The 2015 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans peaked with nearly half a million viewers across British Eurosport and Quest TV, overnight viewing figures reveal.
The race, screened live on British Eurosport from 13:45 on Saturday through to 14:15 on Sunday, averaged 70k (1.1%), which is up on last year and equal with 2013’s average. The 5-minute peak on Eurosport of 172k (2.0%) came at 13:50 on Sunday afternoon, again up on 2014, but down on 2013’s peak audience of 248k. Of course, that is taking Eurosport’s figures in isolation. When you take into account Quest’s numbers, the picture is significantly different.
Quest TV aired four programmes: two live programmes at the start and end of the race respectively, alongside two highlights programmes. The start of the race on Quest, from 13:30 to 15:30 on Saturday, averaged 140k (1.7%). In comparison, Eurosport averaged 131k (1.6%) from 13:45 to 15:30. The combined peak during this time period was a whopping 345k (4.1%) at 15:20, with the audience split 190k (2.3%) on Quest versus 154k (1.8%) on Eurosport.
Unsurprisingly, the highlights programming on Quest rated lower than the live action, with 94k (0.5%) at 21:00 on Saturday and 45k (1.6%) at 07:00 on Saturday, although both numbers were higher than the equivalent timeslot on Eurosport. Quest’s live programme on Sunday from 13:00 to 14:30 averaged 198k (2.3%), their most watched programme of the day. The combined peak audience for the entire race came at 14:00 on Sunday, as 428k (5.0%) watched the #19 Porsche car win outright. At the time of the peak, 258k (3.0%) were watching on Quest, with a further 171k (2.0%) on British Eurosport.
What is interesting about the numbers is that Eurosport never lost any viewers, their audience broadly stayed the same year-on-year. Quest TV’s audience appears to be new, because of the wider reach that the channel has, and presumably filled with viewers who can not access Eurosport. Looking at the breakdowns, Quest’s live programming outperformed the slot average comfortably, suggesting that what they did this year worked. It bodes well for them increasing their coverage in 2016, although I don’t think a complete simulcast of Eurosport’s coverage is viable or feasible. It should be remembered that both Eurosport and Quest TV are owned by Discovery Communications, this is simply two channels with the same owner working together for the greater good. Quest TV provided their own, distinct colour to the coverage with Louise Goodman and Marc Priestley presenting their shows.
Quest TV isn’t the most well known channel, but it shows what can be done. I do think Le Mans could do even better if the UK rights were not restricted by Discovery exclusivity. I can understand why it is done, as it makes the event easier to distribute across Europe, but from a viewing figures perspective, it limits the potential. According to BARB, ITV4 reaches triple the number of Quest TV, and could therefore bring triple the viewers with it. As shown, any change would not be detrimental to Eurosport’s numbers. Nevertheless, looking at 2015, the numbers are superb for Le Mans and hopefully can be built on further if the “Quest formula” is repeated and more importantly enhanced upon.
The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans ratings report can be found here