Formula 1 continued its rocky ratings patch in the United Kingdom last weekend, as viewing figures for the Chinese Grand Prix dropped a million year-on-year, making it the worst Chinese Grand Prix rating in seven years.
The race, which aired exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 from 07:00 to 10:30, averaged 681k (11.2%), which compares with 622k (8.4%) and 547k (7.4%) respectively in 2012 and 2013 for their shared coverage. BBC One’s highlights averaged 2.87m (21.1%) from 14:30, bringing a combined average of 3.55m.
Whilst Sky’s numbers are up about 20 percent as a result of screening it live, BBC’s numbers fall significantly when comparing against the live plus re-run numbers from years gone by. In 2012, BBC averaged 4.45m by that measure and 3.93m in 2013. In fact, BBC’s live numbers for both 2012 and 2013 were nearly higher than the highlights number that the channel recorded last weekend!
The combined average does not compare favourably with previous years as a result: the Chinese Grand Prix has averaged 4.4m or more for every year from 2008 to 2013 inclusive, making it the lowest Chinese Grand Prix number since 2007. It is a worrying trend, however we will only know how concrete it is when we get to Europe. If Spain and Monaco record averages in the low to mid three million range, then alarm bells have to start ringing.
Sky Sports F1’s live Qualifying coverage from 06:00 to 08:45 averaged 236k (7.1%), which is almost identical to last year’s rating, despite this year being exclusively live on Sky. BBC’s highlights brought 1.59m (18.6%) to BBC One, meaning that the combined figure was 1.82m. Again, and worryingly so, that combined figure harks back to the ITV days. Whereas 2009 through to 2013 were all above 2.00m, this figure falls short.
I sometimes get criticised for painting a negative picture, but that is the only picture I can paint here. Where viewing figures are concerned, there are no positives when steep drops are being recorded more often than not. Over half a million viewers, which is the gap in most cases, would not be clawed back via ‘other methods’. The fact is, some people have tuned out due to many different primary and secondary factors.
The 2013 Chinese Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.