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
While the overall TV audience slipped from around 515 million in 2011 to just over 500 million, in China there was a 34% drop, largely caused by a number of grands prix clashing with local sports events.
The 2012 figures were included in Formula One’s annual broadcast report which measured the number of people who watched more than 15 non-consecutive minutes throughout the season.
"A small handful of territories didn't meet expectations in terms of reach," Bernie Ecclestone admitted, "with the Chinese market suffering a decrease which could not be absorbed by a significant number of increases elsewhere."
On the plus side, figures showed an increase in Brazil, Spain and Italy, but fell in the US, UK, Russia and China. The data will be monitored closely by teams and sponsors.