Formula 1’s media chief believes the presence of subscription-based broadcasters has improved the quality of coverage available for fans, in spite of a slight drop in viewing figures.
Formula 1 released its 2019 broadcast figures on Tuesday, claiming its highest overall cumulative audience since 2012, and a slight increase in viewership across the leading 20 markets.
But the overall number of unique viewers suffered a year-on-year decrease of 3.9 per cent, falling to 471m.
While it has had its own subscription service since 2018, available in certain territories, Formula 1 still relies heavily on income from broadcasters.
Across the world there is a combination of subscription-based models or free-to-air platforms, while in some territories multiple broadcasters offer a variety of options.
“It goes without saying that an FTA broadcaster is going to generate a larger audience than a pay TV channel,” said Ian Holmes, Formula 1’s Director of Media Rights.
“That said, it is a bit of an oversimplification. Firstly, there are always commercial elements to be considered but equally as important, is to look at who the viewers are, what the demographics are, and therefore who you’re addressing.
“Furthermore, pay TV often provides far more in-depth coverage.
“I think it would be fair to say that in the likes of Sky and Canal+ they have and continue to strive to improve the overall standard of F1 coverage, bringing to the fan far more than ever existed in the past – and they do a fantastic job.
“Then there are those people who are consuming F1 content on the different digital and social channels of our broadcast partners and our own F1 owned and operated platforms and channels.”
Holmes added that the growth in cumulative audiences “suggests that we have more engagement which means that fans are spending longer watching the races on TV compared to last year.
“There will always be a component of casual fans who do not stay as long with the coverage as more avid fans.
“However, we have invested significantly in biometrics research in 2019 to understand the drivers of engagement with the TV feed, and this research is being utilised by the TV production team to help improve the coverage and ensure we focus on the more engaging aspects of the content.”