a split of around 76:24 in Channel 4’s favour.

F1’s audience figures are the lowest for Silverstone since 2006, when the race started at 12:00 UK time to avoid competition from the football World Cup. Year-on-year, F1 lost around 700,000 viewers due to the increased competition.

Despite the year-on-year decrease, Channel 4’s peak audience is their highest of the year so far for F1, which is to be expected as it is the only race that the free-to-air broadcaster is airing live this season.

In contrast, an average audience of 6.0m (43%) watched Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final from 13:50 to 19:35 on BBC One.

The final peaked with a massive 10.2m (49.2%) just after 19:00 as Djokovic won the match. Whilst the Grand Prix did not beat Wimbledon head-to-head, the race itself did beat the cricket, although this was before the cricket hit its stride later in the afternoon.

A peak audience of over eight million viewers watched England’s cricket victory over New Zealand at 19:25. It was the first time a major cricket game had aired live on free-to-air television in the UK since the famous Ashes 2005 series between England and Australia.

At the time of the peak, 4.8m (23.2%) were watching Channel 4, with an additional 3.5 million viewers watching via Sky One, Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event.

Audience figures suggest that many viewers switched over with the cricket when Channel 4 moved from the cricket to the F1 at 13:10, as More 4’s airing of the cricket averaged a sizeable 936k (7.2%).

In comparison, Channel 4’s morning coverage of the cricket averaged 1.2m (16.9%) from 09:00 to 13:10, a lower audience but higher share than the F1. When Channel 4 returned to the cricket at 16:45, the remainder of their coverage averaged 2.5m (13.7%) until 20:15.

Channel 4’s CEO Alex Mahon said “I’m thrilled that a total peak audience of 8.3m watched England win the Cricket World Cup Final on Channel 4 and Sky and 3.7m viewers saw Lewis Hamilton win a record-breaking sixth British Grand Prix.”

“It’s wonderful that the whole nation can come together to share these momentous British sporting events thanks to a fantastic partnership between Channel 4 and Sky.”

Online
It was a big day for the BBC Sport website. Their live page for the Cricket World Cup final attracted 39.7 million hits, BBC’s highest of the year so far across News and Sport.

In comparison, the Wimbledon live page recorded 13.4 million hits, with the British Grand Prix live page seeing 2.5 million views.

Of course, the length of the three events plays its part (cricket lasted the best part of nine hours, whereas the Grand Prix is 90 minutes), but it shows that the Grand Prix was squeezed out badly by both the cricket and Wimbledon.

I know you cannot avoid every sporting event, but scheduling the Grand Prix against Wimbledon (again) and the Cricket World Cup final was never going to end well.

It meant that a fantastic Grand Prix was pushed off the back page, quite rightly, when on another Sunday, it may well have received many more plaudits, and higher audience figures to boot.

Of course, expecting F1 to equal major finals is a ridiculous notion, but a clear path yesterday would have allowed F1 to reach 30 to 40 percent more viewers than what they did.

Evidently, major live sport on free-to-air television is like buses. When they do turn up, they all arrive in one go. Not everyone can win, and yesterday it was F1 that lost out on the jackpot.

With only one race live on free-to-air television for each of the next five years, F1 as a collective cannot afford to waste days like yesterday.

Sources: Broadcast, Channel 4 Press, Dan Roan (BBC), Laura Lambert (Daily Mail)


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