F1 avoids television blackout during German Grand Prix

The German Grand Prix saw one of the greatest races of the modern era take place, with Max Verstappen storming to victory in changeable conditions.

Off the track, Formula 1 faced their own technical battle which nearly saw Saturday’s action plunged into darkness for half of the worldwide audience.

Writing in F1’s Media Pass ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Television Systems Group Manager Trevor Turner explained in further detail what happened.

Instead of copying and pasting his quotes word for word, it is worth analysing what Turner has said in detail, as Turner gives a fascinating insight into the intrinsic nature of motor sport broadcasting.

The World Feed
As this site revealed last month, there are four different versions of the F1 World Feed, catering for different regions.

Turner’s post reveals the nature of these feeds, and where they are distributed from:

  • European feed – distributed from an on-site Eurovision Services up-link and fibre truck
  • Asian feed – distributed from F1’s Media and Technology Centre in Biggin Hill
  • American feed – distributed from F1’s Media and Technology Centre in Biggin Hill

It is likely that the fourth World Feed serves F1’s over-the-top broadcast, although Turner does not directly confirm this.

Additionally, Turner confirms that the Eurovision Services truck provides “additional transmission services for Canal+ in France and Movistar in Spain,” and is also the hub for all of F1’s additional feeds, such as the pit lane channel and on-board channels.

Over in the UK, F1’s Biggin Hill base also delivers digital content, such as social media, web and F1 TV content.

Tata Communications, F1’s official Connectivity Partner, provides different backups on-site, including a backup of the World Feed.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, a fire destroyed the Eurovision Services truck (referenced above) at the Hockenheim circuit. In other words, the German Grand Prix was facing blackout for all its audience across Europe. Swift co-operation was required between F1’s stakeholders, including F1, their broadcast partners, and Tata.

“While the truck itself looked relatively intact, inside it was completely destroyed,” Turner said.

“It quickly became clear that we were in real trouble. RTL [F1’s German broadcast partner] had already stepped up and arranged for two satellite trucks to be driven to Hockenheim (one from Frankfurt and another from Munich) but neither was expected to arrive before FP3.”

Broadcasters’ help F1 out ahead of FP3
With the Eurovision Services truck out of action, the Asian international feed became a far more important asset than in previous events.

Geneva is home to Eurovision Services, which is a subsidiary of the more widely recognised European Broadcasting Union (EBU). It is this facility which played a key part in getting the feeds to air, as Turner explains.

“So, the first solution was to use the Asian international feed at our UK Media Technology Centre to cover the loss of transmissions over Europe (now which were no longer possible directly from the track) and Eurovision teams in Geneva to plan transmission of this feed in both HD and UHD formats from an alternative fixed satellite facility,” Turner notes.

My day-to-day job (Senior Data Engineer for those interested) involves me hearing the phrases ‘upstream changes’ and ‘downstream changes’ daily. How do changes up the chain affect me, and how will changes I make affect those further along on the chain?

I can only imagine that those pieces of terminology are commonplace in broadcasting, except the risk involved is significantly greater.

A sport beamed to millions of viewers worldwide on a bi-weekly basis, any change presents high risk if not thoroughly tested. Other parties stepped up to help introduce additional fail-safes, including both UK broadcasters, preventing further issues from occurring during the weekend.

European feed – ‘business as usual’ process

  1. Content generated at track
  2. Transmitted across Europe via Eurovision Services truck

European feed – Germany process

  1. Content generated at track
  2. Content sent via Tata’s fibre links to F1’s Biggin Hill HQ
  3. Content passed from F1’s Biggin Hill HQ to Eurovision Services’ Geneva HQ
  4. Transmitted across Europe via Eurovision Services’ Geneva HQ

“Tata offered access to their on-site back up world feed satellite link to support the new transmission set-up we’d put in place for Europe,” says Turner. “In addition, RTL offered access via their fibre to Cologne and Sky UK’s Master Control Room (MCR) was on standby to support with signals which they also had available via F1 and Tata in London.”

