F1 TV Audience Reverses By 40 Million Under Revised Measurement System

F1 TV Audience Reverses By 40 Million Under Revised Measurement System

press release distributed by the series yesterday claimed that it was actually far lower. Instead of saying that F1 had 390 million viewers in 2016 the press release claimed that there were at most 352.3 million and “there was not a decrease in this specific number” the following year.

In summary, although F1 said last year that it had 390 million viewers in 2016 it has now reduced this figure by at least 40 million. As this revised figure isn’t higher than the one for 2017 F1 can claim that there hasn’t been a year-on-year drop in its audience. This sounds positive but the revised audience figure may well send shivers down the spines of F1 team bosses.

That is because sponsorship rates tend to be proportionate to the number of viewers on TV and last year the teams were selling space on their cars on the strength of the 390 million audience figure which was released by F1 in the most official of sources.

F1 is listed on the Nasdaq with the ticker FWONK and page A-3 of this filing that it made with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), states that “in 2016, Formula 1 had a cumulative live television audience of approximately 390 million unique global viewers.”

This was reflected in F1’s 2016 Global Media Report which referred to its “Global Audience figure of 390 million viewers” and added that the series “reached 390 million viewers in 2016.” As this author revealed in a report for Britain’s Independent newspaper last year, the 2016 total was down by 10 million driven by a move to Pay TV. So why would F1 want to reduce the audience further the following year?

F1’s TV audience has crashed by 40 million following a change to the way it measures the number of viewers (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

The first point to make is that the number of viewers is not front and center in F1’s press release. Instead, it gushes that the top four markets “ranked by absolute figures – all registered positive growth and that “the number of users of Formula 1’s social media platforms also grew significantly during 2017.”

However, this couldn’t hide the change to the overall picture. Although F1 said its audience came to 390 million in 2016 the figure was 37.7 million lower the following year yet the press release claimed “there was not a decrease in this specific number.” That sends out a good signal and it is referring to the number of unique viewers – anyone who watched at least 15 non-consecutive minutes of F1 in the year. Someone who watched 15 minutes of F1 is counted only once and so is someone who watched 15 hours. F1 said there were 390 million of these viewers in 2016 but just 352.3 million last year. So how is that not a decrease?

Tellingly the Liberty filing and F1’s 2016 Global Media Report describe the audience figure as being “global” whereas yesterday’s press release does not say the same about 2017. It is understood that the 2016 figure was calculated using data from just 10 markets which was then extrapolated to give a total for the 200 territories worldwide.

In contrast, data from 63 markets was used to derive the 2017 figure of 352.3 million. If this measurement system was applied retrospectively to 2016 it would yield a similar total which is why the press release states that “there was not a decrease in this specific number.” So the change in measurement system has the positive outcome that the 2017 audience did not decrease on the previous year but it also reduced the 2016 figure by at least 37.7 million.

All of these numbers come from an independent company which collects the audience data and as more markets are used under the new measurement system it is believed to be more accurate. This seems to be the driving force behind introducing it but it remains to be seen why it wasn’t changed in previous years.

Regardless, the unit being measured – the number of unique viewers – is still the same and this makes an annual comparison possible. It came to 390 million in 2016 which is 37.7 million more than last year. In fact, as the table below shows, it was the biggest fall since the audience reversed from 500 million in 2012 to 450 million the following year.

Formula Money

F1’s reversing TV audience

However, although the unit being measured has not changed, the way it is calculated has. One consequence of this is that the reason behind the year-on-year difference in 2017 is now unclear.

It is unknown whether there would have been a decrease if the measurement system from 2016 had been used and this could hide the effect of viewers turning off due to the increase in Pay TV broadcasters.

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Formula One’s television audience has reversed by 40 million following a spectacular U-Turn in the way it measures the number of viewers watching its races.

Official figures released by F1 last year revealed that it had 390 million viewers in 2016 but a press release distributed by the series yesterday claimed that it was actually far lower. Instead of saying that F1 had 390 million viewers in 2016 the press release claimed that there were at most 352.3 million and “there was not a decrease in this specific number” the following year.

In summary, although F1 said last year that it had 390 million viewers in 2016 it has now reduced this figure by at least 40 million. As this revised figure isn’t higher than the one for 2017 F1 can claim that there hasn’t been a year-on-year drop in its audience. This sounds positive but the revised audience figure may well send shivers down the spines of F1 team bosses.

That is because sponsorship rates tend to be proportionate to the number of viewers on TV and last year the teams were selling space on their cars on the strength of the 390 million audience figure which was released by F1 in the most official of sources.

F1 is listed on the Nasdaq with the ticker FWONK and page A-3 of this filing that it made with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), states that “in 2016, Formula 1 had a cumulative live television audience of approximately 390 million unique global viewers.”

This was reflected in F1’s 2016 Global Media Report which referred to its “Global Audience figure of 390 million viewers” and added that the series “reached 390 million viewers in 2016.” As this author revealed in a report for Britain’s Independent newspaper last year, the 2016 total was down by 10 million driven by a move to Pay TV. So why would F1 want to reduce the audience further the following year?

F1’s TV audience has crashed by 40 million following a change to the way it measures the number of viewers (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

The first point to make is that the number of viewers is not front and center in F1’s press release. Instead, it gushes that the top four markets “ranked by absolute figures – all registered positive growth and that “the number of users of Formula 1’s social media platforms also grew significantly during 2017.”

However, this couldn’t hide the change to the overall picture. Although F1 said its audience came to 390 million in 2016 the figure was 37.7 million lower the following year yet the press release claimed “there was not a decrease in this specific number.” That sends out a good signal and it is referring to the number of unique viewers – anyone who watched at least 15 non-consecutive minutes of F1 in the year. Someone who watched 15 minutes of F1 is counted only once and so is someone who watched 15 hours. F1 said there were 390 million of these viewers in 2016 but just 352.3 million last year. So how is that not a decrease?

Tellingly the Liberty filing and F1’s 2016 Global Media Report describe the audience figure as being “global” whereas yesterday’s press release does not say the same about 2017. It is understood that the 2016 figure was calculated using data from just 10 markets which was then extrapolated to give a total for the 200 territories worldwide.

In contrast, data from 63 markets was used to derive the 2017 figure of 352.3 million. If this measurement system was applied retrospectively to 2016 it would yield a similar total which is why the press release states that “there was not a decrease in this specific number.” So the change in measurement system has the positive outcome that the 2017 audience did not decrease on the previous year but it also reduced the 2016 figure by at least 37.7 million.

All of these numbers come from an independent company which collects the audience data and as more markets are used under the new measurement system it is believed to be more accurate. This seems to be the driving force behind introducing it but it remains to be seen why it wasn’t changed in previous years.

Regardless, the unit being measured – the number of unique viewers – is still the same and this makes an annual comparison possible. It came to 390 million in 2016 which is 37.7 million more than last year. In fact, as the table below shows, it was the biggest fall since the audience reversed from 500 million in 2012 to 450 million the following year.

Formula Money

F1’s reversing TV audience

However, although the unit being measured has not changed, the way it is calculated has. One consequence of this is that the reason behind the year-on-year difference in 2017 is now unclear.

It is unknown whether there would have been a decrease if the measurement system from 2016 had been used and this could hide the effect of viewers turning off due to the increase in Pay TV broadcasters.

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