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SBD Global/February 4, 2014/Media

Formula One Chiefs Reveal 50 Million Drop In Annual Television Viewing Figures

F1 "has been left reeling by the news that the sport has lost in the region of 50 million" TV viewers over the course of the past 12 months, according to the Scotland DAILY RECORD. The news serves as a "serious blow" to F1 chiefs "and reflects a steady drop in viewing figures in recent years," which F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone argues is down to Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel's total domination of the sport. The figures have been published in F1's global media report for '13, "which measures the number of people who have watched more than 15 non-consecutive minutes of the sport during the season" (DAILY RECORD, 2/3). MOTORSPORT reported the news also shows why Ecclestone "is pushing so hard for the 'double points' concept to be trebled to the final 3 races of the season, despite the fan backlash." Mercedes Exec Dir Toto Wolff, however, likened the backlash to a "sh**storm" and said that "the fans cannot be ignored." Wolff said, "Was it (double points) the right move? Ninety-nine percent of our fans and spectators thought it was the wrong move, so perhaps it is something to revisit" (MOTORSPORT, 2/3). For the WALL STREET JOURNAL, Christian Sylt wrote even in Vettel's home country of Germany, "the audience fell 8.7%." The number of people there "who watched at least 15 nonconsecutive minutes of the sport dropped to 31.3 million." Brazil, which is F1's biggest single viewing market, "also suffered as the audience dropped to 77.2 million from 85.6 million." The report also shows that China lost 29.8 million viewers -- more than any other country -- "due to a change from state broadcaster CCTV to a network of 13 regional partners." The report said this was done "to ensure that Formula 1 coverage of every race and qualifying session is shown live" and the change is expected to reverse the downward viewing trend in the future (WSJ, 2/2).
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