British Grand Prix surges to highest UK audience in seven years

Live coverage of the British Grand Prix jumped to its highest UK audience since 2015, audience data shows.

As-is now tradition, coverage of the F1 race weekend aired live across Channel 4 and Sky Sports, with both channels reaping the rewards of an enthralling Grand Prix.

The consolidated data accounts for viewers who watched within seven days of the original transmission.

According to industry website Thinkbox, which publishes BARB consolidated data, an audience of 2.39 million viewers watched Channel 4’s main race broadcast on Sunday 3rd July from 14:35 to 17:53, a marginal increase on last year’s figure of 2.34 million viewers over a smaller time slot.

Coverage of the race on Sky Sports F1 averaged 1.21 million viewers from 14:52 to 17:52, an identical figure to last year for the F1 channel.

However, including the 309,000 viewers who watched via Sky Sports Main Event lifts Sky’s overall total to 1.52 million viewers, their highest ever audience for the Silverstone round.

Sky’s figures in both years exclude Sky Showcase, which is likely to account for an additional 100,000 viewers.

Sources indicate to this site that the Grand Prix recorded its highest audience in seven years, with around 5 million viewers (a 50% share of the audience) tuning in at its peak to see Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz win his first Grand Prix.

A dive underneath the headline numbers

As well as publishing headline data, Thinkbox also publishes demographic data, allowing us to see how well Channel 4, Sky Sports F1, and Formula 1 as a collective, performed on race day at Silverstone.

The data points below exclude Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Showcase, as the figures were too small to make Thinkbox’s top 50 charts.

Nevertheless, the data gives us greater insight into who watched Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1’s race day offering.

Exactly two-thirds of adults who watched the Grand Prix were male, with one-third female. 2.28 million men tuned in, with 1.14 million women watching.

The skew towards men was slightly higher on Sky Sports F1 than Channel 4, with Sky’s audience split 69:31 in favour of men compared with a 66:34 split on the free-to-air station.

This is a consistent theme across the ABC1 demographics as well, with Channel 4’s coverage attracting a slightly higher proportion of women compared to Sky.

Both Channel 4 and Sky’s coverage skewed towards the more affluent viewer, as both outlets under-indexed in the C2DE demographic groups.

Channel 4’s coverage attracted 1.27 million ABC1 adults, compared with 1.03 million viewers in the C2DE demographic, a 55:45 split.

In comparison, Sky’s coverage brought in 590,000 viewers in the ABC1 adults’ category, versus 535,000 viewers in the C2DE bracket, a 52:48 split.

The raw audience shares were significantly higher in the ABC1 category than the C2DE category, showing that F1 has work to do to bring in audiences from lower demographic groups.

> “A weekend like no other” – reviewing the 2022 British Grand Prix

16% of the Silverstone audience were aged between 16 and 34, across Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1, however Sky skewed much younger than their free-to-air partner.

A quarter of Sky Sports F1’s audience fitted within this demographic, compared to just 12% on Channel 4. In raw volume this meant that, despite having a lower overall audience, Sky beat Channel 4 head-to-head in the 16 to 34 demographic.

282,000 viewers aged between 16 and 34 watched the race on Channel 4, with over 300,000 viewers watching via Sky.

More impressively for Formula 1, this meant that over 600,000 people aged between 16 and 34 watched the British Grand Prix, a figure only bettered that week by ITV2’s smash hit Love Island, showing how well F1 is performing in an era of shrinking television audiences.

The positive showing in the younger demographics is likely a direct result of Netflix’s Drive to Survive, with newer, younger fans wanting to get their hands on the live offering all year around and bypassing Channel 4’s live programming.

Channel 4’s offering brought in the longer-term viewers of F1 as opposed to the newer fans: 84% of its audience were aged 35 or over, compared with 68% over on Sky Sports F1.

Formula E fails to retain F1 lead-in

Channel 4 ran a wall-to-wall motor sport line-up on Saturday 2nd July, but saw some of their key audiences decrease year-on-year.

The day started well, with an average of 530,000 viewers tuning in to watch the third F1 practice session from 11:44 to 13:05.

However, the W Series audience decreased for Channel 4 year-on-year, dropping from 533,000 viewers last year to 399,000 viewers this year.

Last year the series aired exclusively live on Channel 4, whereas this year’s offering airs live across Channel 4 and Sky.

When taking both outlets into account, the W Series audience increased to an average of over 700,000 viewers, peaking with over 1 million viewers, both figures a record high for the championship.

F1 qualifying aired afterwards from 14:12 to 16:27, averaging 1.12 million viewers on Channel 4, only marginally higher than last year’s Friday qualifying session and down by around 200,000 viewers on Channel 4’s Sprint coverage.

Formula E wrapped up the day on Channel 4, airing from 16:30 to 18:30. The electric series brought in less than half of W Series’ live audience, despite both championships having an F1 sized lead-in.

The Marrakesh E-Prix failed to make Channel 4’s top 50 for the week on Thinkbox, averaging fewer than 342,000 viewers.

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