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.