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.

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.