#F1 Features: #F1 and #Nascar – Strange Bedfellows (Part I)

This special analysis article is brought to to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a 2 part series looking at how F1 coverage is affected by it’s stateside cousin, NASCAR.

Disclaimer: Many of the characterizations in this article are meant in a humorous fashion. If you find yourself being offended, trust me, it wasn’t YOU I was talking about.

Hey, Eddie, can you lend me a few bucks
And tonight can you get us a ride
Gotta make it through the tunnel
Got a meeting with a man on the other side

Meeting Across the River, Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA

Ever since I came back to F1 several years ago, the common refrain amongst the media cognoscenti has been how the sport needs to conquer America. As if it wasn’t enough you lot came here with a bunch of diseased, gun-toting religious fanatics and took the whole place away from my people 400 years ago. (Full disclosure, I’m at least 1/16th Native American, but my family failed to inform me of this until I was well into my 20’s LOL – so take that for what it’s worth. Cherokee, in case you’re interested)

The larger question of course is given the global audience and buckets of money the sport already makes, is the US market really necessary? The answer, of course, is no, not really unless your first name is Bernard and your last name begins with the 5th letter of the alphabet and you either have some kind of ego hang up or a massively complicated bet with embarrassing consequences you’re trying to not lose. Or you just want that one last thing before you get locked up in prison for extreme financial f***ery. Possibly even all of the above.

Hey Eddie, this guy, he’s the real thing
So if you want to come along
You gotta promise you won’t say anything
‘Cause this guy don’t dance
And the word’s been passed this is our last chance

Meeting Across the River, Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA

With your first thought of NASCAR what comes to mind? Most likely to your average Euro-Centric parochial view, a fat, beer swilling, unedumacated, less-than-intelligent redneck who regularly consumes more calories than he has brain cells. The problem with this? That it’s true, but also not. Let me explain: this baffling country in which I live is so vast that it truly does defy all attempts to stereotype it and likewise, the fans of the various sports played across America are almost always a diverse bunch that will confound your expectations no matter what. But why NASCAR in an F1 article? Well, aside from the fact that they have road races and some truly ass-kicking drivers (Tony Stewart in particular will race anything at anytime, anywhere, soda cookies notwithstanding) it’s simple: The larger fate of F1 in the US currently rests on NASCAR.

We gotta stay cool tonight, Eddie
‘Cause man, we got ourselves out on that line
And if we blow this one
They ain’t gonna be looking for just me this time

Meeting Across the River, Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA

nascar-wallpaper-2013Most of the research for this article comes from a great site, NASCARnomics.  And since it’s written by someone who actually knows about such things as regression analyses, it means that none of you can argue with me because MATH. That said, how exactly does the fate of F1 in the US rest on the shoulders of NASCAR?  Well, let’s start at the beginning. In simple terms, in the US, the NBCSN network, an offshoot of NBC (OTA here, equivalent of FTA), has acquired the rights to not just F1, but also to IndyCar and (in 2015) NASCAR as well.

The problem being, NBCSN is seen by virtually no one in this country. Well OK, the network currently reaches roughly 77 million out of a total 115 million households. But the fact remains, almost no one watches it. As an illustration, the UniMás network, which is a Spanish language network in the US, also airs F1 races (who knew, right?) and they had a 38% higher viewership for the last race in Brazil than NBCSN, and a 70% higher hit in the ever important 18-49 demographic with 96% of UniMás viewers watching the race live versus 39% of NBCSN viewers. Which begins to make you think perhaps Bernie should have done a deal with UniMás instead. But we’re not done yet. We’re just getting to the good stuff… 

And all we gotta do is hold up our end
Here stuff this in your pocket
It’ll look like you’re carrying a friend
And remember, just don’t smile
Change your shirt, ’cause tonight we got style

Meeting Across the River, Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA

If you look carefully at the F1 ratings numbers, you’ll notice that NBCSN talks a lot about averages. That’s because it covers up, for the most part, the embarrassment that their current ratings have become. Essentially, when races are shown on the major network−NBC−which happens several times a year, viewership goes up tremendously, primarily because the race is on in so many more households and much more likely to be found. True life example, NBCSN is on channel 481 on my cable box, whereas all the rest of the HD channels are located from roughly channel 701-800 or so. Not gonna find that by accident, are we? Much like Bill Gates walking into the bar and making the average wealth of everyone in it over a million dollars, the larger number raises the average viewership and makes it look better

So what does NBCSN do to raise their own audience? Well, they acquire the rights to NASCAR starting 2015 and bet the farm that having such a popular sport will increase the number of households they reach as well as their viewership. And there is some indication that might work, as the running of Premier League programming this year (I’ll wait while you climb back into your armchairs with your brandy snifters) has seen an increase in average year-over-year viewership.  But will that help F1? Let’s use IndyCar as a proxy and find out.

