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GP Week : Issue 216
F1 >>> BUsinEss Britain led the way in 2012 when Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Sports began broadcasting all of F1 races live whilst its free-to-air rival the BBC only shows half of them. F1 got a boost to its bottom line last year despite the drop in its audience numbers. This is because pay TV networks are prepared to pay a premium for rights to sports events as they drive subscriber numbers. Following the deal with Sky F1’s TV rights fee in Britain rose by 110% to an estimated $105m annually. The F1 teams benefit from this as they share 63% of the sport’s profits as prize money which came to $797.5m last year. A wider benefit has also been felt in Britain as the amount of TV coverage increased through the launch of a dedicated Sky F1 channel. F1’s chief executive Bernie Ecclestone says that the shared broadcasting "is working all right. We are still getting very good TV coverage. It just means that we are getting more coverage from the pay people now.” The impact of this is clearest in the UK where F1’s TV viewers fell by 5.2% to 27.6m last year despite home hero Lewis Hamilton winning the championship. According to the report, the overall trend is positive. It states that “these latest results underline that the right balance has been struck between Pay TV and free-to-air coverage, as over the three seasons this strategy has been in place Formula 1 has retained over 85% of the free-to-air reach achieved in 2011.” The success of the shared coverage between free-to-air and Pay TV in the UK led to similar deals in Germany and Italy with Spain following suit last year. Audience numbers fell in all three countries in 2014 with the biggest being a 12.4% drop to 27.4m viewers in Germany. The F1 fatigue in Germany is partly due to the dominance of countryman Sebastian Vettel who won the F1 title from 2010 for four years running. Crowds were down at the 2014 German Grand Prix by an estimated 52% to 95,000 and the location of this year’s race has not yet been confirmed. “The German Grand Prix is dead at the moment,” Ecclestone recently told the Independent. “It won’t get replaced if it doesn’t happen. As with any race, if it is cancelled it is cancelled. There’s not much we can do about it.” Despite the drop in viewing figures, F1 remains the world’s most watched annual sporting event and in some markets it saw a boost. The biggest gain in TV audience last year came in Russia where audiences accelerated 24.5% to 15.4m as a result of the inaugural Russian Grand Prix. There was also an increase in the number of viewers in America which rose by 10.1% to 12.6m as a new deal with NBC gained traction after beginning the previous year. F1 also got an unexpected boost in its website traffic. Ecclestone is famous for not being a fan of digital and social media but nevertheless, internet traffic increased 24% year-on-year as 50m unique users visited the sport’s official website Formula1.com. Even TV broadcasters benefited from this as the report states that last year the BBC website delivered more than 2.6 million streams of live coverage and almost 15 million requests for F1 content such as previews, highlights and summary edits. It adds that: “the UK represents some of the biggest online consumers of Formula 1 content and coverage." "F1 fatigue in Germany is partly due to the dominance of countryman sebastian Vettel ..." 31 GPWEEK.com // 31 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: