The top 10 articles of 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Merry Christmas from Motorsport Broadcasting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owner of Motorsport Broadcasting

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The magic 2019 numbers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is at home. Probably.

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

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

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

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News round-up: F1 to remain on ESPN in US; Eurosport UK to air British Speedway

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, ESPN extends their relationship with F1 stateside, whilst British Speedway finds itself with a new home in the UK…

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

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

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

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

ICYMI: Round-Up #3 (July 1st): Sky F1 to air special Williams documentary; Formula E wins award for TV product

Site update
Some of you may remember the site update I posted at the end of September, with details on a major change for me (not for the site). The good news: I moved into my own house in the middle of October! So far, I am pleased to say that everything has gone according to plan, with no hitches.

Of course, that does mean I have spent less time on the site front in recent weeks, a situation I expect to continue until the festive period before the usual New Year cycle kicks in.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the guest articles from Jack Ainslie and Nigel Chiu focusing on IndyCar and World RX respectively, giving a different perspective on motor sport broadcasting. A huge thanks to both Jack and Nigel for their contributions in recent weeks.

If anyone else is interesting in writing a guest article over the next few months, please drop me a line, all ideas are welcome.

Formula 1

  • ESPN have retained the rights to broadcast F1 in the US through to the end of 2022 in a new three-year deal. The broadcaster will again simulcast Sky Sports’ UK offering commercial free, covering every F1 session as well as F2, F3 and the Porsche Supercup.
    • Despite earlier suggestions that NBC were interested in reclaiming the rights they lost back in 2017, I understand that NBC and F1 were some distance apart from both a financial and forward-thinking perspective.
    • F1’s US audience figures have increased significantly since ESPN came on-board, increasing by 24 percent since NBC’s final season in 2017.
  • Netflix’s Drive to Survive, which returns for season two in early-2020 has undoubtedly helped the surge in interest stateside.
    • The increased interest also applies to Mexico where circuit organisers say has caused an increase in the number of women attending the Mexico race.
    • Speaking to RaceFans, Mexico’s race promoter Alejandro Soberon said “We noticed that we have like a 30 percent increase in interest [from] women. We have tested and it’s related directly related to the Netflix series. And they answer and they comment and at least in Mexico, it was wildly successful.”
  • By far the biggest story in terms of column inches surrounded a new graphic which debuted at the Japanese Grand Prix showing the condition of each tyre. The graphic depicted the condition in intervals of ten, in percentage form from 100% (full grip) to 0% (no grip).
    • However, the graphic came under heavy criticism, with Pirelli’s Mario Isola calling the graphic “misleading“, and that they are not supplying F1 with the data.
    • It did not take F1 to respond, issuing a press release just an hour before the Mexican Grand Prix, with a full explainer of what the ‘improved’ graphic contained.
      • In their explainer, F1 noted that the graphic, powered by AWS, uses several public sources, such as live timing data, live telemetry data, tyre compound and stint length to build the overall picture.
    • RaceFans have a detailed article on F1’s thinking on the graphics front, featuring comment from Dean Locke, who is F1’s Director of Broadcasting and Media.
  • Leeds Crown Court have jailed a man for 18 months after he threatened to shoot BBC F1 commentator Jack Nicholls and journalist Clive Myrie.
    • Ian Hargreaves, 66, sent threatening messages about both Nicholls and Myrie through the BBC’s online complaints form.
    • Writing on Twitter, Nicholls said “Some people really don’t like my commentary. A huge thanks to the BBC who have been amazing throughout.”
  • Good news for fans of the official F1 season reviews: Duke Video have confirmed that the 2019 season review is reverting to the 2017 format after heavy criticism of the 2018 review.
    • As in 2017 and before, additional content will supplement the feature-length four-hour review.
  • The F1 team performed what was a herculean effort to get operations back up and running following Typhoon Hagibis ready for race day at the Japanese Grand Prix.
    • interviewed Andrew James, who works as F1 centre’s technical director to get the inside story.
  • F1 came away as winners from the Broadcast Tech Awards, winning ‘Best 360 / VR Production’ award.

Formula E

  • As first revealed by e-racing365, Bob Varsha will not be part of the Formula E commentary booth for the upcoming season, which begins on Friday 22nd November in Saudi Arabia. Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti remain with the team on commentary.
  • I am expecting Formula E to announce this week the destination of several television deals for season six, including their UK free-to-air partner.
    • Last season, the championship aired across the BBC, Quest, Eurosport and BT Sport. The Eurosport arrangement is a two-year agreement that started last season, but the status of the other three are unknown as of writing.

Meanwhile on two-wheels…

  • A new MotoGP television graphic debuted during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. First focusing on Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales, the graphic shows the heart rate of a rider during the heat of the action.
    • In the example Vinales tweeted, his heart rate is at a rather calm 112 beats per minute.
  • Eurosport in the UK have secured the rights to British Speedway until the end of the 2024 season.
    • British Speedway for many years aired live on Sky Sports, gaining a passionate following, but since 2017 has aired to a smaller audience on BT Sport.
    • The move to Eurosport, along with free-to-air highlights on Quest and DMAX, will help revitalise speedway in the UK, which has been on the decline in recent times.

See anything else worth mentioning on the news front? Drop a line in the comments section below.

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Site announcement: a new home (literally…)

Hi all,

Firstly, before getting on to the main body, I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone for continuing to read Motorsport Broadcasting over the Summer months. It has been a busy Summer, with exclusive content around the W Series, MotoGP and most recently attending the Black Book Motorsport Forum.

If there is one thing I have learnt more so in recent months, it is that there are people reading this site in many paddocks across the world: two wheels or four, large or small, more so than I previously thought outside of the Twittersphere, which is awesome to see.

Of course, the trips over the Summer months do not come cheap. The pieces I write are distinctive, which you cannot find in either the internet or print media space.

However, the expense of travelling to events far outweighs the donations received, plus advertising – a statement which I suspect applies to many independent motor racing sites out there.

Without wanting to lumber the point, if you have enjoyed the content I write, a small donation will go long way and would be very much appreciated. I should say, I love writing what I write, and the moment I do not love it is the moment I will stop.

It is important for me to ensure that Motorsport Broadcasting can fund itself, when taking into account additional expenses (such as attending industry events).

This is more important moving forward because, as of tomorrow and on a personal note, I will be a home owner for the first time. Which is both amazing and scary in equal measure!

The main point to mention is that there may be some disruption in terms of content during the house move, let me call it a period of adjustment as I settle in to new surroundings.

I do not know how long the adjustment will take, so bear with me if the content is a bit thin in the months ahead until things settle down. In the long-term, having my own home may well present some opportunities (someone did joke to me about YouTube, or at least I hope they were joking!).

There are some pieces already lined up over the next few weeks, including two guest articles, as well as the usual scheduling posts and audience data, so there may not be an immediate change. And, if you fancy writing a guest article, head over here

As always, thanks for continuing to support this site, I really do appreciate it. Onwards and upwards!

Owner and Editor of Motorsport Broadcasting

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