Spanish Grand Prix sheds viewers year-on-year

The Spanish Grand Prix performed poorly across Sky Sports and Channel 4, official consolidated figures from BARB show.

The race faced tough opposition against the conclusion of the Premier League football season, and with the F1 season not yet living up to expectation on track, viewing figures throughout the weekend suffered.

Consolidated audience figures include viewers who watched via the TV set within seven days of broadcast, and exclude commercial breaks. Figures in this article should not be compared to previous overnight ratings posted on this site.

Live coverage of the race itself on Sky Sports F1 averaged 799,000 viewers from 14:05 to 16:20, a decrease on last year’s figure for the equivalent programme of 852,000 viewers.

The remainder of Sky’s programme recorded year-on-year double digit drops. Pit Lane Live from 12:30 to 13:30 averaged 160,000 viewers, compared with 205,000 viewers from twelve months ago.

An hour later, On the Grid averaged 382,000 viewers, a decrease on last year’s figure of 432,000 viewers. Paddock Live rounded off a poor day for Sky on the F1 front, averaging just 97,000 viewers from 16:30 to 17:15.

Sky’s audience drops pale in comparison to Channel 4’s figures later in the evening. The free-to-air highlights package averaged 1.72 million viewers from 19:00 to 21:00, a decrease of 31.4 percent on the 2018 figure of 2.51 million viewers.

On both occasions, Channel 4’s highlights aired in a two-hour time slot, although this year’s offering aired an hour later, and contained less action. Nevertheless, this in totality does not explain the significant year-on-year drop.

Of course, part of the explanation is down to the change of F1 rights that kicked in this year, with less action on free-to-air television. The broadcasting changes are only part of the story: we should not forget that the on-track action has been one-sided.

Based on consolidated figures, the average audience across Channel 4 and Sky decreased year-on-year close to one million viewers. The drop for the peak audience will likely be lower year-on-year, around the half a million viewer ballpark.

Sky’s live coverage of qualifying dropped marginally year-on-year, averaging 425,000 viewers from 13:50 to 15:30, compared with 438,000 viewers for the equivalent time slot last year.

Their build-up averaged 114,000 viewers from 13:00 to 13:50, also a decrease on last year’s figure of 149,000 viewers.

Channel 4’s highlights programme completed the clean sweep of year-on-year drops, averaging 1.25 million viewers compared with 1.52 million viewers twelve months ago.

In the same way that Ferrari domination hurt F1 in the UK in the early 2000’s when the sport aired on ITV, Mercedes domination this year is driving viewers away from Formula 1.

The bad news for all concerned is that alienated F1 fans are not viewing other forms of motor sport. They are leaving the sport altogether.

Over on Eurosport, live coverage of World Superbikes from Imola reached its highest point on Saturday 11th May, when 77,000 viewers watched coverage of race one.

Afterwards, live coverage of Formula E’s Monaco E-Prix averaged 49,000 viewers from 14:30 to 17:00 on the same channel, this figure not accounting for fans watching via other outlets.


5 thoughts on “Spanish Grand Prix sheds viewers year-on-year

  1. “The bad news for all concerned is that alienated F1 fans are not viewing other forms of motor sport. They are leaving the sport altogether.”

    Maybe that’s the case in the UK but out here in the USA viewing figures are UP big time for Indycar.
    NBC has thrown everything they have at it and it seems to be working.
    It’s just a shame that the OTT Indycar Pass is geo-blocked outside the states.
    They could generate a lot more revenue if they offered it out of territory.

  2. It would be interesting to know the corresponding BBC F1 figures for their live F1 audio commentary and live Formula E coverage.
    I guess that BBC figures are complicated by the way their coverage is often spread across a range of platforms as follows:
    – Audio commenttary for all sessions always on the BBC F1 website, the BBC Sport App, and the Official F1 App and sometimes also on Radio 5 or Radio 5 Extra
    – Formula E race always live on the BBC website, the BBC Sport App and the iPlayer and sometimes also on the Red Button.
    I can no longer justify the cost of Sky F1 added to my Virgin Media subscription so I now just use the BBC for my live F1 addiction and, judging from the #BBCF1 messages on twitter, the BBC team now have quite a strong following.

    1. I also follow BBC’s commentary when I am in the UK. I am fortunate in the sense that I have to commute between the Netherlands and the UK so I get to subscribe to F1 TV Pro when I am in Holland. What bothers me a bit is that when the BBC is broadcasting via the Internet only, I often find myself having to deal with a lack of bandwidth whereas the BBC Radio app works flawlessly.

  3. Yup, they did it again. The FIA once again achieved the opposite of what they had intended to do by pursuing the new regulations. Instead of becoming more exciting and more unpredictable, they destroyed the spectacle. Yes, on the one hand they can follow more closely while on the other hand they can’t. Even Suzy Wolff got it right last year when she commented: “Just when the field is getting closer, they change the regulations again”. Anybody seen Pat Symonds or Nicola de Tombiasis recently?

  4. With regard to regulations, don’t the FIA ever learn their lesson. F1 is meant to be the pinnacle of motorsport; now, for me anyway, it’s not.

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