ITV profits from Hamilton-effect

Sun, 28 October 2007, 06:07

Lewis Hamilton may have stumbled at the final hurdle to become champion in 2007, but his debut formula one season nonetheless put smiles on the faces of ITV executives.

According to the media agency Carat, Britain’s F1 television broadcaster has opened the bidding for title sponsorship next year by doubling this season’s (US) $5m rate-card.

Honda was ITV’s premier backer for the coverage in 2007, but the Japanese manufacturer would supposedly have to pay up to or in excess of $10m to remain in the role next year, thanks mainly to the average 40 per cent higher average viewing figures compared with 2006.

Carat also claims that ITV earned an extra $24m in revenue this season, as the broadcaster upped its cost of – for example – a single 30-second advert to nearly $80,000.

But Kevin Alavy, a senior analyst for another media agency, Initiative, says ITV should expect some of its extra revenue to be clawed back in the future by the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

“Bernie will ask for a lot more money from UK broadcasters next time around,” he is quoted as saying by the British newspaper The Guardian.

“(Hamilton) is arguably the most commercially attractive driver on the whole grid so there will be a premium rights fee next time.

“He is the reason why people who may not be formula one fans are tuning in. There is a gap in the market for a young sportsman of his pulling power.”

ITV, Britain’s F1 broadcaster since 1997, holds the rights until 2010.

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