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:
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)