The top 10 articles of 2019

Each year, it is fascinating to see what has struck a chord with Motorsport Broadcasting readers across the year, and 2019 is no different.

There is a running theme throughout the most read articles that we published this year, with a surprising entry on top, an example of what happens when your PR strategy goes very badly wrong…

10. Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2019 – March 3rd
With all but one race of the 2019 Formula One season airing exclusively live on Sky Sports, the annual post looking at how much it will cost fans to watch Sky Sports F1 was high up in the rankings again.

9. New opening themes for Sky’s and Channel 4’s F1 coverage – March 16th
The change for fans heading into 2019 was noticeable from the very first second that both Sky Sports and Channel 4 went on-air with their F1 offering. Out went Just Drive and The Chain, and in came Outlands and Genesis to herald a new era.

8. Fewer races with Sky for Kravitz as coverage undergoes revamp – March 8th
News surrounding Ted Kravitz dominated the agenda heading into Melbourne. After Sky u-turned on a decision to axe him from their coverage (see below), it later emerged that he was returning to Sky in a reduced role. Little did we know at this point, but Kravitz had signed up to cover the W Series in the intervening period.

7. No UK free-to-air coverage for WRC as Channel 5 deal ends – January 28th
Besides what sits in the number one slot, this is the most read non-F1 story of the year, showing that many clamour for rallying action. Unfortunately, news emerged prior to the season opening Monte Carlo rally that the series would be leaving Channel 5. However, in another u-turn, the series ended up staying within the Channel 5 portfolio, but now on sister station 5Spike (soon to merge with Paramount Network on 7th January).

6. F1 avoids television blackout during German Grand Prix – August 1st
The German Grand Prix was by far the most dramatic F1 race of the season, but the drama continued off the track. In the early hours of Saturday morning, a fire destroyed one of F1’s production trucks. A mammoth effort meant that the action went ahead as scheduled, with fans seeing very little impact to the reduced service behind the scenes.

5. Ted’s Notebook to return to Sky’s F1 schedule – April 8th
Where Ted goes, the Notebook follows. After missing Australia and Bahrain, Ted Kravitz returned to Sky’s coverage in China, with his Notebook also returning. The post-race Notebook returned, although the post-qualifying Notebook remains on a leave of absence. Whether it will return in 2020 remains unclear.

4. A new era, and a new F1 theme, as Channel 4 breaks The Chain – March 9th
Synonymous with F1 fans for decades, Motorsport Broadcasting exclusively revealed news of The Chain’s demise in the run-up to Melbourne. A bidding war between Channel 4 and Sky increased the price for the popular theme, leading to neither broadcaster using it in the end.

3. Coulthard to step away from Channel 4’s F1 coverage for three races this season – April 15th
Like Martin Brundle in 2018 with Sky, Channel 4’s David Coulthard opted to part company with the commentary booth for three race weekends in 2019. Allan McNish and Mark Webber stepped in to fill his boots alongside lead commentator Ben Edwards.

2. Ted Kravitz to remain part of Sky’s Formula 1 team – February 25th
Following intense social media speculation, news reached Motorsport Broadcasting that Ted Kravitz was indeed remaining with Sky Sports F1 for the 2019 season. Every story has a few twists and turns, and this was no difference, as this site exclusively revealed key details behind the decision-making process at Sky.

1. Motorsport Network to sell F1 Racing magazine; Autosport magazine heading towards oblivion – October 6th
As the top ten demonstrates, 2019 saw a few u-turns’ in the broadcasting space, perhaps none bigger than what unfolded over at Motorsport Network. Autosport axed. Autosport not axed. Autosport price to rise. Autosport price rise reversed. All within the space of four weeks. Evidently, Motorsport Network never reached out to their user base before this unfolded, otherwise they could have avoided a PR disaster.

Behind the Scenes
Elsewhere on the site, Motorsport Broadcasting delved inside many motor sport paddocks to bring you closer to the fold, including the W Series and World Endurance Championship, interviewing personalities such as Lee McKenzie along the way.

Outside of the paddock, Motorsport Broadcasting was again present at the Autosport Show, as well as attending the BlackBook Motorsport Forum in September and a night celebrating a decade of Whisper. The travel to and from these events does cost money, along with accommodation, so a hit of the donation link below would be greatly appreciated.

Whether you are a fan of the logistical side of the sport, or want to know where the sport is heading in the over-the-top space, I hope you have enjoyed the variety of content on this site across the past twelve months.


