A peak audience of 3.4 million viewers watched Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas clinch his first Formula 1 victory at the Russian Grand Prix, overnight viewing figures show.
Last year, Channel 4 aired highlights of the race with Sky broadcasting the race exclusively live, meaning that year-on-year comparisons are difficult to make.
Live coverage of the race, which aired on Channel 4 from 12:00 to 15:10, averaged 1.92m (19.7%). Channel 4 split their programming into three sections in television guides and on the EPG.
The pre-race build-up averaged 865k (11.8%) from 12:00, with the race itself bringing in 2.16m (21.5%) from 12:35 to 15:10. An audience of 656k (6.0%) stuck around for Channel 4’s analysis from 15:10 to 16:30.
Channel 4’s coverage peaked with 2.73m (27.6%) at 13:15 as the race restarted following the Safety Car period. Compared with last year, the peak is on the lower end of the scale for live races.
Sky Sports F1’s live coverage averaged 447k (4.5%) from 12:00 to 15:30, peaking with 752k (7.3%) at 13:55. The timing of Sky’s peak coincides with the gap between BT Sport’s Premier League game yesterday (Man Utd vs Swansea) and Sky’s first Premier League match (Everton vs Chelsea).
The combined average audience of 2.37 million viewers is marginally down on last year’s average audience of 2.40 million viewers. The peak audience is unusual, in that the peak audience did not occur at the same point as Sky’s and Channel 4’s own unique peak audiences.
In fact, the combined peak audience of 3.44 million viewers (31.3% share) occurred at 14:30. At the time of the peak, 2.72m (24.8%) were watching on Channel 4 (down 4,000 viewers on their own peak at 13:15) and 713k (6.5%) were watching on Sky Sports F1 (down 39,000 viewers on their own peak at 13:55).
There was a core audience of 3.2 million viewers watching with very little movement throughout the first 75 minutes, the race never once dropping below 3.16 million viewers. The audience breakdown for the respective broadcasters shows off the different audience profiles, Sky driven by other programming in their portfolio, with Channel 4 more general channel hopping. The numbers for the race are solid, but like the event itself, not spectacular.
Live coverage of qualifying across Sky Sports and Channel 4 fared poorly on Saturday afternoon.
Channel 4’s programme, which aired from 11:55 to 14:30, averaged 937k (12.4%). Their broadcast peaked with 1.60m (19.3%) at 13:55 as Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position. It is Channel 4’s second lowest audience ever for a live Formula 1 qualifying broadcast, only ahead of last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix (811k/11.4%).
Sky Sports F1’s broadcast averaged 197k (2.6%) from 12:00 to 14:40, which is one of their lowest qualifying audiences on record. Vettel’s pole position peaked with 371k (4.5%) at 13:55.
The qualifying session was up against other live sporting competition on free-to-air television: snooker on BBC One and horse racing on ITV, however both programmes started at 13:30, so are unlikely to have had a major impact.
The combined audience of 1.13 million viewers is the lowest for a qualifying session since the 2008 European Grand Prix, which was up against the Olympic Games closing ceremony. The combined peak audience of 1.97 million viewers (23.7% share) is marginally up on last year’s peak audience of 1.9 million viewers, last year shown in highlights form on Channel 4.
A larger proportion of Formula 1’s viewership is skipping the pre and post-session festivities, instead choosing to just watch the on-track action. Earlier in the day, an audience of 370k watched the third practice session across Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1 (291k and 79k respectively), peaking with 446k (7.3%) at 10:40.
The 2016 Russian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.