TV ratings for the Dutch TT at Assen are in for the Italian TV market (one of the largest markets for MotoGP), and once again they show a decline in MotoGP’s allure without Valentino Rossi. With 2,579,000 viewers, making up 16.79% of the total television audience, MotoGP in Holland attracted only half the audience from last year’s event (5,249,000 viewers, 31.69% of the total television audience). With a similar trend in 125GP and Moto2, some in the Italian press are calling for Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta’s resignation, as these ratings are surely a sign of the sport’s demise.
However, a couple factors are unanswered in these reports, which could suggest an alternative and more likely scenario. While the viewership declines are statistically significant enough to give weight to them, they are admitted coming mostly from the Italian market.
While Valentino Rossi’s fan appeal spans the globe, Italian soil is clearly the largest domain the Italian rider holds sway over. The rider’s absense is surely to hit the Italian television market the hardest, and could explain at least a skewing in the results as they are applied to other markets.
But isn’t there a simpler explanation? Looking at the other notable events of the weekend, the knock-out round of the World Cup stands out glaringly. After watching the World Cup in Italy four years ago, we can attest to the fact that little else exists in the Mediterranean country while the event is underway.
If we borrow a maxim from Sherlock Holmes, often the simplest explanation is the cause of problems. Before the pitchforks get sharpened for Ezpeleta, we would like to see TV ratings after the Cup’s conclusion on July 11th. With that date in mind, the German GP could be an adequate perspective on life in MotoGP with Rossi, and give us a truer assessment into the state of MotoGP.