Australian Grand Prix peaks with 1.4 million viewers across Sky’s TV platforms

A peak audience of nearly 1.4 million viewers watched the season opening Australian Grand Prix across Sky’s portfolio of television channels, overnight viewing figures show.

The figure includes those who watched either live, or one of Sky’s repeat airings before Channel 4’s highlights programme started.

As always, this site reports overnight viewing figures supplied by Overnights.tv. The figures include those who watched between live and 02:00 the following morning, known in the industry as Live + VOSDAL (live and ‘video on same day as live’).

The audience figures reported exclude those that watched the programming via platforms such as All 4, Sky Go and Now TV.

For 2019, to present an equal measure across years, this site will continue to use a 210-minute time slot for Sky’s coverage, covering 70 minutes before lights out, to around 50 minutes after the chequered flag. This covers the last half of Pit Lane Live, all of On the Grid, the race itself, and the first half of Paddock Live.

Race – Sky live
Sky aired live coverage of the race across their F1 channel, Main Event and Sky One from 04:00 to 07:30 on Sunday morning.

An average audience of 441k (31.5%) watched the broadcast, a strong increase on last year’s figure of 344k (18.4%), and their highest Melbourne average since 2015. 291k (20.7%) watched via the F1 channel, with a further 66k (4.8%) and 84k (6.0%) watching via Main Event and Sky One respectively.

Impressively, the broadcast hit a five-minute peak of 803k (38.0%) at 06:35, an increase of 43 percent on their 2018 number of 562k (20.4%), and their highest peak audience for Australia since 2014.

The peak audience increased proportionally more than the average because Sky’s wrap around segments have rated lower in recent years than compared to their 2015 numbers.

For Sky, the story does not stop there.

Race – Sky repeats
Following the race, the broadcaster aired five repeats of the race, before Channel 4’s highlights show aired at 14:00. The first repeat began at 08:00 across the same three channels, with another repeat across F1 and Sky One afterwards.

Normally, repeats do not make a statistical difference to the overall picture, and therefore go unreported. However, the difference for Australia is significant enough to report. Accounting for the different time slots, the five repeats recorded a combined peak of 574,000 viewers as Valtteri Bottas won the Grand Prix.

In totality (from a television perspective), Sky’s audience for Australia peaked with 1.38 million viewers, around double their audience from twelve months ago, and in-line with their peak audience from 2012, including repeat airings.

Sky One is the biggest contributor, as their two re-runs peaked with 382,000 viewers collectively. It is very rare for a sporting event on pay television to add that many viewers, the early start for the race more than likely contributing to the high repeat audience.

Some of the viewers that watched the race live may have watched one of the repeats later, but that number is unlikely to be significant enough to make a major difference. Overall, the viewing figures are fantastic for Sky, and bodes well for them moving forward.

Race – Channel 4
Despite Sky’s strong gains, Channel 4 remained the biggest Formula 1 broadcaster in the UK over the weekend, but with damaged goods.

Highlights of the race averaged 1.38m (13.3%) from 14:00 to 15:55, peaking with 1.81m (17.9%). Both figures are down significantly on last year’s average of 1.71m (16.8%) and peak figure of 2.15m (18.2%).

Given Sky’s strong audience figures, the transition of viewers appears to be from Channel 4 to Sky, as opposed to fans tuning out altogether, which is good news for the sport. The drop is of concern, the highlights programme struggling to pick up any additional casual viewers.

If you look at the live airings only, the combined average and combined peak audiences of 1.83 million and 2.61 million viewers respectively are the lowest on record for Australia. In isolation, the figures paint a very bleak picture, but on this occasion, it is also a false negative.

As referenced earlier, repeats add 200,000 viewers at its limit across multiple airings. Australia was different, with it being the start of a new broadcasting contract as Formula 1 heads into a new era primarily live on pay-TV.