Well Cherry says she’s gonna walk
‘Cause she found out I took her radio and hocked it
But Eddie, man, she don’t understand
That two grand’s practically sitting here in my pocket

Meeting Across the River, Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA

Well, let’s start with the obvious. F1 is not IndyCar, but they are similar enough to draw some very general conclusions. The first, and most important, is that being on an OTA Major Channel (NBC, CBS, or ABC) is where F1 would really like to be to optimize viewership. As you can see from the second chart below, the drop-off in IndyCar viewership from ABC to NBCSN is roughly 70%, so having the majority of races on NBCSN (aside from all of the other coverage issues) is a first class ticket to nowheresville as far as becoming a popular (or more popular) sport. You can also easily see that being on at night, on a road course or street circuit also reduce the interest in IndyCar.

Of course, since F1 doesn’t run ovals (thankfully enough) you could argue that these won’t really reduce the F1 audience the same way, and you could even be correct, but it does give a general picture of F1’s uphill battle to capture American viewers. Also part of the battle, the general drop in viewership as reflected in the IndyCar one-year moving Nielsen ratings average:

IndyCar series 1

Courtesy NASCARnomics

F1 has also faced a loss of viewers globally as the series increasingly moves to pay TV worldwide (600 million in 2009, best guess for 2012 (because they no longer publish the number), 500 million). Although the move might increase the short term TV money, structurally for the teams it’s a no win proposition.

to be continued…

53 responses to “#F1 Features: #F1 and #Nascar – Strange Bedfellows (Part I)

  1. Looks like the genius who created the IRL really knew what he was doing by the looks of that chart, doesn’t it? Stupidity….the gift that just keeps on coming. They haven’t hit rock bottom yet, but it’s coming soon. When their whole rotten enterprise inevitably implodes, perhaps F1’s chance to finally breakthrough in the U.S. will finally arrive….

    • And the genius in charge of F1, also driving viewership figures down…?

      Looking forward to part 2, Matt.

      • Thanks, appreciate it. Sadly the second chart to which I refer somehow didn’t make the cut. I expect it will be up with part 2. Anyhow, the one big thing is how much better the numbers are when any race is on a major network. By shuffling motor sports onto harder to find and less accessible channels, the geniuses in charge are killing their own sports popularity. Which is a story we’ve seen before.

    • Yeah, the whole thing goes back to the split between CART and IRL, IMHO, at least that’s when I gave up paying much attention.

      The numbers for Indy are generally still good, but otherwise the series is sinking like a stone. Frankly, although I hope F1 can increase its audience, I think it’s just as likely given the Amercan publics willingness to consume both reality TV and it love of any sport that uses the word “Xtreme” that you’re just as likely to see something like Formula Drift become the next really big popular Motorsport. Basically if it’s cheap to put on, and they can get the participants to be characters for free, it’s got a chance. Which still makes F1 a tough sell in this market.

      • It’s not just the US that suffers from an excess of ” reality TV ” – we’re awash with this drivel in the UK too …

        And if you substitute ” Xtreme ” for Great British …. you’ll get a picture of how dire the TV over here is.

        Just recently they had a ” Great British Sewing Bee ” – FFS sewing !

        What next ?

        Your right Matt – ” Basically if it’s cheap to put on, and they can get the participants to be characters for free, it’s got a chance “.

        Or as we say here – shite floats !

        • Sorry to hear that, seems to be a global catastrophe in the making. In general I think shows have gone from competing on high quality to competing on least bad. I have a pet theory that most music that is popular is popular mainly because it is played all the time, not because it is necessarily any good. Looks like TV is headed the same direction, LOL.

          • Over-the-air scheduled TV stations for non-live content (recorded shows) is a model which is dying on its arse anyway. Netflix has already shown where the future is and have managed to successfully commission their own shows, so no guesses how the conventional tv stations will fare in next ten years.

