The 24 Hours of Le Mans performed solidly against tough competition last weekend, overnight viewing figures show.
The race, screened live on Eurosport from 13:45 on Saturday to 14:15 on Sunday, averaged 60k (0.8%), down on last year’s audience of 70k (1.1%) but up on 2012 and 2014. Taking into account Quest TV’s coverage, the average increases to 73k (0.9%), down on the combined audience of 98k (1.5%) from 2015.
Eurosport’s coverage of Le Mans hit a high of 147k (1.6%) on Sunday afternoon as the race came to a conclusion, compared with a peak audience of 172k (2.0%) last year. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a major difference. Where Eurosport really lost viewers year-on-year was in the early stages of the race.
From 13:45 to 20:00 on Saturday, Eurosport averaged 78k (0.7%), down 25 percent on a figure of 104k (1.0%) across the same slot last year. The safety car in hour one will have contributed to this, alongside the European Grand Prix qualifying session and three Euro 2016 games. Numbers rebounded on Sunday for Eurosport, averaging 87k (1.3%) from 08:00 to 14:15 compared with 85k (1.2%) last year. I think overall Eurosport should be happy with their numbers.
Unfortunately for the overall Discovery family, Quest TV’s numbers are underwhelming with two live segments falling flat against Formula 1. The first programme, also hurt by the safety car start, averaged only 56k (0.6%) on Saturday afternoon compared with 140k (1.7%) last year. The two updates on Saturday evening and Sunday morning were Quest TV’s bright spots, averaging 143k (0.8%) and 73k (1.1%) respectively. Numbers slumped again on Sunday afternoon, with their final programme from 13:00 to 14:30 on Sunday averaging just 33k (0.4%). Quest’s coverage peaked with 191k (1.1%) during their Saturday evening update.
I don’t have an exact figure, but it appears that the combined peak audience was in the region of 275k, recorded on Saturday evening whilst Quest TV’s update aired from 20:00 to 21:00. The combined peak last year was 428k (5.0%), so the peak this year is shy of that mark.
Overall, the viewing figures are not too bad. The combination of Euro 2016 and the European Grand Prix was always going to put a dent in Le Mans numbers. If you look at 2012 and 2014, the phenomenon is repeated: even numbered years rate worse than odd numbered years simply because the former clashes with the bi-annual international football event. So, 2016 was in-line with expectations, if anything perhaps slightly above what was anticipated. I hope Quest TV’s coverage continues in 2017. The pattern that they experienced is unusual, but there are rational factors to explain why their number dropped so much for their last programme on Sunday afternoon.
The 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans ratings report can be found here.