Sky’s Formula 1 viewing figures jump to four year high

Ahead of 2019, Sky’s Formula 1 viewing figures have jumped to their highest level since 2014, analysis of overnight audience figures shows.

> Audience figures static year-on-year
> Pendulum swings slightly towards pay-TV
> Free-to-air still makes up 75% of UK F1 TV audience

All viewing figures on this site, supplied by, are known in the industry as ‘overnight viewing figures’. These numbers include both live viewers and those viewing on the same day as live (live + VOSDAL).

The audience figures presented do not include viewers who watched Formula 1 via on-demand platforms such as All 4, Now TV and Sky Go. As part of the consolidated numbers that BARB release, they are also now including on-demand figures, however this data set is in its infancy and we should treat it with caution.

We also have no historical comparison for BARB’s on-demand figures, and broadcasters may have a different set of metrics, meaning that it is difficult to say how many viewers watch Formula 1 in the UK outside of the television set – whether it is 5, 10 or 20 percent, perhaps more.

What is clear is that fans tend to view sporting events live, or as close to live as possible, meaning that the jump F1 makes between the overnight viewing figures and the consolidated viewing numbers is insignificant in the broad picture.

Industry body RAJAR processes and releases all radio data separately, including BBC Radio 5 Live. We exclude these figures from this article as RAJAR calculates the data using a different methodology to BARB.

Channel 4’s overnight figures
To work out Channel 4’s average audience across the season, and to provide a fair historical comparison, this site uses their full highlights slot, as well as their build-up and race segments from their live race day programme.

An average audience of 1.84 million viewers watched Channel 4’s race day programming in 2018, a decrease of 1.5 percent on their 2017 average of 1.87 million viewers. With 21 races of the calendar, Channel 4 aired eleven races as highlights and ten races live, the additional highlights programme deflating their average slightly.

The highlight of Channel 4’s season was the United States Grand Prix, which averaged 2.55m (11.9%) from 18:00 to 21:15 on October 21st, although that figure was down 8.4 percent year-on-year. After a bright start to 2018, the last third of the season proved to be Channel 4’s nadir.

Throughout 2018, 2.10 million viewers watched the ten races live on Channel 4, a slight dip on the equivalent 2017 figure of 2.13 million viewers. The Belgian Grand Prix leaped significantly year-on-year, jumping by 30.4 percent to its highest free-to-air audience since 2015, largely a result of torrential UK weather during the August Bank Holiday weekend.

At the other end of the live spectrum, the Austrian Grand Prix dropped by 13.2 percent year-on-year because of World Cup fever that gripped the nation, whilst both the Singapore and Japanese rounds dropped by double-digit percentages as Lewis Hamilton gained control of the championship.

Channel 4’s eleven highlights programmes averaged 1.61 million viewers, in-line with last year’s figure of 1.62 million viewers, although the difference is within the margin of error. Spain and Italy were top of the tree for Channel 4 in this respect, both becoming the most watched highlights show since 2015, a remarkable achievement.

Although not quite on the level of Spain and Italy, China also performed well year-on-year, increasing its audience by 23.8 percent. Like with the live audience figures however, as the championship battle slipped away from Sebastian Vettel, so did Channel 4’s viewing figures with a series of poor performances.

Mexico and Brazil struggled badly in late-night time slot, and again the scale of the drops for both races (down by 38.7 percent and 22.8 percent respectively) meant that any early season gains vanished as the season ended for the free-to-air broadcaster.

The Italian round was the last time until Abu Dhabi that Channel 4 managed to increase its average audience compared with 2017, in other words, Channel 4’s average audience dropped year-on-year for six consecutive races. Compared with 2016, Channel 4’s first year covering Formula 1, all three metrics (combined, live and highlights) are down by around five percent.

Across the year, Channel 4’s coverage peaked with 2.63 million viewers, an identical figure to 2017. Their highlights peaked with 2.20 million viewers, a drop on last year’s number of 2.25 million viewers, whilst the ten live races peaked with 3.18 million, a slight increase on the 2017 audience figure of 3.13 million viewers.

