Sky Sports British Speedway Viewing Figures 2010 – Second Season of Double Digit Audience Decline
Judged by the industry standard of the minute-by-minute statistical sampling method employed by Broadcasters Audience Research Board, Elite League speedway shown on Sky Sports during 2010 continued the decline in its popularity started the previous season. BARB counts the average number of people watching any television programme throughout its duration (excluding advertising breaks) – for more information on their approach and methodology click here.
Sky Sports speedway viewing figures are publicly available online but time consuming to find and collate. Luckily, thanks to the diligence of speedway fan and writer Charles McKay, they’re reproduced here for your enjoyment. Comparative viewing figures for the period 2002-2009 are to be found here.
Sky Viewing Figures
|29/03 – 04/04||Wolverhampton v Swindon||Rained off|
|05/04 – 11/04||Rye House v Birmingham||69,000|
|05/04 – 11/04||Poole v Peterborough||N/A (<249k SS1)|
|12/04 – 18/04||Coventry v Poole||79,000|
|19/04 – 25/04||Belle Vue v Ipswich||N/A (<23k SS2)|
|19/04 – 25/04||Poole v Coventry||N/A (<162k SS1)|
|26/04 – 02/05||Eastbourne v Peterborough||86,000|
|03/05 – 09/05||Wolverhampton v Coventry||N/A (<93k SS2)|
|03/05 – 09/05||Poole v Belle Vue||N/A (<93k SS2)|
|10/05 – 16/05||Swindon v Coventry||43,000|
|17/05 – 23/05||Belle Vue v Poole||48,000|
|24/05 – 30/05||Lakeside v Wolverhampton||84,000|
|31/05 – 06/06||Coventry v Swindon 64,000||64,000|
|07/06 – 13/06||Wolverhampton v Peterborough||100,000|
|28/06 – 04/07||Peterborough v Lakeside||46,000|
|05/07 – 11/07||Eastbourne v Peterborough||68,000|
|12/07 – 18/07||Belle Vue v Coventry||N/A (<35k SS2)|
|19/07 – 25/07||Peterborough v Poole||68,000|
|02/08 – 08/08||Lakeside v Poole||N/A (<219k SS1)|
|16/08 – 22/08||Ipswich v Swindon||N/A (<81k SS2)|
|23/08 – 29/08||Wolverhampton v Poole||N/A (<84k SS2)|
|30/08 – 05/09||Coventry v Belle Vue||N/A (<109k SS1)|
|06/09 – 12/09||Lakeside v Peterborough||N/A (<94k SS1)|
|13/09 – 19/09||PFSF1||N/A (<103K SS2)|
|20/09 – 26/09||PFSF2||96,000|
|27/09 – 03/10||Coventry v Poole||N/A (<177k SS2)|
|04/10 – 10/10||Poole v Coventry||115,000|
Sadly, for numerous weeks in the 2010 season, audience figures aren’t available since many of the live televised Elite League speedway meetings shown on Sky Sports fail to rank in the top ten most watched programmes on any of the Sky Sports channels! In the above table, the audience individual meetings fell BELOW are listed in parentheses.
This intermittent weekly level of popularity doesn’t appear to be good news for our sport since this decline in the satellite speedway audience either indicates that we’re not as consistently popular with Sky Sports viewers as we once were or that other ‘rival’ attractions are nowadays more popular.
Obviously, as a caveat, the 2010 economic context remains a significant factor, particularly since talk of reduced attendance numbers across the various British speedway leagues indicates fans have become more selective about watching their chosen sport live. Judged by the available viewing figures, it’s a reluctance that also appears to impact terrestrial and satellite television sports coverage.
Glancing at these audience numbers and, of course, the 2002-2009 figures – the Play Offs remain compulsive viewing but, nowadays, they’re no longer the real gold plated box office attraction they once were! Indeed, during 2010 they only attracted pre-boom audience figures (similar to those in 2005). Even the notional lure of an exciting finale this season failed to ramp up the appeal of speedway amongst viewers (especially worrying when compared to the higher viewing figures enjoyed by some of the more predictably turgid concluding Play Off meetings of yesteryear). Worse still, our season long (almost) weekly diet of Elite League racing is starkly revealed to have further fallen from favour with satellite viewers and to be a necessary but increasingly less popular sideshow prior to the manufactured showdown of the Play Offs.
To spot the trend over the past nine years, it’s instructive to look at the average viewing figures per meeting for all Elite League live broadcasts (where figures are available) for the period 2002-2010 show. These show even more tellingly that the 2010 audience figures that – for the moment – the boom times British speedway enjoyed from 2006 to 2008 has definitely ended:
Based on the available BARB figures, it appears that the average Elite League speedway audience on Sky Sports has declined by nearly forty percent in the space of just two years! Some might call this a collapse. Fortunately, after rumbling discontented noises off during last winter, by all accounts Sky Sports management are much happier with the speedway product they were served up in 2010. Apparently, in the context of a difficult year in sports broadcasting generally, they’re buoyed up clutching the straw of the comparatively slower decline in the speedway audience compared to other similarly recessionary sports and their audiences.
Nonetheless, the basic message of these average viewing figures gives no grounds for complacency and should prompt Sky Sports editorial and publicity departments, their long suffering advertisers and the BSPA to ask themselves some tough questions! (And, hopefully, then answer them honestly) Perhaps these interested parties could also indulge in some serious market research to properly establish what could be changed to restore popularity as well as also attract lapsed or new viewers before the next speedway season fires back onto life on the track next March (and onto our satellite television screens shortly afterwards).