The Belgian Grand Prix, won by Lewis Hamilton, drew an identical audience year-on-year, overnight viewing figures show.
Live coverage of the Grand Prix on BBC One, which aired from 12:10 to 15:30, averaged 2.44m (22.5%), peaking with 3.38m (27.5%) at 14:25 as Hamilton won. Last year’s race aired across the same timeslot to an identical audience, albeit a different share: 2.44m (26.4%), with a peak of 3.27m (31.8%) as Daniel Ricciardo won. The trend, the same audience but lower share is repeated over on Sky Sports F1. Their race day show, from 12:00 to 15:30, averaged 470k (4.3%), peaking with 768k (6.2%) at 14:05. Last year’s Sky coverage averaged 475k (5.1%), peaking with 784k (8.3%) at 13:05.
It is not often you get an identical audience year-on-year, let alone an identical channel breakdown. The combined average for 2015 of 2.91m is the same as 2014, and the combined peak of 4.15m is up on the peak of 4.04m. Unfortunately, because the 2015 average is lower than 2014 (2.9065m vs 2.9103m), it does mean that the 2015 Belgium Grand Prix now holds the unwanted statistic of being the lowest rated European round since the 2008 European Grand Prix. That race went up against the Olympic Games closing ceremony from Beijing.
There are multiple reasons though why I don’t think Belgium’s numbers are anything to worry about. Alongside the warm weather, Belgium was up against a lot of sporting opposition. Premier League football on Sky Sports would have taken away a chunk of the audience, and The Ashes cricket no doubt played a factor as well. The biggest opposition though came from Usain Bolt running in the 100m final at the World Athletics Championship in Beijing. Screened live on BBC Two, the athletics hit 3m (24.4%) at 14:15. During the same five minute period, the F1 dropped to 3.12m (25.7%), showing the effect that Bolt had, albeit a very short effect given the length of the 100m race!
Looking ahead, the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks time should bring in a good number. It is a highlights race, and as we saw with 2012, should draw a big number in comparison to previous years.
The 2014 Belgian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.