Sky’s overnight figures
The audience figures presented for Sky’s Formula 1 coverage on this site consists of a 210-minute time slot, traditionally from the top of the hour before lights out to the start of their Paddock Live show. For 2018, this slot is 13:00 to 16:30, or equivalent for non-European races.

Sky’s audience figures include simulcasts, which is worth bearing in mind. The latter phases of the season saw Sky broadcast several races on their general entertainment channel Sky 1 as well as Sky Sports F1.

An average audience of 669,000 viewers watched Sky’s race day programming throughout the 2018 season, an increase of 2.6 percent on their 2017 average audience of 652,000 viewers.

Eagle eyed readers will clock that 669,000 viewers also watched Sky’s F1 coverage in 2016, but rounding means that 2018 is Sky’s most watched season of Formula 1 since 2014, although it is within the margin of error. 722,000 viewers watched Sky’s exclusive races in 2018, with 611,000 viewers choosing Sky for races that they shared with Channel 4.

For Sky, it is a significant turnaround on their mid-season performance when 2018 was on-track to be their least watched season ever. Although Spain and Monaco increased their audience by over 20 percent year-on-year, five of the first nine races suffered heavy declines.

As with Channel 4 due to the World Cup, Austria’s viewing figures plunged by 27.9 percent, whilst Azerbaijan (which Channel 4 also showed live) dropped by 31.7 percent year-on-year. Australia, Bahrain, and Canada also did not cover themselves in glory, whilst France’s return to the calendar failed to make an impression.

All of this meant a rather torrid outlook heading into July for Sky. Yet, the broadcaster then went to increase their audience figures for seven of the last ten races. Hungary’s audience figure jumped by 46 percent year-on-year, to become Sky’s second-best race of 2018, and one of their most watched European races ever.

Belgium, USA, Mexico, and Abu Dhabi all recorded double-digit increases in the latter half of the season, with only Italy struggling badly. It really was a season of two halves for Sky, slow out the gates, yet bounced back in superb fashion from Hungary onwards.

Since 2016, Sky’s viewing figures have increased in the latter half of the season on every occasion, even when the free-to-air broadcaster has failed to see an increase. Some of this is inevitably down to the placement of the races: Mexico, USA and Brazil are all in the latter half of the season, and all are in prime time viewing hours.

The difference this year between Sky’s mid-season average and the end of season average is the largest it has ever been at 16 percent (577,000 at half way compared with 669,000 at the end), with Sky 1 simulcasts reversing some of the early season damage. Only Sky will know how many viewers watched their Sky 1 output, who never once tuned into the F1 channel.

Another factor inevitably is the football cycle. The F1 season begins in March as the football ramps up to its conclusion, meaning F1 does not get a look in for casual Sky Sports fans until May. This year, the World Cup meant that Sky’s F1 coverage only found itself with a decent audience after the tournament concluded.

Across the year, a peak audience of 1.09 million viewers watched Sky’s coverage, an increase of 5.3 percent year-on-year. The highlight in this respect for Sky was the Mexican Grand Prix, where a peak of 1.87 million viewers watched Hamilton clinch the 2018 championship.

Despite the positive audience figures to round off 2018, it remains a fact that Sky’s F1 coverage has never peaked with more than two million viewers. Will that fact change with exclusive live coverage in 2019?

Overall audience and final thoughts
The margins between 2017 and 2018’s audience figures are relatively fine, with very little difference, perhaps not a surprise considering the way both seasons transpired on the track.

2018 saw a slight shift from Channel 4 to Sky, which makes a large difference to the Sky’s audience figures, but very little difference to Channel 4’s. After all, when both broadcasters aired live coverage of Formula 1, just over three in every four people chose the free-to-air broadcaster.

