Formula One’s British audience shrunk by 5.1m viewers last year, with Lewis Hamilton’s failure to win a fourth title pinpointed as one of the main reasons for the drop.
Even though the thrilling battle between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg went down to the wire and the 2016 season included a record number of races, F1’s Global Media Report states that the number of viewers in the United Kingdom hit a 12-year low.
While Hamilton’s dip in fortune last year, as well as Mercedes’ dominance, are considered as factors by the report, the switch from the BBC to Channel 4 as well as Pay-TV’s broadcasting dominance of the sport in the UK were also fundamental causes for the drop, perhaps even the most impacting factors.
It’s also worth noting that the 5.1m viewer drop in Britain comprised half of F1’s total fall of 10m viewers in 2016.
The worldwide audience dropped to 390m marking the sixth straight year that the number of F1 viewers has declined.
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Pay-TV broadcasters dominate major markets such as Germany, Italy and Britain where coverage is split between Channel 4, which only covers 10 live races, and Sky Sports which screens every race.
The onus is now on Liberty Media, F1’s new owners, to attempt a reversal of the numbers although it appears to favour the Pay-TV model.
Under its guidance, Liberty will seek to boost the entertainment factor while making the races less predictable.
“Fundamentally Chase Carey and Ross Brawn are trying to make these races more interesting, more comparative, more exciting,” says Liberty’s chief executive Greg Maffei.
“I think there is uniformity about many of the actions that it will take to do that. Whether we can execute on those and how long it will take, that is still open.”
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