Formula 1 commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone insists he is not alarmed by the sport’s declining television audience and sees no need to revamp its social media approach.
Amid viewership drops in key markets such as Italy and Germany, there have been calls for F1 to make the most of opportunities offered by new media channels like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. But Ecclestone (pictured above making a point to F1 team owner turned TV pundit Eddie Jordan) remains unmoved, and doubts the social media boom will last.
“It matters, obviously, but when you say it is falling, it is changing,” he said when asked about falling TV figures. “But I think the change that is currently taking place is very short-lived, as these social media people are starting to think it is not as good as they thought.”
When asked if he believed F1 needed to change its approach, and officially embrace social media like other sports have done, he said: “No. We’re commercial… If they find people to pay us [to do that] then I will be happy.”
HEMBERY: UNDERSTANDING AUDIENCES IS KEY
Pirelli motorsport chief Paul Hembery believes understanding what fans want from the sport is one of the biggest issues facing F1.
“We’re a technical partner but we’re also a sponsor,” he said. “We look at how many people are watching the sport and what they think of the current F1. Viewing figures so far this year are extremely disappointing – there’s no doubt about that.”
In Britain, BBC figures suggest that iPlayer growth was 33 percent last year, and live radio audiences jumped by 53 percent, supporting a growing view that the way people consume F1 is changing dramatically.
“We’ve been looking at some studies done by Premier League and Sky, and they’ve seen a very increased take-up on the iPad viewing and not watching on TV. That’s certainly a way many people are going,” said Hembery. “You see telephone companies wanting to create their own digital content as well. We’ve seen Movistar come into Formula 1, for example, with that objective.
“We’re seeing the world change and it’s not just Formula 1, it’s the whole way people follow their sports and get their entertainment. That’s something FOM is working on and hopefully we’ll see the results of that in the near future.”