A combined average audience of 2.51 million viewers watched Formula 1 in 2018 across Channel 4 and Sky, in-line with the 2017 audience of 2.52 million viewers. Nevertheless, rounding means that 2018 is the least watched season of F1 in the UK on record, at least according to overnight viewing figures.

On-demand audience figures are likely to increase the average closer to three million viewers, but does not close the historical gap compared to several years ago when an average of over four million viewers were watching F1 via the traditional television set.

When F1 aired on free-to-air television as highlights in 2018, a combined audience of 2.33 million viewers watched, compared with 2.71 million viewers when F1 aired live on free-to-air television. Both indicators are in the same ballpark as 2017, with little movement.

Only five races jumped or declined significantly (over 15 percent) compared with 2017. Daniel Ricciardo’s victory in the Chinese Grand Prix helped the Shanghai race increase its audience by 19 percent year-on-year, whilst the Belgian Grand Prix surged by 28 percent.

In contrast, the Austrian and Japanese rounds plummeted by 17 and 21 percent respectively, the former clashed with the World Cup, whilst the latter was a victim of Hamilton extending his legs at the top of the championship mountain.

Overall though, the positives and negatives cancel each other out. During the three-year contract between Channel 4 and Sky, Formula 1 has lost on average just over 100,000 viewers, which is peanuts.

The main thing for Formula 1 is that there has not been a continued, sustained decline during the three-year contract. Yes, the initial drop from 2015 to 2016 was significant, but numbers have held up since Channel 4 have come on-board.

However, even with Channel 4 airing highlights in 2019, expect another audience drop. The worry for Formula 1 is the scale of the drop, as any major drop will send the sport towards an average of close to two million viewers, an alarming number for those both inside and outside of the sport.

Is 2019 the year where the general media starts referring to F1 as a “minority sport” within the UK? Will Sky’s viewing figures rise sufficiently next year, and if not, will Sky choose to pull the plug on Channel 4’s highlights contract before 2020? It is all to play for…


F1 2018’s final hurrah peaks with 3.9 million viewers

Formula 1’s closing act of 2018 in Abu Dhabi performed solidly across the weekend, despite there being little on the line to whet the appetite, overnight viewing figures show.

Sky’s coverage aired across their dedicated F1 channel and Sky 1, whilst Channel 4’s programme marked their final live race until next year’s British Grand Prix, with every other round in 2019 airing in highlights form. As always, audience figures exclude those who watched via on-demand platforms such as Sky Go, Now TV and All 4.

An audience of 1.99m (19.1%) watched Channel 4’s broadcast from 12:00 to 15:30, an increase of 132,000 viewers on last year’s figure of 1.86m (18.7%) across a shorter 190-minute time slot.

Meanwhile, Sky’s programme averaged 625k (6.0%) across the same time slot, an increase of 75,000 viewers on last year’s figure of 551k (5.5%), when coverage aired on both the F1 channel and Sky Sports Mix. This past Sunday, Sky Sports F1 averaged 535k (5.1%), with Sky 1 adding a further 91k (0.9%).

The race started with 3.57m (34.2%) at 13:15, fluctuating around 3.5 million viewers for the first hour of the race. Sky’s coverage peaked with 931k (8.4%) at 14:20 during the half-time interval of Arsenal versus Bournemouth. The individual channels peaked separately: Sky F1 with 794k (7.3%) at 13:45 and Sky 1 with 144k (1.3%) at 14:15.

Audience figures for the Grand Prix rose from 14:15 onwards, peaking with 3.87m (33.4%) at 14:45 as Lewis Hamilton won the final race of the season. At the time of the peak, 2.96m (25.5%) were watching via Channel 4, with 912k (7.9%) watching via Sky’s television channels, a split of 76:24 in Channel 4’s favour.

The combined average audience of 2.62 million viewers is an increase on last year’s figure of 2.41 million viewers, in identical circumstances. Whilst down on 2016 as expected due to that race being a title decider, the 2018 audience is marginally up on the 2015 finale, which averaged 2.61 million viewers on BBC Two and Sky Sports F1.

