Formula One viewer numbers have fallen dramatically in the UK, with Lewis Hamilton failing to win a fourth World Championship and the move from the BBC to Channel 4 at the forefront of excuses.
F1’s Global Media Report has stated that viewer numbers have fallen by 5 million, and are at their lowest level since 2005 – the end of the Schumacher dominating era and the first World Championship for Fernando Alonso. The UK figures stand for half of the entire fall in viewers worldwide, which have been blamed on the move to Channel 4 and Lewis Hamilton losing the World Championship to Nico Rosberg.
The move in recent years to pay TV has seen viewer numbers reduce any way, but the withdrawal of the BBC at the end of the 2015 season brought new fears to UK fans not wanting or able to switch to Sky (Pay per view). Although providing excellent coverage and in a very similar format to the BBC, Channel 4 has failed to win over viewers despite being a national terrestrial channel.
New owners Liberty Media have already hinted that the level of online coverage will increase under their stewardship, possibly launching their own ‘over the top’ solution in a similar way other sports have moved to.
New aero regulations brought in for the 2017 are aimed at making the ‘show’ better, both at the circuit and on television, but we will find out in Melbourne in three weeks if it makes a difference.