Adding the five repeat airings together (considering the different slot lengths) increases the combined average to 2.09 million viewers, and combined peak audience to 3.18 million viewers, a significant increase, and in-line with the past three years.

Qualifying
Sky’s live coverage of qualifying from 05:00 to 07:30 brought in an average audience of 283k (16.4%) across their F1 channel, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky One, an increase on last year’s audience of 252k (15.2%) over a slightly longer time slot.

The F1 channel averaged 190k (11.3%), with Main Event and Sky One bringing in 29k (1.6%) and 65k (3.5%) respectively. It is Sky’s highest audience for Melbourne qualifying since 2015, when 339k (16.4%) tuned in to watch.

Their programme peaked with 528k (22.9%) at 06:50 as the start of the final qualifying segment started, again Sky’s highest since 2015.

In comparison, Channel 4’s highlights programme averaged 1.02m (11.8%) from 12:00 to 13:25, a decrease of 157,000 viewers on last year’s average of 1.18m (15.1%). Channel 4’s coverage reached a high of 1.37m (14.5%) at 12:55, also down on last year’s figure of 1.62m (20.2%).

The dent in Channel 4’s qualifying audience is likely due to stronger competition from ITV, the free-to-air channel airing live coverage of the Six Nations rugby tie between France and Italy.

The combined audience of 1.30 million viewers is down by around 100,000 viewers year-on-year and the lowest on record, whilst the combined peak audience of 1.89 million viewers is the lowest for Australia since 2006. Neither trend changes when including Sky’s repeats before Channel 4’s highlights programme started.

Final thoughts
A better result than Sky could have ever expected.

The worst case scenario here was that Sky struggled to increase their audience year-on-year, despite splashing the cash on blockbuster trailers. To double their audience year-on-year is a major success.

One of the drivers behind the increase was Sky One, which on its own added over half a million viewers. The first three races are airing live on Sky One, but what happens to those viewers when that disappears?

If Sky One’s viewers migrate over to the F1 channel to follow the sport, then that is great news for Sky. Similarly, the opposite is true if Sky One’s audience returns back to Channel 4’s highlights package from Baku onwards.

Australia is always one of the lowest rated races, with viewing figures tending to pick up in Bahrain, where F1 heads to next. The Sakhir race has aired live on free-to-air television since 2015, and will be a good indicator of how Formula 1’s viewership could change moving forward.

Update on March 18th at 20:10 – Not long after I posted this, Sky’s F1 lead commentator David Croft posted on Twitter that Sky’s coverage reached 2.1 milllion viewers, and combined Sky and Channel 4 reached 3.5 million viewers. For those unaware, that is the amount of viewers that watched three consecutive minutes of coverage.

The 2018 Australian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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Hong Kong E-Prix peaks with 355,000 viewers on BBC Two

A packed weekend of motor sport to kick start the traditional season saw Formula E lead the way on its BBC Two debut, overnight viewing figures show.

Formula E makes BBC Two debut
As part of their commitment to air one race on linear television, BBC aired the Hong Kong E-Prix live on BBC Two this past weekend. The race brought in a solid audience, according to audience numbers supplied by Overnights.tv.

An average of 229k (4.6%) tuned into the broadcast from 07:30 to 09:30. Sunday’s audience is an improvement on the last two seasons for Hong Kong, when the race aired on tape-delay on Channel 5.

In a positive sign, the BBC’s race coverage saw consistent growth throughout the broadcast, increasing its audience in most of the five-minute segments between 07:35 and 09:05. The race peaked with 355k (6.5%) at 09:00 as the race concluded.

It is Formula E’s highest UK audience for an Asian-based race since their first ever E-Prix in 2014. Back then, live coverage of the Beijing E-Prix on ITV4 averaged 266k (4.7%) and peaked with 477k (6.8%).

BT Sport and Eurosport make negligible difference to the overall picture, averaging 5k (0.10%) and 8k (0.16%) respectively, if anything showing the importance of free-to-air for Formula E.

