A peak audience of three million viewers watched Lewis Hamilton continue his Formula 1 winning streak during last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, overnight viewing figures show.
As referenced in previous articles, overnight audience figures are known as ‘live and VOSDAL (video on same day as live)’, meaning that the figures account for anyone who watched the race before 02:00 the next morning. Figures exclude those who watched via on demand platforms such as All 4 and Sky Go.
Channel 4’s live airing of the race from 05:00 to 08:35, covering the build-up and the race itself, averaged 617k (21.8%), peaking with 1.13m (26.2%). This is the first time Channel 4 have aired Japan live, meaning that the comparison is with BBC One’s coverage in 2015. Their average audience decreased by 33.3 percent, with the peak audience by 26.8 percent.
Of note, Channel 4’s build-up to the race struggled badly relatively speaking, averaging 163k (13.1%) from 05:00 to 06:00, compared with 432k (41.7%) for the equivalent BBC One slot in 2015, a consequence of Channel 4 opting to split their race day programme into three sections, which is larger than usual here.
Live coverage also aired across three of Sky’s outlets to a combined weighted audience of 412k (14.4%), an increase of nearly 150,000 viewers compared with their 2015 average across two channels of 276k (10.9%). Sky’s coverage peaked with 725k (15.9%) at 07:40 across Sky Sports F1, Main Event and Sky 1.
The dedicated F1 channel brought in 337k (12.0%) from 05:00 to 08:30, with Main Event adding a further 81k (2.5%), joining Sky Sports F1 on-air from 06:05. An audience of 21k (0.8%) watched Sky 1’s simulcast from 05:30 to 08:30.
A combined peak audience of 1.84m (40.4%) watched Channel 4 and Sky’s live airings as Hamilton won the Grand Prix, this figure including those that watched the live broadcast later in the day. At the time of the split, the audience was split 61:39 in Channel 4’s favour. In comparison, the live airing in 2015 across BBC and Sky peaked with 2.00m (48.8%), a decrease of 9.1 percent.
In an early afternoon time slot, 874k (10.7%) watched Channel 4’s highlights programme from 12:30 to 15:15, a decrease of 39.5 percent on the BBC’s highlights programme from 2015. Channel 4’s show peaked with 1.17m (13.4%) at 14:40.
Whilst Channel 4’s figures are not great compared to previous Japanese races, compared to their own slot averages, the live F1 broadcasts will have brought in four or five times their usual breakfast audience, so one may consider the figures a success based on those metrics.
The combined average audience of 1.90 million viewers is the lowest for Japan on record, and considerably down on last year’s average audience of 2.42 million viewers, and back in-line with 2016’s average of 1.97 million viewers. It is the lowest average audience since France, which averaged 1.60 million viewers.
Across both live and highlights, the Suzuka round peaked with 3.01 million viewers, a decrease on last year’s figure of 3.28 million viewers, but a comfortable increase on the 2016 peak audience of 2.79 million viewers, when the race aired exclusively live on Sky Sports.
Like the race, coverage of qualifying aired live across Channel 4 and three of Sky’s television outlets.
Channel 4’s live broadcast of qualifying averaged 439k (16.9%) from 06:00 to 08:35, with Sky’s coverage averaging 237k (8.6%) across a slightly shorter time slot. 199k (7.2%) watched their programme on Sky Sports F1, whilst both the Main Event and Sky One simulcasts averaged an identical 19k (0.7%).
Across both channels, a peak audience of 1.25m (25.8%) watched the live qualifying broadcast, the audience split 844k (17.5%) versus 403k (8.3%) in Channel 4’s favour as Hamilton grabbed pole.
Later in the morning, highlights on Channel 4 brought in 442k (7.0%) from 10:30 to 12:35, peaking with 655k (10.0%) at 11:55.
Compared to previous years, qualifying struggled, with a combined average audience of 1.12 million viewers, the lowest average for Japan in 2007. The combined peak audience of 1.90 million is down on last year’s peak figure, but an increase on the 2016 peak audience of 1.84 million viewers.
The 2017 Japanese Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.