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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Scheduling: The 2019 British Grand Prix / New York City E-Prix

Formula 1 heads home to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix!

For the first time this season, the race airs live on free-to-air television, with Channel 4 airing live coverage of the Grand Prix. Both Channel 4 and Sky have an ensemble cast on offer for the weekend.

No restrictions in place for Channel 4
Steve Jones continues to front Channel 4’s presentation team, with Eddie Jordan, Mark Webber and David Coulthard alongside him. Lee McKenzie will be roving the pit lane, as well as providing paddock interviews, whilst Coulthard will also be alongside Ben Edwards in the commentary box.

It is worth noting that the restrictions in place for Channel 4’s highlights programming are lifted for the British Grand Prix weekend, meaning that the structure of Channel 4’s coverage will remain similar to last season.

Simon Lazenby fronts Sky’s offering, with analysts including Martin Brundle, Jenson Button and Damon Hill providing analysis. Brundle is alongside David Croft on commentary, whilst Ted Kravitz is also back with his Notebook output.

As-is now tradition for Silverstone, Sky’s F1 Show airs on Thursday afternoon, but this year the show airs live from Club corner due to the renovations currently taking place on the main start-finish straight.

The change means that there is no Welcome to the Weekend on Thursday, as The F1 Show effectively moves from Saturday into its time slot. Welcome to the Weekend moves to Wednesday under the title of Welcome to Silverstone.

As noted recently, Sky Sports have gone the extra mile in the run-up to Silverstone. During the Silverstone weekend, a special documentary will air focusing on Sir Frank Williams’ fifty years in Formula 1. The documentary premieres following the Formula Two feature race on Saturday.

In addition, Sky are also continuing with their live coverage throughout the Friday lunch break, meaning that they are live from Silverstone from 09:30 to 17:00 on Friday, a set-up this site has advocated for a long time.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 is airing a special interview segment, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff interviewing England’s football manager Gareth Southgate. The film first airs on Friday after the second practice session.

Over on 5 Live, Jack Nicholls’ commitments with Formula E mean that Formula Two commentator Alex Jacques is his super-sub for the whole of the Silverstone weekend.

Cricket World Cup set to throw a spanner in the works
There is plenty going on from both broadcasters to make Silverstone feel like a special weekend. However, the Grand Prix faces stiff competition from both the Wimbledon finals, and the Cricket World Cup final.

The Cricket World Cup final is interesting, because Sky Sports have announced that they will make the final free-to-air if England make it. And who holds the free-to-air highlights rights for the Cricket World Cup? Channel 4….

Various media outlets are reporting that Channel 4 and Sky are in talks, in the event that England make the final. Either the Grand Prix will need to be moved to More 4 or, the Cricket World Cup final will need to air on More 4 during the Grand Prix.

If England made the final and I was a betting man, I would place good money on both the F1 build-up and post-race analysis moving to More 4. Nothing is confirmed, and will not be confirmed until Thursday 11th July, when England’s semi-final takes place.

Elsewhere…
The 2018-19 Formula E season comes to its conclusion with a double-header in New York, as Jean-Eric Vergne looks set to clinch his second championship. Both races air live across BBC’s Red Button, Eurosport 2 and BT Sport 2.

Prior to the big weekend, Sky Sports F1 are airing live coverage from the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The channel usually covers two-hours of live action, but has expanded the live amount this year to three hours. The action airs this Sunday (7th July) from 14:00.

With Formula 1, MotoGP, Formula E, IndyCar, the W Series, and much, much more motor sport coming up throughout July, there is plenty on offer to whet the appetite.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
12/07 – 09:55 to 11:50 – Practice 1
12/07 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2
13/07 – 10:55 to 12:25 – Practice 3
13/07 – 12:55 to 15:50 – Qualifying
14/07 – 12:55 13:10 to 16:45 17:30 – Race