            Live sports will move to streaming services too, no doubt Bernie has a plan in that direction and will manage to double his profits by cutting out the middle men (tv stations) and being the only company connecting the circuits to the consumer. You the consumer pay your subscription direct to FOM TV, you get better and more comprehensive F1 coverage than ever before, direct to your TV / computer / ipad / phone, etc and Bernie deducts the race hosting fee from the broadcast rights payment and gives the circuit the rather small balance….

          • There is a lot of push for that from consumers (myself included) but the reality is that most cable providers are also internet providers. If all TV was streaming they would lose 1/3 of their income overnight. so they are going to push back pretty hard, and they generally have geographic monopolies so will be very hard to dislodge, as they tend to make large donations to politicians that make the rules about such things.

            There is also the issue of content providers. I spent half the year unable to watch NBCSN over the internet because you had to log into their app with your cable account, and my cable company didn’t permit it. At the same time, my cable company took NBCSN off their own app. Probably because their were arguing terms over their contract. And then one day, it showed back up on my cable company app. So the reality is you are right, but there are a lot of structural problems with migrating to that model. And even if we did, I’m sure it would wind up costing us more somehow than it already does. /Cynical

  2. A query about the channel numbering you mentioned ?

    You said – ” Not gonna find that by accident, are we? ”

    Who are the ” we ” you are referring to ?

    Surely a fan would know that F1 was shown on NBCSN – so the fact it’s not in the ” …. roughly channel 701-800 or so. ” range is irrelevant ?

    Or are you promoting further the stereotype of Americans being too stupid to do such a simple task as finding channel 481 ?

    I don’t know how channel numbering is allocated in the US – but surely if it is too difficult to find channel 481 – why doesn’t NBCSN just renumber itself in the 701 – 800 range you mention ?

    This renumbering has happened often in the UK as more channels have been added.

    • Hi Manky, the basic point I was making is exactly that. Fans will go find channel 481. But in order to grow audience, F1 needs new viewers to find the show and become interested. Not many casual viewers will be flipping channels around 481 if most of the HD channels are between 700-800.

      And to answer your other question, the cable providers assign channels. So NBCSN has no real control over there channel. The biggest channels generally are 701-715 and then up from there. So the likelihood of someone accidentally stumbling on a race (as I did back in 2008) and getting interested (or reinterested, LOL) is very, very low when your channel is that far away from almost any other channel you would normally be watching.

      And finally, no, aside from poking a little gentle fun at Americans (since I’m one too, after all) I’m not really promoting that stereotype. Actually, although sometimes astonishingly ill-informed, generally Americans are no stupider than any other group of folks I’ve ever met. 😉

      • Cheers for clarifying Matt 🙂

        I was joking with the quip …. glad you saw that

        So from what you’ve said above re apps etc. – it sounds like a ” political ” or money driven ( ? ) decision by your cable provider NOT to assign a more beneficial channel number ?

        Or do you think the parent company NBC, or even the regulators ( I’m not sure how they operate in US ? ) should require cable providers to do so ?

        If you want to catch casual viewers – that would be an obvious solution.

        • Very interesting article Matt, thanks; I look forward to part 2.

          @Manky; there is no government regulation of cable companies, as the product is not ‘broadcast’ over the air via radio waves and the US only regulates TV using the public airwaves (the government sells rights to use certain frequencies to television, radio, and cell phone companies and requires certain rules to be followed).

          The situation is even more complex in that one has to purchase a cable product that contains the NBCSN programming, usually at extra cost. I have given up all cable television for a number of reasons, mostly because most of it is BS and neither my wife nor I actually watch ‘television’ anymore.

          I watch the F1 races on BBC or Sky via streaming on my computer. A very good site for this (as well as other sports) is vipboxus.co.

          FOM is going to have a hard row to hoe to get the US of A interested in F1 – and they are doing a really crappy job of it right now; I doubt if 1% of Americans can tell you what Formula One is.

          @Matt – sorry, haven’t sent the wine yet, but haven’t forgotten about it. Next week.

          • No worries, it’ll be exciting whenever it gets here. Hope the holidays went well for you, glad you liked the article.

            And, as you know, I agree with regards to cable. The only reason it’s still this way is due to regulatory capture by the Cable Industry. Eventually, they will lose as the demographics of our country will rob them of the money to maintain that position.

