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.

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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.

Scheduling: The 2019 Canadian Grand Prix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The listings will be updated if plans change.

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.

Scheduling: The 2019 Indianapolis 500 / Monaco Grand Prix

Motor racing’s ‘biggest weekend’ is here. Welcome to the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix!

For the first time ever, both blue riband events air back-to-back live on Sky Sports F1, providing an afternoon of motor sport entertainment. Sky are taking NBC’s coverage of the 500, with Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, Kevin Lee, and Danica Patrick on hand. Sky will air the race uninterrupted, with Tom Gaymor and Alex Brundle filling the gaps for UK fans.

Their Monaco schedule is as usual, with practice taking place on Thursday. Both qualifying and the race also air on Sky Sports Main Event. The length of their post-race Paddock Live show is flexible, depending on the amount of analysis required from Monte Carlo.

Channel 4’s team covering Monaco is their largest of the season so far. Steve Jones presents alongside Eddie Jordan, Mark Webber, and Lee McKenzie, with David Coulthard and Ben Edwards on commentary.

Alex Jacques in back on 5 Live duty for practice and qualifying, as Jack Nicholls in on Formula E duty in Berlin. The Formula E schedule is somewhat unusual this weekend to avoid the German FA Cup Final on Saturday evening. Formula E practice moves Friday, with Saturday’s activities taking place earlier than usual.

British Superbikes heads to Donington Park, with most of the action airing on Quest due to the start of the Roland Garros Tennis tournament on Eurosport.

Channel 4 F1
25/05 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying Highlights
26/05 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
23/05 – 09:30 to 11:45 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
23/05 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
25/05 – 10:45 to 12:30
=> 10:45 – Practice 3
=> 12:10 – Paddock Walkabout
25/05 – 13:00 to 15:30 – Qualifying
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event until 15:00)
26/05 – 12:30 to 17:00 – Race
=> 12:30 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 13:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:00 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
22/05 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
22/05 – 17:00 to 17:40 – Welcome to the Weekend (also Sky Sports Main Event)
22/05 – 17:45 to 18:15 – Jenson’s F1 Memories
23/05 – 16:00 to 16:30 – The Story so Far (also Sky Sports Main Event)
25/05 – 15:30 to 16:00 – The F1 Show
29/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
23/05 – 09:55 to 11:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
23/05 – 20:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
26/05 – 13:00 to 16:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500
26/05 – 16:00 to 17:00 – Build-Up (Sky Sports F1 – Red Button)
26/05 – 17:00 to 21:00 – Race (Sky Sports F1)

Formula E – Berlin
Also airs live on YouTube
24/05 – 10:45 to 11:30 – Shakedown (BT Sport 2)
24/05 – 14:15 to 15:30 – Practice 1 (BT Sport 2)
24/05 – 16:45 to 17:45 – Practice 2 (BT Sport 2)
25/05 – 07:30 to 09:00 – Qualifying (BT Sport/ESPN and Eurosport 2)
25/05 – 11:30 to 13:30 – Race: World Feed
=> live on BBC’s digital platforms
=> live on BT Sport/ESPN
=> live on Eurosport 2
25/05 – 00:00 to 01:00 – Highlights (Quest)

British Superbikes – Donington Park
25/05 – 11:30 to 13:00 – Qualifying Part 1 (Quest)
25/05 – 15:30 to 18:00 – Qualifying Part 2 (Quest and Eurosport 2)
26/05 – 13:00 to 18:30 – Races (Quest)
29/05 – 22:00 to 23:30 – Highlights (ITV4)

Euroformula – Hockenheim
Also airs live on YouTube
25/05 – 14:15 to 15:15 – Race 1 (BT Sport Extra 2)
26/05 – 11:45 to 12:45 – Race 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)

Formula Two – Monaco (Sky Sports F1)
23/05 – 08:10 to 09:00 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
23/05 – 12:15 to 13:00 – Qualifying
24/05 – 10:20 to 11:35 – Race 1
25/05 – 16:00 to 17:05 – Race 2

International GT Open – Hockenheim (BT Sport/ESPN)
Also airs live on YouTube
25/05 – 15:15 to 16:45 – Race 1
26/05 – 12:45 to 14:00 – Race 2

Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Series – Berlin (BT Sport/ESPN)
24/05 – 15:30 to 16:15 – Qualifying
25/05 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Monaco (Sky Sports F1)
26/05 – 09:30 to 10:05 – Race

Virgin Australia Supercars – Winton (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
25/05 – 06:30 to 08:15 – Race 1
26/05 – 04:15 to 06:45 – Race 2

As always, this post will be updated as additional details are confirmed.

Updated on May 22nd at 20:40 – In light of Niki Lauda’s death, Welcome to the Weekend was extended by ten minutes, whilst the build-up to Friday’s first practice session on Sky has also been extended by 15 minutes.

Updated on May 24th at 21:20 – Sky’s Sunday schedule has also changed. In a change to original plans, the broadcaster will now stay live from Monaco until 17:00, with the first hour of NBC’s Indianapolis 500 coverage airing on Sky’s Red Button. Current forecasts for the 500 do not look good, however with showers expected.