An average audience of 4.16 million watched Sebastian Vettel win the Malaysian Grand Prix, unofficial overnight viewing figures show.
As with Australia two weeks ago, the change in start time compared with 2014 means that it is difficult to make too many direct comparisons year-on-year. Nevertheless, live coverage on BBC One from 07:00 to 10:30 averaged 2.03m (33.6%), peaking with 3.23m. In comparison, last year the race averaged 2.45m (32.7%) an hour later, from 08:00 to 11:15, peaking with 3.26m. There is a big difference in the average, which I would put down to more viewers flicking on the TV as the race progressed due to the earlier start time than last year.
Sky Sports F1 added 473k (7.7%) from 07:00 to 10:30, peaking with 720k, compared with an average of 574k (7.7%) and a peak of 826k from last year. I don’t think you can read too much into the respective numbers, both BBC’s and Sky’s live showings were down around 17 percent year-on-year. That’s no shock, the race started earlier, meaning that less people were around. Sky’s peak did suffer as well mind, whereas BBC’s peak numbers are almost identical. Any loss in live numbers was made up by BBC in their re-run programme, which averaged 1.66m (14.7%), significantly higher than last year’s 1.07m (12.5%).
What the numbers mean is that 2015’s combined average of 4.16m is up on 2014’s 4.09m, but down on 2013’s “multi 21” controversy. The combined peak of 5.77m is not too far away from 2013’s peak of 6.01m. Overall, the pattern remains the same as Australia: slight, but optimistic gains year-on-year, which should be taken as a positive.
The Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying session delivered exceptional numbers for both BBC and Sky, with increases across the board. A few disclaimers, as this was a very unusual situation – qualifying began at 09:00 UK time, whereas the race began at 08:00 UK time, although due to the clocks going forward, it really felt like 07:00, which is why the live figures look a lot closer between qualifying and the race. Also, the qualifying numbers include the rain delays of varying proportions.
Live coverage of qualifying averaged 1.83m (24.6%), peaking with 2.30m, up on 2014’s 1.41m (24.0%). Sky Sports F1 averaged 395k (5.1%) from 08:00 to 11:00, peaking with 639k. 2014’s live action on Sky averaged around 300k. BBC’s highlights programme averaged a further 1.27m (13.3%). The combined audience is a very impressive 3.49m, which is good, yet bewildering at the same time. I’m not entirely sure why qualifying did as well as it did, Saturday’s session is one of the most watched qualifying sessions in recent history. The combined peak was a whopping 4.38m.
Sebastian Vettel’s emergence for Ferrari on Sunday will only be good news for viewing figures. Yes, a British driver doing well is good for viewing figures, but a good champion needs an equally good challenger. A Vettel versus Hamilton battle this season is good news for the whole of Formula 1. It will be interesting to see how the viewing figures, both here and in Germany, fare going forward.
If you’re looking for MotoGP viewing figures, they will be posted mid-week.
The 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.