  3. I luv the premise of this article! looking forward to the rest…
    back in the day for me – ’62 on – it was all about 3 month old magazine coverage and newspaper coverage, and a few bits of TV coverage.
    yet, it did not matter in the US or Canada if the event was Trans Am, Winston Cup (NASCAR), Can Am, F5000, Endurance, Indy, Grand Prix, SCCA or, 5 or 24 hour bike races, whatever!!!
    it ALWAYS took many hours to make it to those last few miles to the track, finding a car, van, tent, or other camping spot was horrendous, and getting pit and paddock passes once in were simple and ultra CHEAP! was ALWAYS jamb-packed to the gills at Nelson Ledges, Mid-Ohio, Indy, the Glen, Mosport, Mont Tremblant, Lime Rock, Milwaukee Mile, and likely most others… Pocono, Michigan, VIR, Road America and Road Atlanta and the Cleveland Indy GP chimed in with amazing shoulder-to shoulder attendance records and Lil Al and Airie lit the joints on fire…
    along with being able to sit at a campfire with Paul Newman at Nelson Ledges several times or chatting with Mario and Bobby & Al Unser at the entrance to turn 2 at Mosport for F5000, or autographs n photos of JR and AJ, PJ and Dan at Indy, it was all good…
    used to be able to attend/camp out for the weekend event at ANY racing event 8 to 10 events per year while making about 7k per year salary. would have to prolly make about 1/3 million a year now to do that now!! am totally happy to still stay “involved” today thru TJ13 and able to steal a free internet real time coverage of Sky/BBC/NBC of F1, Indy, Nascar, etc 🙂

    • Dunno TR69, even a third of a million would hardly get you there if you lived in a big metro area. But you have absolutely got the right idea. the fact that you were able to see all those races and they were that accessible is what makes a sport popular. And that is directly at odds with the current business strategy.

      And wow, do I ever envy you that history.

    • Hi Titan, I have very similar memories of UK racing at that time… Boy, have things changed… 😉

  4. Just thinking out loud here, but is F1 a casual viewer sport? I love it but I have to pretty much plan my day around watching it live. If I did stumble across NBCSN and it was on, it’s a pretty hefty chunk of time I’m investing to watch something I’ve no connection to or real understanding of. Maybe that is the problem, and it’s the one we moan about all the time, F1 does not promote itself correctly. In fact, when drivers like Alonso and Hamilton try to show off their personalities, we find they are shot down at the soonest opportunity. When I speak to friends that are huge sports fans, but do not watch F1, the main thing I hear about why they don’t watch is that it’s just cars going round in a circle, which I can’t argue with, but would a race be more exciting if it was on a 200 mile long section of road? I think not. Because they have the ability to do other things instead of watching something they are not going to miss, it will go unwatched. Americans must be like my friends, confused by something they don’t have any connection to(Lewis’ relationships with Nicole being the closest they have to an American) and they have so many other sports that they have probably played themselves to watch instead.

    • F1 isn’t necessarily a sport for the casual viewer, but if no casual viewers see races then they won’t ever become committed fans. In the old direct mail days, you would expect to get a hit rate of 3 replies for every 100 pieces of mail. I don’t know what the numbers are for the internet age, but the principle is the same. If enough eyeballs see a race, some of them will stick. And this is where I think F1 is headed down the wrong path for the long term good of the sport. But I’ll get to that in the second part of the article.

      And you are right, F1 sucks at promoting itself in this county. They should do a reality show with 3rd drivers, or F3 or GP2 teams. then the public would have someone to follow when they made it to the Circus.

      Not that I’m a fan of reality shows, because I generally hate them, but the truth is that all the sports on the rise in the US (think UFC in particular) have reality shows for aspiring entrants that give the public personalities and narratives to latch onto. If F1 wanted to up its game that’s where I’d start, but I would guess the teams are far too secretive to ever agree to such a thing

      • This year in the UK they showed Hard Knocks for the first time on free to view Channel 4 ( which already shows SNF ), it’s other associated free channels and online demand service.

        Channel 4 has an early Saturday morning round-up show aimed as much for new viewers as regulars fans – and the comments from new viewers were especially encouraging as to captivating there interest in the sport and understanding it better.

