Disclaimer: TheJudge13 provides a platform for Formula 1 fans to publish their voice on matters relating to Formula 1. The views expressed in Voice of #F1 Fans are those of the contributor and not those held by TJ13.
Thanks to new writer David Simpson for his submission.
Where are the future fans going to come from?
I know its hard to believe these days but there once was a time when I wasn’t a fan of Formula 1. Back in these dark old days when I was a young boy, I had been fed a diet of what we now call V8 Supercars here in the land down under. I knew about Formula 1, the circus rolled through once a year, but as with the TV coverage of the IndyCars racing on the Gold Coast, I used to tune in to the Adelaide F1 coverage only to watch my beloved tin tops as part of the support show. Then toute suite, it was time for fishing when the open wheelers came out.
I lay the blame this state of affairs squarely on the shoulders of my father, who has since admitted his lack of interest in F1 was because he couldn’t be bothered staying up through the night to the races – despite the fact we’d be up to some unearthly hour for the delayed V8 race telecasts.
Then in 1994, I heard about the death of Ayrton Senna and whilst I understood from the media coverage this was a big deal, I wasn’t really aware of just how huge this sad event was. I’d read how great Senna had been in articles from father’s motorsport magazines and how now he was gone Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher were fighting out the championship. My interest was slowly building.
Flicking though TV channels on a wet Sunday afternoon, I came across the telecast of the Japanese GP. I only came in towards the end of the race, so wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but the enthusiasm of Murry Walker and seeing those gladiators take on the treacherous conditions that day, I was hooked.
After watching Damon blaze away at the front that day, I chose to follow him for the title showdown at the season finale, Australian GP. Instead of just watching the V8’s race and then going outside to play, I sat there all afternoon glued to the TV. Michael won the start, but Damon was closely following. Then there came the Schumacher.Hill incident that still burns in my memory to this day. I was shattered even though I’d only been watching this sport for a week!
Over the closed season that year, I got on my bike and rode to the local video store (yes they still existed then!) and hired as many season reviews as they had. I cleared the local newsagents out of stock of anything F1 related and was soon up to speed with matters concerning the coming season. I couldn’t wait for it to begin.
This is how I found Formula One, but my fear now is – where are the next generation of fans going to come from? I can argue all day about how great the Pay TV model is for a fan like myself, but does this mean my beloved sport is going to bypass whole generation. If the inevitable happens and I have kids one day, they will be brought up on a diet of F1 and V8 Supercars, but think of the millions of households where there is no chance of stumbling across a race on a dreary Sunday because it is stuck behind a pay wall.
My father refuses to pay for TV and there are many more people out there like him that are now choosing to find other things to do rather than continue to follow their lifelong favourite sport. Then we have Formula One’s CEO, Bernie, stating he doesn’t care about fans like me because I can’t afford a Rolex, but where does he think the future Rolex buyers are coming from?
As an aside, if I was to buy an insanely expensive timepiece, it would be a Tag Heuer not a Rolex every day.
Figures recently released suggest Formula One has lost one third of its TV fans over the past decade, and the numbers so far this year appear to be in decline again. The internet is hailed as the place where the kids of today find ‘new stuff’ to get involved in, but with TV contracts stitched up for years in advance it could be too late for FOM by the time they unravel.
Whichever way we consider F1’s future, the current model seems to have revenue peaked and the only way is down. The transition to an alternative model will take time and almost inevitably see revenues fall for a while. But can anyone bite this bullet? We can but wait and see.
First of all, good article. Fun to see how it’s so different all around the world and yet the same. Dad’s bring the new fans. As stated in an article of mine a little while back I’ve got the microbe from my dad too. Or my addiction if you will.
Second the real problem isn’t that we can’t afford those watches or don’t want to buy them. The real problem is something that bernie can’t fix. Fans just don’t want to turn on the telly to see a dull race. As long as there is no challenge for the title, be it a real team vs team battle or a intern team battle, less people will watch. Today only hardcore fans see it. Because regular people don’t get exited. The Spanish gp was the best example. Mercedes boys toke each other out and suddenly the German TV ratings go trough the roof. Highest they had for some years. And why? Because nobody knew who would win once Rosberg and hamilton were out.
And it goes back for ages that way. What made the end of the 80’s so great? Prost vs Senna. Senna is only the icon he is today because of Prost. Prost is only the icon he is today because of Senna. First an intern team battle, later a battle between two teams. Two drivers fighting for all they’ve got.
What made the early 00’s so great? Schumacher vs hakinnen. Two men with the same abilities. Because of one guy performing better than his car allowed and the other because of a great car. But again a fierce battle between two teams. Two drivers. A dash more respect for each other than Senna and Prost but that’s an other story.
Why is WEC the most exciting series the FIA has to offer for the last say 4 years? Immens battles. Even today I can not say who’ll win le mans. It’s a three way battle between Porsche, Audi and Toyota. And all of them have an equal chance of winning. And even when, like a couple of years ago, the Audis are the only ones left for a p1 battle they still fought for it. Amongst each other. That’s what people want! All those artificial drs bull and 20 tyre choices are the wrong way to go. The only thing we need is Ferrari to step up their game so that we can finally have the Vettel vs Hamilton fight we’re all hoping for, for the last 2 years.
“Mercedes boys took each other out (actually it was Lulu that took both Rosberg and himself out) and suddenly the German TV ratings go through the roof, and why?” why? My guess is, Because all the Germans who were not watching TV rushed to watch when they heard the news from wherever they were!.
formula one remains free-to-air television in Germany at least the end of 2017.
But infested with commercials.
Great piece David and as yourself and Bruznic mentioned it’s the parents that tend to bring the young fans into the sport. It’s been argued over time and again that the current model of the sport isn’t a sustainable one. TV is a dying format and the more technological minded have the option of watching something when they want and where they want but MrE is reluctant to surrender his control of this. The problem that is faced is the pay wall for the fans,how can someone try the sport without first watching it for free?it’s only the current hard core die hards that fork out over £800 a year just for the privilege and I have to say that this year I have been close to cancelling the sky subscription. then factor in a single ticket to a live event,its madness that f1 charge £300+ for a days racing(that’s travel/food and bits) but for the whole weekend at the same track I can watch WEC/touring cars for under £80.WEC is a real threat to f1 as the cars look like something from space,its exciting,you can walk the pitlane and meet the drivers and see the cars then you hear the noise while on top of this…it’s free to watch on TV and online. If something isn’t done soon then the writing is on the wall and f1 risks being just a fancy of the few.
Somehow in our country, there’s no lack of interest in the sport…
My kids watch with me. But they like the podium the most. It’s a complicated sport, so it takes time to understand. And in this day there’s lots of other fun stuff to do. However there’s no denying that free to air would help.
I think a big turn off for the younger generation is not necessarily the inability to watch on tv, because people can get around that, but the younger generation, (I am talking 16 – 25) is that generation looks into the small details, looks things up online, and realizes the shit show that is FIA/F1. I know because I am one of them. Plus the FOM block of any interesting content online because they can greatly hurts. The lack of an online presence is huge. F1 has so much potential to be online. Be it past races, interesting open data and statistics, and more.
I once wanted to do some stuff and mess with the FIA statistics that is produced from each race, but the only data that the FIA posts is in some antiquated form that can’t be worked with and they only post the current year and last year’s data. It’s practically useless