A peak of 3.87 million viewers watched the race, a comfortable rise on the 2017 peak audience of 3.47 million viewers, and an increase on the 2015 peak figure of 3.70 million viewers.

So, despite there being little to play for, both broadcasters had plenty to smile about, with year-on-year increases across the board.

Live coverage of qualifying followed the same positive trajectory as the race.

Channel 4’s near three-hour broadcast from 11:55 to 14:45 averaged 1.03m (12.3%), an increase on last year’s figure of 945k (11.7%).

Sky were not as lucky, their programme, which aired across both their F1 channel and Sky 1, averaged 290k (3.4%) from 12:00 to 14:30, a dip on last year’s figure of 319k (3.9%). Last Saturday, the F1 channel averaged 255k (2.9%), with Sky 1 bringing in a further 36k (0.4%).

The qualifying hour peaked with 2.13m (22.0%) at 13:55 as Hamilton snatched pole, an increase of just over 100,000 viewers year-on-year. At the time of the peak, 1.63m (16.9%) were watching via Channel 4, with a further 497k (5.1%) watching via Sky’s two channels.

The combined average audience of 1.32 million viewers and combined peak audience of 2.13 million viewers falls in between 2016 and 2017, again a good number considering neither championship was up for grabs.

Keep an eye on the site in the forthcoming weeks, as we dissect and analyse the UK F1 viewing figures picture for 2018, looking at where the viewers were won and lost over the course of the season.

The 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

Dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix peaks with just 2.8 million viewers

A peak audience of just 2.8 million viewers watched Lewis Hamilton win a dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix last Sunday, overnight viewing figures show.

There were several factors different about the Grand Prix last weekend compared with yesteryear. Both the qualifying and race started at 17:10 UK time, the latest slot for the Brazilian round of the season since 2009. That year, qualifying started at 18:00 UK time, with the race starting an hour earlier.

Whilst a later time slot should result in higher audience figures, Formula 1 faced strong competition over the weekend, including the Manchester derby. Outside the sporting arena, there were also a variety of events broadcast on television to mark 100 years since the end of World War I.

For the first time for a Sky-exclusive Grand Prix, the pay-TV broadcaster opted to air the race on their general entertainment channel Sky 1 as well as their dedicated F1 channel. An audience of 998k (5.6%) watched from 16:00 to 19:30 across the two channels, their lowest for Brazil since 2015 when BBC One also aired live coverage.

682k (3.8%) watched via the F1 channel, with a further 370k (2.0%) watching via Sky 1, the two numbers combined slightly higher than the total audience reported above, as Sky 1 joined the programme later at 16:30.

After a brief increase to 1.49m (8.9%) by 17:25 as Max Verstappen clawed his way through the pack, audience figures dipped to a low of 1.35m (7.2%) during the second half of the Manchester derby. Figures increased rapidly from 18:25 onwards as the final whistle blew at the Etihad, the race peaking with 1.72m (9.0%) at 18:35 as Hamilton won the Grand Prix.

Sky’s peak figure of 1.72m is an increase on their 2017 peak of 1.60m (9.8%), but down on the equivalent 2016 figure of 1.75m (8.1%). The F1 channel peaked with 1.13m (5.9%) at 18:25, the first five-minute segment after the final whistle. Sky 1’s simulcast peaked with 616k (3.2%) at 18:40, a solid number considering the channel rarely airs Formula 1 action.

Nevertheless, Sky themselves are happy with both their Brazil audience, and Mexico figures from two weeks ago. Barring any very low figures for Abu Dhabi, Sky’s overnight F1 viewing figures on race-day will be higher than what they were on average throughout the 2017 season, which is good news for them heading into 2019.

Later in the evening, Channel 4’s highlights programme attracted just 748k (9.3%) from 22:30 to 00:45, down on last year’s number of 968k (13.0%) across the same time slot, a very poor number considering the circumstances for both years were identical from a championship perspective.

