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Hockenheim thriller fails to revive Channel 4 viewer numbers

NEWS STORY
07/08/2019

Just one week before the thrilling cat and mouse battle featuring Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in Hungary, race fans were treated to a Hockenheim thriller which featured action from lights to flag throughout the field.

In the eyes of many, fans, drivers, team bosses, TV pundits and Ross Brawn, it was one of the best races in living memory.

However, internet and social media buzz surrounding the race, which saw Verstappen claim his second win of the season and Hamilton finish a distant eighth, failed to get fans tuning into Channel 4's highlights show.

"Channel 4 will have the highlights next year and we have worked with them to ensure they show the races in a favourable prime time slot,” said F1's global research director Matt Roberts late last year.

"We estimate that we will actually have more viewers next year in the UK (thanks to this prime time slot) than we had this year," he added.

However, according to BARB, the highly-regarded, industry standard, Broadcasters' Audience Research Board, the figures for Channel 4's German Grand Prix highlights show were 17.3% down on 2018 to 2.1 million viewers.

Demonstrating that Matt Roberts prediction was wildly optimistic, the figures for the 2019 and 2018 races can be compared directly because both were highlights shows.

According to Forbes, other than watching on their TVs, 23,465 people streamed the highlights show on their computers, whilst 7,300 used a tablet and only 5,545 watched on their phones.

As previously reported, for some inexplicable reason, the most watched highlights show this year on Channel 4 was the French Grand Prix, which, contrary to Hockenheim, has been described as one of the worst in living memory.

Since the French event, there have been four highly entertaining races, the Austrian, British, German and Hungarian Grands Prix, and while BARB has yet to release the data for last weekend's event, the cumulative audience for the other three is down 1.2 million on 2018.

Interestingly, though this year's German Grand Prix had the lowest figures since 2012, that particular year the race was up against the British Open and the Tour de France, which was won by Britain's Bradley Wiggins.

BARB does not have the data for Sky Sport's coverage of the Hockenheim race, therefore it is unclear whether it compensates for the loss on Channel 4.

However, as previously reported, over the course of the first ten races of the season, F1 has haemorrhaged 3 million viewers in Britain, somewhat ironic when you consider that the sport is headquarter in the UK, as are seven of the teams.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 14/08/2019 7:21

"On TV, the F1 "package" is simply poor value. This problem starts with FIA\Liberty, whose 'control' of the Sport is laughable.
Compare & contrast with Dorner (MotoGP) who manage to generate rules which reward engineering excellence - allowing some Bike superiority, while still enabling close racing. Tyres whilst important, are rarely the determining factor in races - initial choice, and pilot skill contribute far more than in F1. The next item in the chain is the quality of TV pictures. Again Dorner's efforts are vastly better than Liberty's, virtually nothing is missed and available for almost instant replay, on-board shots are better, and the real-time 'leader-board' graphic is informative without being intrusive.
Last, but far from least, is Rider\Pilot skill and attitude. MotoGP is currently dominated by an exceptional Rider, but as we saw last weekend, he can be beaten in a straight fight. In addition future hopefuls are rarely shackled to mediocre kit, but get to ride 'manufacturer' quality equipment, courtesy of 'satellite' teams. One such young gun is riding high at present with several others coming through as well.
The upshot of all this is that we regularly have thrillers, not only in the 'senior' class, but with Moto 2 & Moto 3 as well - three races for the price of one!

None of this is accidental - nor are the 100,000 plus crowds which regularly attend races. This is what happens when things are managed with a mixture of careful planning, firm leadership and positive collaboration (in Public at least). Lastly, the whole thing is carried-out in more 'sporting' way."

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2. Posted by yakker, 08/08/2019 19:10

"Could help if they replaced Steve Jones, he makes me want to switch off before the race even starts."

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3. Posted by Spartacus, 08/08/2019 17:25

"I have a business partner in the UK and he has to "pay per view" the F1 races but doesn't have to pay for Moto GP, here in the USA it is the other way around. The coverage is on ESPN (F1) and BeInSports (MotoGP - Premium Service) which are cable channels and I consider "Pay TV". Finding the broadcasts and their air times are a hindrance also. At least there are re-broadcasts although it would be nice to not have to DVR.

I think a bigger long term issue and challenge is getting the younger generation (millennials and after) interested in these forms of motorsport. There is no way you can compete with the smart phone and facebook. Motorsport in their various current forms are not appealing to today's Prius driver nor is competition."

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4. Posted by Editor, 08/08/2019 8:40

"@ Hobgoblin

Headlines that “Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2 in Hungary” are far less likely to convince viewers to tune in to a highlights show than “Mercedes wins Hungary thriller”.

For most people, no matter how hard they try to avoid news of a race, the basics will always filter through.

As for the “quality of previous races”, using France as the yardstick nobody would have tuned in to watch F1 again"

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5. Posted by alfsboy, 07/08/2019 15:45

"Perhaps everyone is growing up ,growing old ,seen it all before ,ho hum .Everything has its place and time and nothing lasts for ever ,except of course Bernie and Keef ."

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6. Posted by alexdixon, 07/08/2019 12:07 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 07/08/2019 12:11)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

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7. Posted by Optimaximal, 07/08/2019 11:37

"It probably didn't help C4's numbers that the Race itself wasn't available on-demand (via channel4.com or the All4 app) until the following day.

They're being fairly inconsistent with getting the Race up on the web services after the highlights show has aired on the +1 channel - sometimes it's up by ~9:30pm on race day, but if they need to make edits to the show and/or there are presumably upload timing issues, it lags into the following day.

Of course, who knows, maybe there are contractual reasons why it's being delayed (*cough* Sky *cough*)..."

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8. Posted by Hobgoblin, 07/08/2019 11:02

"I am not sure how the quality of the race is supposed to determine the number of people tuning in to the highlights. I avoid all media in order to watch the highlights 'fresh' and avoid spoilers, I have no idea whether the race is exciting or not until I've watched it.
Perhaps a better measure would be quality of previous races?"

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