Now having overcome the main hurdle, getting the third practice session on-air to its core audience, F1 next needed to understand how to facilitate the needs of their other stakeholders, as well as their own additional feeds.

From Biggin Hill to Geneva, and beamed worldwide
The additional feeds were more of a concern for F1, given that the feeds are not only used on F1 TV, but also by a variety of worldwide broadcasters, such as Sky Sports in the UK.

“That content is available at the UK Media and Technology Centre via Tata’s fibre links, so our Master Control Engineer, Russell Tree, managed to access those signals and configured some spare equipment to get those channels to Eurovision’s hub in Geneva where they were able to repackage them and get them to our clients.”

Canal+ and Movistar’s additional feeds followed a similar route to that of the additional track feeds, both passing through Geneva.

“We offered them access to F1’s social media and post-production edit video connections from the circuit to F1’s UK MCR where they were again on-passe to Eurovision,” says Turner. “This would restrict F1’s social and edit activity during FP3 and Qualifying but our colleagues in F1 editorial were happy to help given the gravity of the situation.”

All the hard work behind the scenes now complete and to the viewer at home, nothing had changed. Everyone was able to keep the show turning, which is a testament to those on the ground.

F1 pulls together in a near TV crisis
It is not unusual for behind the scenes technical issues to hit F1’s broadcasts, and for the individual crews to help one another out in the middle of a broadcast crisis.

Several years ago, Sky Sports stepped in to help the BBC when their graphics machine crashed, Sky helping to get the BBC programme back on the road. Rivals on-screen, a camaraderie atmosphere exists off it.

The system that F1 collectively implemented for the third practice session in Germany remained in place throughout the remainder of the weekend, only suffering minor hiccups with their Ultra HD offering on Sunday. The two RTL trucks that arrived at the track following FP3 were not utilised to avoid additional risk.

Turner was extremely happy with how the weekend turned out.

“We were able to broadcast FP3 live without any issues. It was real team effort and the assistance we received from all our partners – at Eurovision, Tata Communications, RTL, Sky – was brilliant,” says Turner.

“It really was a bit like a Formula 1 team arriving on Saturday morning to find they got a problem and need to do an engine change in a real hurry. In fact, it was worse. It was like opening the garage and finding that the car’s gone!”

“If I was calling it as a race result, I’d say we started in 20th and won the race. So, one place better than Sebastian!”

The additional resources F1 implemented for Germany will remain in place this weekend, as the championship heads to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Thanks to Darshan Chokhani (@DarshanChokhani) for alerting me to the quotes.


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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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News round up: Sky F1 to air special Williams documentary; Formula E wins award for TV product

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, Sky Sports ramp up preparations for their British Grand Prix coverage, whilst Formula E have won an award focussing on their television offering.

