Formula One counts cost of Vettel dominance
As German pay broadcaster Sky Deutschland extended its broadcast rights contract for 2012 and Spanish channel Antena 3 reportedly took over the primary Spanish television rights, Formula One Management (FOM) has released its annual broadcast report for the 2011 season.
Although the sport appears to be holding its own, 2011 does not appear to have been a year of audience growth overall, with FOM putting the mixed results from a group of its most significant broadcast territories down to the dominance of Sebastian Vettel, which led to a premature end to the world championship battle, and the cancellation of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, a traditionally popualar race for television thanks to its aggreeable timezone.
"Overall Formula One was broadcast in 197 countries last year, made up of 120 individual deals"
Overall FOM reported that Formula One was broadcast in 197 countries last year, made up of 120 individual deals. Some 18,300 hours of coverage was broadcast across the season, equating to nearly 1,000 hours per Grand Prix weekend.
In Vettel's home market of Germany, where there is dual coverage for free-to-air broadcaster RTL and Sky Deutschland, there were 36.8 million unique individual viewers in 2011, often equating to a 40 per cent market share, with a high audience of 13.35 million for the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. Germany remains Formula One's largest European market.
According to reports in Spain Antena 3 is poised to take over the rights to Formula One for the next two years, following the withdrawal of La Sexta allegedly through non-payment of fees to the ultimate Spanish rights-holder Mediapro.
The 2011 broadcast report from FOM highlighted the value of Formula One to La Sexta: on non race-day Sundays in 2011 it had a five per cent share of the 16-34 year old male audience, a figure which rose above 50 per cent on Grand Prix weekends. Overall, 28.37 million individual viewers watched Spanish coverage of Formula One last year, split between La Sexta and four regional broadcasters.
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In the United Kingdom, there was a fractional decline in audiences year-on-year, although typically there were four per cent more viewers per race. FOM noted that 370,000 viewers watched the Brazilian Grand Prix live via the BBC Sport website, with nearly half a million requesting on-demand online coverage of the Singapore Grand Prix via its iplayer service.
The BBC has given up the exclusive rights to broadcast Formula One in the UK for 2012, with Sky broadcasting every race live and the BBC showing ten races live and the other ten as delayed highlights packages.
Other key markets saw small declines in audiences, with Italian coverage on RAI reaching 36.8 million unique viewers, and a slump of five million in French coverage, on TF1.
Poland's Polsat channels saw a 30 per cent reduction in audiences as a result of the absence, through injury, of national star Robert Kubica. However FOM noted that audiences remained seven times higher than 2005, the year before Kubica graduated to Formula One.
Brazil remained the sport's largest broadcast market despite a 10 per cent reduction in viewers.
Outside Europe, Brazil remained the sport's largest broadcast market despite a 10 per cent reduction in viewers, while there was a 1.5 per cent decline in CCTV's audiences in China, although FOM reported 22 per cent more coverage in the country. Audiences on Speed in the United States and Fuji TV in Japan remained generally steady year-on-year.
Meanwhile, with a Grand Prix scheduled in Russia in 2014, the report said 15.8 million Russian viewers watched the season on the Rossiya 2 channel. Of particular note, FOM said, was that the Russian audience was made up of 58 per cent of medium income viewers, with over a third in the high income category and less than ten per cent in the low income bracket.
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