The 2018 Formula One season continued to perform well over the weekend in the UK, overnight viewing figures show.
As a prelude to the analysis below, bear in mind that last year’s race was red-flagged and restarted a short while later, skewing the average audience figures slightly as a result.
Channel 4’s live coverage, covering both the build-up and the race itself, averaged 2.38m (22.7%) from 12:00 to 15:40, an increase on last year’s average audience of 2.26m (21.6%).
Unlike last year, where coverage aired across both Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports 1, Sky’s coverage aired only on their F1 channel, and their audience reflects this fact. Sky’s programme from 12:00 to 15:30 averaged 499k (4.7%), a steep decrease on last year’s combined figure of 730k (7.0%), but a slight increase on 2016’s audience of 465k (4.4%).
The combined average audience of 2.87 million viewers is slightly down on last year’s audience of 2.99 million viewers. Last year’s red flag period meant that the race from start to chequered flag took up a larger proportion of the overall programme (two and a quarter hours), inflating the average. The average is up on 2016’s number of 2.64 million viewers.
Arguably, a race in April should be able to attract a larger audience than in June, but there are other factors to account for, such as the weather and sporting opposition, including football and beyond.
The race started at 13:15 with 3.74m (36.0%), the same starting point as last year’s race. Following the start, the audience hovered around 3.9 million viewers for most of the race. As the two Red Bull’s hit each other, the audience in the UK hit four million, 4.17m (36.9%) to be exact, at 14:30.
A small dip followed during the Safety Car period, but once racing resumed, the race peaked with 4.47m (37.7%) at 14:50 as Lewis Hamilton claimed a surprise victory. At the time of the peak, 3.66m (30.8%) were watching on free-to-air with Channel 4, with a further 812k (6.8%) watching via Sky’s F1 channel, a split of 82:18.
The combined peak audience of 4.47 million viewers is an increase of 159,000 viewers on last year’s 5-minute peak audience of 4.31m (35.4%), and an increase of over half a million viewers compared with 2016’s peak of 3.85m (32.2%).
The peak is higher than all but one peak from last year (USA) and higher than all but three peak figures from 2016 (Britain, Mexico, and Abu Dhabi). Channel 4 can take most of the credit for that given Sky’s year-on-year decreases.
Live coverage of qualifying aired on Channel 4 to an audience of 1.20m (13.1%), with a further 268k (2.8%) watching via Sky Sports F1.
The combined average audience of 1.47 million viewers is down slightly on last year’s audience of 1.59 million. However, the combined peak audience increased by over 200,000 viewers, from 2.21m (25.9%) in 2017 to 2.43m (24.4%) this year.
The 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.