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Merry Christmas from Motorsport Broadcasting

The 2010’s have come and gone, dominated largely by the same two men in Marc Marquez and Lewis Hamilton. Despite the predictable outcome of both championships this year, 2019 has seen some awesome moments in the motor racing world that will live long in the memory.

In my own surroundings, 2019 started and ended on two wildly different notes. Moving into my first home in October was scary, but two and a half months on, I can safely say I made an excellent decision.

Inevitably, activity on the site has decreased as a result, but hopefully you have noticed an increase in content in recent weeks. As I have said before, I prefer to write fewer, high quality articles rather than producing frequent, lower quality content just to boost the numbers. The former is far more enjoyable in my view.

Out at industry events this year, I have met more awesome people during the Autosport Show, Black Book Motorsport Forum and Whisper events, as well as attending both the MotoGP and World Endurance Championship rounds at Silverstone, all helping me to write original, distinctive content for this site. To everyone who has complimented me: thank you, it means a lot.

It would be amiss of me not to send a special thanks to Andrew, Daniel Finley, Jack Ainslie and Nigel Chiu for writing four excellent guest articles, bringing their own viewpoint to the site throughout 2019.

The aim remains the same: to bring motor sport fans a different perspective on the sport that we all love, and I hope that this site is playing a small part in delivering that ambition. Thank you to everyone who has read the site again this year, as Motorsport Broadcasting heads into year eight.

To all reading this article, I hope you all have a relaxing Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Cheers,
Dave
Owner of Motorsport Broadcasting


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News round-up: F2 documentary release date announced; UK Christmas scheduling details

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, news on when fans can get their hands on the new Formula Two documentary, whilst fans of the Formula One season review will be getting double the action in this year’s offering…

The round-up gives a bite sized view of the latest news making the waves, as well as interesting snippets that I have picked up along the way.

ICYMI: Round-Up #7 (November 3rd): F1 to remain on ESPN in US; Eurosport UK to air British Speedway

ICYMI: Round-Up #6 (October 15th): New Brabham film released; MotoGP moves towards HDR resolution

ICYMI: Round-Up #5 (September 12th): Bratches set to exit F1 role; Eurosport executive joins Formula E

ICYMI: Round-Up #4 (July 23rd): New Formula Two documentary coming soon; Facebook touts MotoGP success

The round-up covers from the start of November onwards, so I have mentioned a few points retrospectively for completeness.

Note from Dave – This is the eighth and last round-up of 2019. As we head into 2020, I would be interested to know if you have found the round-ups interesting and informative this year. The point of the round-ups is to cover news snippets that I would not usually mention in a standalone piece.

It is impossible to mention every little detail, otherwise the round-up turns into a long and unwieldy list, which I want to avoid. If you have found these interesting and valuable, a quick comment underneath or over on the social channels would be much appreciated.

Formula 1

  • There are plenty of Christmas specials coming up to keep the pulse racing.
    • Sky Sports’ 60-minute review is already available to watch via Sky’s on demand service.
    • BBC’s 5 Live special premieres on Christmas Eve at 20:00, with a very special presenter. Steve Rider presides over the festivities as Claire Cottingham, Jack Nicholls, Alex Jacques, Andrew Benson, Jennie Gow and Jolyon Palmer take part in an F1 themed quiz.
    • Over on F1 TV Pro, there is a 45-minute special of the Weekend Debrief, aptly titled Season Debrief. UK fans can watch the special on Sky Sports F1 over the festive period.
    • Further afield, Sky aired highlights of the annual Autosport Awards earlier this month. The same 90-minute package can also be found on Autosport’s YouTube channel.
  • 2020 starts with the new Formula Two documentary series landing on F1 TV. As first revealed by Motorsport Broadcasting in July, the series focuses on the stars of tomorrow in a 5 x 25 minute series. Fans worldwide, including the UK, will be able to watch F2: Chasing the Dream from Thursday 2nd January.
  • Series 2 of Drive to Survive is complete from an editorial perspective. Writing on Twitter on Friday, producer Paul Martin noted that Friday was the “last night in the edit.” Box to Box Films or Netflix have yet to confirm a release date for the much-anticipated sequel.
  • The FIA has amended the 2020 Formula One Sporting Regulations to “prevent teams from covering their cars during winter testing, in order to make these events more appealing to the media and fans.”
    • Not only is this good news for fans attending the tests, but it is good news for fans worldwide, as testing airs live across F1 TV and Sky Sports F1 for the second year running.
  • The official 2019 Formula One Season Review will return to a four-hour format when it is released by Duke later this month, after heavy criticism of the 2018 review.
    • The 2018 review was slimmer compared to previous years, and contained live commentary from Sky’s David Croft and Martin Brundle instead of a bespoke voiceover from Ben Edwards. Whilst the running length returns to the 2017 format, fans will continue to hear Sky’s commentary in the 2019 review.
  • 2019 champion Lewis Hamilton appeared on The Graham Norton Show last month following his championship victory in Austin. The episode, which aired on BBC One, is available to watch on BBC iPlayer until the early hours of Boxing Day.
  • An audience of 5.8 million viewers watched the 2019 F1 Esports Series online, according to figures released by Formula 1, surpassing the 5.5 million viewers that watched across online and television last year.
    • In addition, F1 says that 79 percent of all viewers were below 34 years old. “We are really excited about the progress we have made this year with a 65% increase in interest in the series compared to 2018, our highest ever online audience of 5.8 million and 169 million social media impressions,” said Julian Tan, F1’s Head of Digital Business Initiatives and Esports.
    • “The massive growth in viewership and engagement is testament to the strength of our esports proposition. I am confident that Formula 1 Esports will continue to grow and broaden the opportunities for the next generation of motorsport fans and brands to engage and invest in this burgeoning space as we continue to break down borders into our sport through esports and gaming – the growth in viewership and engagement this year is a prime indicator of this,” added Tan.
  • The annual Formula Three race from Macau aired live on Formula 1’s YouTube channel last month. For anyone who needs their motor sport fix over Christmas, the race remains on the channel over here.

