Hungarian Grand Prix dips slightly year-on-year

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.


4 thoughts on “Hungarian Grand Prix dips slightly year-on-year

  1. I still think F1 and SKY will end up regretting this stupid new contract. Especially if F1 goes down the streaming route…

  2. I’m patiently waiting for the official online streaming to become reality. As we know, there’s no sign of it happening yet but it will happen eventually and Sky will be left with very little ! Has already happened when WWE launched their online Network and the same will happen when F1 go down this route !!

  3. Ive been thinking about F1 post 2018 when free to air UK viewing ends. Sky is too pricey even with F1 channel as a standalone add-on. I have to buy the box set package which I dont want or sky multiroom which I dont need to get HD or UHD quality. Now TV doesn’t allow me to pause the race unless I buy their smart box and even then its only for 30 mins max. They wont even offer on demand catchup and scatter the re-runs over the schedule to encourage you to get full Sky so you can record it.

    In our house we mostly watch Video on Demand (VOD) and Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services using an Apple TV and the Freesat box only gets switched on for Formula 1 or Formula E to watch live or record. If F1 isnt on some kind of SVOD or free to air platform for 2019 I wont be watching. I predict that the maximum viewing figures for F1 on Sky wont beat 1 million and will probably drop off to 500,000 or so over the 5 year TV deal. It might even be the case where Formula E beats the F1 ratings if it stays on Channel 5.

    Torrent the races? I could but im not comfortable with it morally and I dont think two wrongs make a right. I legal stream everything else so I couldn’t justify to myself stealing back F1 from those who will steal it from me. Get with the times F1 and follow MotoGP, NBA and WWE’s example and get an app in the Apple TV app store where I can pay per race or a subscription and Ill keep watching as long as the price is not prohibitive.

    If Formula E went to Eurosport in 2019 I would happily pay. Id just download Eurosport app and subscribe for £5.99 a month (I could cancel off season) then either watch live or on demand. This is the kind of viewing model F1 should be implementing.

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