A dramatic Austrian Grand Prix lifted Formula 1 to its highest audience of the season in the UK, overnight viewing figures show.
Live coverage of the race, won by Lewis Hamilton after a last lap collision with Nico Rosberg, averaged 866k (9.9%) across Sky Sports 1 and F1 from 12:00 to 15:30. The audience was split 617k (7.1%) on the dedicated channel compared with 248k (2.8%) on Sky Sports 1. Combined, this is the highest audience of the season for Sky, surpassing Canada which averaged 853k across an equivalent slot. For a round that takes place in early afternoon, it is Sky’s highest number since the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Channel 4’s highlights programme averaged a further 2.28m (13.6%) from 18:00 to 20:00. It is Channel 4’s highest highlights number of the season, and their second highest average figure overall, only behind their live programme from Bahrain. As expected, their number is down on BBC One’s highlights number from last season of 3.11m (23.1%), but they could take encouragement that numbers are positive in comparison with the season so far.
The combined audience of 3.11 million is the highest for Formula 1 since the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix. Shockingly, it is the highest for a European round since the 2015 Russian Grand Prix. It is sometimes forgotten that the ratings turmoil actually started at the back end of last season, thanks to the championship being wrapped up a few races early. To a degree, Channel 4 have inherited that and are trying to reclaim those viewers.
It was a good weekend all round for Formula 1 as qualifying also posted a solid number. An average audience of 1.32m (9.2%) watched Channel 4’s highlights programme from 17:30 to 19:00. Around an extra 350k watched on Sky Sports 1 and F1, bringing the combined audience to the region of 1.65 million viewers. Considering Baku was nothing to shout about, these numbers are a surprising but welcome bump.
Double headers will help to maintain an audience off the back of a big story, and the British Grand Prix should do better than expected, comparatively speaking, with the season so far.
Formula E numbers will be on the blog on Tuesday or Wednesday. The 2015 Austrian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.