UK top of the charts for F1

The United Kingdom can proudly boast it is now the most prolific territory when it comes to television coverage of Formula One.

Figures released in F1's annual broadcast report for 2012 show a total of 2,500 hours were aired accumulatively via satellite broadcaster Sky and free-to-air BBC.

Media rights were shared by both organisations last year, with Sky offering a dedicated F1 channel and showing every session live from every grand prix, whereas the BBC broadcast half of the 20 races live, with the remainder shown as highlights.

The reduction in terrestrial coverage, however, meant the reach fell slightly last year compared with 2011, from 32million to 28.58million.

Reach is defined as the number of people who have watched more than 15 non-consecutive minutes of the sport throughout the season.

Overall, on a global basis, F1's audience also dropped marginally, although still remains at more than half-a-billion viewers.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has primarily blamed Asia for the fall, in particular China, as well as Japan.

In China, reach fell from 74.5million viewers to under 50million, whilst in Japan the drop was from 33million to 29.5million.

The fall in China was primarily due to scheduling clashes in the latter part of the year.

"The majority of our established markets brought larger audiences throughout 2012 than they delivered in 2011," said Ecclestone.

"A small handful of territories didn't meet expectations in terms of reach, with the Chinese market suffering a decrease which could not be absorbed by a significant number of increases elsewhere."

In the major markets, increases were noted in France, Italy, Spain and Brazil, with the latter remaining the largest for the sport both in terms of reach and average audience with a peak of 13.4million viewers for the season-ending title showdown at Interlagos.

Of the falling markets, alongside the UK, China and Japan, there was a decrease in Germany despite Sebastian Vettel going on to claim his third consecutive title.

Disappointingly for F1, there was also a marginal decrease in the United States despite the sport returning to the country for the first time in five years with the penultimate race in Austin in November.

Overall, with 500million viewers in 185 countries showing a total of 21,000 hours of the sport, Ecclestone is happy enough.

The 82-year-old said: "It is a figure that ensures Formula One remains the world's most watched annual sporting championship and brings more than 180 countries together to watch the same event on so many occasions throughout the year."