Brazilian Grand Prix up year-on-year, but BBC highlights underperforms

The Brazilian Grand Prix recorded a rating that was higher than last year, however, the BBC’s highlights show underperformed when you consider its position in the schedule.

Live coverage of the race show, screened exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, averaged 1.01m (6.4%) from 15:00 to 18:30. The number is marginally higher than the Swansea vs Arsenal Premier League game over on Sky Sports 1. That game averaged 1.00m (6.2%) from 15:30 to 19:00, the difference was approximately three thousand viewers between the two programmes. Thanks to airing the race exclusively live, Sky’s number is double last year’s 499k and up on the 734k recorded in 2012 for the equivalent slot.

BBC’s schedulers made the unusual decision of airing the Grand Prix highlights bang in the middle of primetime, after their juggernaut Strictly Come Dancing. Had yesterday been a title decider for Lewis Hamilton, the decision may well have a paid off. Sadly for them the highlights, airing from 20:30 to 22:00 on BBC One, averaged only 3.26m (13.2%) despite having a lead-in of ten million viewers from Strictly. Had the rating been a BBC Two number, it would have been really good. But considering Antiques Roadshow normally averages five million viewers, I think that number, and in particular the share, has to be considered a disappointment.

In hindsight, that slot probably was not the best for Formula 1. I applaud them for putting Formula 1 in the middle of primetime, but on this occasion, it did not work out. The number is down on all previous years for BBC’s Brazilian Grand Prix coverage, so it is fair to say that the highlights programme failed to bring in casual viewers. The combined figure of 4.27 million is up on 2013, but is the second lowest since at least 2006.

Sky Sports F1’s live coverage of qualifying averaged 382k (2.8%) from 15:00 to 17:45, with BBC Two’s highlights programme bringing in 1.47m (6.7%). The combined average of 1.85 million viewers makes it the lowest number since 2007 for a Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying session. Whether the relatively low numbers are because this was a ‘dud’ race or not, I don’t know.

So, as perhaps expected with double points, the championship race between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi. In 2010, the season finale between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel at Abu Dhabi averaged a whopping 5.78m (41.4%), peaking with 7.36m (50.5%). It remains one of the most watched European based races over the two decades. Can Hamilton versus Rosberg beat that? It will be tough beating that, but time will tell.

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


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