Is the TV coverage as much to blame?


Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
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We've often held conversations on here about the state of modern F1. All the talk is about how to make the racing closer, more overtaking, better and fairer techical regulation and money distribution. I believe one area that needs huge improvment that we haven't discussed is the actual race coverage. I'm not talking about the pre and post race shows. These have improved beyond measure since the early days of GP coverage. I am talking about the actual coverage and direction of the on track action.

Many moons ago, the coverage of a race was down to each broadcaster though some companies shared the broadcast to save on costs. This naturally led to national broadcasters spending more time covering their own racers at the expense of other teams. Not good for the sponsors. Bernie did away with this when he established his own TV coverage which all national broadcasters now take. The moment the FIA swooshes come on, that's the moment that all broadcasters switch from their local pre-race coverage to the single FOM feed. There were failed experiments with multi channel broadcasts and early digital technology which burnt Ecclestone's fingers and may have contributed to his loathing of modern technology in F1 coverage.

So, now that we are all force fed a single feed, we get what we are given. The problem with this is that the standard seems to have dropped dramatically over the last few years. For me, a new low was reached in Spain when we almost missed the start of the race as we were watching the over head view. Gone was that build up of excitement, with the front on view as the lights come on and the engine note rises, to be replaced with a "oh, they've started".

We've missed action on the track, cut away from action before it has concluded (The TR vs RBR battle in Spain was a classic example). Due to the nature of the pace of the Mercedes, we rarely see the leader on track unless he's about to pit or coming out of the pits or crossing the finishing line.

I know it's not everyones favourite program but when you watch Top Gear, and you see them driving cars along country lanes, it always looks as if they are roaring along and exceeding the speed limit. They're aren't but it's the way that it is being filmed that makes the footage look faster than it is. In F1 coverage, these long, lingering aerial shots give you a sense of scale but completely fail to get across exactly how fast these cars are going. Gimmicks such as the heat camera may show, shock horror, that the tyres are hot but we already know that.

What can be done to improve the coverage and make the racing look better? At the moment, it doesn't matter if what you are looking at is a painting by a grandmaster or a childs crayon scribble, it it's not displayed properly it is always going to look worse than it is. Do we need to return to multiple broadcasts by individual broadcasters? Is the TV coverage as much to blame for the decline in popularity of F1?
It's noticeable with Formula E how they're picking more and more trick camera angles to make the cars appear faster. The first race was quite amusing as they looked really rather slow.
Going pay per view was always going to affect TV ratings and as a consequence team sponsorship thus giving lower revenue and crap races, low TV viewing figures are also the reason we are seeing poor attendance figures at the races combine this with a move away from Europe and into the middle east it is killing F1, I predicted this would happen the moment the BBC binned F1 I even created an entire web site about it in protest, but now I am resigned to the fact that F1 is becoming a dead duck and nobody seems to want to do anything about it..
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I don't like Bernie using coverage of an international sport to send CGI messages to his mates. Looks about as professional as an interviewee in jeans.

Other than that, I have few problems with the coverage unless there's 2011 Japan style manipulation (remember the Schumacher/Webber incident - not broadcast much, was it?)

When you compare Imola 1994 and Suzuka 2014 though; let's just say I'm happier not to see some things.

Do agree a conventional camera at the start is preferable.
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