US Grand Prix sinks in primetime

The viewing figures for yesterday’s United States Grand Prix come in a smidgen under the Canadian Grand Prix ratings from June.

Live coverage of the race programme, screened on Sky Sports F1 from 17:30 to 22:30, averaged 856,000 viewers, a 3.3 percent share, which is slightly under the figure recorded in Canada which was just below 1 million viewers. BBC’s highlights coverage averaged 2.22 million viewers, again slightly under the 2.39 million viewers recorded for Canada in the 22:25 to 00:25 slot. The combined average is therefore around 3.0 million to 3.1 million viewers, a very disappointing figure for a primetime Formula 1 race. Looking at all of the averages from 2000 onwards for USA, all of them have been above 4 million viewers, except for 2000 which was screened live on ITV2 and 2006 which had 3.46 million viewers.

You could argue that a lot of people would be watching on Sky Go with it being a primetime race, but would that make up an extra million viewers? I am not so sure. There is definitely a ‘lost’ viewership somewhere. With both averages slightly below that of Canada, it would be a fair assumption to say that the peak was below the 4.87 million peak recorded for Canada. For what it is worth though, I believe the Canada figures are more acceptable than the USA figures because Canada was not a potential title decider and Canada was in the middle of the Summer of Sport so was lost in the shuffle. If the title had been won, it would have probably been the lowest title decider ratings since the days when the championship was decided in Japan.

The Qualifying ratings, and Sky’s practice ratings, can be found here.

Note: The ratings information comes from ITV Media and Digital Spy.

Update – The peak for Sky Sports F1 was 1.63 million (6.4% share) at 19:15. The BBC F1 peak was 2.82 million (15.9% share) at 22:35, meaning the combined peak is 4.45 million viewers. Have to say I am disappointed with the Sky peak, specifically the fact that it was at 19:15 and not towards the end of the race. The peak is not the largest of the season, either, that honour going to Canada’s 1.77 million, so as predicted the peak is slightly below that of Canada. It again shows the power that a terestrial channel has that a multichannel does not, Sky Sports F1 does not get casual viewers tuning in throughout the race, meaning it fails to gain a large peak at the end. Arguably 1.63 million is large for a multichannel, but not for Formula 1 and not for a potential title decider in primetime. That peak will probably also end up lower than the Ford Super Sunday game, which was between Fulham vs Sunderland.

6 thoughts on “US Grand Prix sinks in primetime

  1. It’s difficult to watch anything on Sky Go. If the ridiculous two device limit doesn’t already throttle your plans, Sky’s lack of server capacity will.

    I can easily stream BBC iPlayer’s HD stuff on my connection (12Mbps downstream speed) at all times but Sky Go buffers during peak times. Sky Go doesn’t even offer HD, something iPlayer has offered for quite a while now…

  2. There’s a 17% drop in non-unique viewers, and a 22% drop in unique viewers, despite this season’s championship being more exciting.

    Sky are strangling the sport with poor pre and post shows, and endless repeats that numbs any excitement from anticipation.

  3. Just looked at BBC iPlayer’s homepage and currently the F1 Race Highlights show is the most popular item. Shame that iPlayer stats aren’t made available as it seems we’re missing out a significant number of unique viewers here that won’t be counted through the BARB figures.

    Karen – 100% agree with you.

  4. “Sky Sports F1 does not get casual viewers tuning in throughout the race”

    The peak figure above the average is the casual viewer, the channel hopper, as it’s quite clear an avid viewer wouldn’t tune in for 2 laps of a race, especially a potential championship deciding race.

    And if Sky F1 doesn’t get casual viewers, where do all the avid viewers go for qualifying? As that gets around 50% of the race figure, or are avid Sky F1 viewers not avid enough to watch qualifying?
    % wise Sky F1 has just as many casual viewers as the BBC, as evidenced by the similar drop off from race to qualifying on both channels, it’s just that Sky F1 have significantly lees overall viewers.

    1. Sorry, what I mean by that comment is that the race average and the race peak are very, very close together. A peak of 1.63 million viewers means a race average of about 1.5 million viewers (remember that it is the programme average is 856k), for Canada it was a 1.63 million race average with a 1.77 million peak.

      My point being is that on Sky the two are always very close together, ie the audience throughout is very stable but no extra viewers are tuning in throughout the race. Unlike say if the race was on BBC One your peak figure would be 1 million or 1.5 million above the race average because of the effect of casual viewers tuning in throughout the race – the Hamilton/Vettel battle on BBC One for example would have increased the audience as the race progressed.

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