The dramatic Belgian Grand Prix performed solidly despite a slight drop year-on-year, overnight viewing figures show.
Live coverage of the race, broadcast on Channel 4 from 12:00 to 15:55, averaged 1.98m (21.2%), in-line with their other live race day broadcasts this season. Channel 4’s coverage peaked with 3.01m (29.4%) at 14:45 as Nico Rosberg won the race.
Compared with the BBC from last year, Channel 4’s figures stand up very well. BBC One’s Belgian Grand Prix coverage in 2015 averaged 2.44m (22.3%), peaking with 3.38m (27.4%). 2016’s figures represent a drop of 18.8 percent (average) and 11.1 percent (peak) year-on-year, by far the smallest decreases of the season so far for the channel. Channel 4 should be pleased with their own numbers.
Sky’s coverage, broadcast across Sky Sports F1 and their new Mix channel, averaged 617k (6.3%) from 12:00 to 15:30. 411k watched on the F1 channel, with a further 205k watching via Mix, a split of 66:34 in Sky Sports F1’s favour. Sky’s peak audience came at 13:50, as 969k (9.3%) watched the on track battle between Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen intensify.
Looking at Sky Sports F1 in isolation, the dedicated channel’s audience dropped by around 60k year-on-year, but when you include Sky Sports Mix, Sky’s total audience increases by 146k (or 31.1 percent). As mentioned during the Summer break, Sky does seem to be performing better in recent races compared with 2015.
The combined audience of 2.60 million viewers is the lowest for Belgium on record. However, Belgium has always rated due to the Bank Holiday effect: the only three years which averaged more than 3.5 million viewers were 2008, 2010 and 2011. The 2016 audience is down 10.7 percent on 2015’s audience of 2.91 million viewers. The combined peak of 3.94m (38.5%), recorded at 14:45, is down 5.1 percent on 2015’s peak audience of 4.15m (33.7%) and only 98k away from 2014’s peak audience of 4.04m (42.7%).
Channel 4’s live coverage of qualifying, which aired from 11:55 to 14:25, averaged 1.08m (13.4%), peaking with 1.41m (16.4%) at 13:55. The average number is a little lower than Britain and Hungary, but nothing out of the ordinary. The peak, however, is the lowest of the season for a live qualifying session on Channel 4.
Over on Sky Sports, their coverage which was simulcast across their dedicated F1 channel and Mix, averaged just 263k (3.3%) from 12:00 to 14:35, peaking with 430k (4.9%) at 13:05. Both metrics are the lowest ever for Sky at Spa. It is unusual to see a qualifying session peak at the start rather than the end, this shows that Lewis Hamilton’s grid drop (and non-participation in qualifying) had a detrimental effect on numbers. The effect is more obvious with Sky as their audience is more dedicated than Channel 4’s.
The combined qualifying audience of 1.34 million viewers is the lowest since the Spanish Grand Prix and the second lowest of 2016 so far. It is also the lowest for Belgium on record. The combined peak audience of 1.82m (20.9%), recorded at 13:10 across Channel 4, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Mix, is the lowest of the season so far.
The 2015 Belgian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.