Elsewhere…

  • The German touring car championship DTM has announced that they are to launch an over-the-top platform ready for the 2020 season. The platform launched in beta mode during last month’s special DTM cross-over event with Super GT.
  • The EV racing site e-racing365 has announced that it is to reduce its Formula E offering from January onwards, citing the current economic environment in the media landscape. e-racing365 has seen record growth, “with a 74 percent increase in unique viewers and a 54 percent increase in page views compared to 2018,” led by editor Sam Smith.
    • Writing on the site, founder John Dagys said “While our editorial coverage has been second-to-none, we’ve fought very hard the last two-and-a-half-years to make it economically viable. It takes significant resources to cover a defacto world championship and without the necessary financial support, we’re unfortunately unable to continue at this level. The motorsports media landscape has continued to change over the last few months and we stand by our principle of being one of the few remaining independent media outlets covering the sport we all love.”
    • “There are a number of exciting all-electric series in the pipeline that we feel will have the necessary interest and support for the site to continue to grow. We’re excited for those opportunities and look forward to helping share the story of the sport’s transition to electrification in the years to come,” Dagys added.
  • The American bike series MotoAmerica is touting record numbers for the 2019 season. The series says that their broadcast audience increased by 134 percent on 2018, largely thanks to a new broadcast relationship with NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 2 instead of beIN Sports. In addition, their social media accounts grew by 33 percent, with impressions up by 229 percent.

If you have spotted anything else making the rounds that is worth a mention, drop a line in the comments section below.


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The magic 2019 numbers

2019 has been another busy year for Motorsport Broadcasting, the first year under the new branding, with fans from nearly 200 countries accessing the site this year.

But why have visitors headed to the site this year? We dive into the stats to see if we can identify any trends…

As Motorsport Broadcasting has grown since its inception, the demographics and location of those visiting the site has changed slightly too.

Top 10 Countries – Percentage of all hits
01 – 71.3 percent (2018: 76.4) – United Kingdom
02 – 7.0 percent (2018: 6.0) – United States
03 – 2.5 percent (2018: 2.0) – Australia
04 – 2.0 percent (2018: 2.1) – Ireland
05 – 1.7 percent (2018: 1.5) – Canada
06 – 1.5 percent (2018: 1.1) – Netherlands
07 – 1.1 percent (2018: 1.3) – Germany
08 – 1.1 percent (2018: 0.8) – Spain
09 – 0.9 percent (2018: 0.9) – France
10 – 0.8 percent (2018: 0.7) – Italy

An interesting top ten, with some noticeable shifts. From a proportion perspective, the UK has dropped to its lowest level. For me, that is a good thing as it means the site is reaching a wider base abroad. In contrast, 7 percent of readers now come from the USA, the largest ever amount, with Australia also returning to their 2016 high.

