Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Watching you, watching them // A study and review of TV audiences across the world

Published by Christine

Christine reading

In the January/February edition of The Paddock, there's a fascinating article about the 2008 FOM Global Broadcast Report. I've never heard of this before, didn't even know it existed, but it's a detailed look at the television coverage of Formula 1 around the world. As it turns out, there are some worthwhile statistics to take note of when comparing the 2008 season to the previous year, 2007.

Worldwide domination

Perhaps domination is too strong a word, but the total global TV audience in 2008 was 600 million viewers, up 3 million. The rise doesn't seem all that impressive, especially considering there was an extra race on the calendar, and the addition of a night race must have attracted some new viewers. However, the season was broadcast in 188 countries, which has remained constant from '07, so the new eyeballs are on top of those fans already in tune with the sport.

The top two

China and Brazil both top the list for total viewers, with over 100 million each. Brazil fell slightly in 2008, whilst China's numbers rose. However, the percentage of Chinese TV-owning households who actually chose Formula 1 is only 9.9%. Apparently, F1 rates behind basketball and table tennis. 9.9% is very low, compared to the UK where it was 51.5% in 2008. Brazil had the joy of watching Massa fight for the championship, and clearly the season finale hosted at Interlagos was hugely popular, but the country seemed to be more interested in football over the entire year.

Christine reading

Driver attraction

Formula 1 was always strong in Germany, but now Michael Schumacher has retired, the viewing figures have declined for the past two years. The country had the most airtime in 2008, with almost 1200 hours dedicated to F1, and they enjoyed five German drivers on the grid - including one very young, and hugely popular, first time winner. Still the figures continue to fall. Meanwhile, Hamilton had the desired effect in Britain, as there was a strong rise in viewers of 25% over the last five races of the season.

Honda again

Surprisingly, Japan's viewership increased in 2008, despite the loss of Sato during the season. Now that Honda have pulled out of the sport, it will be interesting to see what happens in 2009. It seems unlikely to me that Nakajima can keep the countries hopes alive. Likewise, France have lost their race on the calendar, so their 2008 rise in viewers can hardly be sustained by Bourdais, can it?

Other notes

  • Italy remains a constant and steady stream of viewers, thanks to Ferrari (not Trulli, or Fisichella).
  • Poland became the ninth biggest country for viewers, after Kubica's Canadian win.
  • Spain's numbers fell, which is bound to be due to Alonso's lack of form, although I'm surprised Singapore didn't help. What will this mean for the two Spanish races, I wonder?
  • India also saw a drop in viewers, with just 10% of the population tuning in to Formula 1, despite Force India's campaigning.

We have always suspected a successful driver will make F1 more popular in his home country, and the numbers back it up. This brings up another couple of questions. Would Bernie look at the stars of the future and tailor the sport to them? Do the numbers above have any bearing on his business making decisions?