Disappointing BT Sports live British Speedway viewing figures in 2017 raise doubts over contract renewal

BT Sports stepped into the breech when Sky Sports pulled out live domestic coverage of top level Premiership speedway in 2017. Though only on a one-year contract BT Sports didn’t bother with any live British Speedway coverage until mid-June.

Compared to the increasingly tired Sky Sports Speedway format and relentless hyperbole, the BT Sports broadcasts have been a refreshing and much-needed change. Praise has been given by both promoters and fans for a variety of notable factors including their knowledgeable studio anchors, social media outreach and viewer interaction.

Despite this thoughtful approach, sadly, the latest BARB figures for live coverage of top level domestic speedway makes depressing reading. Based on the rather pitiful BARB audience figures below, it is hard to see the commercial logic of any other decision than non-renewal.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 11.27.08

There may, of course, be other loss-leader factors at play – either BT’s desire to use their sports coverage (in general) to expand the numbers of UK households using their broadband services or their need for significant hours of live/pre-recorded sports content. In this strategic context, the news that BT Sports Football Premier League live coverage only resulted in 7,000 new subscribers indicates that new broadband subscribers who watch speedway on BT Sports are few and far between.

If BT Sports (or another provider) don’t cover top level domestic speedway in 2018, clubs will not have the tv monies their business plans and cash flow has for so long depended upon. Without these monies, clubs won’t be able to afford the “top stars” advocates claim will provide the box office entertainment required to halt declining attendances. Switching to fixed race nights for top level British Speedway at the 2017 AGM without a signed TV contract for 2018 would be a monumental blunder of epic proportions.

 

many thanks to Charles McKay for again compiling these BARB live speedway television viewing figures

Postscript 19.11.17

Text message from Spain notes, “in our first year of involvement with BT….British speedway invested the best part of half a million pounds into ensuring that BT had a great product on show” and also in a previous message noted, “to make your observations valid, you should have compared Sky figures to those from BT, taking into account relative subscriber numbers”

Though I can’t alter the official BARB figures or introduce the statistical equivalent of a black and white helmet colour for the BT Sports viewing figures a brief history of the highs, lows & averages of live British Speedway viewing figures 2002-2017 is here

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