Canadian Grand Prix dips below two million viewers

The Canadian Grand Prix averaged under two million viewers in the United Kingdom this past Sunday, overnight viewing figures show.

Live coverage of the race, simulcast across Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports 2, averaged 962k (5.2%) from 18:00 to 21:30, representing Sky’s highest audience of the season. The audience was split 704k (3.8%) versus 259k (1.4%) across the two channels. The combined audience is up on last year’s average audience of 853k (4.0%). Sky simulcast last year’s programme across the dedicated F1 channel and Sky Sports 1, so the year-on-year comparison is like for like.

Sky’s coverage peaked with 1.47m (7.0%) at 20:30, representing a slight increase on the peak audience in 2016 of 1.41m (6.3%). It is Sky’s highest average audience for the Montreal round of the championship since they started covering the sport in 2012, so they should be relatively happy with audience numbers (although the peak is down 300k on 2012).

Channel 4 aired their highlights from 22:30 to 00:35, to an average audience of just 970k (11.6%), down 25.3 percent on 2016’s average of 1.30m (15.3%), which aired in a slightly later slot. Yesterday’s scheduling was poor, with a 15-minute filler repeat of Gogglebox preceding the highlights and averaging just 549k (3.3%). It is Channel 4’s second lowest highlights audience yet, only ahead of last years’ United States Grand Prix.

Channel 4’s peak audience was lower than Sky’s, hitting a high of 1.33m, down around 387k year-on-year. The numbers recorded by the free-to-air broadcaster are poor, one of the many reasons why races such as Canada, USA and Mexico should air live on free-to-air television to reach the highest possible audience – not just in the UK but all over Europe. F1 going out in the graveyard slot does not do the sport any good in the long-term.

The combined audience of 1.93 million viewers is down on last year’s audience of 2.15 million viewers; with the combined peak audience of 2.80 million viewers representing a similar drop year-on-year, down from 3.13 million viewers. Both represent record lows for Canada.

The pattern for qualifying was identical to that described above: Sky Sports increasing, Channel 4 decreasing, although on this occasion Channel 4 aired their highlights programme later than in 2016.

Live coverage of qualifying on Sky Sports F1 averaged 342k (2.2%) from 17:00 to 19:40, an increase on last year’s average audience of 285k (1.8%). The competition year-on-year was broadly similar with tough international football action in both years. Last year saw the opening weekend of Euro 2016, whilst qualifying this year clashed with England vs Scotland.

A later time slot affected highlights on Channel 4. Airing from 22:30 to 23:55, their highlights averaged 879k (7.6%), a drop on last year’s audience of 1.22m (8.0%) which aired half an hour earlier.

The combined average audience of 1.22 million viewers is down 19 percent on last year’s audience of 1.51 million viewers.

The 2016 Canadian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.


5 thoughts on “Canadian Grand Prix dips below two million viewers

  1. I am not surprised at the low viewing figures. There are reasons for this.
    1) It was live on pay tv only.
    2) The best value deal for watching via Nowtv, has instead of offering a tailored 3 day pass for F1, been compulsorily linked with an entertainment pass, which auto renews. This stopped me watching on Nowtv. I do not want to be put in a position where I am forced to accept a supposed free gift but must cancel it, else be liable to pay for something I did not ask for or want.
    3) The Channel 4 highlights were on too ate for me, during my falling asleep zone. I did set my PVR to record it but it is like me old and does not suffer fools not checking that the recording is not in conflict with any others, thus it did not record. Channel 4 used to repeat the programme on the following day but no longer it seems.
    4) I therefore for the first time, came to rely entirely upon the online GP+ magazine for all details of the event. Normally I skim through this, and my main attention is on the the other many excellent features in the mag, which I recommend.

  2. Shame we can’t get figures from Now TV because I wonder what the number is like to add these viewers

    1. I’m very confident NOW TV numbers would show that F1 still has a viewership of at least 5 million.

    2. What would be good (but completely impossible!) is the amount of UK viewers watching livestreams of it too to show the ‘proper’ number of F1 viewers in the country.

      1. I think the new FOM media folks would be very enlightened to find out how many serious F1 fans either can’t afford or refuse to pay the Murdoch media empire, for access to Sky coverage via official channels in the UK.

        If Sky F1 channel provided content worth their exorbitant monthly charges, I know many F1 fans who would be prepared to pay to view their content.

        Instead, UK Sky F1 has progressively reduced the quality and content of output on that “dedicated” channel. They’ve reduced their complementary programming, accompanying the race weekend coverage, to virtually zero in the last two seasons. They’ve not even been particularly generous in sharing repeats of programming from their archives.

        FOM should introduce competition into the UK market, to force providers to up their game!

        My understanding is that just like the BBC before them, Whisper on C4 actually provide live coverage to foreign broadcasters – even when C4 itself is only showing highlights.

        If there were options for consumers who want to watch every Free Practice session plus full live qualifying and races at every race weekend – Sky would be forced to relent from their current price gouging, and consumers might be able to legally obtain a good service for a fair price.

        Until then, I hope everyone in the UK continues to use the “alternative” means of following F1, whether live or via the easily accessible on-demand streaming platforms.

        It’s a sorry state of affairs when choosing how you watch F1 becomes entwined with politics. However as long as FOM allow Sky exclusive access to all live UK coverage of race weekends, and Sky continues to charge top whack for less than perfect coverage – fans will utilise modern technology to access whatever they want to watch, without paying anyone!

        I think those most poorly served by the current system, are the companies paying to sponsor F1 teams and races. They deserve more opportunities to legally put eyes on their promotional materials. I guess in respect of all the folks watching via non-traditional methods, at least these sponsors get the same exposure regardless of how fans access coverage.

        I suspect Liberty already have medium and long term strategies to address these issues. Conventional TV broadcast will soon become an outdated platform. I hope Liberty have a coherent strategy to offer granular coverage that each fan can tailor to their own circumstances, for each race weekend.

        I really hope they are able to offer fans direct access to the detailed data currently only shared with broadcasters. I’d be happy to pay for access to multi screen offerings, with multiple choices and an abundance of data available for second, third and fourth screen viewing experiences. I just hope it’s not Sky who pioneer this approach, since their record of adapting their service to changing models of media consumption is a sorry mixture of naïveté and paucity – punctuated with their trademark mediocrity!

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