Liberty Media CEO Chase Carey has blamed pay television deals for the reason why Formula 1‘s viewership has declined from last year.
The average viewership of races in the 2018 season has gone down by 4% compared to last year, as Liberty Media admitted via a corporate earnings conference call this week.
At the beginning of the year, Italy made the switch from free-to-air TV to pay-TV with Sky Italia now taking over the broadcasting rights in the country. This year will see the end of Channel 4‘s deal end with Sky Sports F1 starting their exclusive rights to F1 in the UK for 2019.
Speaking to Racefans.net, Chase Carey said that Italy’s switch is the main reason why the average viewership is down from last year.
“That is largely due to our move from free to pay television in Italy,” he said. “Excluding Italy our television viewership is up 3% year-on-year and our Saturday viewership for qualifying is up even more.”
Carey admits however that viewership within the USA and China has made a significant uplift.
“Where viewing figures are showing particularly strong uplifts,” said Carey. “Fans reacted positively to our enhancements in cameras, sounds, graphics, and other elements in our broadcast and we have more to come.
“69% of our fans say F1 TV coverage has improved while just 13% say it’s worse.”
The sport launched F1 TV, the first ever streaming product released by the sport in selected countries. Reports from users say the product has a lot of problems when used during a race weekend, as the streaming service was delayed on its release from Australia to Spain.
Carey says that F1 TV will see a full “commercial launch” next year as they’ll explore preferences and fix problems with the service in time for 2019.
“This year’s priority is get the product to where we want it to at this point in time to really give it a proper commercial launch next season.” added Carey.