F1 grand prix revs up Spanish web

La Sexta ratings soar as Spaniard Alfonso wins

Spaniard Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari wasn’t the only winner at Sunday’s Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.

It revved up Spanish terrestrial network La Sexta’s ratings — live race coverage during the early afternoon hit a 45.1% market share as auds of 5 million rooted for the local racing driver.

Thanks to F1, Sexta overtook rival broadcaster Cuatro for the first time in monthly share, reaching 7.2% through Monday to Cuatro’s 6.5%.

With the possibility of a Spanish F1 champion in the offing, the value of the sport is a huge turbo boost to La Sexta’s bottom-line, making its long-mooted merger with broadcaster Antena 3 all the more complicated.

Alonso’s win “gives La Sexta greater leverage power. That makes it harder, not easier, for Antena 3 to acquire it,” one analyst said. Launched March 2006, the Imagina/Televisa-owned Sexta, has been steadily building share despite rampant broadcast market fragmentation.

March 9, Sexta announced a three-year deal on new Warner Bros. Intl. TV dramas, movies and film library titles.

In Alonso’s slipstream, more Hollywood deals could now follow.

“We don’t rule out closing a volume arrangement with another U.S. major,” Sexta’s Jose Miguel Contreras told Daily Variety.

Sexta-Antena 3 merger talks could lose gas, however.

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