Korean Grand Prix live peaks with 2.5 million viewers

The Korean Grand Prix yesterday on BBC One and Sky Sports F1 had a 15-minute peak of 2.52 million viewers, overnight viewing figures show. Between 08:30 and 08:45, an average of 2.11 million viewers were watching on BBC One, with a further 407,000 viewers watching on Sky Sports F1. Whilst the peak, on paper looks good it is marginally down on 2010’s rain-affected race and nearly a million viewers down on the 3.39 million peak recorded at 08:30 last year.

Between 06:00 and 09:15, 1.35 million watched Formula 1 on BBC One and 274,000 watched on Sky Sports F1. I should note Sky’s programme average will be lower as the 274,000 excludes the first half an hour and the last 75 minutes. Here is a comparison between the three years:

2010 – 3.39 million (1.39 million live and 2.00 million repeat – live peak of 2.6 million at 09:00)
2011 – 4.09 million (2.17 million live and 1.92 million repeat – live peak of 3.4 million at 08:30)
2012 – 3.18 million (1.62 million live [see above] and 1.56 million repeat on BBC One – live combined peak of 2.5 million at 08:30)

Although it is a record low, using it in the title as a headline is a useless statistic in my opinion given that the event has only been running for three years, so for me even though the statement is true, it is not a headline figure. With only three sets of data available, there is little point of comparing with 2010 and 2011, in my opinion.

One thing I do want to look at though is the respective BBC and Sky breakdowns from yesterday, because it makes for interesting reading.

A 15-minute breakdown of the Korean Grand Prix 2012 viewing figures on BBC One and Sky Sports F1.

The first thing that caught my eye was the different trajectory for BBC One and Sky Sports F1 after 07:00. BBC’s viewership increases constantly until the peak at 08:30, partly thanks to people waking up while the race is progressing and turning straight to BBC One, whilst Sky Sports F1’s viewership actually goes slightly down. Which I do find odd. It’s not the first time I’ve seen that happen. Considering Sky Sports F1 is a dedicated channel, the fact that the audience declined slightly after the race started is worrying.

It also, for me, shows why Formula 1 has to stay on terrestrial television in some form, because sporting events catch the interest and can rise to a big peak on terrestrial, which very rarely happens on multichannel television. It looks like no one tuning in bothers to tune to Sky Sports F1 during the race. Between 07:00 and 07:15, 416,000 viewers were watching Sky Sports F1. Between 08:30 and 08:45, 406,000 viewers were watching the channel, a 10,000 viewer drop. BBC One in the same period increased 700,000 viewers.

Another thing is that under 100,000 viewers were watching Sky Sports F1 between 06:00 and 06:30. That, and all the figures above, include viewers that timeshifted that exact block of programming up until 02:00 on Monday morning (which may also explain why BBC One suddenly jumped 700,000 at 07:00, which may be a few hundred thousand watching it later but not bothering with the build-up). A final graph, this time, the percentage difference:

A percentage comparison between BBC One and Sky Sports F1 during the Korean Grand Prix broadcast. (for some reason the quality of the image appears to be blurry, clicking on the image will solve that)

The smallest percentage gap between the two was in the 15-minutes from 07:00 when 77.2 percent were watching BBC One and the other 22.8 percent were watching Sky Sports F1. The gap grew again, however, by 08:00 it was 82.7 percent vs 17.3 percent and by 08:45 it was 88.3 percent versus 11.7 percent. For a early morning race, I would have expected the gap to be closer between the two, I would have expected the gap to be closer, but it turns out that has not been the case.

Thanks to gslam2 for kindly posting the 2012 breakdown on Digital Spy Forums.

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