        Like you I’m no fan of reality TV and personally got bored of Hard Knocks early on – I’ve been watching NFL since the early 80’s – but new viewers seemed to love it.

        And it definitely enticed many to watch the live games even though that means a 4 or 5 am finish here in UK.

        Should F1 consider something along the lines of Hard Knocks to encourage new viewers too ?

        • Yes, but as I commented earlier think you would have a problem with teams having secrecy issues. But maybe not. Best bet would be to go with up and coming drivers. Get 3-4 whoever does best gets a seat as a pay driver (Marussia/ Caterham) and a chance to make their bones. Americans eat that up. And cheap compared to traditional narrative shows.

    • The casual viewer comment makes me wonder… When you think about most sports, you’re building up to a crescendo at the end… Especially, say, American football or basketball, where it’s generally the last 10 minutes that matter. F1 is rarely like that… The action is random, or centered around pit stops, so you’re not going to get casual fans tuning in for the last 15 minutes, as you might in other sports.

      • Dear CTP – many NFL games don’t have a grand finale …

        Sure there are some brilliant nail biting games – but many can be dull low scoring games, or total blow outs long before the final quarter.

        And since the rules of say NFL are far harder to comprehend to a casual viewer compared to motor racing – the leader is the guy in front – the others are trying to catch and overtake him.

        As opposed to say understanding downs and distances, lines of scrimmage, or forward / backward passing, offside / false starts, holding / interference, eligible or non-eligible players, etc. etc….

        I’m not sure I agree with your analogy ?

        • Disagree Manky. Almost impossible to explain in simple terms the effect of DRS, KERS and degrading tyres all at once. Then try and combine that with aerodynamics for different cars making them faster or slower at different sectors of a circuit…..Hard

          • But adamac39 – you’re talking about effects – not basic rules on how to win.

            The analogy in NFL terms might be you not being able to explain easily the effects of altitude or wind or throwing action of a quarterback on ball trajectory.

            Anyone can get to grips with the basic principle of being first past the post ( chequered flag ) easier.

      • In my experience,its the start and the first 4 or 5 laps that the casual fan wants to see.

      • I actually talk a bit about that in part 2. But you’re correct, people like to watch any contest that is both close and not predetermined.

        I would argue that the racing action isn’t that random, but that frequently you wind up with one close contest in any given race. it might be in the midfield, but still, if you tune in and they are covering it properly, you will wind up identifying it with one of the two drivers and then you will be hooked.

        And FYI the average NASCAR fan would get pit strategy in an instant. It plays a role for them, too.

    • Mostly in circles LOL, but unlike most Americans I add a few twists and turns, guess that’s why I like F1 so much 😉

  5. You know what’s even a bigger problem ( for the ‘muricans) there isn’t an American driver. And as long as there is none of their own who is successful they’ll never be interested. Not the big masses. And that’s a fact. People, in general, have sympathy for a driver of their own country. How many polish people watched f1 prior to kubica? If you could count 12 in the whole country you probably counted them all. No driver and no own grand prix? No one interested. Then kubica got a drive in f1, and suddenly at the belgian grand prix alone there where so many polish people i couldnt even count them… and since kubica doesn’t drive f1 no more (sadly) i didn’t count a single one at the belgian gp.for multiple years now.And since we are quite the social drinkers we’ve met alot of people at the campsite 😎 and so far we counted one american f1 fan (and his wife who had to come)

    • I’m getting to that in part 2, though you might be a bit surprised as to what Americans really want. 😉

      As far as Spa goes, I would love to go, but the wife hates camping. And TBH, it makes for a pretty expensive ticket when you have to add intercontinental travel to the bill, LOL.

      I used to host a holiday party for years that featured belgian beer tasting. Followed by a living room full of passed out Americans, LOL. I really should dig up some of those photos. Awesome times.

      • Yeah i know it’s expensive. But it was an example. I know the american fans go to montreal, if they go.. but since I’ve never been there i couldnt refer to it. And since i cant count anymore how many times I’ve been at spa, it was the best way to explain myself. And btw your right. Most people (who arent from germany) and come to visit belgium are knocked out by our beers. 😋 but mostly that’s their fault for thinking the sewage water they drink at home is beer. Hahaha. But yeah if belgium is famous for anything it’s the beer, the french fries, the chocolate and the waffles. And spa, but that only goes for racingfans.

