Austrian Grand Prix viewing figures tumble year-on-year

Just two weeks after a season high, the Austrian Grand Prix struggled to attract viewers compared with last year’s running, overnight viewing figures show.

Sky Sports’ exclusive live coverage of the race aired to an audience of 588k (7.2%) from 12:00 to 15:30. This is a poor number, lower than Monaco and Baku despite both events being non-exclusive. Sky Sports F1’s programme averaged just 390k (4.8%), with 197k (2.4%) watching the simulcast on Sky Sports 1.

Sky’s coverage dropped on a third compared to their 2016 average of 866k (9.9%). The total television audience was down slightly yesterday year-on-year, but the audience share from 2014 to 2016 has always been around 9 percent, so yesterday represents a drop of 2 percentage points.

Highlights on Channel 4 were not immune to the audience drop. Their programme, which aired from 17:45 to 20:00, averaged 1.75m (11.7%), a drop of half a million viewers compared with 2016. The figures are worrying considering that this is the stage of the season where momentum should be building before the Summer break.

The combined average audience of 2.33 million viewers is down 26 percent on last year’s combined audience of 3.15 million viewers. It is the first time the Spielberg round has dropped below three million viewers since its return to the calendar.

Live coverage of qualifying across Sky Sports 1 and F1 was also down year-on-year in both audience and share. Coverage from 12:00 to 14:30 averaged 298k (4.8%), down on last year’s figure of 422k (5.3%).

Channel 4’s highlights programme, which aired from 17:30 to 19:00, averaged 1.09m (9.2%), down on last year’s audience of 1.32m (9.2%), but level in share. The combined average audience of 1.38 million viewers is down 21 percent on last year’s combined audience of 1.74 million viewers.

From a ratings perspective, this was not a good news weekend for Formula 1, more disappointing coming off the controversy from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Of course, weather does play a factor, but to record lower audience shares year-on-year is not good news for either broadcaster. Earlier in the season, we had one or two occasions where the audience went down, but the audience share went up, whereas in Austria both metrics decreased.

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


7 thoughts on “Austrian Grand Prix viewing figures tumble year-on-year

    1. And your solution is what? FTA?
      The BBC dumped it twice within a few years, ITV dipped out a year early, C4 have lost roughly 35% of FTA viewers.
      Quest is FTA, put it on there and see how many would watch.

      I think F1 has a lot of casual viewers compared to most sports, they dip in and out if it looks exciting/boring.
      The other thing is that Sky competes against itself, so what isn’t mentioned above is the effect of the Test Match and the Women’s ODI, nor is Now TV included.

      I’ve never seen anything about Premier League viewing figures, sponsorship etc. but pay TV doesn’t seem to be a problem for them.

      F1 Teams, and drivers, talk a good story about fans blah blah blah, but the first thing some teams do is apply a filter to the steering wheel display to hide it from the onboard shots.

      I don’t understand Liberty Media’s thinking about making the F1 weekend a longer event, that only benefits those attending. People forget what Liberty Media’s core business is, what they paid for F1, and the fact that Chase Carey is on the Board at Sky.

      Here’s a simple question – assume Sky dumped F1 now so C4 were the sole provider in the UK. The new viewing figures for C4 would still be abysmal compared to the BBC, and let’s be honest the BBC weren’t exactly great at covering it.
      So just saying FTA is nonsense.

  1. I used to be a hardcore fan… for many years, but since they have stopped showing gap times during the race and now they don’t ahow times for much of qualifying, it has become boring to watch. If the camera isn’t following the battle you’re interested in, without the gap times, one has no idea whether their favorite driver is closing the gap or trailing off.

    Of course Liberty did this to sell their crappy app, but that app is useless if you don’t watch the event live… and most events are not convient to watch in real time in the US.

    It is a shame. I love F1, but they keep doing everything they can to push away fans. First the crappy new engines, then messing with points, then messing with the start and now taking away timing info. They finally lost me.

  2. I paid for Now TV (I use the Apple TV App) £10.99 for the weekend as I usually do but when I got interrupted I realised I couldn’t pause the race. So I paid £10.99 for a 720p stream that I couldn’t pause with no on demand catchup… off. I went to Sky’s website and priced up a package to get Sky Sports F1 with 1TB Sky Q box with HD sports pack and it was £80 per month! Tried to negotiate with them and got 25% off but its still too expensive.

    So I watched the C4 highlights and it was good and better quality than Now TV. Bottom line I dont think its worth paying for Now TV for a lower quality stream you cant pause with no on demand option. Sky is too expensive and I couldn’t justify paying that much per month considering the value I get from VOD services such as Netflix at only £7.49 per month.

    Ive been watching F1 since 1997 but after free to air stops in the UK ill only be watching the 5-10 min highlights on Youtube and focus my interest more on Formula E which I also enjoy watching, can see practice and qualifying on Youtube for free and can pause it and enjoy on Channel 5 for free. A much better deal and sometimes more entertaining than F1.

    Im prepared to ride out the 5 years of the Sky deal as I think pay TV deals in other countries have marginalised the sports interest and dropped the viewing figures and hopefully Liberty Media will realise that free to air coverage is the best place for F1 or maybe an F1 app on the Apple TV (and other devices) where you could subscribe for less or pay per view a small fee for a full race replay. Id probably go for that.

  3. The Sky deal is still going ahead in 2019-2024. To be honest the Grand Prix wasn’t great at all. I’m happy if they is 5-10 min highlights on YouTube. Does anyone see C4 promote their highlights of races that don’t show live?

  4. It seems to me Sliverstone bowing out in 2018 and the FTA coverage of highlights also finishing the same year will make for a nice and tidy break for the long suffering British fans.
    (It’s been reported on this blog that the highlights will only be available on the SKY platform.)

    Of course we have no right expect F1 for free but neither do Liberty have the right to expect us to doggedly follow the sport despite how difficult or expensive they make it. Everyone in the UK is going to have a lot more to worry about in 2019 anyway…..

  5. So with Silverstone gone they’ll be NO Grand Prix lives at all for free-to-air viewers in 2019. That will be it for me at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Goodbye free-to-air F1
    RIP 1978-2018

Leave a Reply to Mack Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.