F1 going from strength to strength on ESS

MUMBAI: With F1 getting a local flavour courtesy Narain Kartikeyan, ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has worked hard on growing the popularity of the sport to get more and more people to sample the thrill of life at 300 kph.

The amount of money that the channel has spent on marketing the sport has increased along with the process of growing the sports' popularity.

Quoting Tam data the channel states that its efforts have resulted in an increase in overall viewership. Year on year comparison of the reach of F1 telecast on Star Sports, across the entire C&S population, yields the following results:

- The net reach was 31.4 miilion thereby implying that so many viewers sampled the product in 2004. This marked a 27 per cent increase over 2003.

- The niche nature of the sport has ensured that 39 per cent of SEC A sampled the product in 2004. This is the highest amongst all SEC's.

- The fans also are watching more and more of F1. The gross reach for F1 in 2004 was 74.8 million, which is a 36 per cent increase over 2003.

The total reach, which was 8.7 million for the first five races in 2004, is almost 10 million for this year. Last year for the first five races the average rating was 0.17. This has grown by 58 per cent to 0.27 this year. The TG is males, c&s 15-34 SEC AB.

For the 2004 season Mumbai had the highest TVR of 0.9. For the 2005 season it achieved a high of 1.3. The reach of F1 last year for all the races was 31.4 million. However with just the five races of this season the reach has already touched 10 million. The channel states that this is a clear indicator of the increasing sampling of the sport.

The non-traditional F1 markets have shown growth in viewership. For instance Delhi which had a TVR high of 0.9 last year touched 1.9 this year. Hyderabad which had a high of just 0.2 last year reached 1.6 this year. The All India average ratings are expected, to say the least, to continue at the levels of 0.3 for the rest of the season too.

ESS is encouraged by the fact that F1 is more exciting now that the monotony of seeing Michael Schumacher dominate is a thing of the past. ESS says that it might see an upsurge in the ratings, as one gets closer to the final stages. ESS also expects a significant jump if and when Narain Karthikeyan gets his first point and thereafter.

In terms of reach ESS expects this season to be at least 30-40 per cent higher than last season, given the initial trends and the growing popularity of the sport. In terms of reach the broadcaster expects this season to be at least 30-40 per cent higher than last season, given the initial trends.

Earlier this year with a view to penetrating the South ESS had introduced a Tamil commentary feed which started with the 'Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix' on 3 April 2005. This marked the first time that FI on ESS had special commentary in any language besides English. Sportsline & SportsCenter anchor Radhakrishnan Srinivasan commentates in Tamil . All the remaining races of Formula One World Championship 2005 will have Tamil commentary as well as the regular English commentary.

ESS states that it has received an encouraging response from the market on the Tamil commentary and there are plans to augment Tamil commentary on the live race with special Formula One programming in Tamil. The post F1 race show Chequered Flag will also be Indianised to include comments from guests from India. In addition, special animation packages detailing the circuit and challenges faced by the drivers will also be launched.

ESS efforts are to be expected when one considers the fact that Tamil Nadu rated the highest in all states across India in F1 season last year. The state received an average rating of 0.6 in (1Mn+ towns) across 18 races, reaching an incredible high TVR of 2. A total of 4.6 million individuals in Tamil Nadu (1 Mn+ towns), sampled the product last season, reaching out to 44 per cent of the core-targeted audience.

ESS reaps the benefit of Bangladesh minnows upsetting the Aussies : In terms of cricket besides seeing India do well another thing that Indian viewers appreciate is the sight of the mighty Australians losing. If it is against a weak team nothing like it. An example is what took place on 18 June when Bangladesh beat Australia during the Natwest series. On that evening ESPN managed a higher channel share vis-a-vis the mainline channels. The TG is males 15+ 5 metros and All India SEC A,B,C and the time is 7:21 pm -11 pm.

ESPN has a share of 8.1 per cent. Star Plus had a share of 6.9 per cent. Sony had a share of 5.7 per cent.

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