Andrew Curry writes:
The combination of the FA Cup Final – the last for a while on the BBC – and the epically overhyped Champions’ League final on ITV sent me to some recent interesting data (above) from BMRB Sport. They measure both the total interested audience for sport on TV, and also a “passion index” which captures the quality of the audience, assessed by their level of interest in the sport. The passion index seems to me to be a reasonable proxy for ‘attention’ – that increasingly important, but often elusive, quality sought by traditional media owners.
Broadly, the passion index is higher for football, and doesn’t correlate strongly with overall audiences, which leads to the thought that commercial terrestrial broadcasters need both scale and passion to make their rights investment pay off, in terms of advertising and sponsorship revenues, whereas a public service broadcaster can justify its investment by the breadth of the audience. And with next season’s rights to Formula 1 moving to the BBC (ITV couldn’t afford both F1 and the FA Cup), the BBC’s sports properties, if you include the Premiership highlights on Match of the Day, now include five of the top seven sports by breadth of audience, but only one (those Premiership highlights again) by ‘quality’ or interest levels.
And there is some good news for the BBC here. According to BMRB, Formula 1 has climbed steadily in the popularity rankings over the last year, from seventh to fourth, on back of Lewis Hamilton’s successes.