For me, Formula E’s audience is solid, whether it is enough to convince the BBC to move the series off the Red Button for the latter half of the season, I do not know. If the peak was nearer to 500,000 viewers, I think the decision may be easier, that is if there is even a discussion here.

Last weekend’s race was Formula E’s first on a mainstream television channel since June last year, so expectations from a viewing figures perspective are lower as a result. With a bit of promotion, a European race could peak at around 800,000 viewers on BBC One, potentially. Time will tell if the BBC genuinely considers that a viable option this season.

MotoGP’s return peaks with 249,000 viewers on BT
A new season of MotoGP kicked off on BT Sport 2 with the Qatar GP. The leading bike series was unaffected by tough football opposition on Sky.

The race brought in an audience similar to previous years. The 90-minute MotoGP slot averaged 190k (1.3%) from 16:30 to 18:00, a slight decrease on last year’s figure of 211k (1.5%), but an increase on the 2014 and 2017 averages.

A peak of 249k (1.6%) watched as Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso went wheel-to-wheel over the finish line for the second year running. The peak audience is in-line with the past two years, which peaked with 247k (1.3%) and 255k (1.9%) respectively.

Free-to-air highlights of the championship moved from Channel 5 to Quest, with the audience dropping significantly year-on-year. Quest aired two highlights shows at 18:00 and 23:00 respectively. Their premiere airing averaged 140k (0.9%), with the repeat bringing in 50k (0.8%).

The combined Quest audience of 190k is down 58 percent on Channel 5’s highlights audience for Qatar last season of 456k (2.5%). It is lower than all bar three MotoGP races on either ITV4 or Channel 5 since the highlights arrangement started in 2014.

Cumulatively, the drop for the highlights airing meant that MotoGP peaked with 513,000 viewers in the UK over the weekend, when accounting for BT’s live airing and Quest’s two repeats, a disappointing number for the championship.

As with all the figures in this piece, on demand platforms such as BT Sport’s online services and MotoGP’s VideoPass over-the-top offering are not included, which may make a small difference to the total MotoGP numbers.

IndyCar struggles on Sky return as St Pete opener plagued by technical issues
It was not a good Sunday for IndyCar, on all fronts. The series returned for a new season in St Petersburg, and with it came a change of channel for UK viewers, as the championship moved from BT Sport to Sky Sports F1.

Viewing figures struggled, with the race averaging 19k (0.11%) from 16:30 to 20:30, a decrease on last year’s BT audience of 25k (0.16%) over a shorter 200-minute time slot. Sky’s coverage peaked with 56k (0.32%) at 18:40 on Sunday, compared with 56k (0.38%) one year ago on BT.

The season opener faced MotoGP on BT and Premier League football on Sky, which may have impacted figures. Last month, F1 testing brought in a higher audience than IndyCar managed, although testing aired across the F1 channel and Main Event.

Considering the buzz when the IndyCar deal was first announced, Sky’s audience is disappointing. IndyCar, from a UK perspective, failed to move the needle outside of the Twitter bubble. However, IndyCar could benefit from cross-promotion during Sky’s main F1 coverage this year, so the picture could change as the season progresses.

The problems with Sky’s IndyCar broadcast may not have helped audience figures, although I doubt it caused a significant dent given the low base to start with.

IndyCar produces two feeds: a domestic feed for NBC, and an international feed. The feeds contain different graphics set, whilst the former is also not a continuous feed of the racing action. For St Pete, Sky aired the domestic feed ‘as-is’, breaking away to their own commercials when NBC in America went to adverts or went ‘side-by-side’.

What this meant was a downgrade on coverage offered by BT Sport in previous years. It was expected that Sky would take some commercials (@IndyCarUK understands four ad-breaks), but also utilise the feed to stay on the action for most of the race outside of yellow flag periods.