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

  • Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has confirmed that the team will feature in the Netflix’s second season of Drive to Survive, having played no part in season one. Speaking to Motorsport.com, Wolff said that Netflix will film with the team at one race this year, which will “probably be Hockenheim.”
  • Ahead of the British Grand Prix next month, Sky Sports F1 have been busy filming different features.
    • Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert have been revisiting the 1995 British Grand Prix in Sky’s own cinema. Herbert won the race after Hill collided with Michael Schumacher in the closing stages.
    • A documentary celebrating Frank Williams’ fifty years in Formula 1 will premiere following the Silverstone qualifying session. The documentary features current Sky analyst and Williams Heritage driver Karun Chandhok driving the Brabham BT26, which was entered in 1969 by Williams as a privateer. Piers Courage raced the car to second place in the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix, their first ever podium.
  • F1’s in-house digital team have filmed two excellent pieces of content in recent weeks.
    • The team gave fans a peek behind the scenes with McLaren during the Monaco qualifying session.
  • F1’s in-house digital team is now also producing the content for Formula Two and Formula Three across social media, which explains the recent surge in video content across both of those championships.
  • To help with Formula Two’s growth, Formula 1 has launched an official podcast for their feeder series. Following in the footsteps of Beyond the Grid which launched a year ago, the Road to F1 podcast sees Alex Jacques and Rosanna Tennant interview the stars of Formula Two on their way to F1.
  • W Series commentator Claire Cottingham substituted for Jennie Gow during 5 Live’s coverage of the Austrian Grand Prix. Gow will be back in pit lane for 5 Live at Silverstone.
  • Recent audience figures in the Netherlands make for interesting reading. Live coverage airs on pay-TV outlet Ziggo Sport, and according to audience agency SKO
    • The Monaco Grand Prix averaged 547k (34.3%) for the pre-race build-up, 1.24m (46.1%) for the race itself and 637k (22.8%) for the post-race analysis.
    • In comparison, coverage of the French Grand Prix averaged 396k (26.5%), 824k (40.9%) and 357k (19.8%) respectively.
    • Max Verstappen’s dramatic victory in Austria averaged 479k (29.1%), 1.20m (49.5%) and 878k (36.9%).
    • France rated lower across all metrics. Austria rated lower than Monaco for both the pre-race build-up and race, noticeably closing the gap for the latter. Amazingly, Verstappen’s victory meant that the post-race segment for Austria rated higher than the French Grand Prix itself!
  • ESPN in the US continue to tout their own F1 audience figures. Live coverage of the Canadian Grand Prix attracted 1.1 million viewers on ABC, an increase of 17 percent on last year’s figure.

Formula E

  • Formula E TV won the ‘Best in Sports Media’ prize in 2019 Sports Business Awards. Formula E fought off competition from the likes of BBC Sport and the PGA European Tour to win the category.
    • The SBA said that Formula E’s television content “creates jeopardy, develops character and narrative throughout, uses technology and innovation to create a point of differentiation, and educates consumers about electric mobility while giving global manufacturers a platform to test and develop road-relevant technologies.”
  • The BBC’s technology programme Click went to Berlin at the end of May to find out more about the innovations driving the electric series (link).
  • On the social media side, Formula E’s team have been busy linking the championship in with popular culture. Heading into the Bern E-Prix, Formula E put their own spin on Crash Team Racing across their social channels.

Elsewhere…

  • IndyStar posted in the run up to the Indianapolis 500 an excellent behind the scenes look at NBC’s IndyCar coverage. The article is well worth a read, even if a little late noting on my behalf.
  • According to Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal, an audience of 1.10 million viewers watched the IndyCar Grand Prix at Road America on NBC in the US, their highest IndyCar audience on record outside of the Indianapolis 500.
  • The remainder of the 2019 VLN Series will air live on Lets Go Racing’s YouTube channel. The channel, which also airs the Japanese Super Formula championship, was founded following the demise of Nismo TV at the end of last season.
  • Fans of the British Superbike championship in the US and Canada can now watch the championship live via MotorTrend On Demand platform.
  • A trailer for the new Ford versus Ferrari film was released last month ahead of its theatrical release in November. The film, which starts Matt Damon and Christian Bale, focuses on Ford’s attempts to beat Ferrari in the run up to the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. For UK readers, the film will premiere under the title of Le Mans ’66.
  • The Le Mans Esports Series generated some big numbers across digital media during the 24 Hours of Le Mans weekend. Ben Rossiter-Turner, the Managing Director of Virtually Entertained, gave readers a behind the scenes look at the series on his LinkedIn page.
  • In today’s unusual mention, Channel 4 Weather is now sponsored by W Series.

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

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.

Championships
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.

News round-up: F1’s US audience figures increase; Formula E hits the big screen

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, it is good news for Formula 1 in the US, whilst Formula E hits the big screen at the Cannes Film Festival.

