The start of the 2016 MotoGP season in Qatar dropped slightly compared with the 2015 opener, unofficial overnight viewing figures show.
Live coverage of race day, broadcast live on BT Sport 2 from 14:45 to 19:00 on Sunday 20th March, averaged 132k (0.9%). In comparison, last year’s coverage of race day averaged 172k (1.1%). The drop is largely down to tougher competition, most notably the Manchester derby in the Premier League on Sky Sports, which averaged nearly two million viewers. Furthermore, the MotoGP season opener was held a week earlier this year compared to last, meaning that races aired an hour earlier due to British Summer Time having not yet kicked in.
For the MotoGP race itself, live coverage from 17:30 to 19:00 averaged 201k (1.2%), peaking with 270k (1.5%) at 18:40. Last year’s race from 18:30 to 19:00 averaged 212k (1.1%), peaking with 263k. It was only Moto2 and Moto3 that really suffered on BT Sport, as mentioned above due to the tougher competition. The MotoGP race itself held up very well compared with 2015, the peak measure marginally up year-on-year which can only be good news for BT.
ITV4’s highlights on Monday 21st March from 20:00 to 21:00, averaged 341k (1.6%), peaking with 408k (1.9%). Both measures are down slightly on 2015’s Qatar average of 372k (1.6%) and 2015’s peak of 455k (1.9%). As the shares attest to, the total viewing audience was down year-on-year, so this is not a case of MotoGP dropping adversely compared to the competition. There would be more concern if the audience and share had dropped, but that is not the case here.
The combined audience of 542k is down on 2015’s number of 588k, whilst the peak number of 677k is down on the 718k number recorded last season. I do not think this year’s numbers in context are too bad when you consider the competition and also that MotoGP and Formula 1 started on the same weekend for the first time since 1995.
In a week where pay TV has dominated the four wheeled agenda, it should be reminded that the total MotoGP viewership (BT Sport and ITV) is down significantly on 2013’s numbers when MotoGP was live on free-to-air television. The Qatar MotoGP in 2013 on BBC Two averaged 1.67m (6.9%) from 19:30 to 21:00.
The 2015 Qatar MotoGP ratings report can be found here.