The fall in Formula 1's television viewing figures by 50 million in 2013 prompted many doom mongers to suggest the end was nigh for grand prix racing. Such a huge drop-off in interest, at a time when F1 is crying out for more fans and bigger sponsors, was viewed as a warning sign for the extent of the trouble it was in.
The move to pay-TV channels, in a bid to chase the only networks that could afford the huge rights fees F1 demands, has not unsurprisingly led to a dramatic cut in audiences - already weakened by Red Bull dominance and less-than-spectacular racing.
That the audience in France dropped by 17 million in 2013 when F1 moved to pay TV shows the dangers the sport faces in chasing the big-money deals.
Get back on track. Join today for unlimited access to all Autosport news and features.
Are you an Autosport magazine subscriber? Activate your online account
Your Autosport Plus membership includes:
- Unlimited access to Autosport's news - no monthly cap.
- Read the best motorsport features, analysis and opinion.
- Explore Forix, our comprehensive motorsport stats database.
- Choose from monthly, yearly and two-yearly packages.