The Japanese Grand Prix brought poor viewership numbers this past Sunday to BBC One, with the combined average expected to be the lowest since 2008, or potentially as far back as 2004.
BBC One’s re-run airing of the race from 14:05 to 16:05 had an average of 2.36 million viewers, a 20.9% share, peaking with 2.79 million viewers at 15:30. Without even considering the positive effect that the BBC and Sky deal should have on the BBC One highlights shows for Asian races, the fact that it is only slightly up on last year’s 2.3 million viewers, and 600k up on the 1.8 million viewers for 2010 can only be described as poor. Going further back, the 2008 daytime re-run on ITV1 had 2.36 million viewers, identical to this past Sunday, whilst the 2009 highlights show brought 2.25 million viewers on BBC One.
So yesterday’s highlights show did not fair significantly better than in previous years despite a lot less people no doubt watching the live airing. Last year’s live broadcast airing from 06:00 had 2.1 million viewers, and Sky Sports F1 had less than a quarter of that. Here is a breakdown on previous years for the Japanese Grand Prix:
2004 – 2.86 million (1.32 million + 1.54 million)
2005 – 3.32 million (1.32 million + 2.00 million)
2006 – 3.49 million (1.19 million + 2.30 million)
2007 – 3.04 million (729k + 2.31 million)*
2008 – 3.14 million (785k + 2.36 million)*
2009 – 3.61 million (1.36 million + 2.24 million)
2010 – 3.70 million (1.90 million + 1.80 million)
2011 – 4.40 million (2.10 million + 2.13 million)
* note – the drop for 2007 and 2008 can be attributed to the change of track from Suzuka to Fuji meaning that the race started 90 minutes earlier in the UK
The reason why the live airings have skyrocketed in the last two years is because of more people recording the live airing and watching it later in the day, anyone that watches a programme before 02:00 will be counted in that days overnights, so do not assume that 500,000 more people got up early in 2010 compared with 2009, it just means that more people watched the “live” airing of the Japanese Grand Prix (a little bit more on the data that I use here).
In any case, the 2.36 million for BBC for this past Sunday is not a “out of the ordinary” number. Yes it is joint top alongside 2008, but arguably it should be higher when you consider that Sky Sports F1 will have lower numbers. None of Sky Sports F1’s race airings made ITV Media’s top 10, meaning each individual airing had under 559,000 viewers.
I don’t like to include Sky’s first repeat number, in Sunday’s case the 11:30 because given the money people have forked out to pay for the channel I would like to think that they would make the effort to watch it live! In any case, even if the live airing (+ re-run airing if you wish to) had 670,000 viewers, it would be the lowest figure since 2004. Which would be quite frankly a horrific statistic. If I do see any Sky Sports F1 numbers, I shall add them, but expect “low” rather than “high”.
Onto Qualifying, the BBC highlights show had 1.64 million viewers, down on the 1.97 million viewers for last year’s re-run. So not pretty figures all around, really.