Mar.12 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Sponsors have expressed concern about Bernie Ecclestone’s television strategy for formula one.

Increasingly, the trend has been away from free-to-air to subscription-based coverage of the full world championship, with the latest example being a new deal with Fox in Australia.

It is maximising revenue for the sport’s commercial rights holder CVC, but contributing to a decline in actual worldwide television ratings, according to reports.

The strategy “won’t please mass-market brands like (Ferrari sponsor) Santander”, said Mark Gallagher, former sponsorship boss at Red Bull.

In an internal broadcast report, Ecclestone argued in January that the change of tack is to embrace F1’s “committed audience” rather than chase mere overall ratings.

“Rather than just eyeballs watching formula one these are the people that support the sport,” Ecclestone reportedly said.

But Zak Brown, head of Just Marketing who advise sponsors including Williams’ Martini, told the Bloomberg news agency: “I have had a handful of comments from sponsors that they are concerned over the reduction in reach.

“No one questions the massive reach of formula one but people are hung up on the (declining) trend line,” he added.