The US increase is two-fold in my view: Netflix’s Drive to Survive helping to increase interest stateside, as well as the fact that ESPN take Sky Sports F1’s full-length coverage, meaning that the Sky F1 analysis that I publish is not just relevant to UK readers anymore, but also increasingly to readers overseas.

Outside of the top 10 sit Portugal, South Africa, and Finland, all clustered around 0.5 percent. South Africa is on the rise, having accounted for just 0.09 percent of the readership in 2013 and 0.33 percent in 2016. Hello to everyone from South Africa reading this piece!

Top 5 Referring Websites
01 – 66.8 percent (2018: 77.9) – Search engines
02 – 22.6 percent (2018: 15.3) – Twitter
03 – 3.5 percent (2018: 1.5) – Facebook
04 – 1.3 percent (2018: 2.1) – Reddit
05 – 1.2 percent (2018: n/a) – Autosport Forums

A few things here which buck the trend. Twitter rises to its highest referral rate ever, Facebook climbs back to equal its 2016 high, but Reddit falls for the third year running to its lowest level since 2013. The reason this is odd is because the Formula 1 sub-reddit has grown massively since 2016, so you would expect the number of referrals to at least be stable, if not increase further.

Irritatingly, WordPress does not break down the referrers by article, so it is impossible to say what made the most noise on Twitter (although the top 10 articles of the year post, coming up next week, gives a big clue…).

Top 10 Search Queries
01 – motorsport broadcasting
02 – where is martin brundle
03 – martin brundle missing
04 – motorsport broadcasting blog
05 – martin brundle
06 – f1 broadcasting
07 – channel 4 f1 coverage 2019
08 – where is martin brundle this week
09 – f1 broadcasting blog
10 – why is martin brundle not at f1 today

He is at home. Probably.

Many people consider Martin Brundle an integral part of Sky’s Formula 1 offering, and the top 10 search queries to this site during 2019 make that abundantly clear once again. The first non-F1 related entry comes in fourteenth position with ‘wrc 2019 tv coverage uk’, as fans wondered which UK station the World Rally Championship would end up this season.

2019 was another intriguing year on the broadcasting front, and 2020 promises more of the same.

Statistics compiled and correct as of December 15th, 2019.


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F1 surges towards MotoGP in the social media stakes

Motorsport Broadcasting has dissected social media figures over the past six years, looking across the landscape at what has happened, and what we should be looking out for next.

As always when analysing social media data, it is not about the month-by-month changes, but rather looking at the longer-term trend across the year, and in some cases several years. Across the social platforms, the trend from a motor sport perspective remains the same: Instagram is ever more important, Facebook is stable, whilst Twitter is on the decline.

How well are stakeholders reacting to the change? We take a deep dive below the headlines to see what we can find…

A little health warning to begin that the three sections below use different time periods for the comparisons:

  • Championships – comparing data from December 20th, 2018
  • Teams – comparing data from July 1st, 2018
  • Drivers – comparing data from April 6th, 2019

We use publicly available data for this analysis, 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.

F1 set to overtake MotoGP in 2020
The big news is that Motorsport Broadcasting predicts that Formula 1 will overtake MotoGP to become the biggest motor sport series on social media in the latter stages of 2020, a remarkable achievement considering how far F1 has come in recent years in comparison to the bike series.

In the past year, F1’s following across the three main social media platforms has increased by 28.9 percent from 16.73 million to 21.56 million followers. In contrast, MotoGP’s following has increased by 11.5 percent, from 22.20 million to 24.76 million followers, which is still strong in isolation.

MotoGP’s following skews towards Facebook, whereas F1 is more split across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. F1 is clearly hitting the right buttons on social media, attracting a new audience to their social channels, and rightly so given the amount they are investing in it.

The challenge for MotoGP is to adapt their social media offering. F1’s social media offering in 2019 is distinctly un-corporate, almost making MotoGP look old school which is not an observation you would make even two years ago.

Second best is not a bad position to be in, and MotoGP would be far ahead of every other motor racing series in that scenario. But, now is probably the time for the leading bike series to overhaul their offer heading into the 2020 season. The same statement applies for NASCAR…

Social media - December 2019 - F1 vs MotoGP vs NASCAR.png

2019 has been another excellent year for the World Rally Championship, with their reach increasing by 15.8 percent, from 3.59 million to 4.16 million followers. An increased focus on Instagram helped their audience swell by 59.5 percent to 1.17 million followers, pushing the championship ahead of NASCAR on the image-sharing platform.

