The Belgian Grand Prix increased slightly in the ratings versus 2012, overnight viewing figures show. However, as has been the pattern since the start of the year, only BBC seen an increase year-on-year, with Sky Sports F1’s ratings again dropping. The BBC’s coverage, from 12:10 to 15:15 averaged 2.89 million viewers, a 28.5 percent share, up 120,000 viewers against last year’s overnight figure. Sky Sports F1 averaged 336,000 viewers, a 3.4 percent share from 11:30 to 16:15. The channel from 12:10 to 15:15 averaged 453,000 viewers, exactly in line with the 35 percent increase which is typically seen between the two measures. Year-on-year, Sky is down about 30,000 viewers, and the 336,000 viewership average is their lowest so far this year.
It goes without saying that the Belgian Grand Prix is always one of the lowest rated races of the season due to its position in the calendar. The August Bank Holiday is the last Summer get away of the year which depletes ratings across the board, including the F1. In ratings term, the Belgian round is a ‘write off’ and it is difficult to do a lot of analysis or read too many conclusions into it. Of course, another reason for the low ratings is the other sporting competition (albeit, not an excuse) and the fact that Spa is normally over within 90 minutes.
Belgian Grand Prix – Official Ratings
2002 – 2.39 million
2003 – no race
2004 – 2.90 million
2005 – 2.10 million
2006 – no race
2007 – 2.67 million
2008 – 3.87 million
2009 – 3.47 million
2010 – 4.18 million
2011 – 3.90 million
2012 – 3.17 million / 3.29 million (using ‘35 percent theory‘)
– overnight figures were 3.10 million / 3.26 million
2013 – 3.23 million / 3.35 million (overnight rating)
By any measure, it is not a great rating, but not a particularly surprising one either. The combined peak, which I’ll get into first was at 13:45, with 4.49 million viewers (41.6 percent share) tuning in, which I believe is the lowest since 2009 for Belgian. You know the race is not great when the viewership is flat across the 90 minutes. 4.39 million viewers were watching at the start, 4.46 million viewers were watching at the end. On another day, it would have been a great race to watch and it would have increased substantially throughout broadcast. Alas, it was not to be.
At the time of the combined peak, BBC One held 3.88 million viewers, whilst the other 618,500 viewers were watching Sky. BBC One was up 190,000 viewers, Sky was down 270,500 viewers, meaning that the ratio between the two channels at the time of the peak was 86.4 percent versus 13.6 percent. It appears that there are a proportion of viewers who, over the past few months for whatever reason are gravitating back to the BBC’s programming. One question that could be asked, and therefore is probably worth briefly discussing here: “Would Sky ever consider getting rid of the F1 channel and putting content onto the main Sky Sports channels?” The answer to that question I think is no. Six Sky Sports channels looks more attractive to Sky than five, it is a simple as that. And, at a time when they are trying to fight off BT Sport, it would not make any logistical sense for them to do that.
Qualifying averaged 2.32 million viewers across both channels, with a peak of 3.04 million at 14:00. BBC’s coverage averaged 2.00 million viewers, with Sky adding 319,000 viewers. Both channels were up year-on-year, but it was the lowest rated Qualifying session of the year. Next up is Italy, which is also a traditionally low rated race, although 2012 did buck that trend, so it will be interesting to see what happens this year.
The 2012 Belgian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.