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TV viewing figures fell by 50 million in 2013

NEWS STORY
03/02/2014

Unsurprisingly, Sebastian Vettel's domination of the second half of the 2013 season had an impact on global TV viewing figures which fell by 50m.

According to the Wall Street Journal; in total viewing figures fell by "50 million to 450 million" last season, though some countries actually saw a rise in demand.

In Germany, Vettel's home country and where he scored his first home Grand Prix win last season, viewing figures were down by 8.7% - the number of viewers watching "at least 15 non-consecutive minutes of the sport" dropping to 31.3 million. While in Brazil, the sport's biggest single viewing market also suffered as the audience dropped by almost 10% from 85.6 million to 77.2 million.

In Britain, where in a controversial move the sport was 'split' ahead of the 2012 season between the BBC and Sky, the state broadcaster limited to just ten races while its rival had all races but on a pay-per-view basis, viewers were up by 1.7% to 29.1 million... though it is unclear how the switch has hit the figures of the two broadcasters. A similar move in Italy, dividing coverage between 'free-to-air' and subscription saw a rise of 2.9%.

A change from state broadcaster CCTV to a number of regional partners - a move made as part of the sport's quest to "ensure that Formula One coverage of every race and qualifying session is shown live" is said to account for the 29.8 million fall in viewers, though this doesn't explain the numerous empty grandstands at Shanghai year after year.

In France, home of Grand Prix, but which is now only represented in the sport by Renault, Romain Grosjean and Jules Bianchi and shows no sign of hosting a race any time soon, viewers fell by16 million to 10.2 million.

America's strange on-off-on-off love affair with the sport continues, viewer numbers increasing by 1.7 million to 11.4 million in 2013, just a year after Austin hosted the first United States Grand Prix since 2007.

TV viewing figures and how they are ascertained has always been a mystery, many of us able to remember when the figures released by the sport each year were actually several times the earth's population. Fact is that at Pitpass we saw reader numbers fall by fifteen to twenty percent in the closing stages of the season, much of which has to be put down to the dominance of Vettel and his team.

On the other hand, January 2014 was almost a record month for us, fans clearly excited by the new rules and the prospect of a two, three, four-way fight for the title. Indeed, much as we sympathise with the boys in Milton Keynes, last week's problems in Jerez will only further whet the appetites of fans, both die-hard and casual.

What the sport doesn't need however is any more scandals, silliness, manipulation or any of the other 'shooting itself in the foot' madness we have become accustomed to over the years.

Chris Balfe

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 04/02/2014 10:39

""What the sport doesn't need however is any more scandals, silliness, manipulation or any of the other 'shooting itself in the foot' madness we have become accustomed to over the years"

Unfortunately under the current management that appears all we have to look forward to. The change in the tech regulations could be F1's salvation, but stupidity like "double points" could easily undermine the potential gains...."

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2. Posted by GoodPublicity, 03/02/2014 15:18

"No-one should be surprised that F1's TV viewing audience diminished in a lop-sided season.

Standardising engines and other key components in the pursuit of 'close competition' hasn't succeeded, and never will.

All the FIA and FOM have done is aliente F1's traditional fan base that used to be attracted by the technical variety, even when one team and/or driver was clearly superior.

Now that F1 has become just another TV 'reality show', viewers tire quickly of the constant gimmicks.

Without a fight to the finish, which is the motorsport exception rather the rule, F1 is destined for the TV oblivion that awaits every low-rating show."

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