With no race drama in another “multi 21” controversy up front to draw in viewers, nor plumes of snow in the United Kingdom, the Malaysian Grand Prix dropped off year-on-year, but didn’t disgrace itself.
Yesterday’s live coverage on BBC One from 08:00 to 11:15 averaged 2.45m (32.7%) with Sky Sports F1’s race show, also from 08:00 bringing 574k (7.7%) to the channel. Highlights on BBC One added 1.07m (12.5%), according to unofficial overnight viewing figures, bringing the combined average to 4.09m viewers. In 2013, the race averaged 4.01m (27.1%) for the highlights show on BBC One and 908k (13.0%) from 07:00 to 10:30 on Sky Sports F1. With a combined figure of 4.92m, it means a drop of over 20 percent. However, given the controversy that surrounded last years’ race, and the British weather doing what it does best, this shouldn’t be too surprising. Does that make it a bad rating? I don’t think so, as last year was clearly a set of freak circumstances all coming together.
In 2012, perhaps a better reflection, the race averaged 2.73m (27.9%) on BBC One from 14:45 to 16:40 and about 1.03m (14.0%) on Sky Sports F1. An exact slot comparison is difficult for 2012 as the race was red flagged and overran. This brings us to a combined average of 3.76m in 2012, so 2014 is up on that. It should be noted that yesterday’s figure is down on the BBC exclusive years: 2009, 2010 and 2011. So whilst, yes its a solid rating and not a disaster, it is definitely by no means great.
Elsewhere, live coverage of the opening round of the 2014 British Touring Car Championship averaged a disappointing 192k (2.1%) on ITV4 (including +1) from 10:30 to 18:00, peaking with 278k (3.4%) at 14:20. By the championship’s standards, that is an unusually low rating, and is the lowest season opener since at least 2010. I don’t know the reasoning behind it, but in the past, BTCC races have tended to peak upwards of half a million viewers so that strikes me as low. The F1 highlights could have knocked a few hundred thousand off it, however it is a seven and a half hour show where viewers traditionally dip ‘in’ for the main BTCC races, except that clearly didn’t happen yesterday. Over on ESPN, IndyCar averaged 5k (0.01%). BT Sport haven’t promoted IndyCar once this year, so this should come as no surprise. In their view, it is simply there to fill the hours.
Saturday’s Qualifying session brought in the second largest ever audience for a Malaysian Qualifying session, only behind 2013, unofficial overnight viewing figures show. Extended live coverage on BBC One from 07:00 to 10:10 averaged a respectable 1.41m (24.0%). I use the word ‘respectable’ as it is not that much better than BBC One’s usual Saturday morning line-up, but it is still good for what it is. Sky Sports F1’s coverage averaged approximately 282k (4.8%), with BBC One’s afternoon highlights from 13:15 to 15:30 adding a further 850k (11.0%).
This brings the combined figure to 2.55m viewers, a far cry from the 3.17m combined average in 2013 – split 336k for Sky and 2.83m for BBC, but above every other year. In the grand scheme of things, it has to be said that 2013 is an anomaly due to the weather: the preceding years from 2009 to 2012 were all in the ~2.2m region.
The 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.