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.