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Just 2 million watch Channel 4 Monaco highlights


The latest figures from Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB), the highly respected independent source for TV ratings in Britain, and the official estimate British networks use to sell advertising spots, reveal that just 2 million viewers tuned in to Channel 4's Monaco Grand Prix highlights show.

The figure confirms a trend which over the last 11 years has seen the sport's global TV audience fall by 18.3% to 490 million viewers as F1 increasingly moves to pay-per-view and streaming.

The Monaco highlights show was broadcast three hours after the race, and with the result widely known by that time it comes as little surprise that viewing figures were down 19.7% on 2018, when figures were up 7.7% on 2017.

The Monaco show was the fourth most-watched show on Channel 4 that week, beaten by 24 Hours in A&E, Bake Off: The Professionals and Gogglebox. Had the show retained its 2018 audience it would have been the second most watched programme, though still down on the peak of 3.6 million viewers in 2015 when it was broadcast on the BBC.

In addition to the 2 million watching on their TV sets, a further 32,639 people streamed Channel 4's Monaco coverage, with 20,045 of those using PCs or laptops, 7,290 using tablets and 5,304 watching on smartphones.

F1's own official streaming service, F1.TV, isn't currently available in the UK, though this is probably good news as the already troubled service suffered another meltdown over the Canadian Grand Prix weekend which will see fans offered rebates for the third time since the service was launched last year.

Because F1.TV isn't currently available in the UK, Channel 4 and Sky have their own streaming services, and while the former is free, only showing the delayed highlights, the latter is only available to subscribers.

According to Forbes, over the first six races of the season, each Channel 4 broadcast had an average of just 18,959 viewers on PCs/laptops, 5,731 on tablets and only 3,903 on smartphones.

According to BARB, those first six highlights shows on Channel 4 were watched by 10.1 million viewers which is 4.8 million fewer than in 2018, the figures calculated cumulatively, which is one of the systems used by F1 and involves counting each viewer of each race separately even if they are the same person.

However, contrary to F1's predictions, Sky is not picking up all of these lost viewers.

Live coverage of this year's Monaco race was aired on the Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event channels however, the data for the latter hasn't been lodged with BARB. In 2018, 117,000 people watched the race on Sky Sports Main Event but the vast majority used Sky Sports F1 which had 607,000 viewers.

If we take the 2,510,000 viewers for Channel 4 in 2018, add them to the 607,000 on Sky Sports F1 and 117,000 on Sky Sports Main Event, in total there were 3,234,000 viewers.

Sky Sports F1 figures were up 39.4% this year to 845,900, but even if the Sky Sports Main Event audience also rose by that amount (39.4%), combined with the Channel 4 audience it would give a total of 3,025, 198, down by 208,802 viewers on 2018.

"It concerns us in a pretty material way, not just for Britain but around the world," admitted F1 commercial boss Sean Bratches in a recent interview with Jonathan McEvoy. "Our ideal circumstance would be to have 75 per cent of our Grands Prix on free-to-air.

Asked specifically about the Sky contract, he said that it "is an agreement that was done prior to our arrival. The pay element is very exciting revenue-wise but from a reach standpoint it is sub-optimal".

However, though that might well be the case, the fact is that from the day Liberty Media - the clue is in the name - bought the sport it was making clear that pay-per-view was the way forward, with chief executive, Greg Maffei, telling shareholders, before they'd even given the all-clear to the purchase of F1, that he had identified "an opportunity to grow that broadcast stream. Much of it comes from moving potentially free-to-air to competitive pay services."


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1. Posted by chimmal, 15/06/2019 20:03

Its hard to feel sorry for Heir Vettel after all its not the first time something like this has happened he seems to think he is above the law and the regulations reminds me of another driver who was never wrong!!"

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2. Posted by Mr Mills, 14/06/2019 22:06

"Sky has killed forumla1 by buy the tv rights so doing that pissing off loyal f1fans who won't be paying to watch it . I have already moved over to forumlaE which is shown on freeview tv .
Have save money by cancelling sky subscription ."

