Sebastian Vettel’s victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix peaked with a combined audience of 3.6 million viewers last Sunday (30th July), overnight viewing figures show.
Live coverage of the race, broadcast across Sky Sports F1 and Sky’s new Main Event channel, averaged 698k (8.5%) from 12:00 to 15:30. An audience of 401k (4.9%) watched on the dedicated F1 channel, with a further 297k (3.6%) watching via Main Event. Despite having exclusive live coverage, Sky’s average is down on their shared number from last year. In 2016, their show averaged 733k (7.3%) across Sky Sports 1 and F1.
This is not the first time we have seen this trend has occurred year-on-year for Sky. There is growing evidence to suggest that Sky Sports’ TV viewing figures are not benefiting as much this year from showing Formula 1 exclusively live compared to their shared coverage, which I will investigate further in the mid-season analysis piece coming soon.
Channel 4’s highlights offering, which aired from 17:00 to 19:15, averaged 1.96m (13.8%), their highest highlights audience since Spain. Considering the show aired earlier due to the channel’s Euro 2017 coverage, this is a good number. However, their live coverage last year averaged 2.06m (21.0%), and in the context of Sky’s number sliding, you might have expected Channel 4’s programme to break the two million mark, but it was not to be.
The combined average audience of 2.65 million viewers is slightly down last year’s audience of 2.80 million viewers, the lowest number for the Hungarian round since 2006. A peak audience of 1.08m watched Sky’s coverage, with 2.56m watching Channel 4’s coverage at its peak, bringing together a combined peak audience of 3.64 million viewers.
Whilst the average audience is down 5 percent, the peak audience is down a more severe 12.4 percent year-on-year. The take away from this is that the peak audience drops more when live coverage is not on free-to-air television, as live events are more of a draw to viewers as they reach towards their climax, this of course not the case with highlights programming where the outcome is already known.
Live coverage of qualifying fared well on Saturday, increasing by a healthy margin year-on-year. Live coverage across Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event averaged 406k (5.7%), a rise of around 50,000 viewers compared with 2016. Channel 4’s highlights aired from 18:00 to 19:25, averaging 1.51m (10.5%), a strong number.
Amazingly, the combined audience of 1.92 million viewers is the highest for qualifying since the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix! There is no major explanation for this, to be honest, lack of sporting competition from other channels will have helped though in comparison to previous races this season. The 2017 average audience is an increase of 378,000 viewers compared with last year’s viewing figure of 1.54 million viewers.
The 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.