Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Singapore Grand Prix struggled compared with his victory in 2017, overnight viewing figures in the UK show, in what was a poor weekend for Formula 1 overall.
Like last year, both Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4 aired the Grand Prix live over the weekend. However, Sky opted not to simulcast their coverage on Sky Sports Mix, whereas last year the race also aired on Mix.
Channel 4’s coverage, encompassing both the build-up and the race itself, averaged 2.04m (22.1%) from 12:00 to 15:35, their lowest live audience since the Austrian Grand Prix in July. Last year’s programme averaged 2.29m (22.1%) across a slightly shorter time slot.
Meanwhile, live coverage of the race on Sky Sports F1 averaged 661k (7.0%) from 12:00 to 15:30, down on last year’s average across F1 and Mix of 723k (7.0%) across a longer time slot to account for heavy rain during the race. It is Sky’s lowest number for Singapore since 2012, which averaged 566k (4.2%) when the race also aired live on BBC One.
The viewing shares year-on-year are solid, but the raw total audience dipped, showing that there were fewer viewers yesterday compared with 2017. However, analysis of audience figures conducted by this site suggests that some viewers were unaware that the race started earlier than expected, which might explain the total audience differential.
In previous years, Singapore started at the same time as all European races, at 13:00 UK time. Before the 2018 season started, Liberty Media opted to move all races by 10 minutes (so they start at ten past the hour), and move most European rounds one-hour later. There are several exceptions, and one of them is Singapore.
If you live in the UK and want to watch a European-based race live (which Singapore for all intents and purposes is), you assume the race starts at 14:10 UK time. Bad news: Singapore’s formation lap started at 13:10…
Yesterday’s race started with 3.39m (36.9%) at 14:15, a decrease of 527,000 viewers on last year’s opening act of 3.91m (38.5%) at 13:05. Year-on-year, the first 45 minutes of the Grand Prix averaged 3.46m (36.3%), compared with 3.78m (36.7%) last year.
At 14:15, which is when European races have started this season, the audience climbed to 3.66m (37.2%), reaching 3.73m (38.0%) ten minutes later before dipping back off to 3.5 million viewers.
An audience of 3.75m (35.8%) watched Hamilton claim victory at 15:00, with a split of 75:25 between Channel 4 and Sky. At that time, Channel 4’s coverage attracted 2.81m (26.8%), with 944k (9.0%) watching on Sky, although Sky’s own coverage peaked with 991k (10.4%) at 13:25. For both broadcasters, it is their lowest peak audience since Austria.
The combined average audience of 2.70 million viewers is down 10.2 percent on last year’s average of 3.01 million viewers, going against the grain of the past few races. The average however is up on the 2016 figure of 2.38 million viewers.
Compared with 2017, the trajectory looks even worse when accounting for the Premier League opposition on Sky. This year’s race clashed with Wolves versus Burnley, neither big audience draws, whereas last year’s encounter faced Chelsea versus Arsenal.
The peak audience dropped 5 percent year-on-year: 3.75 million last Sunday compared with 3.97 million viewers last year. Again, all metrics are the lowest since Austria. Time will tell if this is the beginning of viewer fatigue for F1 this season as Hamilton stretches his legs at the head of the field.
It is possible that some viewers were unaware that the race started one-hour earlier than other European rounds, hence the low audience at the start of the race. Arguably, the viewing figures for Singapore are the first concrete evidence all season of the new start times negatively impacting audience figures, somewhat ironic given that Singapore’s start time has changed very little year-on-year.
Qualifying and BTCC
Live coverage of qualifying suffered on Saturday, drawing a combined average audience of 1.29 million viewers, down on last year’s audience of 1.45 million viewers.
Channel 4’s programme averaged 1.00m (13.3%) from 12:55 to 15:45, a decrease of 158,000 viewers on last year’s audience of 1.16m (13.8%). An audience of 292k (3.8%) watched Sky’s show from 13:00 to 15:40, in-line with last year’s figure of 294k (3.5%).
The session peaked with 2.06m (25.8%) at 14:55, compared with 2.20m (24.8%) last year. At its peak, 1.54m (19.3%) were watching Channel 4’s show at 14:50, a drop of 195,000 viewers year-on-year. Sky’s programme fared better, peaking with 542k (6.8%), an increase of 73,000 viewers and 1.5 percentage share points year-on-year.
Elsewhere on Sunday, live coverage of the penultimate British Touring Car Championship race day of 2018 on ITV4 averaged 144k (1.5%) from 11:15 to 18:30. The audience ebbed and flowed throughout the day before and after the F1 race.
The first race from Silverstone, won by Sam Tordoff, peaked with 234k (3.2%) at 12:35. During the F1, BTCC’s audience dropped to a low of 40k (0.4%), but rebounded to 144k (1.5%) as the second BTCC race started.
Aiden Moffat’s victory in the third and final race was comfortably the most watched BTCC race of the day, averaging 313k (2.5%) from 17:25 to 17:55, peaking with 344k (2.8%) as the race started.
The 2017 Singapore Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.