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3. Posted by La Claire, 13/06/2019 16:47

"Monaco highlights? Maybe the show was just so short everyone missed it. In a wretchedly boring F1 season Monaco still manages to stand out as anachronistic, pointless and dull."

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4. Posted by vins0n, 13/06/2019 13:06

"I used to be glued to F1. I used to tape the races (VHS) and watch them again. Unfortunately the way it's gone now I'm massively losing interest. Some weekends I forget it's on. It's not just losing FTA there's the new graphics and sounds trying to make it more exciting "Whooosh fastest lap" "Bong bong bong lights out!" It's just irritating. "

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5. Posted by alvarezh3, 12/06/2019 21:07

"@ Chris Roper

On your first sentence, you're absolutely right. The American country where is most popular is Brazil and it's due mostly to Fittipaldi, Piquet, Senna, etc. through the decades.

No opinion on the second one as I really don't know if that's their motive.

Mr. Bratches alludes to wish 75% of the audience to be FTA, That is P.R. talk. Liberty and some of the TEAMS do not care if there are only 1000 viewers, what they are interested is in more revenue. Sure, the teams and Liberty know that fewer audiences mean lower revenues from trackside and on-car advertisers, but if "behind the wall" gives them more income, why should they care?.

Liberty and at least some teams are not in the business of pleasing affected audiences, they are in this for money whatever way it suits THEM better, not US. For the factory teams (and Red Bull) is a little concerning as they are in F1 to advertise their products, so, less viewers means higher advertising cost per pair of eyes. Nevertheless, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Hass and Ferrari don't cater products to viewers that can't afford to be "behind a wall", so it doesn't affect them much, if at all. On the other hand, Renault, Honda, Red Bull, Shell, Heineken and others, do care about gross number of audiences.

Advertising budgets where originally allocated to post a few signs around major markets and the press. Then came radio and later TV with it's wider audiences. Now you must include the internet. Every new segment divided up the advertising budgets. It seems (I don't have figures, I only notice this by the diminishing amount and size of the ads seen on the cars) that those budgets have not grown at the same pace as the Formula One team's spending. That leaves Liberty, the FIA and the teams to either cut costs, or increase revenue in any way they can think it to be possible, or risk the starting grid to be greatly reduced making the spectacle a non-event.

The only thing that has to be carefully balanced is not not go beyond the point of diminishing returns as far as audience number goes. If they get too greedy, income will definitely suffer. Think Apple's US$1,200.00 iPhone, they had to roll back production and increase purchasing incentives!"

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6. Posted by Chris Roper, 12/06/2019 19:32


What you say is about US Coverage vs Europe is the reason why F1 is vastly more popular and well known Europe, where F1 originated, than it is in the USA. Liberty's grand scheme is to level the playing field by making F1 equally unaffordable and little known in Europe as it is in the rest of the world."

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7. Posted by alvarezh3, 12/06/2019 17:10

"I feel sorry for my European ancestors for loosing their FTA races. Hopefully it may ease your pain to know that here in the American continent (U.S.of A. included) we have never had that privilege. In my country, cable was introduced in the very early '80s and then it was through ESPN that we could finally see a F1 race.

Today we get it through Fox Sports Latin America, and if you want to see it in HD, apart from the regular service price, you have to pay an extra US$10.00 monthly fee.

Rejoice yourselves for all the FTA races you saw or are still seeing. Unfortunately, you will soon or later join us, for like Doris Day's song says: "Whatever will be, will be".

Again, with all my heart, truly sorry. I would of have loved to see all those FTA races that you have had. All good things just sometimes come to an end. And not just FTA, as "findus" says, maybe even the sport itself."

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8. Posted by findus, 12/06/2019 12:59

"Pay TV is eating tomorrow's lunch today. New people will not discover F1 when it is hidden behind a pay-wall.
The revenue obtained from pay TV is less than the reduction in value of F1. There is only two ways this makes sense:
1) you expect F1 to be worthless in 10 years anyway (due to driverless cars?)
2) you believe that people discover video in new ways now (e.g. Game of Thrones popularity despite HBO's paywall)"

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