The Formula E season started in Hong Kong last weekend, with the UK television audience peaking with 329,000 viewers, overnight viewing figures show.
Live coverage of both races aired exclusively on Eurosport across the weekend. Race one aired in an extended time slot from 06:45 to 08:45 due to the red flag on lap 1, and averaged 14k (0.40%). Eurosport’s broadcast peaked with 24k (0.72%) as the race restarted at 07:40. It is the lowest audience for a Formula E race that has broadcast live on television, just behind the 20,000 viewers who watched BT Sport Europe’s coverage of the 2016 Mexico City ePrix.
As anticipated, Channel 5’s as-live coverage comfortably outstripped Eurosport’s audience. Their programme, also extended from 09:00 to 11:10, averaged 176k (2.5%). The audience is Channel 5’s second lowest for a Formula E race, only ahead of the second Montreal ePrix race from July which aired live on Spike and in highlights form on Channel 5. The free-to-air broadcaster’s coverage peaked with 207k (3.1%) before the race coverage started.
Viewing figures perked up for Sunday’s action. Eurosport’s coverage of race two aired from 06:45 to 08:10 on Sunday morning, averaging 17k (0.61%). A peak audience of 33k (1.19%) watched their coverage at 07:30 as Daniel Abt headed to victory prior to his post-race disqualification.
Channel 5’s highlights programme aired from 08:55 to 10:40, averaging 228k (3.4%), beating ITV in the time slot. Their coverage dipped before the race started to under 200,000 viewers but encouragingly climbed to a peak of 297k (4.2%), both metrics marginally higher than their live Hong Kong programme last year.
The combined Formula E audiences across the weekend of 190,000 viewers on Saturday and 245,000 viewers on Sunday paints an interesting picture. Sunday’s combined audience is up year-on-year on the 2016 Hong Kong race, which also took place on a Sunday.
There is a fair difference between the Saturday peak of 231,000 viewers and the Sunday figure of 329,000 viewers, suggesting that Sunday’s race may have attracted extra viewers to Channel 5 who were not aware that the Formula E season was starting last weekend.
Saturday’s numbers are poor, but Sunday is a vast improvement. If Channel 5 make the effort for the remainder of the year scheduling wise, with the on-site effort that they showed in Hong Kong, the viewers will hopefully come.
Elsewhere, Sunday afternoon hosted Sky Sports’ and Channel 4’s Formula 1 season reviews. Sky’s show played out at 12:00 and attracted an audience of 12k (0.2%), with 439k (5.4%) tuning into Channel 4’s review an hour later.