3.9m watch inaugural Russian Grand Prix

The Russian Grand Prix performed solidly in the UK viewing figures yesterday, unofficial overnight figures show.

BBC One’s coverage of the race from 11:00 to 14:15 averaged 3.22m (31.3%), peaking with 4.56m (38.1%) at 13:30. Sky Sports F1 added an average of 665k (6.5%) from 11:00 to 14:30, peaking with 985k (8.2%). Obviously there are no historical comparisons, however the combined average of 3.89m is directly in-line with the season average so far, so its not a great rating, but it is not a poor rating either.

The combined peak figure of 5.55m (46.3%) at 13:30 is split 82% vs 18% in BBC’s favour, which is similar to the peak splits in the past, suggesting that there has been no real movement between the two channels in the past two years. As an aside, that peak figure is pretty impressive, which might indicate that some of the more casual audience was caught out by the earlier start time. Considering the race quality was pretty bad, it did well to hold a stable audience throughout, I suspect Lewis Hamilton leading had a lot to play in that. As there was a lot of motor sport yesterday, there will be another post soon summarising the remaining motor sport numbers from BTCC to MotoGP.

Live coverage of qualifying on BBC One averaged 2.10m (25.5%) from 11:15 to 13:30, whilst Sky Sports F1’s coverage from 11:20 to 13:35 averaged 442k (5.3%). The combined average of 2.54m is just above average, so a solid rating there. The most interesting story from Saturday though was not the qualifying rating itself, but rather how well the GP3 Series did sandwiched between practice and qualifying.

On Saturday, Sky Sports F1 stayed above 100k from 08:45 to 13:35, this including F1’s practice three and qualifying. I thought Sky did a clever move here, wrapping the qualifying build-up around GP3. The GP3 race from 10:35 to 11:20 averaged 161k (2.4%), which is an excellent number and Sky’s highest ever for a GP2 or GP3 race. GP2 after qualifying averaged 53k (0.6%), showing how much either GP2 or GP3 would benefit from a permanent slot in between F1 practice and qualifying on Saturday’s. Yes, Sky may ‘lose’ twenty minutes of F1 build-up, but how else are the likes of Jolyon Palmer going to introduce themselves to an F1 audience? If ‘the powers that be’ are reading, maybe Russia’s Saturday scheduling could become permanent for 2015…


ITV not showing Formula E qualifying live for foreseeable future

ITV will not be showing qualifying for the new Formula E Championship live for the foreseeable future, the broadcaster has confirmed to this blog.

A spokesman for the broadcaster said “We won’t be showing Formula E qualifying live for scheduling reasons. However, we will include more comprehensive highlights of qualifying in the live broadcast from race two onwards.”

The opening race of the season from Beijing was watched by a peak audience of 713k across both live and highlights.

Motors TV expands free-to-air reach from today

Good news for Motors TV fans here in the UK, from today, the channel will be expanding its free-to-air reach! The channel joined Freeview earlier this year, however that was via connected TV.

From 11:00 today, Motors TV will be available via Freeview HD and YouView channel 71, beginning with coverage of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Bathurst 1000 this weekend. It should be noted that whilst the channel will remain on air 24/7 during the weekends, hours will be restricted during the week, the press release notes that this change will happen “at a later date”.

Frederic Viger, Motors TV’s Head of Programming and Acquisitions, said: “The Arqiva Connect TV trial proved there are far more motorsport viewers out there than were originally watching on our other platforms. From the start we saw it as a stepping stone and the fantastic response has given us the confidence to continue expanding. Plus, many more potential viewers have also been very vocal on social media about wanting to receive the channel via Freeview HD and YouView. Well, this is the result!

“For the first time ever terrestrial TV viewers can watch the widest range of live motorsport coverage in the UK, as well as world championships, international and national series, and the sort of grassroots categories that are already enjoyed by thousands of fans across the country. I should also add that we couldn’t have picked a better weekend to expand our potential audience as we’ll be showing V8 Supercars’ showpiece event – the Bathurst 1000 – live in its entirety. I know that will go down very well indeed!”, Viger added.

FOM’s stance on the Bianchi accident

Amateur footage of Jules Bianchi’s crash from the Japanese Grand Prix has made its way onto YouTube. I’m not going to link to the video, but there are two things I think are worth me saying briefly. At this point, I’m assuming Formula One Management (FOM) captured the footage from several angles. There would be exterior camera angles as well as on-board shots from both Bianchi’s and Adrian Sutil’s cars. The amateur footage clearly shows at least one FOM cameraman who captured the accident from close up.

Having watched the amateur footage, FOM made completely the right decision in choosing to exclude the footage from the relevant cameras in their live broadcast. This really is not a debate for me. If the amateur footage looks horrifying, then I dread to think what the footage from FOM shows. I really do. Same applies for any on-board footage that may, or may not, exist.

In my opinion, I don’t think the official footage will ever be released, regardless of the outcome. The only thing which may be released, for Season Review purposes, is the footage from the first Degner Curve. Presumably that camera angle hides a lot of the accident, but apart from that, I don’t see FOM choosing to release any other footage. And rightly so.

Forza Jules.

2014 Japanese Grand Prix UK ratings report

BBC One’s live coverage from 06:00 to 09:15 averaged 1.74m (37.1%), up on last year’s 1.30m (30.5%) Sky Sports F1 averaged 494k (10.0%) from 06:00 to 09:30, up on last year’s 370k. BBC One’s repeat from 13:15 to 15:15 averaged 2.24m (21.3%), up on last year’s 1.92m (15.3%).

The BBC live programme peaked with 2.84m (33.6%) at 09:05, with Sky’s live coverage peaking with 776k (9.5%) at 08:50. 3.55m (42.0%) were watching BBC One and Sky Sports F1 at 09:05. BBC’s highlights peaked with 2.80m (25.1%) at 14:55.

Year-on-year, the combined number of 4.48m is up significantly on 3.58m in 2013 and is the most watched Japanese Grand Prix since at least 2006, and probably the last decade and a half. Same applies for the combined peak of 6.35m, which is the second highest peak of the entire year. Given the circumstances, those facts are not worth boasting about though, really.

The 2013 Japanese Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.