This Sunday marks the final round of the 2012 Formula One season, and as happened many times before, once again the championship race is heading down to the wire. Live from Interlagos, Brazil, on BBC One and Sky Sports F1, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso will battle it out to be crowned the 2012 World Drivers’ Champion.
Races in primetime, or on the fringes of primetime, and with the title on the line in the final race means that a large peak is guaranteed. Or is it? Normally yes, except the competition this Sunday looks tough and goes against the Formula One for multiple reasons.
But first, a bit of history. In the past seven years, including this year, Brazil has been the final round five times. And in those five years, the championship was decided in Brazil four times. In 2006, 2007 and 2008, Brazil was the final round and all three were title deciders:
– 2006 – 6.4 million (28% share) at 19:30
– 2007 – 10.4 million (50% share) at 18:30
– 2008 – 12.5 million (49% share) at 18:45 [13.1 million was the 5-minute peak]
Spot the major difference between 2006 and the latter two years? That is the difference between no British drivers in 2006 and one British driver in 2007 and 2008, fuelling huge peaks for the title deciders involving Lewis Hamilton. Whilst a 6.2 million peak back in 2006 was big for Formula 1 which was going through a rotten period ratings wise in the United Kingdom back then, nowadays a 6.4 million peak is not too much bigger than your typical peak for a European race.
– 2009 – 8.9 million (39% share) at 18:30
– 2010 – 5.9 million
2009 and 2010 were not at the end of the calendar, instead was both times the penultimate race of the season. 2009 was Jenson Button’s title winning race, which is why it peaked significantly higher than 2010, but even so was nearly 4 million viewers lower than 2008’s nail-biting decider. Although the 2010 season was decided in Abu Dhabi, it did not stop that particular broadcast hitting 7.2 million viewers at its peak.
– 2011 – 6.1 million [5-minute peak]
Last year had a 5-minute peak of 6.1 million viewers, which was not a title decider. So how will 2012 do? I think we are looking at a combined peak of about 6.1 million to 6.5 million viewers. Why?
Like last year, which went up against Liverpool vs Manchester City, this year is going up against Chelsea vs Manchester City which will again draw over 3 million peak viewers for Sky Sports. That match will knock a good 1.5 million viewers off the Formula 1 viewership. From Sky’s perspective, that is ridiculous scheduling on their behalf, but no doubt they may boast on Monday morning about having a combined 4 million viewers on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports F1.
Also, viewing figures have been lower this year than in previous seasons, which makes me think that the audience this Sunday could be lower. If it rains though that could change things and bring in more of a casual audience, as 2008’s dramatic finale did, although the lack of British title contenders means that a peak over 10 million is very, very unlikely.
In any case, the viewing figures on Monday morning will be interesting. I have added a poll for those wishing to predict the combined peak, so comment away!