Formula One 'loses' 140 million viewers and angers sponsors

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Formula One ringleader Bernie Ecclestone is under fire from the sport's major sponsors after revealing a 140 million fall in the global television audience.

Formula One ringleader Bernie Ecclestone is under fire from the sport's major sponsors after revealing a 140 million fall in the global television audience.

The dramatic reduction in the number of viewers was caused by a new system for measuring the audience, introduced by Mr Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) this year.

This showed that the average number of viewers for the 2003 season was 160 million, as opposed to 300 million, a figure widely used by the teams, based on the old system.

However, some sponsors claim that because their deals with the F1 teams were based on a television audience of 300 million they are due a reduction in their fees.

Ben Pincus, the chief executive of The Works London, a sponsorship agency, said: "Clients of mine have, in effect, seen the value of their investments in F1 halve overnight."

Mr Pincus, who acts for F1 sponsors Cannon, Sun Microsystems and SAP, added: "I will be saying to the teams when the deals are to be renegotiated that 'when we last did the deal we talked about 300 million viewers. Now we are talking about 160 million. You can't be talking about the same amounts of money'."

The news could represent a major blow to the F1 industry, which is only just recovering from the recession. It is estimated that sponsors will spend £520m on the sport this year.

In a report sent to F1 teams explaining the changes, FOM said: "We feel that this method demonstrates the overall global reach of the championship without overstating the number of individual viewers."

Under the old system, someone who watched just a snapshot of a race was counted as a viewer.

Jeremy Martin, FOM's statistics manager, said: "Viewers aren't missing, but we have differentiated between individual viewers and subscriber householders. We are erring on the side of caution."

Comments