Supplementary Programming
12/07 – 15:35 to 16:00 – Wolff meets Southgate

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
12/07 – 09:30 to 17:30
=> 09:30 – F1: Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event from 09:45)
=> 11:55 – F2: Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 12:45 – Paddock (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 13:45 – F1: Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 15:55 – F2: Qualifying
=> 16:30 – The Story so Far
=> 17:00 – F3: Qualifying Tape-Delay
13/07 – 10:30 to 12:30 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 10:30 – Practice 3
=> 12:10 – Paddock Walkabout
13/07 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying (also Sky One and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying
14/07 – 12:30 to 17:30 – Race
=> 12:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 13:30 – On the Grid
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:00 – Paddock Live
=> 17:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
07/07 – 14:00 to 17:00 – Goodwood Festival of Speed
10/07 – 18:30 to 19:00 – Welcome to Silverstone
11/07 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
11/07 – 16:30 to 17:30 – The F1 Show
12/07 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
13/07 – 17:00 to 18:00 – Sir Frank: 50 Years in F1
17/07 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
11/07 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
12/07 – 09:55 to 11:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
12/07 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/07 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/07 – 13:55 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14/07 – 14:00 to 16:30 – Race Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula E – New York City (race 1)
Also airs live on YouTube
12/07 – 20:45 to 21:30 – Shakedown (BT Sport 2)
13/07 – 12:15 to 13:30 – Practice 1 (BT Sport 2)
13/07 – 14:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2 (BT Sport 2)
13/07 – 16:30 to 18:00 – Qualifying (BT Sport 2 and Eurosport 2)
13/07 – 20:30 to 22:30 – Race: World Feed
=> live on BBC’s digital platforms
=> live on BT Sport 2
=> live on Eurosport 2 from 21:00 to 22:00

Formula E – New York City (race 2)
Also airs live on YouTube
14/07 – 13:45 to 15:00 – Practice (BT Sport 2)
14/07 – 16:30 to 18:00 – Qualifying (BT Sport 2 and Eurosport 2)
14/07 – 20:30 to 22:30 – Race: World Feed
=> live on BBC’s digital platforms
=> live on BT Sport 2
=> live on Eurosport 2 from 21:00 to 22:00

Euroformula – Red Bull Ring (BT Sport/ESPN)
Also airs live on YouTube
13/07 – 14:30 to 15:45 – Race 1
14/07 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Race 2

Formula Two – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
12/07 – 11:55 to 12:45 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
12/07 – 15:50 to 16:30 – Qualifying
13/07 – 15:35 to 16:50 – Race 1
14/07 – 09:50 to 10:50 – Race 2

Formula Three – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
12/07 – 17:00 to 17:30 – Qualifying Tape-Delay
13/07 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
14/07 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Toronto (Sky Sports F1)
13/07 – 19:00 to 20:30 – Qualifying
14/07 – 20:00 to 23:00 – Race

International GT Open – Red Bull Ring (BT Sport/ESPN)
Also airs live on YouTube
13/07 – 15:45 to 17:15 – Race 1
14/07 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Race 2

Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Series – New York City (BT Sport 2)
13/07 – 13:30 to 14:15 – Qualifying 1
13/07 – 18:45 to 20:00 – Race 1
14/07 – 12:55 to 13:40 – Qualifying 2
14/07 – 18:45 to 20:00 – Race 2

Porsche Supercup – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
14/07 – 11:10 to 11:50 – Race

World Superbikes – Laguna Seca
Also airs live on World Superbikes‘ Video Pass (£)
13/07 – 18:45 to 19:45 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
13/07 – 22:00 to 23:15 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
14/07 – 18:45 to 19:45 – Qualifying Race (Eurosport 2)
14/07 – 22:00 to 23:15 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
17/07 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

As always, coverage plans are subject to change back, so check back here for further adjustments.

Update on July 11th – England are in the Cricket World Cup final, having beaten Australia. Free-to-air coverge will now air live on Channel 4, but will switch to More 4 during the Grand Prix.

In my view, Channel 4 have made the right call here. England were last in the CWC final in 1992, whereas the British Grand Prix is a yearly event, so the decision to move some of the build-up and the reaction of the F1 to More 4 is a no brainer. Of course, the F1 is going to be squeezed massively on Sunday, but that is FOM’s fault on the scheduling front and not Channel 4’s or Sky’s.

Elsewhere, Claire Cottingham has confirmed that she will be part of Channel 4’s coverage this weekend, and likewise Alex Brundle has announced that he will be alongside Alex Jacques on Formula Two commentary for the feature race.

