A depleted grid for the Australian Grand Prix meant that off-track talk continued to dominate the agenda, but the 2015 Formula One season began with 3.5 million viewers this past Sunday, unofficial overnight viewing figures show.
From the outset, it is important to note that direct comparisons for Sky are difficult, as the race was held an hour earlier this year. Another issue is that, for Australia at least, Sky have decided to split their live programming on race day into four segments instead of three as in 2014. This blog has always tried to make the fairest comparisons. Going forward, I will continue to use the three and a half hour block from an hour before the race to an hour after the race, irrespective of what Sky do or don’t regarding scheduling. For this piece, I will provide both comparisons in the interest of clarity. As always, figures exclude Sky Go and BBC iPlayer.
Sky Sports F1’s numbers were down year-on-year, unsurprisingly given the change in start time. In 2014, from 05:00 to 08:30, the channel averaged 594k (26.9%), which compares with 517k (29.5%) from 04:00 to 07:30 for this year. The 05:30 to 08:30 slot in 2014 averaged 659k (27.2%) versus 586k (32.9%) from 04:30 to 07:30 for yesterday’s race. So either measurement puts Sky down around 70k year-on-year. I would say that the drop is due to the start time change rather than anything more, although the figures do include anyone who watched the live Sky broadcast later in the day. Having said that, the 2015 average was identical to 2013, which is an impressive feat all considering. Sky’s 2015 coverage peaked with 789k (40.3%) at 06:10, compared to a peak of 945k (21.2%) from 2014. 2013’s coverage peaked with 893k (21.1%). Looking at the breakdown, more people watched Sky’s post-race coverage in comparison with previous years. On one hand that is surprising as the race was uneventful, but there was a British winner so it evens out really.
Over on BBC One, highlights of the race averaged 3.03m (27.7%) from 13:15 to 14:40, which is up on 2.88m (25.4%) from 2014 but marginally down on 3.05m (21.9%) from 2013. There’s an argument about whether you can compare those figures as BBC’s highlights programme was 35 minutes shorter than in previous years. The share is strong, the raw figure, not so much. Yesterday was Mothering Sunday in the UK, which may explain that one. BBC’s coverage peaked with 3.38m (29.7%) at 14:15, up on 2014’s peak figure of 3.15m (26.6%), but down on 2013’s peak of 3.69m (24.5%). It is a mixed bag, but nothing disastrous either way.
The combined total is bang in line with 2013 and 2014, and up on 2012. 2013 averaged 3.57m, whilst 2014 averaged 3.47m. The 2015 Australian Grand Prix slides straight in the middle of those two figures with 3.54m. You can’t read too much into figures, I’d say it is just ‘good’ rather than anything more or less.
Qualifying and Formula E
Live coverage of qualifying averaged 261k (12.7%) on Sky Sports F1, with a further 54k (2.6%) watching on Sky1, and an additional 24k (1.2%) choosing to watch on Sky Sports 1. The three combined means that an average of 339k (16.4%) watched across Sky’s platforms, although both the Sky1 and Sky Sports 1 airings were not promoted. BBC One’s coverage averaged 2.29m (24.5%). The total number of 2.63m is a solid start to the season where qualifying is concerned.
Formula E’s underperformed on ITV4 for round five of its championship from Miami. Live coverage of the race from 19:00 to 21:30 on Saturday averaged 150k (0.7%), peaking with 269k (1.3%) at 20:45. Highlights the following day averaged 71k (0.9%). Both numbers were below the respective slot averages for ITV4. I don’t think Miami was helped by being on the same weekend as the Formula 1 season opener and also by being up against two big Saturday night shows on both BBC One and ITV. Is it concerning yet that the highest audience for the series in the UK is still the inaugural race? I really like Formula E, in fact Miami was better than Melbourne, but for whatever reason, the series is not yet taking off in the UK.
The 2014 Australian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.