According to our friend Christian Sylt, the reason for the much maligned “double points” decision for the final race of the 2014 Formula 1 season may have been born from a drop of some 50 million viewers in 2013.
Christian tells the Wall Street Journal:
“Formula One’s global television audience fell by 50 million to 450 million viewers in 2013 due to a noncompetitive end to the drivers’ championship and a switch from the national broadcasters in China and France, according to its annual global media report.”
According to the report, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said that “the less-than-competitive nature of the final few rounds” played a role in the drop in viewership. Formula 1 reached 450 million viewers in 2013, which was down from 500 million.
The double points idea was originally intended for the final few races of the calendar and Ecclestone lambasted the concept of only the final race being given the special distinction of a double-points haul.
While China and France made moves from national broadcasters to subscription or regional broadcasters, one market was decidedly up.
The US return of Formula 1 has helped viewership and last year the series moved from SPEED to NBC Sports. The move took F1 viewing from 1.7 million to 11.4 million! That’s a massive gain of the American market.
While some F1 fans in the US are struggling with NBC’s handling of the sport, the viewing numbers most likely justify the move to NBC Sports.
Television broadcast rights and viewership has been the key element to Formula 1 revenue for years. It is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the owners and teams. This metric is closely measured and changes to the total viewership is like shutting off the spigot of life-giving nectar to the entire F1 machine.
If viewership is down, are double points the way to change that? Even if Ecclestone had got his way and the final three races were double points, would that be the change needed to regain TV viewers?