The Spanish Grand Prix reversed Formula 1’s recent poor viewership numbers in the UK, unofficial overnight viewing figures showed.
Live coverage on BBC One averaged 3.44m (28.7%) from 12:15 to 15:15 whilst the action on Sky Sports F1 averaged 642k (5.5%) from 12:00 to 15:30. Both numbers are up on the respective 2013 figures but slightly down on 2012. In 2012, 3.49m watched on BBC One and 680k on Sky Sports F1 for the equivalent slot. 2013 had 3.29m (29%) on BBC One and 444k (3.7%) on Sky Sports F1, again the equivalent slot number for Sky.
The combined figure of 4.08m is therefore up on 2013’s 3.73m but down on 2012’s 4.17m. Looking further back and it is up on 2010 albeit some way down on 2011’s 4.7m. In the grand scheme of things, it is a good rating for Spain. 2011 was an anomaly, in that it was extremely high thanks to Lewis Hamilton mirroring Sebastian Vettel’s every move in the last twenty laps. The rating is near identical to the Malaysian Grand Prix number, perhaps no coincidence I feel that the two races above four million viewers so far this season are the same two that have been live on BBC One.
Elsewhere, the track parade segment on Sky Sports F1 averaged 125k (1.7%), with their 45 minute Paddock Live show averaging 110k (0.8%).
The Qualifying session on Saturday fared brilliantly, with ratings hitting their highest heights since at least the late 1990s. An average of 2.25m (24.0%) watched on BBC One from 12:20 to 14:15, whilst an extra 414k (4.5%) tuned into Sky Sports F1 from 12:00 to 14:35. Fascinatingly, BBC’s number is actually down by 59k, with Sky Sports up by 118k, in other words, Sky recorded a 40 percent increase year-on-year (I incorrectly said 30 percent over on Twitter). It is also worth noting that those numbers exclude any other viewers who chose to watch the coverage on Sky1.
Sky’s number is up on both 2012 and 2013, BBC’s number is up on 2012 but down on 2013. Overall, the combined figure of 2.66m is the highest for a Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying session for many years, since at least the early ITV days. The previous highest was 2.65m in 2010 for BBC’s coverage, albeit the slot length was much shorter due to the General Election coverage. For the data junkies, that’s 2,660,900 in 2014 excluding Sky1 and 2,647,700 in 2011! The red flag might have had a part to be with the session taking up a larger proportion of the programme.
From a ratings point of view, Sky have more to smile about than BBC I feel, however it is nice to be able to finally report some positive F1 ratings news.
The 2013 Spanish Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.