A peak audience of 713k across live and highlights on ITV4 watched the inaugural Formula E race from Beijing, overnight viewing figures show.
The live airing, from 08:00 to 10:55, averaged 266k (4.0%). The audience grew throughout the build-up, hitting 367k (5.4%) for the race start at 09:10 and then 446k (6.4%) at 09:30. The peak came at 10:00 as Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld collided, with an audience of 477k (6.8%) watching at that point. Later in the day, highlights of the race at 18:00 averaged 161k (1.1%), peaking with 237k (1.7%). The combined number, if you wish to use that measure, is therefore an average of 425k, with a peak of 713k.
If I’m to be honest, the viewing figures are a little lower than what I was hoping for, it would have been nice if a one million peak was breached. However, when you consider that it is the start of a new series, in an unfamiliar slot (motor sport races do not happen on Saturday mornings at 09:00), then the number is solid. If you’re to compare to other motor sport series, Formula E’s figure would fall in line with the current MotoGP numbers, except that the split is different there between live and highlights. The numbers are very slightly ahead of BTCC as well, whenever that series does not clash with the F1.
For anyone wondering, according to BARB, back in 2005, A1 Grand Prix’s series launch averaged 247k on Sky Sports 1 on Sunday 25th September, on a lower profile channel but in a friendlier timeslot of 13:00. Whilst on the subject of ratings, I noticed this yesterday on the official FIA website:
Some 40 million are believed to have watched the race worldwide on television with 75,000 attending on site and one billion social interactions recorded around the race.
Both figures are reach figures. There is no way that an average of 40 million people watched Formula E yesterday. The highest F1 race of the year normally averages between 50 and 80 million worldwide depending on varying circumstances, so to expect Formula E to be slightly below that is frankly codswallop. An average of 10 to 15 million is perhaps more likely. Looking ahead, round two in Malaysia will dip as it clashes with the Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi. But, from round three onwards, numbers should rise as you have five races in a row taking place in a European friendly primetime slot.