      • Thats exactly my point. The thing is i dont know very much people who are Spanish. I know a few more who are polish. So i could make that reference. 😆the point is having a gp alone isnt enough. You need a driver. Preferably one who is on the top step now and then. We belgians have one of the most iconic tracks in the world. But you’d be surprised how little people care. And then d’ambrosio got a drive and suddenly “everybody” wanted to see f1. Tv coverage went from barely some races live, to all races live with a pre and after show…

          • No. Nobody wanted to see that. They want to see “their” driver in the king of motorsport. Not in some second hand copy. Cuz lets face it even though not everyone watches f1, all of them know that f1 is the top.

          • I felt that by making A1GP all about nationalities it ironically robbed the series’ entrants of any real identity and character. What gets me excited and interested by a particular team or driver (and therefore follow them in a sport, and in other sports if they enter them) is of course talent but also the INDIVIDUAL traits and histories, the unique “brand” (for want of a better word). I get a frisson when cars from F1 teams with a long-standing rivalry are battling it out with each other or when a driver who is an out-and-out racer tries to take on a more cool and calculating opponent. I can easily identify the teams by their unique liveries – I was also going to say drivers by their helmets but not so much these days! – which also helps me follow the race events as they unfold. But in A1GP, the drivers and teams were reduced to faceless stereotypes. And because the liveries were based on countries’ flags and several countries share the same colours there was often confusion over who was who. I’m not sure that simply having a US driver in F1 would suddenly make Americans tune in and stay watching. I don’t think people watch and enjoy the Race of Champions team event purely because of patriotism. Of course, how can viewers become familiar and involved with the teams’/drivers’ identities and characters if they don’t have good access to them in the first place?… Which brings us back to the issue of F1’s coverage and promotion.

          • Ha Ha, I think you are onto something re just being an American driver, which gets discussed in the second part of the article. But I would say what is important is the narrative of the driver/team. The person doesn’t have to be American, but the narrative (or brand) needs to resonate with some American cultural ethos. Personally, Lewis and Kimi both would have strong American overtones (for different reasons) to your average American, but much like people in NY might root for the Cowboys in football (OK, bad example, everyone hates them but you get my point) Red Bull and Ferrari would both be teams that might also appeal to Americans based on their narrative, but frankly so would Sauber, Williams and Force India since they are all perennial underdogs that can pull off the occasional upset.

            If I am channel surfing and turn on a game where I have no investment in the outcome, if I watch for more than a few minutes I start to choose sides. And then I’m hooked. This is a big hurdle for F1 to overcome and you are absolutely right that it comes back to FOM promotion and marketing, which they like to slag off as being the problem of the circuit, but really long term is a problem for the whole sport.

  6. Hmmmm…
    – motorsport is doomed
    – lies, lies and statistics
    – fucking Bruce Springsteen in my head

    Still like the article, though

    • MotorSport not necessarily doomed, but definitely headed down the wrong path at the moment.

      All statistics are lies, since they reduce reality. Even the most fair minded author can’t escape this fact. No matter how hard they try. And I did try.

      Sorry you don’t like Bruce, that tune is one of my favorites because of the Randy Brecker trumpet solo.

      Glad you liked the article, hope you enjoy part 2 as well.

      • It’s not that I don’t like Bruce at all, it’s just that it stays in my head.
        To be sure: the one about statistics was aimed at the people who use them to falsify reality.

        And about motorsport being doomed, well I think it will become the same thing as horse racing. Youngsters don’t find it cool anymore and you have to get that demograph. I’m trying with my own kids – but sometimes through clenched teeth bevause of DRS and Pirelli…

        Looking forward to part 2.

    • Also be glad that I didn’t go with “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey, which a friend of mine calls the unofficial National Anthem, LOL

  7. While I don’t disagree that F1 in the US is a minor sport, your analysis is questionable.

    “As an illustration, the UniMás network, which is a Spanish language network in the US, also airs F1 races (who knew, right?) and they had a 38% higher viewership for the last race in Brazil than NBCSN, and a 70% higher hit in the ever important 18-49 demographic with 96% of UniMás viewers watching the race live versus 39% of NBCSN viewers.”

    That is simply not true. Unimas had higher ratings in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston and Dallas. You’re simply cherry picking what markets you want so they appear larger than the average US market. And you have also fallen into the trap of comparing a cable only network (NBCSN) to a free over the air network (Unimas). The last race of the year was competing against the NFL and nothing wins against the NFL in the average US TV market.