Channel 4’s broadcast this year peaked with 1.04m (10.3%) at 23:05, compared with a peak figure last year of 1.38m (13.1%). A plausible explanation is that the Sky 1 simulcast resulted in Channel 4’s highlights programme losing some of their audience, but does not account for all of the differential in my view.

The combined average audience of 1.75 million viewers is the third lowest of 2018, and the lowest for Brazil on record. The figure is a decrease of 11.4 percent on last year’s audience of 1.97 million viewers.

The peak audience of 2.76 million viewers is down by a slightly lower 7.4 percent year-on-year, but is still comfortably the lowest for the Interlagos round since at least 2005, if not before.

Live coverage of qualifying on Sky Sports F1 averaged 339k (2.2%) from 16:00 to 18:35, a decrease on last year’s audience of 436k (3.7%).

What is telling is how few people are tuning in to Sky’s build-up programming. Last year, 334k (3.3%) watched their pre-session discussion, compared with just 76k (0.6%) last weekend, the heavy drop a direct result of Sky splitting their qualifying show up into two distinct segments in the television schedules.

Sky’s coverage peaked with 645k (3.9%) when Lewis Hamilton clinched pole, also down on the equivalent number last year of 743k (5.5%) in an earlier time slot.

An audience of 1.02m (5.2%) watched Channel 4’s highlights show from 20:45 to 22:15, a drop compared with the 2017 audience of 1.14m (5.4%). Both Channel 4’s average and peak figures were down in raw volume, but broadly level in share.

1.42m (7.1%) were watching Channel 4’s broadcast towards the end, compared with a peak of 1.49m (7.2%) twelve months ago.

Both combined audience metrics were down by a similar margin when compared to their race counterparts. The average audience of 1.36 million was down by 13.7 percent, whilst the peak audience of 2.06 million viewers decreased by 7.5 percent year-on-year.

The 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

Hamilton’s fifth title victory peaks with 1.8 million viewers live on Sky

A peak audience of nearly two million viewers watched Lewis Hamilton become a five-time Formula One Drivers’ Champion live on Sky, overnight audience figures show.

As with last year’s championship decider, the Mexican Grand Prix weekend aired exclusively live on Sky, with highlights airing on Channel 4 later in the evening.

Overnight audience figures exclude viewers who watched the action via on-demand platforms such as Sky Go and Now TV. In addition, the numbers presented do not include anyone who watched the programming after 02:00 the next morning.

Live coverage of the race aired across two of Sky’s outlets to an audience of 1.28m (5.9%) from 18:00 to 21:30, an increase of 7.4 percent on last year’s audience of 1.09m (4.8%) across the same time slot and channels.

An audience of 857k (4.0%) watched via the dedicated F1 channel, with a further 490k (2.2%) watching via Sky Sports Main Event. The audience figures and shares do not add up to the combined figure, as Main Event joined the broadcast later at 18:30.

The race started with 1.79m (8.3%) at 19:10 across the two channels, reaching 1.86m (8.4%) at 19:25. After a mid-race dip, reaching a low of 1.57m (6.5%) at 20:10, audiences slowly climbed again towards the chequered flag.

A peak audience of 1.87m (8.3%) watched as Max Verstappen won the Grand Prix at 20:50, an increase of 241,000 viewers on Sky’s peak audience from 2017. At the time of the peak, 1.22m (5.4%) were watching Sky Sports F1’s broadcast, with 651k (2.9%) watching Main Event. Main Event’s broadcast peaked somewhat earlier, at 19:25, with 716k (3.2%).

By both average and peak metrics, Sky’s audience is their highest since the 2014 United States Grand Prix, which peaked with 1.93 million viewers. Back then, Hamilton was heading towards his second championship.

Sky’s audience figures for Mexico also mean that, barring any unusual trends for Brazil and Abu Dhabi, their live F1 programming never once peaked above two million viewers via the traditional television set during their 2012 to 2018 contract (with the BBC until the end of 2015 and more recently Channel 4).

