Sky successfully kills the Bathurst ratings

bathurst-ratings-2012-vs-2013Many petrol heads awoke yesterday morning to the realisation that their beloved Bathurst 1000 wasn’t being screened on free to air TV as it has done for many years.  Instead, the mecca of Australasian motor sport was absent, instead being broadcast on Sky Sport.

The increasing monopoly that Sky has on content, particularly on sport, always ends with the same results.  A significant decrease in people watching.

In 2012, an average audience of just under 250,000 viewers tuned in for the Mount Panorama epic to see Holden take the checkered flag on free-to-air TV’s TV3.  In 2013, the average audience was less than half with only 118,900 viewers.

At its peak, 446,300 were watching in 2012 compared to only 190,700 who saw Ford take it out this year on Sky.

With yet another much loved sporting event being swallowed up by Sky, surely it is time for the government to start addressing anti-siphoning in New Zealand and put an end to the dominance of a single broadcaster and get some real competition happening.



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About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
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  • Guest

    Thanks ustream!

    • Tracy

      Yep, I’m pretty sure you could add another few thousand viewers to the ‘official’ total who were watching in ‘other’ ways 😉

    • Guest2

      It had like 27,000 unique views at the end of the race and around 3000 constantly throughout the day.

  • Well the coverage on Sky was so much better than anything TV3 could have managed, and the coverage all year of the V8s has been outstanding. You do get what you pay for.

    • guest

      wot rot, sky picture and sound are at the low end of acceptable. the last tv3 broadcast was in crystal clear high deifnition and with dolby digital surround sound.

  • Gwynn

    I enjoyed Sky’s uninterrupted coverage, free of the rubbish experts that TV3 would cut to who’d just parrot back exactly what Seven’s commentary had been saying.

  • John McCready

    Why on earth would you advocate more government interference in our lives and in the commercial TV market, a market that works very well? The free to air networks can bid for these rights and would pay the fee required if they thought it profitable to do so. They obviously don’t think it worthwhile, hence Sky being the successful bidder and subsequent broadcaster. What’s wrong with that?

    • Couldn’t agree more. It’s a free market.

    • Peter O’Shea

      But don’t the Pay TV rivals have more money to play with? There is only so much the FTA stations can fork out for these events. They can only bid so high.
      While yeah, it’s good to see sport with a higher broadcast quality (ie no ads, HD etc), I’m totally against exclusitivity to Pay TV when it comes to sport.
      I have Pay TV myself, but I would feel sorry for those that can’t afford it and have to miss out. I do believe that over here in Australia, the anti-siphoning rules work very well.
      I wouldn’t be against the FTA stations and Pay TV doing simulcasts, as long as the Pay TV providers pay some sort of fee, to offset any loss of viewership from FTA.

    • bobscoffee

      Working very well huh…

  • Vinnie

    The debate over whether such events should be on free to air, ie available to all, is a perfectly valid one. But keep in mind Bathurst coverage on TV3 regularly missed portions of the race for ad breaks and was interrupted by the 6pm news, with a delayed finish shown afterwards. That’s hardly world class coverage. On Sky it was live all the way through – even more so than host broadcaster Channel 7 who had to duck out for ads.

    The anti-siphoning laws in Oz ensure events of national significance are screened on FTA TV, so AFL grand final, international rugby, cricket, Aussie Open etc. In Aus I get that Bathurst is such an event but in NZ would it be? ABs, Americas Cup, Black Caps etc sure but there has to be a cut off as to what is of national significance and what isn’t.

    It goes without saying that any of the above events would get more viewers on FTA TV, so I don’t really think the ratings diff between this year and last is significant information. In fact the Home and Away switch to TVNZ from TV3 shows that even in this day and age there are still plenty of people whose TV remotes seem to stop at 2.

    A few years ago TVNZ had the rights for the Delhi Comm Games and then chose to pull out, with Sky picking up the slack. And as the Premier League rights show, you don’t get them all.

    • Agreed – Bathurst isn’t an event of national significance to NZ – nothing in terms of Australian sport is to us. If such a law were to be introduced, free to air networks here simply aren’t up to the standard required to cover such events of national significance to the high levels that NZers demand. Leave all sport with SKY, they know what they are doing, and it definitely shows because of how good their coverage of Bathurst as well as many other sports, is.

      • dothemath

        At its peak, 446,300 were watching in 2012 – I think you could call it somewhat significant …

    • Trevor Ashman

      Actually TV3 screened the news after the race had finished 🙂

      • Reece

        I believe they initially done that when they first got the rights. In recent years they had a brief update at 6pm and back to the race shortly after. They obviously weren’t interested in sticking around to produce a full bulletin at a later time.

  • Jeseta

    I really believe there should be a free-to-air dedicated sport channel in NZ. It is really frustrating to sit down in front of the TV on a weekend afternoon only to find both TV1 and TV3 have put on coverage of sporting events, which go for many hours, replacing previously scheduled programming. I understand there are people who want to watch this but there are many more people who don’t, viewership vs population will tell you that. I think those who want to watch extended sporting coverage should have it available to them free-to-air but I don’t think it should affect the regularly scheduled programming on the general interest FTA channels.

    • bobscoffee

      There is a FTA sports channel. It’s called Sommet.

      • Jeseta

        Does it show the big international sports comps live and/or with exclusive airing rights?

        • Tony

          Yes they do.

          • Jeseta

            Then there is no reason for lengthy sports broadcasts on the general interest channels. Solution! 😀

  • Bogues

    Another +1 for the ustream feed. It has 4,500 active views towards the end of the race.

    I agree with others. Even if the government did introduce anti-siphoning laws, there is no way I could see the V8s being on the list. Probably rugby union (Four Nations, Super comp and the ITM Cup), league (NRL + World Cup), Netball and Football. And maybe a few other minor sports.

  • Daniel

    Yes, indeed. Get some of the other Aussie pay-per-view networks here. Give Sky TV a run for their money. I know that have a pretty good sports package but Kiwis are getting ripped off for it though.

    • Mario

      You realise they Aussie pay-per-view networks are owned by Murdoch as well right?

  • TRS

    The laws here in Oz are a joke. Want to watch the Friday night NRL that’s not featuring a team from your city? Wait 2 hours while the home team matches are played and only in SD. What’s the point in having all these digital channels with just informercials on them? It’s not easy in this age to go 2 hours and not hear the score via other channSky have it good in NZ being able to choose which event to watch. Would rather pay to have the option of viewing it live, than no option at all. This is just 1 example of many

  • timmy

    Bugger Sky I have watched Bathurst for years free to air and will miss it this year thanks to Bloody sky