Analysis: Malaysian Grand Prix ratings soar to record highs

For this race weekend only, I have more data to pour over, meaning that there is a different format to the ratings report. Either way, everything as usual is located below.

Live coverage of practice was on average down compared with 2012, thanks to the rating for practice two nearly halving year-on-year. Practice 1 from 02:00 to 03:50 averaged 64,000 viewers (5.1%), compared with 49,000 viewers (4.0%) last year. The session peaked with 83,000 viewers at 02:30, a higher peak than in 2012. Whilst Practice 1 was up, Practice 2 dropped by nearly half on 2012. 2012’s session averaged 110,000 viewers, compared with only 60,000 viewers (2.4%) on Friday. When factoring in the first repeat airing, the averages are 99,000 viewers and 109,000 viewers, compared with 79,000 viewers and 160,000 viewers in 2012. Overall, this is a drop of 14.9 percent on 2012.

The F1 Show on Friday morning averaged 40,000 viewers (0.67%) at 10:00, a drop of 6,000 viewers on the same edition last year. Factoring in the first repeat airing brings the number for 2013 up to 66,000 viewers, an identical number to 2012. It should be noted that this year, The F1 Show is also simulcast live on Sky1 and is repeated on various Sky Sports channels, presumably in response to the poor ratings it received in 2012. It is difficult therefore to get a clear picture of where about The F1 Show sits in comparison to 2012.

GP2 Practice benefited from the higher practice rating than 2012, averaging 33,000 viewers (3.9%), compared with 5,000 viewers last year, a huge increase percentage wise compared with 2012. This may be as a result of more people recording it, but the Qualifying rating somewhat dispels that myth, Qualifying only bringing 10,000 viewers to Sky Sports F1, marginally above the 2012 number. Sky only have themselves to blame here, as GP2 has again received very little promotion. GP2 should be easy to promote ‘stars of the future’ and the such like, but it seems a 30 second advert promoting the series is difficult to put together.

As with Friday, the F1 average dropped for Sky Sports F1 compared with 2012. Practice 3 from 04:45 averaged 36,000 viewers (3.8%), compared with 53,000 viewers last year. Qualifying on the channel also suffered a drop. From 07:00 to 09:45, the programme averaged 336,000 viewers (5.4%), peaking with 639,000 viewers (8.1%) at 08:55. This compares with an average of 420,000 viewers and a peak of 743,000 viewers last year. Overall, Saturday’s Sky Sports F1 live Qualifying coverage dropped an average of 25 percent compared with 2012. Its repeat airing though made up some of the loss, as the repeat at 13:00 averaged 133,000 viewers (1.1%), compared with 79,000 viewers in a similar slot last year, which reduces the drop to an average of 6.3 percent.

Where the Formula 1 dropped, GP2 improved. Its live airing averaged 40,000 viewers (3.3%), higher than last year, which had 17,000 viewers (1.6%). The difference this year, however, was that it had no daytime repeat, unlike last year where it was repeated straight after F1 Qualifying to 78,000 viewers so this needs to be accounted for. This year, the first repeat was seen by 21,000 viewers at 22:45.

Sky’s loss was BBC’s gain, as their ratings went up significantly. Qualifying from 13:00 to 14:15 averaged 2.83 million (24.0%), peaking with 3.07 million (25.6%) at 13:50. This compares with an average of 1.83 million (22.9%) last year. No doubt this is partially due to the awful weather experienced, which increased the amount of viewers watching TV during the day. Percentage wise, it was an increase of 54.6 percent on 2012. The high BBC rating meant that it was the most watched Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying session on record.

Unsurprisingly, the controversial race and the snow mentioned above helped the race become the most watched Malaysian Grand Prix on record – the previous high being 2011 which averaged 4.47 million for live and repeat.

Official Ratings
– 2006 – 3.39 million
– 2007 – 2.84 million
– 2008 – 3.51 million
– 2009 – 4.36 million
– 2010 – 4.37 million
– 2011 – 4.47 million
– 2012 – 3.68 million/4.00 million (using “35.1 percent theory“)
– 2013 – 4.73 million/4.95 million (using Sky figures from only 07:00 to 10:15)

BBC One’s highlights show averaged 4.01 million viewers (27.1%), whilst Sky Sports F1 from 06:30 to 11:30 averaged 722,000 viewers (10.8%). The highlights show peaked with 4.66 million (30.0%) at 16:00, Sky peaked with 1.35m (15.0%) at 09:25, bringing the combined peak to 6.01 million viewers. Last year, the BBC’s highlights averaged 2.73 million (27.9%), whilst Sky had 850,000 (12.0%) from 07:30 to 13:00 (extended due to the red flag), their show peaking with 1.53 million (19.6%). The percentages are slightly down year-on-year, due to the larger audience watching television due to the snow.

Sky’s figures are also down – but this is more down to the red flag last year which meant that viewership remained high during the red flag period. The controversial end to the Grand Prix helped Sky’s figures significantly, with viewership remaining above 300,000 viewers until 11:00, before dropping to 269,000 viewers at the end. The figures are an increase of 32.2 percent on 2012, the second race in a row to increase on 2012, a very good sign.

To round things off, live coverage of the Indy Car Series on ESPN averaged 16,000 viewers, in line with last year’s numbers on Sky Sports. Not bad.

Note: All ratings quoted are overnight ratings.


5 thoughts on “Analysis: Malaysian Grand Prix ratings soar to record highs

  1. Those are combined non-unique figures, if you want to be accurate you should combine the live BBC with BBC highlights from 2011, and compare the two. Combining one set of broadcasts but not another skews the figures.

    Anyway another disaster for Sky, as they lost 20.4% of viewers compared to last year, this is on top of the 18.1% loss they suffered with Australia.

    Qualifying in Malaysia lost 26.4% compared to last year, slightly better than the 39.4% they lost for the Australian GP.

    Is this loss a trend? Too early to tell, but I’d be worried if I was Sky.

    1. “if you want to be accurate you should combine the live BBC with BBC highlights from 2011”

      The averages are higher, even when you do that – hence it being the most watched Malaysian Grand Prix on record.

      Edit – the figures from 2006 to 2011 are already combined, I just haven’t explicitly stated that.

  2. Still non-unique figures, you could go on combining multiple showings (sky repeats and BBC red button) to get even higher figures, but they’re mostly non-unique viewers … This is what Pit Pass couldn’t grasp, the difference between views, viewers and the crucial unique viewers.

    Anyway, what do you think is behind the collapse in Sky viewers?

    1. The only theory that I can think of is that last year for Sky was boosted by their big advertising campaign, and a year later, people ‘know’ what they are getting, so there are no curious BBC viewers tuning in wondering what it will be like, because they already know.

      I felt JimT made an important point here as well:

      “Sky are not chasing viewer numbers for F1, they are seeking higher profits.

      They are never going to reach the full potential number of viewers, because they are abusing their exclusive live rights by bundling the F1 channel as one channel in an expensive multi-channel package.”

  3. But is the drop due to non-renewal of subscriptions?

    New subscriptions directly linked to the channel, were already so small that channel expenditure exceeded income before then end of last season.

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