Channel 4’s late-night broadcast struggled and, not for the first time, was beaten by its pay-TV counterpart. Their free-to-air broadcast averaged just 642k (13.9%) from 23:05 to 01:15, easily their lowest ever audience for a race day broadcast, and a significant decrease on last year’s figure of 1.05m (15.4%) which aired in a time slot that was 30-minutes earlier.

Hamilton’s title victories (average)
2008 – 8.9 million [Brazil]
2014 – 5.7 million [Abu Dhabi]
2015 – 3.3 million [USA]
2017 – 2.1 million [Mexico]
2018 – 1.9 million [Mexico]

Hamilton’s title victories (broadcast)
2008 – ITV [live]
2014 – Sky [live], BBC [live]
2015 – Sky [live], BBC [highlights]
2017 – Sky [live], C4 [highlights]
2018 – Sky [live], C4 [highlights]

Their highlights show peaked with 915k (14.5%) at 23:35 as the race edit started, the audience decreasing throughout the edit, finishing with 590k (18.9%) at 00:45.

The combined average audience of 1.92 million viewers is the lowest for the Mexican round for the championship on record, and a decrease on last year’s average of 2.13 million viewers. In addition, the combined peak audience of 2.82 million viewers is a decrease of 11.1 percent on last year’s figure of 3.17 million viewers.

To show how much Formula 1 loses out, and will continue to do so in future years, when the sport is not live on free-to-air television, last weekend’s United States Grand Prix averaged 3.46 million viewers, peaking with 5.54 million viewers.

In other words, F1 lost half of its audience between USA and Mexico in the UK because the latter was not live on free-to-air television. Sky’s peak audience may have increased by 452,000 viewers week-on-week, but that is small fish to fry compared to the overall difference week-on-week of 2.7 million viewers.

An audience of 334k (1.7%) watched Sky Sports F1’s live coverage of qualifying on Saturday evening, which aired from 18:00 to 20:30. Their programme peaked with 659k (3.4%) at 19:55 as Daniel Ricciardo claimed a shock pole position in his Red Bull.

However, Sky’s qualifying audience was some way down in both metrics compared with 2017, last year’s qualifying programme having brought in 423k (2.1%) across the F1 channel and Main Event.

Later in the evening, Channel 4’s highlights programme attracted 837k (6.1%) from 22:00 to 23:30, a slight decrease on last year’s figure of 873k (6.1%). The free-to-air broadcaster’s peak audience of 1.11m (9.7%) was up on the equivalent number from 2017 of 1.06m (8.8%).

The combined average audience of 1.17 million viewers is the lowest ever for Mexico and down 9.7 percent on last year’s average of 1.30 million viewers, with the peak audience of 1.77 million viewers down by 4.0 percent year-on-year.

Given that last year’s championship battle ended at the same stage, viewing figures for Brazil and Abu Dhabi should hold up year-on-year, but nevertheless low compared to what you would usually expect as the season heads to its climax.

The 2017 Mexican Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

F1 jumps to highest peak audience in nearly three years; beats The X Factor head-to-head

Kimi Raikkonen was the man with the X Factor in Austin on Sunday evening, helping Formula 1 climb to its highest peak audience in nearly three years, overnight UK viewing figures show.

As in Japan two weeks ago, live coverage of the race aired across Channel 4 and three of Sky’s outlets. A slight difference year-on-year is that the race started an hour earlier compared with 2017, but this does not make a material difference to audience figures.

Channel 4’s broadcast, encompassing the build-up segment and the race itself, averaged 2.55m (11.9%) from 18:00 to 21:15, a decrease of 8.4 percent on their average audience last year of 2.78m (12.8%) across a time slot of the same length.

Last year, Sky’s coverage aired on the dedicated F1 channel and Sky Sports Main Event, whereas this year Sky 1 also joined the party, boosting their total audience. An audience of 915k (4.2%) watched their output from 18:00 to 21:30, an increase of 184,000 viewers on last year’s Sky audience of 730k (3.5%).