Update on July 12th – Interestingly, perhaps contractually, F1’s build-up and post-race show is not airing on More 4. Instead, Channel 4 have trimmed their F1 programming by an hour, with 15 minutes cut from the build-up and 45 minutes cut from the post-race analysis, leaving a total length of 3 hours and 35 minutes.

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.

Scheduling: The 2019 French Grand Prix / Bern E-Prix

Paul Ricard in France plays host to round eight of the 2019 Formula One season, as the championship begins to hurdle towards the Summer break.

The main change to Sky’s schedule is the extension of Welcome to the Weekend to an hour, giving the team further opportunity to discuss events last time out in Canada.

Paddock Walkout is also absent, as Karun Chandhok is not with Sky in France. The plan was always for Chandhok to do many, but not all races with Sky this season, so his absense is not a surprise.

Despite no Porsche Supercup action in France, the gap between the Formula Two support race and the Grand Prix on Sunday remains long. Instead, VIP and Renault parade laps fill the gap for fans in Paul Ricard.

Elsewhere, qualifying for Formula Three airs on a slight tape-delay on Sky F1 on Friday. The channel is also joining coverage of IndyCar on Sunday later than their American colleagues. NBC’s broadcast starts at 12:00 EST / 17:00 UK, with Sky’s simulcast starting at 17:30. The first half hour for UK viewers will air on the Red Button. The race itself begins at 17:40 UK time.

Channel 4’s F1 offering sees the return of Mark Webber and Billy Monger to their line-up, the pair joining Ben Edwards, David Coulthard and Steve Jones out in France.

Further afield, Formula E heads to Bern in Switzerland for the first time, as Dario Franchitti returns to the team after his Indianapolis 500 commitments last month. The BBC’s live airing is only available via their website and Connected TV, with the first Red Button airing not until 04:00 on Sunday morning.

Channel 4 F1
22/06 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying Highlights
23/06 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
21/06 – 09:45 to 11:50 – Practice 1
21/06 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
22/06 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
22/06 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying
23/06 – 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
=> 17:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
20/06 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
20/06 – 17:00 to 18:00 – Welcome to the Weekend
21/06 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
22/06 – 16:45 to 17:15 – The F1 Show
26/06 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
21/06 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
22/06 – 14:00 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
23/06 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula E – Bern
Also airs live on YouTube
21/06 – 14:15 to 15:00 – Shakedown (BT Sport/ESPN)
22/06 – 07:45 to 09:00 – Practice 1 (BT Sport/ESPN)
22/06 – 10:15 to 12:00 – Practice 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)
22/06 – 12:15 to 13:45 – Qualifying (BT Sport/ESPN)
22/06 – 16:30 to 18:30 – Race: World Feed
=> live on BBC’s website and Connected TV
=> live on Quest
=> live on BT Sport/ESPN
=> live on Eurosport 2

Formula Two – France (Sky Sports F1)
21/06 – 11:50 to 12:40 – Practice
21/06 – 15:50 to 16:25 – Qualifying
22/06 – 15:35 to 16:45 – Race 1
23/06 – 10:15 to 11:15 – Race 2

Formula Three – France (Sky Sports F1)
21/06 – 17:00 to 17:30 – Qualifying Tape-Delay
22/06 – 09:30 to 10:15 – Race 1
23/06 – 08:55 to 09:40 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Road America
22/06 – 21:00 to 22:30 – Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
23/06 – 17:00 to 17:30 – Build-Up (Sky Sports F1 Red Button)
23/06 – 17:30 to 20:00 – Race (Sky Sports F1)

World Superbikes – Misano
Also airs live on World Superbikes’ Video Pass (£)
21/06 – 09:25 to 10:25 – Practice (Eurosport 2)
22/06 – 09:30 to 14:15 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
23/06 – 09:30 to 15:20 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
26/06 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

World Touring Car Cup – Nurburgring
21/06 – 16:15 to 17:15 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
22/06 – 10:00 to 11:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport)

This article will be amended if schedules change.

Updared on June 21st.

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…

Race
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.

Analysis
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.