Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

What's the business case for ITV's F1 website? // Without the broadcast rights, the broadcaster continues coverage online

Published by Mr. C

With the UK's Formula One television rights now in the hands of the BBC, we were expecting ITV's online F1 presence to disappear at the start of this year. Surprisingly ITV-F1 is still going strong.

It was pointed out to viewers at the end of the season, that the team had every intention of continuing with the site, but seeing as they no longer have any exclusive access, nor any unique video content, it's hard to see why they would bother?

Commercial matters

The most likely answer is the site still brings in enough advertising revenue to justify it's costs. However, the main promotion for said site was a television program which regularly publicised it. Without any ongoing plugs, shouldn't the number of readers begin to drop like a stone?

Make no mistake, the British commercial broadcasters online popularity was massive. Googling the phrase F1 sees ITV listed second behind only Bernie's official homepage, and here's how Google Trends rates them compared to Autosport and F1 Live (who sit beneath them in the search results).

F1 website trends for 2008

According to that data, ITV ranked second behind F1 Live throughout 2008, but ahead of Autosport. We can't see the most up-to-date information, but towards the end of November, after the season was over, they were clearly falling ever further into the clutches of Autosport's grasp.

You can see the chart in more detail on the trends website. It's hard to gauge just how reliable the figures are, but we were discussing web statistics in the comments recently, and by comparison they appeared to be the most reliable of those freely available.

I'm not dead yet

With declining figures and no cost effective means with which to further promote the homepage, I assumed it would only be a matter of time before the thing was axed. At least, that was until I read an interview with Mark Blundell yesterday.

Talking to Crash.net, Mark revealed he still has a year left to run on his contract with ITV and they're looking at doing something a little bit different, but still motorsport related in the future.

It seems the broadcaster really hasn't given up on the project just yet, but if what we're led to believe is true, and the company really didn't want to deal with F1 any longer, why on earth are they hanging on in there. Drivers on their books and a website with content updated as recently as Thursday, it doesn't make sense.