    “NBCSN network, an offshoot of NBC (OTA here, equivalent of FTA), has acquired the rights to not just F1, but also to IndyCar and (in 2015) NASCAR as well.”

    NBCSN has acquired the rights that were previously held by Turner and ESPN for NASCAR. They are co-holders with FOX.

    “NBCSN is on channel 481 on my cable box, whereas all the rest of the HD channels are located from roughly channel 701-800 or so.”

    That’s because that’s a protocol that cable companies use when bundling channels. SD channels were allocated upto 700, HD 700 and above. That is now changing.

    • Fair enough re UniMAs, either I missed or my source didn’t annotate the markets. Still, those are some of the largest TV markets in the country. NY, LA, Dallas = 3 of the top 5 markets in the country. Still not insignificant. Particularly if you factor in the rapid demographic growth of Latino Americans relative to the country as a whole. And still impressive, particularly the households viewing live figure. Since they can’t FF through commercials. And decidedly not cherry-picked, as it’s only tangential to my thesis.

      As far as the NFL, UniMas was also on against the NFL, so your point would be…?

      Re OTA, according to UniMas, as of August 19, 2013 they reached 80 million households, compared to 77 million for NBCSN, so apples to apples-ish.

      Yes, co-holders, but how does that invalidate the data comparing the positive effect on IndyCar viewership by sharing the same channel as NASCAR (the chart with that data should be published with part 2, or you can access it on the NASCARNOMICS website). If the FOX rights don’t change, why would the effect change.

      Yes, that was the protocol in originally assigning the channel number, but it doesn’t change the fact that it lessens the chance that any but a dedicated viewer would come across a race and decide to keep on watching. As I did in 2008 when F1 was on Speed (774).

      And no, you’re not required to agree with my analysis in the slightest, thankfully, but I would politely point out that you might want to read the whole thing (which has yet to be published) before coming to that conclusion.

  8. I happen to be in the broadcast market and have access to both the raw and published Nielsen numbers and I know several people at NBCSN and have a fairly good idea what they are doing and why they are doing it. And you did cherry pick the numbers, and you never, ever compare an OTA broadcast to a cable only broadcast, especially in the Hispanic market.

    • Your accusation of cherry picking is dishonest bullshit. I wrote this article for free, in my spare time as an avocation. You, on the other hand are a professional with friends/acquaintances at NBCSN. Which one of us really has a greater motivation to distort numbers I wonder.

      And how nice for you that you have such easy access to those numbers.
      I am not in the broadcast market, nor do I have access to them, I had to go find them as best as I could in my less than copious spare time, and unless you tell me that Unimas is on substantially more TV’s than NBCSN than again, apples to apple-ish.

      I’m glad your professional training tells you that you can’t compare the numbers, but for the purposes of total household penetration the overall numbers seem pretty similar, and frankly, Unimas hardly seems to be OTA in the same way, oh, ABC is. And, aside from my surprise at the relative strength of their numbers, again, the whole UniMas thing is tangential to the point that I’m making. Which point I already made once.

      Finally, I am more than happy to be corrected on matters of fact, particularly when someone has better access than I. But none of your corrections alter the substance of my argument at all. And that for me is the bottom line. But I politely suggest you drop accusing me of dishonesty without actual, you know, EVIDENCE, unless you wish to come to my house personally and discuss it.

    • Please explain why you can’t compare OTA to cable numbers. These are both viewer numbers, aren’t they? Is one more important than the other? The fact is, NBCSN is a stupid way to go to increase viewership of F1 races – I ain’t paying the money. Frankly, and you might tell your bosses this, network and cable are both dead. Eventually.

      Finally, please let us in on what THEY are doing and WHY they are doing it. I’m interested, because I think they are dying.

    • @ cavallino. Ah, the light bulb just went on. What you are really trying to say is that OTA Hispanic viewers have less value than cable viewers, who are paying for the service and probably have more money. Got it.

      • Perhaps if you are a cable provider that would be true, but as an advertiser trying to sell to that market the reverse might be true, you have tightly packed, the exact demographic you wish to target. Which comes into play in the rest of the article. And has much to do with the basic structural problems facing F1 period, not just in the US

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