V8 SUPERCARS: The stunning dexterity of TV ratings
Soon after our story a week ago about the ratings disaster for the V8 Supercar championship round at Queensland Raceway, series CEO James Warburton called to question our figures, which were supplied by the Seven Network.
Warburton argued against our use of the long-time industry norm of counting viewers from five metro capitals watching the races live to air.
These viewer numbers were relatively small, because the only people who could watch the three races live on the box were Foxtel pay-TV subscribers.
To be fair, the changing TV landscape probably calls for a revised ratings system to accommodate new media and the deals to share coverage between pay-TV and free-to-air outlets.
Using a set of figures commissioned from two different sources, V8 Supercars came up with a total of 832,500 pairs of eyes – a cumulative total – watching the three races from Queensland Raceway, both live on Foxtel and also replays on Ten and One.
The V8 Supercars’ chart shows these numbers are down six per cent on last year, when there were two races shown live by the Seven Network.
These are numbers that make no sense to this writer, but V8 Supercars is volunteering to explain how it arrives at that total.
We asked an independent TV analyst to look at the two sets of ratings numbers – the ones we were given, and the very much higher figures trumpeted by Warburton and V8 Supercars.
That umpire concluded that the figures provided by Seven and used by Wheels were accurate. But also that in light of the increased sharing of sports on Foxtel (live) and free-to-air (relayed highlights), there would be an acceptance in some parts of the industry of the methodology adopted by V8 Supercars.
Because the traditional way of measuring audiences watching V8 Supercar races live does not produce very strong numbers on Foxtel, particularly when compared with previous seasons when races were exclusively on free-to-air networks, it’s no surprise that V8 Supercars are pushing for a broader, new methodology for the way televised sport is measured.
About 10 percent of sport is now being watched on iPads, smart phones and the like, so there is some logic to including an estimate of viewers from new media in any ratings claims.
Viewers of a first-run, same-day race highlights package on free-to-air should also be considered. (But not repeats, and certainly not practice and qualifying, and panel/magazine programmes such as Inside Supercars, RPM et al).
It’s understandable that V6 Supercars wants to pump up the numbers for sponsors, partners and teams.
But it’s laughable to expect these cumulated figures to be included in comparisons, either with previous years of V8 Supercars telecasts or against other sports and TV programmes.
F1: Mercedes likes the sound of Red Bull deal
Would Mercedes-Benz gift a rival as serious as Red Bull Racing a deal to supply the best engine in the world championship?
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, the current dominator of Formula One, has acknowledged it is open to the idea of supplying its powerful V6 hybrid power units to other teams including RBR, a competitor currently disadvantaged by its contractual obligation to use Renault engines.
Mercedes already supplies engines to four teams including its own. If other deals are struck for the 2017 season and into the future, it will be the engine supplier – echoing the Cosworth in the 1970s – to a large percentage of the grid. Only Ferrari would remain as serious competition.
In an interview with Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, the executive-director of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Toto Wolff, said his company was seriously contemplating extending its engine supply business to Red Bull from 2017 onwards.
Wolff acknowledged the present agreement between Red Bull and Renault and quickly added that Mercedes would not become entangled in any legal matters between those parties.
But Wolff then went on to say: “However, if I wear the hat of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport and I speak on behalf of Formula One, I must say that it is an attractive option because it would tie a brand that has appeal among young people with one that is winning.”
Of course Wolff is also aware that such an engine supply deal would potentially strengthen a competitor who already has an excellent chassis.
A positive would be the enhanced competitiveness of a team capable of challenging the Silver Arrows and restoring more unpredictable racing at the pointy end of the premier category of motor sport.
F1: Just 11 teams and no more next year
Two wannabe Formula One teams have failed in bids to join the world championship grid in the coming two seasons, the FIA rejecting their applications due to their failure to meet tough compliance procedures.
This means the grid will expand by just two cars, the FIA earlier allowing the US team Haas to join the grand prix series next year.
An FIA spokesman told Autosport: "We can confirm that the FIA received two candidate Formula One team applications for vacant grid slots.
"Unfortunately none of the applicants were able to meet the FIA's criteria for new teams despite being granted every opportunity of doing so, and we now consider this round of applications to be closed."
The FIA doesn’t reveal the identity of applicants.
The FIA takes into account the technical ability and resources of the team, funding levels to allow participation in the championship at a competitive level, the team's experience and human resources, and (nebulously) the candidate’s potential to add value to the championship.
MotoGP: Lorenzo on top in Czech GP
It was the dream front row - Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo on pole, alongside Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi. World champions all.
But Lorenzo looked like a Czech MotoGP winner from the moment the lights went out, making a lightning start in the race, taking an immediate lead and methodically extending his gap over his pursuers.
It was a master class. He did it relatively easily after breaking clear of Marquez mid race.
Marquez took second aboard his Honda, though a convincing 4.462s behind. Rossi dropped back at the start but fought his way to his 11th straight podium this year.
“I didn‘t need to push at the end, so this was not a perfect race, because I could have been a little bit faster,” Lorenzo said later.
”I had a margin; not enough to be comfortable but enough to risk less.”
Lorenzo has moved to the equal points lead with team-mate Rossi but effectively heads the world championship due to his greater number of race wins.
Dani Pedrosa, dealing with a serious foot injury from a practice crash, bravely charged from mid field to fifth.
Australia’s MotoGP debutant Jack Miller continued his learning process, staying on his Honda to finish 19th.
Frenchman Johann Zarco continued his classy romp to the Moto2 world title with his fourth win of the season, pushing him out to a 79 point lead over defending champ Tito Rabat, who was second in Brno. Queenslander Ant West was 21st on a bike that can never deliver a top 10 unless it is bucketing down.
The Moto3 kiddies again turned on the fireworks with a hectic, crash-marred grand prix which produced a first-time winner, Niccolo Antonelli, the Italian mentored by Valentino Rossi.
Aussie Remy Gardner had his best race for some time, duelling vigorously in the epicentre of a seething midfield and coming home just out of the points in 17th.
GERMAN F4: The fight gets harder for Aussie Mawson
Australian Joey Mawson has slipped from second to third in the very competitive German Formula 4 Championship after a tough fifth round of three races at the Nürburgring over the weekend.
The CAMS Foundation backed driver had closed to be within four points of the championship lead, but couldn’t get within a sniff of a podium in any of three races at the Ring.
German Marvin Dienst was the big mover, his three wins and a third placing firing him to the top of the points, 10 clear of Swede Joel Eriksson, who is 11 points up on Mawson.
Mawson was in trouble early when he qualified poorly (eighth and 11th) for the first two races, which brought him two eighth places in the 35-car field.
On Sunday, he started third but slipped back to seventh in a lively wet race usurped by 17-year-old Estonian Ralf Aron after a timely safety-car intervention.
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