Spanish Grand Prix drops to four year low

The Spanish Grand Prix dropped to its lowest rating since 2009, overnight figures show. BBC One’s programme from 12:10 to 15:15 recorded an average of 3.285 million viewers, a 29 percent share. Sky Sports F1’s exact programme figure is unknown, however, it failed to make ITV Media’s top 10, meaning it had under 483,000 viewers from 11:30 to 16:20.

The joint average is therefore around about 3.77 million viewers – however that is an estimate and could be slightly lower depending on Sky’s exact figure. Either way, using my usual ‘35 percent theory‘, applied to Sky Sports F1 only to account for its longer run-time, brings the average up to 3.94 million.

Spanish Grand Prix – Official Ratings
2002 – 3.72 million
2003 – 3.20 million
2004 – 3.04 million
2005 – 2.72 million
2006 – 2.33 million
2007 – 3.15 million
2008 – 3.51 million
2009 – 3.89 million
2010 – 4.04 million
2011 – 4.75 million
2012 – 4.09 million / 4.28 million
2013 – 3.77 million / 3.94 million*

* overnight figure and approximation of Sky Sports F1 figure

The figures unfortunately do not point to a positive trend. The combined factors of lack of British success and football competition will not have helped. In 2011, Sebastian Vettel was fighting Lewis Hamilton for victory until the last lap, whereas in comparison yesterday was a Fernando Alonso dominating performance, a relative turn off for the British audience.

The peak figures are again not the greatest, a combined peak of 4.83 million viewers, with a 36.1 percent share. BBC had 4.13 million at its peak, with Sky recording 703,000 viewers. The split was 86 percent versus 14 percent, which compared to last year is bigger in BBC’s favour. BBC’s peak is down 470,000 year-on-year, with Sky’s peak down 350,000, despite having a much lower audience reach. The 2011 peak was 6.2 million, so the difference of having a last lap showdown can account for an extra 25 percent of your audience.

Monaco should be interesting from a ratings perspective, as it is a Sky exclusive race. Given that it is considered one of the ‘crown jewels’, surely Sky must see some kind of uplift from its usual exclusive race weekend ratings. I imagine they will be hoping for more viewers, at least a peak of nearly 2 million if the weather in the UK plays in their favour.

The 2012 Spanish Grand Prix ratings report can be found here. Note: The ratings information comes from Digital Spy, TV Ratings UK and BARB.


18 thoughts on “Spanish Grand Prix drops to four year low

    • Latest Sky nine month figures to March 31st, 2013:

      “In Sky Go, we have developed the UK’s leading mobile video service which continues to get a great response from customers. Quarterly unique users were up 25% year on year to 3.3 million, and a record 319,000 customers used the service to watch the recent UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid and Manchester United.”

      Now is 319,000 viewers a reach figure throughout the live broadcast, a peak figure or an average? We don’t know. Either way, if football is only getting 319,000 on there, I think it is fair to assume that F1 would only be around ~100,000 to 150,000 at most. No idea about NOW TV.

      Worth considering BBC iPlayer too, that would add more than Sky Go.

      I guess the old adage is that it all adds up. But does that mean we should dismiss the overnight figures and the facts presented in front of us? I don’t think so.

      • Yes we shouldn’t discount the overnight figures. Although there could be a higher percentage of people watching online on iplayer, Sky Go and Now TV than in previous years. The young audience particularly. Plus people watching illegally online!

  1. I dont find this a massive surprise to be honest. The tyres have made it easily the most uninteresting race so far this year, and to the more casual audience the race would have seemed very boring and potentially confusing.
    Hopefully it will be on the up from here as Monaco is next, which isn’t hard on tyres, and Pirelli have said they will sort them out by the time they get to Canada.

  2. Hamilton was on the front row, casual viewers would have tuned in to watch that, (they wouldn’t have known he was going to go backwards), but as Sky’s involvement is killing the sport, that is the reason for lower viewers.

    Remember last year (sky’s first) saw a 22% drop in unique viewers in the UK, and Sky are currently (not including Spain), down 17% on their appalling 2012 viewing figures.

  3. I would love to know whether Sky’s terrible coverage is due to ignorance or apathy.

    If I take myself as an example viewer, I like continuity so I watch F1 on Sky because they have all the races. Having said that, when I have watched the BBC coverage for any reason, it still seems head and shoulders above Sky.

    The more I watch, the more I get the feeling that Sky just doesn’t know the F1 fan’s viewing tastes and are following a model they’ve successfully applied to many other male orientated team sports.

    F1 fans don’t sit around in big screen pubs, waffling for hours about ‘how they’d have done the tyre strategy differently’, F1 fans are far better educated about their sport and don’t want the presentation to be an extension of this fools speculative conversation.

    F1 fans are also not moved or impressed with their ’emotive’ cheesy, repeated intro VT’s or the fact that closing VT’s often have random, inappropriate music running through them.

    At the start of a Grand Prix you want a VT package that sets the mood, gets you excited for the race, not Sean Bean saying adjectives over a dancer or a projection on the wall. At the end of the show you want a VT that recaps the day, good or bad but leaves you excited for the next race with music to suit, not some downbeat dirge. We haven’t just watched our team loose the first leg of some European footie match, we’ve just watched the fastest sport in the world!

  4. I thought sky’s coverage this weekend was some of their best yet. I agree with previous posts that the tyres and lack of British front runners is also having an effect. Plus the cost of sky of course. New subscribers need the sports pack now.

  5. I agree with you that this weekends Sky output was better, I liked the tech insert with Martin but IMO the standard was so low to start with an improvement, although welcome, is still not up to par.

  6. as a long time formula one fan. i think the sport needs to change. from the mario cart formula ,one make tyre, tune down engines we have at moment to much more free formula but with perhaps standard less sensivite aero dynamics but free on engines tyres and suspenstion. I dont even mind kers but let be fully unlimited in time and power boost side

    • That’s more or less what the FIA proposed in 2009, but the teams rejected it, as they nearly always reject everything, because they put the individual team before the sport.

  7. Something I’d be interested to know is, when teams say it cost $300m to go racing for a season, do they mean design, produce and a race a car or all the hospitality units, gourmet food and hangers on?

    I don’t see the point in turning the pinnacle of motorsport into a one make karting series just so they can fund a load of pointless corporate rubbish.

    I know big business pays for F1 but if I was a sponsor I’d be much happier if I knew all my investment was going into dominating the sport and getting me maximum exposure rather than paying for journalists to sneak free meals and my head of PR’s girlfriend to meet Lenny Kravitz.

  8. The Monaco grand prix time soon. sky exclusive. This is going really difficult to follow on the bbc highlights because of the time length and the fact tyres fall to bits after 15laps. Any want to guess what viewing figures this event will have?

    • Monaco is one of the easiest races to put into a highlights package, as it’s usually rather dull with little overtaking, long trains of cars and quite easy on the tyres … But it might rain or have a safety car, so anything’s possible, as for viewing figures Monaco is usually mid table with about 4.5 million on the BBC, and Sky had 565k last year, but as it’s exclusively live this year on Sky that should be closer to 1 million, but Sky have lost about 17% of their audience this year, so it’s hard to predict.

    • That was outrageous last year, I was open mouthed as his unprofessionalism was on full show, and yet Sky did nothing about it. But as Sky are closely associated with News International it wasn’t that much of a surprise.

    • That was shocking last year.

      If Jake Humphrey had said the same words, you can be sure there would have been OUTRAGE from certain quarters.

      How Lazenby is still fronting their coverage I don’t know.

      It may be for the best – the more viewers he puts off the better… 😉

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