Belgian Grand Prix slumps to five year ratings low

Formula 1’s difficult Summer ratings wise continued as the Belgian Grand Prix recorded the lowest rating for a Grand Prix race since the 2008 season. In terms of averages, from 12:10 to 15:15, BBC averaged 2.77 million viewers, a low 24 percent share of the total audience, while from 11:00 to 16:15, Sky Sports F1 averaged a very low 335,000 viewers. I’ll deal with the Sky Sports average first for those thinking that the low average is due to the long build-up.

For example purposes, assume the 11:00 to 11:30 portion averaged 50,000, which seems a reasonable number. That would mean that from 11:30 to 16:15, Sky Sports F1 averaged 360,000 viewers. That, along with BBC’s 2.77 million viewers averages 3.13 million viewers, which is still a low for the season so far. Using the 35.1 percent theory, then from 12:10 to 15:15, Sky Sports F1 averaged 486,000 viewers. Add that to the 2.77 million for BBC F1 and you get 3.26 million viewers. For the purposes of tracking the ratings in my spreadsheet, I will use the 3.10 million figure which comes from adding 2.77 million and 335,000 together, but in contrast to previous years for the Belgian Grand Prix:

– 2007: 2.56 million
– 2008: 3.68 million
– 2009: 3.38 million
– 2010: 4.08 million
– 2011: 3.76 million
– 2012: 3.26 million (direct comparison)/3.10 million (full programmes)

I know the above paragraph to some may seem tedious, but I am just putting the facts out there that, no matter which way you look at the ratings, that there is a drop in comparison to previous years. It is an undeniable fact that, irrespective of how you use the programme averages, that the Belgian Grand Prix average was the lowest since 2007. The peak yesterday of 4.58 million was the lowest since 2009, 2010 and 2011 both recorded peaks of over 5 million while 2009 had a peak of just under 4.5 million. That doesn’t mean 2009 did worse, arguably 2009 did better than yesterday, 2009 – as have all previous years – been on Bank Holiday weekends whereas yesterday was not, and if you remember both Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton went out on lap 1 in 2009, no doubt removing some of the casual interest. The peak splits down as 3.69 million on BBC One and 889,000 on Sky Sports F1, which is a split of 80.6% versus 19.4%. That is closer than previous splits, the previous peak splits having been around 84% versus 16%.

As a comparison, the 3.13 million viewers that I have quoted in the second paragraph would make the Belgian Grand Prix the lowest rating Formula 1 race since the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix, while the 3.10 million viewer number would take you back to the 2008 European Grand Prix.

One factor for the low rating yesterday was tougher competition, firstly from the Paralympic Games. Normally, Channel 4 on a Sunday afternoon would probably struggle to get over 500,000 viewers, whereas yesterday it probably had three times that number, although I have seen no specifics regarding their afternoon average. Another factor, ironically has to be the football on Sky Sports 1. The first game, Liverpool vs Arsenal, from 13:00 to 15:30, averaged 1.33 million viewers in that time period.

So while the ratings were down, it is not a case of “it’s because of the new deal”, it is simply an unusual case of where there were two other big sporting occasions clashing with the Formula 1 which hurt it’s overall rating. That seems to be the situation constantly throughout the season so far, doesn’t it?

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