MotoGP and Le Mans close in UK ratings battle

Live coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on British Eurosport drew similar numbers to that who watched BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage, unofficial overnight UK viewing figures show.

24 Hours of Le Mans
The famous endurance race was screened live across British Eurosport and its sister channel British Eurosport 2 from 13:45 on Saturday to 14:15 on Sunday, the numbers below take into account the various channel switches. The race, in the UK, averaged 56k (0.7%), down on the 70k (1.0%) for last year’s race. The 5-minute peak of 148k (2.0%) recorded at 14:00 on Saturday is down on last year’s peak of 248k, which occurred at the end of the race. The average number is up on 2011 and 2012, however.

The numbers are as you would expect for an endurance race. Hovering around 100k for the first few hours, figures spiked at 15:50 with 141k (1.7%) as heavy rain hit the Circuit de la Sarthe. Numbers stayed around 70k to 90k into the evening, before dropping into the early hours – at some points recording a figure of ‘zero’ (which in ratings terms means less than 5k!). Numbers picked back up on Sunday morning, 75k (1.1%) were watching at 09:25, hitting 100k (1.4%) just over an hour later, climbing to 140k (1.9%) at 12:05 as Porsche’s charge came to a halt. Figures dipped to under 100k, re-peaking with 119k (1.4%) at the end of the race.

Considering the World Cup competition, the figures are perfectly fine, although as always I would have liked to see figures a bit higher. The same analysis applies here as it does for the IndyCar Series, if none of the mainstream media are going to cover it, then ratings will remain relatively low. Personally, I’d love to see a bit of coverage on ITV4 again to get endurance racing back on the agenda, time will tell. One series that was getting attention, but decided to reject live free-to-air coverage was MotoGP. And depending on which time frame you choose to use from Sunday, you’ll get interesting results.

BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage on Sunday from 09:30 to 14:15 averaged 95k (1.2%). The Moto3 race peaked with 79k (1.1%) at 10:00, whilst the Moto2 race peaked with 78k (1.1%) at 11:25. The brilliant MotoGP race, won by Marc Marquez, peaked with 196k (2.4%) at 13:35. It goes without saying that the BT Sport 2 figures pale into comparison to what BBC Two averaged last year. BBC Two’s programme last year, from 12:30 to 14:05 averaged 914k (10.1%). BT Sport 2, for the same timeslot yesterday averaged 142k (1.8%). The Barcelona race last year peaked with 1.22m (13.3%), meaning that BBC Two, on average and peak was six times higher than BT Sport’s figures.

From race to race the ratio fluctuates from between four and nine times higher for BT Sport compared with BBC in 2013, but the difference is still alarming. I haven’t mentioned British Eurosport where MotoGP is concerned as their figures are not readily available, however it would result in approximately an extra 100k being added to 2013’s figures, making the ratio wider. I still maintain that Dorna’s choice to have ITV4 on-board was an eleventh hour deal, after all, why would BT Sport and MotoGP have the word ‘exclusive’ in a press release just a few weeks earlier? In my view, the ITV deal was the saving grace, something that the masses would still be able to access, and are doing with up to half a million viewers watching the Monday night highlight shows. It doesn’t fully bridge the gap left by BBC’s absence, but it closes the gap.

It is worth noting that all the numbers exclude those who watched via BT Sport’s and Eurosport’s respective apps and, for the 2013 MotoGP comparison above, exclude those who watched on BBC iPlayer. There are several comparisons that can be made, for complete clarity, all the potential comparisons are below so blog readers can make up their own minds.

From 09:30 to 14:15, the 24 Hours of Le Mans averaged higher than BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage. In that time period, 93k (1.2%) were watching British Eurosport and 89k (1.2%) were watching BT Sport 2. Of course, that figure includes Moto2 and Moto3. If you take the MotoGP portion, as defined by BT from 12:45 to 14:15, then the averages for Eurosport and BT are 95k (1.2%) and 143k (1.8%) respectively. The peak figures, as noted above, for Le Mans was 148k (2.0%) and 196k (2.4%) for the MotoGP on BT.

Either way, the gap between the two races was close, perhaps closer than what BT Sport would have liked.


4 thoughts on “MotoGP and Le Mans close in UK ratings battle

  1. Maybe not totally on topic, but Eurosport really took the wee wee with ad breaks during Le Mans. Regularly had ad breaks around 10mins apart in the first 6 hours or so, and once it came to the final 90mins or so it was ad breaks quite literally every 5 to 10 minutes, which is completely horrific. Thank god for Radio Le Mans.

    Unfortunately, Eurosport know they’re the only UK channel showing the race live, so they know they can do that and get away with it because people can’t change channel. Ok there was an ad free option via Eurosport player, but I have no doubt I wasn’t the only person not prepared to pay around £5 for a few days of racing (inc practice and qualifying).

    Oh and I really wish Le Mans would have cameras set up and staffed for ALL sessions at ALL times. It’s no good having just a handful of cameras set up (let alone staffed) for practice and quali, and I just can’t accept having around 6-8 hours or so of nothing but onboards, static cameras and CCTV footage. Nobody saw the #7 Toyota with it’s problems and retirement, and that’s just not acceptable. Shouldn’t be that difficult to have a staff swap to ensure all 24 hours are covered properly. No excuse for it in my view, none at all.

    1. True but when you consider that overnight coverage of le mans used to be a static shot of the mulsane straight for 6 hours or so untill well into the 90s its a million times better than it used to be

  2. I watched le mans on and off over the weekend and really enjoyed it. You really do get a sense of achievement when the race is over just to finish.

    I think this what F1 has lost in recent years . It use to be a really big deal to score a point when points went down to sixth place . Also the bullet proof reliability of the cars has also stole the prospect away of not finishing.

    Le mans also has advantage of having massive field of cars. when i first started watching f1 they had 32 car and have to have pre qualifying and even after that only 24 was allowed to start. Now they struggling to get 20cars on the grid. The big teams need to realize they cant steal all the money from small teams because they will be racing against no one and people just wont watch a grid of 14 cars

  3. I watched most of the race on and despite their minuscule budget the coverage was fantastic. There were commercial brakes for the sponsor Rolex but amazingly only once an hour and 5 seconds long.
    However the best thing for me was the technical features explaining how the various systems worked in the cars – clearly showing the beebs folly of dropping Gary Anderson from their F1 coverage.
    Of particular interest was the regenerative system in the Hybrid cars. Whilst some may not have liked the lengthy in-car shots, to be in the Audi blasting passed everything in site was awesome.

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