The F1 channel averaged 533k (2.5%), with Main Event and Sky 1 adding 266k (1.2%) and 154k (0.7%) respectively. Main Event’s broadcast was shorter in length, joining the other two channels at 18:30, hence why the Sky total audience is slightly different compared to the three numbers added together.

The audience breakdown tells a fascinating story about F1’s demographics, as the Grand Prix faced multiple top-hitters on Sunday evening. The race itself started with 4.79m (22.0%) at 19:15, reaching 4.96m (22.4%) fifteen minutes later.

However, BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing sliced nearly 700,000 viewers off Formula 1’s audience from 19:45 onwards, with the race dropping to a low of 4.25m (17.8%) at 20:10. The Grand Prix then gained 706,000 viewers in one five-minute segment as the dancing competition finished, jumping to 5.20m (23.6%) at 20:30.

Despite denting both Strictly and Doctor Who, Formula 1 was some way behind both shows. However, the Grand Prix did defeat ITV’s The X Factor head-to-head, averaging 4.62m (20.3%) in the 20:00 hour, whilst the singing competition averaged 4.02m (17.6%).

The race peaked with 5.54m (25.6%) at 20:40 as Raikkonen claimed victory for the first time since Australia 2013, denying Lewis Hamilton his fifth championship for the moment. At the time of the peak, 4.14m (19.1%) were watching Channel 4’s broadcast, a record high F1 peak for them, with 1.40m (6.4%) watching Sky’s three channels, a split of 75:25 in Channel 4’s favour.

Sky’s peak audience is their highest ever peak for races that they have shared with a free-to-air broadcaster, a remarkable statistic. Whether you are completely comparing apples with apples is up for debate, given that they have had to air the race across three of their outlets to achieve that, but it is an interesting stat nevertheless.

The combined average audience of 3.46 million viewers is the highest of 2018 so far, but marginally down on last year’s average audience of 3.51 million viewers.

The reason for this is that, a portion of the race aired against Strictly, and the race had a lower audience following the chequered flag than last year (no post-race shenanigans this time around), meaning that the average audience suffered.

However, the combined peak audience of 5.54 million viewers is considerably higher than last year’s peak audience of 5.19 million viewers, and the highest peak audience for a Grand Prix in nearly three years. The last race to record a peak of more than 5.5 million viewers was the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix, which peaked with around 5.7 million viewers.

Channel 4’s extended build-up to qualifying performed solidly on Saturday evening, overnight audience figures show. Their live coverage, which aired from 20:25 to 23:30 averaged 1.35m (8.5%), an increase on last year’s figure of 1.18m (7.0%) across a shorter time slot.

Meanwhile, an audience of 396k (2.8%) watched Sky’s coverage across the F1 channel, Main Event and Sky 1 from 21:00 to 23:30, an increase on last year’s total of 315k (1.9%). 250k (1.7%) watched via the F1 channel, with 76k (0.6%) and 70k (0.5%) watching via Main Event and Sky 1 respectively.

Impressively, apart from the first five-minute segment, Channel 4’s build-up to qualifying remained steady, keeping north of one million viewers. The combined audience of 1.74 million viewers is the highest for USA since 2015 and the second highest of 2018 so far.

The qualifying broadcast peaked with 2.40m (18.7%) at 22:55 as the session ended, the highest for USA since 2012.

At the time of the peak, 1.67m (13.1%) were watching Channel 4, with a further 724k (5.7%) watching Sky’s broadcast. Channel 4’s show peaked earlier in the hour, with 1.76m (10.9%) at 22:15, likely because Match of the Day started on BBC One at 22:30.

This weekend, Formula 1 heads to Mexico, and with free-to-air highlights not airing until 23:00, expect the cumulative audience figures to be significantly lower as a result.

The 2017 United States Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.