Sky Sports British SPEEDWAY Audience Figures 2013: Worst Ever

There is no easy way to dress up that Sky Sports Elite League SPEEDWAY^ viewing figures for the 2013 season are the worst ever recorded. Where audience figures are available, the average audience fell by 9,194 (or -12.8%) to an all time low of 62,615. The full glory of the available figures is below:

 Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 21.22.33


Looking to bright side, this low double-digit percentage fall isn’t wholly out of line with the economic optimism of the country during austerity or unofficial/official reports about falls in actual attendances at speedway meetings during 2013. The usual suspects will dispute the accuracy and authenticity of these industry standard figures by doubting the BARB methodology, real life viewing patterns or by claiming to have access to better analysis. However, until there are published or verifiable figures to the contrary, the closest we get to any granular detail are satisfied self-serving ‘insider’ comments or confident talk that the technology boffins at Sky Sports know more about their audience (size, habits, etc.) than the NSA know about Angela Murkel’s telephone calls and our collective browsing history.


Whatever methodology or figures you quote, it’s still hard to avoid that the golden age of television audiences for top tier British Speedway was 2006-2009 with the 2008 average audience of 145,550 its high water mark (previous analysis elsewhere covers 2002-2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012).


It is, of course, tempting to want to sound the alarm over the recently expired Sky Sports Speedway contract without any knowledge of the progress or otherwise of the latest round of contract negotiations. Understandably, these negotiations remain confidential rather than easily accessible on the Sky Sports, Go Speed, British Speedway Forum or BSPA websites. Whatever the state of play, the bald (I’d say incontestable) truth remains that a good live speedway team meeting still serves up excitement and a brilliant spectacle for converts and channel hoppers alike. Sure British Speedway and Sky Sports have been in a relationship for a long time – things have got jaded, careworn and taken for granted but the fundamentals of what brought the two parties together remains just as relevant in 2014 (and beyond).


Obviously, there will need to be tweaks and the overall ride needs pimping but I’m sure can be refreshed to mutual satisfaction. Especially, given that all (satellite) television companies want to offer their viewers compelling entertainment on a (daily or) weekly basis, Elite League speedway still represents great value (in terms of both contract cost, outside broadcast costs and, of course, hours of programming provided). In addition, exclusive rights to top level British Speedway (whatever way it looks or is configured post-AGM in 2014) has residual cache and remains invitingly on the table for Sky Sports. British Speedway rights still offer Sky Sports further competitive advantage over their erstwhile rivals. Many sing the praises of the verve and professionalism of the Sky Sports Speedway presentation and packaging plus their outside broadcast capabilities are proven robust in all conditions at all speedway locations in the UK.


Despite the lack of public comment either way, Sky Sports Speedway clearly still saw good programming benefit from Elite League since (in 2013) speedway appeared more often on the premium platform of Sky Sports 1 than it did in 2012. Though average viewer numbers aren’t what they were (and we all have pet theories about the best solution), for the overall future general benefit of all levels of the speedway in Britain, hopefully, differences can be resolved or put aside to enable the sport to retain the shop window showcase that Sky Sports represents. All who really care about British Speedway – whether riders, promoters, staff, fans or viewers – will want the early Christmas present of confirmed contract renewal.

[The above figures are once again, kindly and diligently compiled by Charles McKay. All mistakes remain my own.]

^ SPEEDWAY (not football viewing figures as the odd dim bulb claims on the BSF)

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2 Responses to Sky Sports British SPEEDWAY Audience Figures 2013: Worst Ever

  1. Rob S.- Peterborough
    October 31, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Call me an old sceptic, but is it any wonder that audience figures are so low when Sky are deliberately alternating meetings between SkySports1 and 2 in an attempt to rip off their subscribers by forcing them to subscribe to both channels. Personally, I hope BTSport can nick the contract off them in the same way that they did with half of the Premier League fixtures!

  2. Ian
    November 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I came to this page having read this..

    That British Speedway is in uproar and requesting an official explanation why Tai wasn’t one of the top 10 sports stars in Britian this year.

    Let me declare where I stand, I’m a lifelong speedway fan, but my profession lies in broadcasting, both commercial and BBC.

    Tai’s achievement is a massive one, and there is no doubt that had Lewis Hamilton for example have won the F1 world championship with a broken collarbone, he would have this nailed on.

    However, he’s not Lewis Hamilton. He’s not Andy Murray. The problem is that those inside speedway seem to still believe it’s 1950 and millions are interested, and Speedway is a huge deal. Step back a moment and look at the bigger picture I say..

    Speedway needs to work harder with promotion, with getting people through the door in the first place, and, somewhat crucially I’d suggest making the sport reliable by investing in track covers etc.

    And total viewing figures for the entire season of 800,000…? Let me tell you, as a cumulative figure for 9 months of broadcasting thats pretty pathetic. With figures like that I’d imagine Sky are at best breaking even, and I want to keep Speedway on sky as much as the next person but it’s shaky from a commercial perspective from Sky’s side of the fence. It probably costs them 50k at least per match I’d have thought. Your local TV news bulletin gets a higher audience in 30 minutes.

    Yet those in command of Speedway are about to write a letter to the BBC, demanding why they’re not one of the finalists for sport of the year. They need to build the imagination of the public at large first. When I talk about speedway, the normal response is “is that something with bikes?”. People who have never been probably don’t know where or when it happens in their area.. Promotion of things these days has to be relentless to get the message across, all season, it won’t be cheap. And perhaps that is a problem too. Advertising costs many thousands to get results, but it’s often the first thing skimped on when times are tight.

    A few years ago I was working for a broadcaster who was approached by a speedway club to support them, the next line was the speedway team demanding ridiculous money for the privilege..! Had they been more reasonable then they could have got themselves a worthwhile partnership and probably grown awareness and attendance. A bit of I’ll scratch your back might help, but all too often it’s about the cash and the aim goes out of the window.

    A TV audience go 800k for a season, Vs Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, watched the world over and in the UK alone had an audience of 17 million for 1 match tells it’s own story of where speedway is in the priority of the public.

    It’s catch 22, no simple answer, but somehow speedway needs to recapture the imagination of the public. While Tai might struggle to be Sports Personality of the Year, Speedway must use this year while is is the champ and the spotlight is on him and the sport in britain to at least get those lapsed fans through the door again.

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