The Hungarian Grand Prix peaked with nearly 4.2 million viewers on Sunday afternoon in the United Kingdom, overnight viewing figures show.
Live coverage of the race, broadcast on Channel 4 from 12:00 to 15:40, averaged 2.06m (21.0%). Their coverage peaked with 3.01m (26.8%) in the five-minute segment from 14:40 as Lewis Hamilton was victorious.
Channel 4’s audience is down 46.6 percent on BBC One’s audience from 2015 of 3.87m (32.5%), it should be noted that the BBC’s programme was broadcast over a shorter three-hour time slot. Nevertheless, Channel 4’s peak figure is down 39.5 percent on BBC’s peak audience of 4.98m (36.8%) from last year.
Sky’s live coverage, broadcast across Sky Sports 1 and F1, averaged 733k (7.3%) from 12:00 to 15:30. Their coverage peaked with around 1.1m (11%) towards the end of the race. Sky’s combined audience is down marginally on 2015’s audience of 745k (6.3%), although the peak audience is up by 100k.
What is noticeable is how the split across the Sky channels has changed year-on-year. In 2015, the split was 84:16 in Sky Sports F1’s favour. The dedicated channel is still ahead, but the split is closer at 70:30.
The combined audience of 2.80 million viewers is the lowest UK audience for the Hungarian round since 2006. Furthermore, the combined audience is down 39.4 percent on 2015’s audience of 4.61 million viewers. The combined peak of 4.16 million viewers is down 30.4 percent year-on-year.
The extended qualifying session meant Channel 4’s schedule was revised slightly, with Channel 4 Racing pushed back half an hour. Their Formula 1 programme, which aired from 11:55 to 15:00, averaged 1.17m (16.0%), peaking with 1.66m (20.4%) at 14:30.
The horse racing coverage from 15:00 onwards averaged just 451k (5.8%). Clearly the right decision was made to stay with the Formula 1 on Channel 4, briefly demoting the horse racing to More4.
Sky Sports F1’s qualifying programme averaged a further 284k (3.9%) from 12:00 to 15:25, peaking with 492k. Sky Sports 1’s simulcast added 83k (1.1%), that programme peaking with 170k.
Both the combined average of 1.54 million viewers and the combined peak of 2.32 million viewers are the lowest for Hungary since 2008.
A disappointing set of numbers
After a few encouraging race where viewing figures were showing signs of recovery, has the Hungarian Grand Prix set us back into ‘reset mode’? The race traditionally rates well, despite its Summer slot it has the benefits of no sporting competition and the race lasting longer than the usual 90 minutes. So the numbers from Sunday have to be considered disappointing.
Excluding Canada (which had a change of slot), the percentage drops year-on-year had been getting smaller. Slowly but surely there were signs of progress. The percentage drops year-on-year of 30%+ were the largest we have seen this season since China, although last year did rate abnormally high for Hungary. It is not all bad news; the peak audience was above 4 million viewers for the third successive race.
Hungary marked the half way stage of the 2016 season, in the next few weeks there will be full analysis of the ratings picture so far in 2016 and where Formula 1 looks to be heading as 2016 heads towards its conclusion.
The 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.