Record low audience watch Hamilton win in Canada

A peak audience of just over three million viewers watched Lewis Hamilton win the Canadian Grand Prix as the start of Euro 2016 kicked all competition into touch over the weekend, unofficial UK overnight viewing figures show

Live coverage of the race, broadcast live on Sky Sports 1 and F1 from 18:00 to 21:3o, averaged 853k (4.0%). The split across Sky’s channels was 620k (2.9%) on F1 compared with 234k (1.1%) on Sky Sports 1, 73:27 in the dedicated channel’s favour. The peak audience of 1.41m (6.3%) came at 20:30 as Hamilton claimed victory. It was a similar ratio at the time of peak, albeit skewed slightly towards the casual channel: 68:34 but still in Sky Sports F1’s favour. At the same time over on BBC One, an average audience of 6.31m (29.0%) watched Germany beat Ukraine from 19:35.

In isolation, I think Sky’s figures are pretty good. In 2012, the last time Sky showed Canada exclusively live, the average audience was 945k (4.3%), peaking with 1.77m. That is a drop of between 10 and 20 percent, but when you consider the trend towards other methods of viewing and the comparatively long time period (four years), I don’t think that the figures for Sky are bad. It is not great to lose viewers, but the figures are not shocking. As always, a reminder that viewing figures exclude Sky Go, Now TV and All4.

Highlights of the Montreal round, broadcast on Channel 4 from 22:40 to 00:40, averaged just 1.30m (15.3%), peaking with 1.72m. Both numbers are comfortably the channel’s lowest of the season so far. I appreciate that audiences are lower late at evening, but I was not expecting a drop of that magnitude for the late night highlights programmes. It is extremely rare to see the terrestrial TV and pay TV numbers so close, but yesterday the ratio between Channel 4 and Sky was 60:40 (average) and 55:45 (peak).

The combined audience of 2.15 million viewers is the second lowest of the season so far. The audience that watched yesterday’s race was the lowest as far as records go back for a North American round. Make no mistake about it: yes, the trip to Canada is to serve fans in Canada, but it is also a shop window in European primetime for Formula 1 regardless of whether there is a football competition or not. Miss out on that shop window, and you miss out on a raft of new viewers.

Live coverage of Wales vs Slovakia on BBC One heavily dented Sky Sports F1’s broadcast of qualifying, overnight viewing figures show. Whilst a peak audience of 8.00m (46.1%) were watching BBC One at 18:50, 370k (2.1%) were watching Sky Sports F1. As soon as the Wales game finished, the audience jumped from 370k at 18:50 to 602k (3.5%) at 19:00, peaking with 639k (3.7%) at 19:05 as Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position.

The average audience for Sky’s F1 broadcast from 17:00 to 19:45 averaged a low 285k (1.8%), suffering as a result of the tough competition. Channel 4’s highlights programme at 22:00 averaged 1.22m (8.0%). I’m pleasantly surprised by this number, I was expecting it to be the opposite side of one million. It may well have benefited from channel hoppers following the conclusion of the England game.

The combined audience of 1.51 million viewers is the lowest for Montreal since 2006. Every year from 2008 to 2015 averaged over two million viewers. Year-on-year, the audience has halved, with 3.06 million watching last year.

The 2015 Canadian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.


9 thoughts on “Record low audience watch Hamilton win in Canada

  1. C4 showing highlights SO Late on a Sunday night would have been a massive drop, just have to hope that next weekends live offering will build numbers again. Does C4+1 get added to these ratings? I personally think C4 are doing a fantastic job, just really hope it really does stay for the next few years!

    1. Makes complete sense to do highlights for the races east of the UK, as they can then be shown in the early afternoon. But for races to the west, like Canada and the US, it would be better if C4 bought rights to show the whole race, and so gain larger audiences and up the value of the advertising.

      1. Indeed they do. That’s when the fun will start, and the F1 ratings could really plummet…

  2. I find it interesting that the Channel 4 qualifying figures almost match their race figures. Usually qualifying is a lot lower than the following day’s race.

    Talktalk had a three-month free Sky Sports offer for people who’d been loyal to it long enough. Those who delayed in order to see the start of the F1 season will have their last race of free Sky Sports coverage next race in Baku. By the time the British Grand Prix rolls around, Sky will be down by those viewers… …which admittedly probably aren’t a big contributor to the total figure.

  3. Rather than using Sky who only have an exclusive F1 deal on the satellite 28.2E you can instead watch every Formula 1 race on a satellite dish pointing to 19.2E and watch free practice 1,2,3 qualifying and every race live on RTL Germany for free as it is free to air. So it is more cost effective to either get a second satellite dish installed pointing to 19.2E or get a motorised dish (depending where you live as you need a wide area which is clear of buildings trees etc) rather than paying Sky a massive yearly sum of money for a sports package

    1. From here (SW France) at least, 19.2 and 28.2E are close enough together to receive both using a single dish aimed at around 24E, with a horizontal bar in the LNB mount and an LNB mounted each side. Sound via Radio 5 Live takes care of the commentary, though outside the UK that requires a separate digibox, of course.

  4. my youview series linked candian grand prix highlights on channel 4. I deleted it last night having not watched it. For me sport has to live . part of thrill of watching a gran prix is not know what could happen. Now with internet and modern comms everywhere its just imposible not to know

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