Sky reap the rewards as Channel 4’s highlights struggle in late-night slot

With little to play for, the viewing figures for the Brazilian Grand Prix were on the low side last weekend, overnight numbers show.

Live coverage of the race, broadcast exclusively on Sky Sports F1, averaged 1.00m (7.1%) from 15:00 to 18:30. Sky’s number is in-line with 2014, whilst marginally down on last year’s figure of 1.13m (6.7%) over an extended time slot. On one hand, you could argue that viewing figures should be higher with no competition from Premier League football, but on the other hand, both championships have been finalised, so F1 is lucky that numbers were not significantly lower than that.

Sky’s coverage peaked with 1.60m (9.8%) at 17:30, only slightly down on last year’s peak audience of 1.75m (8.1%). The race was re-markedly stable, remaining between 1.49 million and the 1.60 million viewers between 16:15 and 17:35.

Channel 4’s highlights aired in a later slot compared with last year, and suffered badly as a result. Their programme averaged just 968k (13.0%) from 22:35 to 00:45 on Sunday evening, a decrease of 453,000 viewers on last year’s number of 1.42m (10.6%) and their second lowest rating for a race highlights programme. Channel 4’s coverage peaked with 1.38m (13.1%) at 23:00.

It is the second race in a row where Sky have beaten Channel 4, and the third time this season, all in similar circumstances where Channel 4’s programme have aired in a late-night slot. Channel 4 should overhaul the deficit to Sky in the consolidated audience figures, with viewers watching their programme later in the week.

The combined average of 1.97 million viewers is the second lowest audience of the season, only just ahead of June’s Canadian Grand Prix which averaged 1.93 million viewers. To be below two million viewers for Brazil under any circumstances is pitiful. The likes of Sky Go and Now TV will push the audience up by a few hundred thousand viewers, but it is still a dreadfully low number.

For the fourth time this season, Formula 1 recorded a peak audience of below three million viewers, with a combined peak of 2.98 million viewers, down 19 percent year-on-year. For a race that can easily average above four million viewers in the right circumstances, the figures for Brazil last weekend were comfortably the lowest of the modern era for Interlagos.

Due to its earlier time slot, Channel 4’s qualifying highlights programme unusually performed better than their race day show. Highlights of qualifying averaged 1.14m (5.4%) from 19:30 to 21:00, however it was below Channel 4’s slot average. Their show peaked with 1.49m (7.2%) at 20:20, the peak coming just after BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing concluded.

Live coverage of qualifying on Sky Sports F1 averaged 436k (3.7%) from 15:00 to 17:45, comfortably their largest ever figure for a Brazilian qualifying session. An audience of 743k (5.5%) were watching as Valtteri Bottas claimed pole position.

The combined average audience of 1.58 million viewers is down by around 80,000 viewers year-on-year, and the lowest for Brazil since 2008.

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


5 thoughts on “Sky reap the rewards as Channel 4’s highlights struggle in late-night slot

  1. It proves a point that you have said in a Post before which is Channel 4 could show the Race Higights from approximately 8pm, so they should have forgot about Slot averages and Put the Grand Prix in a 2 hour show, 8 – 10pm. I wonder if the BBC Highlights show in 2015 gained over 3 million viewers in an 8.30 – 10pm slot.

  2. C4 should have broadcast Highlights earlier, its simple, in 2014, the BBC Highlights show pulled in 3.8 million viewers in Primetime, starting at 8.30pm.

    1. Remember though that in 2014 the title hadn’t yet been decided. Guaranteed if the 2017 race was the title decider rather than Mexico, C4 would have given it the primetime highlights slot.

  3. I’m beginning to feel really concerned for the future of F1, especially in the UK. Sky’s lazy, unenthusiastic lackluster presentation combined with terrible regulations and Liberty’s misconception they’re running the Britney Spears fan club all feel like the death knell of Formula 1.

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