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

Formula 1

  • Good news for F1 on the US audience front, with ESPN reporting double-digit growth year-on-year. The first five races (excluding Monaco) have averaged 564,000 viewers on ESPN compared with 442,000 viewers last year. ESPN also tout the strong growth in the coveted Adult 18-34 demographic, increasing 107 percent year-on-year.

Formula E

  • A new feature-length documentary covering the 2017-18 season premiered at Cannes Film Festival last week. Fisher Stevens, Malcolm Venville and Leonardo di Caprio produced ‘And We Go Green‘, which goes behind the scenes during Jean-Eric Vergne’s championship winning season. LBI Entertainment are handing distribution rights for the documentary.
  • With Dario Franchitti over at Indianapolis, Tom Blomqvist and Nick Heidfeld joined Jack Nicholls and Bob Varsha on commentary duty during the Berlin E-Prix weekend. Blomqvist was alongside Nicholls for practice and qualifying, with Heidfeld joining Nicholls for the race.

MotoGP

  • Quest have changed the time slot of their MotoGP highlights programming. The first three races aired in an 18:00 and 23:00 time slot on Monday evenings, effectively splitting the audience.
    • Viewing figures have not been good. Their 18:00 showing for Austin made BARB’s consolidated top 15 with 196,000 viewers, all other airings have failed to make Quest’s top 15, averaging around 150,000 viewers or below.
    • From Jerez onwards, Quest reduced the two airings to one, airing at 22:00 only on Monday evenings. Current schedules for Mugello suggest that the one airing strategy will continue moving forward.
  • Suzi Perry is back in the BT Sport hotseat for Mugello, after a recent bout of illness.

W Series

  • Speaking to this site following Zolder, Whisper Films stated that their production team during the Hockenheim and Zolder weekends consisted of 34 people. The split was exactly 50/50, with 17 women and 17 men. The production house says that this covers both permanent staff and freelancers.
    • The figures cover the live World Feed production, as well as highlights
    • The figures also include those working on a documentary that Whisper are producing covering W Series’ inaugural season
  • Speaking to RaceFans, series organisers noted that over 400,000 viewers watched the first race in the UK on Channel 4 from Hockenheim. CEO Catherine Bond-Muir told the site “Even [on] Channel 4 we absolutely knocked out of the park the internal audience estimates.”
  • NBC in America has picked up highlights of the series. The broadcaster will air a one-hour highlights show of each race on their NBCSN channel (including commercials).

IndyCar Series

  • The first Indianapolis 500 to air on NBC drew the 500’s highest audience since 2016. According to Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal, the race drew 5.4 million viewers across TV and digital. The race recorded a 86 overnight rating (excluding digital), also the highest since 2016.
  • Ahead of his Indianapolis 500 commentary debut, NBC lead commentator Leigh Diffey spoke to Phillip Bupp at Awful Announcing about his journey to date (link).

Elsewhere…

  • Eurosport have picked up the rights to MotoAmerica highlights in the UK. The one-hour highlights programme began airing last Saturday.
  • Motorsport Network have announced that their new feature length film Heroes will premiere in the run-up to the British Grand Prix. The trailer, which features swathes of archive F1 footage, was unveiled last week. Manish Pandey, one of the men behind the Senna movie, is director and writer for Heroes.
  • It is worth mentioning changes within the Sky Sports hierarchy in the UK. Sky have promoted Barney Francis into the role of Chief Executive of Future Sport, with Rob Webster succeeding Francis as Managing Director of Sky Sports UK.
  • Down under in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald report that Foxtel, which is owned by News Corporation and Telstra, is struggling against the rise of streaming platforms. The paper reports that “non marquee” sport, including motor racing, are under threat.
  • ESPN in the US featured Billy Monger’s remarkable story in their weekly E:60 magazine programme. The show featured his story last Sunday (ESPN’s Vimeo account have uploaded a preview clip).
  • The BBC have written a fantastic piece looking at Katherine Legge’s battles in motor sport, which is worth a read.

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