Formula E also gained massively during 2019, jumping by 47.8 percent from 1.65 million followers to 2.44 million followers, overtaking World Superbikes, the World Touring Car Cup, and the IndyCar Series.

However, Formula E’s following has stalled at around 1.6 million likes on Facebook (unusual considering the significant growth directly preceding it), although Instagram continues to grow solidly for the electric series.

The series has made significant noise in recent days with the announcement that they are teaming up with South Korean boy band BTS.

A tweet announcing the collaboration generated over 80,000 retweets and 150,000 likes, by far the largest ever motor sport related tweet. It will be interesting to see if the announcement results in any new followers for Formula E.

Further down the pecking order, Formula Two had a good year on social media, but there is a sad explanation behind the gain.

The F1 feeder series has seen their following double from 265,000 followers to 536,000 followers, but additional analysis from Motorsport Broadcasting shows that traffic towards their channels surged following the death of Anthoine Hubert during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend in August.

Williams and Racing Point on-track struggles hurt social performance
A poor year on-track for the Williams and Racing Point Formula 1 outfits has continued off the circuit, with little social media growth, despite Poland’s Robert Kubica returning to F1 for the former.

The teams, based at Grove and Silverstone respectively, have seen their portfolio of channels grow by just 400,000 followers (or 19 percent) across the past 18 months. As a result, Racing Point have dropped behind Toro Rosso (soon to be re-branded AlphaTauri), with Alfa Romeo now snapping at Racing Point’s heels.

On Instagram, Racing Point’s growth is the lowest of the whole grid, whilst Williams hold that stat over on Twitter.

It is unlikely Toro Rosso could overtake Renault any time soon however, as Renault sit in Class 1.5 on their own, six million followers behind the top four, but over two million followers ahead of Williams.

Social media - December 2019 - F1 teams.png

The gulf between Class 1 and Class 2 shows no sign of slowing, with Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren continuing to record healthy social media growth. The four teams have each increased their total following by between 2.5 and 3 million followers in the past 18 months, dwarfing the rest of the field.

What is fascinating is the profile of the four teams across social media. On Facebook, Mercedes is comfortably king with 11.31 million likes, but Red Bull continues to record sizeable increases, jumping from 9.05 million likes to 10.24 million likes since Summer 2018.

Over on Instagram it is McLaren setting the standard, increasing their following by 91.8 percent, jumping from 2.60 million followers to 4.98 million followers, numbers undoubtedly helped by both of their drivers having a large presence on the platform.

Hamilton continues to reign supreme
Threatened by lawyers in the previous era, one driver continues to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.

Since April, Lewis Hamilton’s Instagram following has jumped by 3.26 million followers, from 10.47 million to 13.73 million, a simply staggering amount of growth.

Only Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc could claim to be remotely close in terms of raw growth (from a much lower base too), moving the needle from 1.01 million to 2.60 million followers, an increase of 1.59 million.

In his second season, Leclerc is already the fourth most popular driver on Instagram, behind Hamilton, Max Verstappen, and Daniel Ricciardo, with much more growth possible for the Monegasque driver.

Across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Hamilton’s 23.56 million follower tally is greater than the next seven F1 drivers combined, covering Ricciardo, Verstappen, Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas, Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz. It is ever more pertinent that rivals challenge Hamilton harder than ever for his crown in 2020.

Instagram is the main contributor to Hamilton’s social media growth, with little gains for the six-time champion on Facebook or Twitter.

Social media - December 2019 - with and without Hamilton.png

Leclerc is the fastest growing driver on Facebook, but with an increase of only 91,000 likes since April, whilst McLaren rookie Lando Norris takes the honours on Twitter, increasing by 211,000 followers. Intagram is clearly the place to be for personality driven content, as the figures show.

Moving forward, Norris and Leclerc are the drivers to watch, having grown in total on social media by 1.12 million followers (or 280 percent) and 1.89 million followers (or 144 percent) respectively. Both are very young, and immensely popular with their fan bases on Instagram.

In comparison, Verstappen’s following has increased by 941,000 accounts. Whilst consistent, Verstappen’s growth is way behind the brand that Hamilton has built up over the past ten years.

Hamilton’s brand is awesome for F1, but could become detrimental if he retires on top, devaluing the rest of the competition in the process. In my view, dethroning Hamilton is important to elevate someone beyond the glass ceiling in the eyes of the wider public.

2020 looks set to be a fascinating year on the social media front, with F1 set to usurp MotoGP on top, Formula E continuing to make strong gains, and the new generation making an impact on the F1 front. It is all to play for…


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