Italian Grand Prix records highest rating since 1998

In a season where Formula 1’s television ratings are topsy-turvy, with only large gains and large falls seemingly on the agenda, both BBC and Sky will be pleased to know that the Italian Grand Prix falls into the former category. The race, won by Lewis Hamilton, recorded the highest rating since 1998. BBC One’s highlights programme at 17:35 averaged 3.57 million viewers (21% share), with Sky Sports F1’s live broadcast from 11:30 to 16:05 averaging a further 650,000 viewers (7.3% share), bringing the total to 4.22 million viewers. In 1998, the Grand Prix had 4.65 million viewers as viewers took to the Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher title feud massively in that year. Since then, Italy has always been under 4 million, until last year when it had 4.17 million viewers. The short length does not really help it, after all I am looking at the programme averages with all the above figures. The reason it is the highest since 1998 I think falls down to several reasons.

The first one is that the Grand Prix is ‘made’ for highlights. That quote comes from Jake Humphrey, and although I disagree with the quote in principle (as I think that there really is nothing better than seeing it live), from a broadcasting perspective I can see where he is coming from. The Italian Grand Prix, traditionally is the shortest on the calendar which means that you don’t have to make many edits when it comes to the highlights show, compared to say with the European Grand Prix – Italy lasted 80 minutes, whereas Valencia back in June averaged 105 minutes. Fitting the latter in a 90 minute primetime slot would be difficult, normally it wouldn’t be, but I think most reading this would appreciate that Valencia was probably one of the best races of the season so far.

Secondly, there was not much competition around yesterday aside from the Paralympics, which would have helped both the highlights and the live shows as there was no Live Ford Super Sunday to go up against on Sky Sports 1. As I demonstrated last weekend, the football can take a chunk out of the Formula 1. Saying that I did expect Sky Sports F1’s figure to be slightly higher than 650,000, but the warm weather may have knocked a few viewers off it. The final reason is probably Eddie Jordan. Not specifically him, but his leak last Wednesday. Some may not agree with me here, but it does Formula 1 no good when it is out of the headlines for several weeks, hence why we had a low rating from Belgium. Maybe the BBC seen that and had Jordan leak information to bring Formula 1 back in the headlines and the viewers back to the sport. I know, it seems a little convenient the timing, but it’s just a thought as there was nothing Formula 1 related in the press over the Summer and no one had moved anywhere – surprisingly.

Qualifying had 2.1 million viewers (a 16.7% share) on BBC One, Sky Sports F1 had under 470,000 viewers, so it looks like Qualifying was down on last year’s 2.80 million viewers, but in line with the 2.47 million viewers recorded in 2010.

2012 ratings are sourced from the ITV Media website.


20 thoughts on “Italian Grand Prix records highest rating since 1998

  1. Your figures for last year are incorrect, check Barb, they should be 4.23m for last year and not 4.17m. This means viewers are actually down very slight this year. Good website, easy mistake for anyone to make!

    1. The 4.17m from last year is the overnight rating, 4.23m is the official rating which takes into account anyone who watched it within seven days. And even so, I expect the 4.22m to grow by over 10,000 viewers for when the official figures come out to beat last year’s 4.23m official rating!

      1. I’ve always thinked that the only reason for not having all races live was because of the olympics. But for next year…

  2. i am fairly certain that Sky having invested heavily in a dedicated F1 channel, will be disappointed by only 650,00 viewers (7.3% share), compared to BBC highlights 3.57 million viewers (21% share). Just goes to show that people are not prepared to pay premium prices for it and it should have stayed freeview.

  3. The problem is that these combined figures are not the crucial ‘unique’ viewers, as many people who watch the race live on Sky also watch the highlights on the BBC, the figures also, and probably deliberately ignore the BBC’s highlights from previous years, after all if you’re willing to combine Sky live and BBC highlights, why not combine BBC live and BBC highlights (pre 2012) … Or would that not spin the figures the right way? Currently the combined BBC/Sky viewing figures are down 11.71%, and the better ‘unique’ viewing figure is down over 19% on 2011.

    The AI figures for the races on Sky are very low, and the BBC only gets decent AI for live races and forum broadcasts.

    The odd thing is a third of those people that pay for Sky, still prefer to watch on the BBC when a live race is available, and if Sky really are aiming at the ‘avid’ race fan, then why are the qualifying figures so low?

    Average Qualifying on Sky 389k
    Average Race figures on Sky 666k

    And the flag ship F1 show is barely watched by an average of 60k people

  4. I was thinking more of the Autosport article, which due to the magazine’s loss of readership has been forced into writing puff pieces for one of its major advertisers, and thus spinning the figures many people are quoting as accurate, they specifically ignored the combined figures of BBC live + deferred and even highlights from 2011, but were quite happy to combine Sky live with BBC highlights from 2012, to somehow show the viewing figures have remained buoyant.

    1. Ah, okay, fair enough. Normally, what I tend to do is use Sky live + BBC live or BBC highlights, whereas for before 2011 I use BBC live – although that’s not the strict rule for say the Asian races where I use the BBC re-run as well.

      I might put a little Ratings page up at some point in the next day or two just to explain which figures I use in which circumstances for full clarity.

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