Whether Sky were unaware that the domestic feed was going to break away from the action or not is unclear. Either way, the communication between Sky Sports, NBC Sports and IndyCar needs to be clearer ready for Austin in two weeks’ time.

In a separate issue, IndyCar’s broadcast lost pictures completely for around 15 minutes on Sunday, affecting both the domestic NBC feed and the international feed. IndyStar Sports writer Jim Ayello reports that there was “a power supply failure to one of IMS Productions’ up-links due to two amplifiers overheating,” which caused the feed to go down.

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Live F1 testing coverage peaks with 96,000 viewers on Sky

Live coverage of the first Formula 1 test of 2019 peaked with just under 100,000 viewers in the UK on Sky Sports, overnight viewing figures show.

The pay-TV broadcaster aired the four afternoon sessions live from Barcelona last week from 13:00 to 18:00. The first four hours consisted of on-track action, with a review show airing from 17:00 onwards.

As always, figures exclude those that watched via Sky Go and Now TV, the former of which may be higher than usual with testing taking place during the week when people are normally at week as opposed to the weekend.

The audience figures for the on-track action peaked on the first day of running, with an average audience of 58k (0.79%) watching across the F1 channel and Sky Sports Main Event. A peak of 96k (1.45%) watched day one, although the number of viewers the programme reached will be higher than usual due to the dip in and out nature of testing.

The remaining days fell into a similar ballpark for the live on-track segment from 13:00 to 17:00, averaging 37k (0.59%), 35k (0.53%) and 37k (0.58%) respectively, all peaking with around 65,000 viewers.

Although lower than most Formula 1 figures from 2018, live testing rated higher than all but two GP3 races and higher than most Formula Two races last season. In the grand scheme of things, audience figures are not spectacular, but on an expected level for a week day.

Welcome to F1 2019, the evening wrap-up show, fluctuated throughout the week. The first and third days averaged 21k (0.16%) and 21k (0.17%) from 17:00 to 18:00 on Sky Sports F1. Days two and four performed better, averaging 38k (0.32%) and 50k (0.40%). Certainly, the trend as the week progressed leaned slightly towards the review show if anything.

The review show recorded its highest peak figure on Thursday, when 72k (0.50%) were watching at 17:50.

Year-on-year, audience figures for testing have increased based on the first airing. However, comparisons are difficult as Sky repeated last year’s content (Paddock Uncut and Ted’s Notebook) ad nauseam meaning that the individual shows reached a higher number, whereas Sky are not repeating this year’s testing content on the channel.

A better comparison is with Sky’s 3D experiment in 2013, when the broadcaster aired testing live. In 2013, Sky aired two and a half hours of testing live, repeating the showing later in the night. Combined, the audience peaked with around 120,000 viewers on three of the four days, higher than the highest peak in 2019.

In the six years between 2013 and 2019, Formula 1’s UK viewing figures have dipped, so a drop between both years expected. The drop may also suggest that five hours of live testing content per day to air on TV is simply too much and that two and a half hours, as we saw in 2013, is the right amount.

However, if the reason for testing not returning in 2014 was because viewing figures were too low, then Sky’s viewing figures for this past week may not bode well for live testing returning to Sky’s schedules for 2020.

Barcelona test 2 update
Live coverage is not returning for the second Barcelona test, which begins today. As reported earlier, last week’s coverage was a one-off effort between Formula 1 and Sky to inform future decision-making.

In a departure from previous years, Sky are not airing their round-up shows for the second test, which typically consisted of Paddock Uncut and either Ted’s Notebook or #AskCrofty. Instead, fans will need to keep an eye on F1’s social media platforms and Sky Sports News to find testing updates.

F1’s over-the-top platform is scheduled to air a review show following Friday’s running, but it is currently unclear if Sky Sports F1 will also carry the show via their channel.

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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 Overnights.tv, 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…

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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.

Race
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.

Qualifying
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.

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