Formula One TV Audiences Decline In 2012; China Sees 34% Drop
F1 global TV audience fell last year, driven down by a 34% drop -- 25 million viewers -- in China "where several Asian races clashed with other local sports events," according to Christian Sylt of the London GUARDIAN. Several F1 races in Asia and the Middle East took place during the evening "so that they are broadcast in the morning in the sport's traditional heartland of Europe." However, this puts them in competition with local sports events and it "fuelled the fall in viewer numbers in China" from 74.5 million in '11 to 48.9 million last year. F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that "a small handful of territories didn't meet expectations in terms of reach, with the Chinese market suffering a decrease, which could not be absorbed by a significant number of increases elsewhere." F1's largest market is Brazil where viewing figures "accelerated 8.9% year on year" to 85.6 million in '12. Improvements were also seen in Spain and Italy, where respective increases of 11.5% and 15% compared to '11 were "fuelled by the strong performance" of Spanish Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. U.K. coverage was split for the first time between the BBC and pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB in '12, "which led to viewing figures falling by 3.8 million to 28.6 million" (GUARDIAN, 2/15).