Deleted article! – Sky Sports F1 viewing figures crash, C4’s increase despite loss of contract


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Below is an exact copy/paste of Christian Slyt’s article published at around 6pm UK time on the 29th August.

It isn’t something we like to do normally, but TJ13 has decided to copy the article due to the fact that the Independent have just recently deleted it – but it can be found cached on a Google search here.


F1 TV viewing figures on Sky Sports crash as Channel 4’s continue to soar despite imminent exclusive deal

Exclusive: With Sky Sports set to take full broadcasting rights from 2019, the channel is yet to hit an average of 1m viewers since 2012 – compared to Channel 4’s current 2.5m average

The average number of viewers watching Formula One races on Sky Sports reversed by 6.1 per cent last year to just 766,040 according to, the leading supplier of UK television ratings to the media industry.

The data shows that Sky’s average live race audience has never hit a million viewers since it began broadcasting F1 in 2012. It peaked at 852,120 in 2014 when Lewis Hamilton steered Mercedes to the first of four consecutive championships and has crashed by 10.1 per cent since then. In contrast, the F1 audience on Sky’s free-to-air rival Channel 4 has accelerated.

Sky screens live broadcasts of every Grand Prix, practice and qualifying session whereas Channel 4 only shows ten races live with delayed highlights of the remainder. Channel 4 took over the wheel from the BBC in 2016 and since then its live race audience has increased by 13.3% to 2.5m last year.

A Sky spokesperson said: “Viewing is just one of the ways we measure the value of our content, but over the last two seasons, average live race audiences on Sky have grown, and we’ve seen that trend continue into this season.”

Sky claims that discrepancies in the way the data is logged make the duration of some races which are broadcast in the early morning appear to be shorter than they actually are. However, in response Overnights points out that the numbers are extracted from data compiled by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), the organisation that collects television ratings in the UK. Accordingly, any logging discrepancies would not be due to BARB but the channel that is supplying it with programme information.

Sky does not dispute the BARB data and says that discrepancies in the way it is logged “will be widespread across the industry, particularly in live sport.” It raises the possibility that widely-reported audience numbers for other early morning broadcasts, not just F1, may actually be misrepresentative.

F1 will soon only be shown on one channel in the UK as Channel 4’s contract is reaching the end of the road. At the start of next season Sky will become F1’s exclusive British broadcaster in a six-year deal estimated to be worth £110m annually – around double the total it currently pays.

Sky’s contract prevents F1 from rolling out its new online live streaming service in Britain which could further reduce the exposure of the sport and its appeal to tech-savvy young fans.

Although F1’s owner Liberty Media will benefit hugely from the boost to Sky’s fee, it has been fiercely critical of the deal which was signed before it bought the sport in January last year.

“That deal is an agreement that we inherited,” said F1’s commercial boss Sean Bratches at a conference last June. “They are done between adult parties at an arm’s length and my suspicion is that Sky is very happy and we are going to honour and respect the deals that were in place when we arrived.”

He added that “free to air is critically important to us…My vision as it relates to media rights is a hybrid of free to air and pay. Our plan is to balance the two but have a prominent, over the year, free-to-air voice. That is important from a fans, sponsors and relevance standpoint.”

A gradual switch to Pay TV over the past decade has fuelled a 41.3 per cent drop in F1’s worldwide TV audience to 352.3m last year. It hasn’t let up since then. F1 switched to Pay TV channel Sky Italia this year in a deal which is estimated to be worth £98m annually and replaced the previous arrangement where it shared coverage with Italy’s free-to-air broadcaster RAI.

The new agreement brings in around 33 per cent more to F1 than its predecessor but it has driven down the TV audience in Italy which is the sport’s second-biggest market after Brazil.

Pay TV broadcasters often outbid their free-to-air rivals by paying a premium for exclusive content which attracts subscribers. However, the audiences tend to be smaller because viewers have to pay to watch it. In turn this can dent the teams’ income from sponsorship as it is usually proportionate to the level of exposure on TV.

Earlier this year F1’s boss Chase Carey revealed that “TV viewership in the first four races is down a touch. Sort of down mid-single digits.” He explained that the driving force was in “Italy, where we have moved platforms from probably being more free to a bit more pay, so that has probably had the biggest impact.”

Sky has around 23m customers globally and is currently at the centre of a takeover battle. Earlier this year American media giant Disney got clearance to buy Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox studio which owns 39 per cent of Sky and has made an offer for the remainder. However, Disney has been outbid by Comcast, the owner of American channel NBC, and has until 22 September to raise its offer.

The buyer will carry considerable weight within F1 as it is believed that Sky’s broadcast deals in Britain and Italy make it the sport’s single biggest source of revenue.


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5 responses to “Deleted article! – Sky Sports F1 viewing figures crash, C4’s increase despite loss of contract

  1. Comparing pay TV numbers to terrestrial numbers is disingenuous. You’re never going to have pay TV audience numbers get anywhere near terrestrial numbers, regardless of what you broadcast, especially if it’s a simulcast.

    The dilemma in F1 is if you broadcast behind a paywall it’s principally Liberty Media who benefit. Broadcast mainly terrestrially and the numbers shoot up, the teams can charge more for sponsorship, but Liberty Media would only get about 25% from C4 than they get from SKY for the broadcast rights. So what model do you think Liberty Media want?

    Liberty Media cry about the SKY deal – fact is they’ll never generate anywhere near that revenue any other way.

  2. Ah, Mr. Slyt! (I believe that’s spelled Sylt, but that’s not the FUN spelling.) I recall reading elsewhere some derogatory remarks about him being Bernie’s boy.

  3. I had sky for a few seasons but the price got into stupid territory. I would pay to watch if it was on a single race weekend and not bundled together with other sports and not at £30 for the pleasure. A fair price of around £5-£8 for the weekend seems about right..but that is never going to happen… Oh well back to the Kodi like platform for me lol

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