The 2016 German Grand Prix may not have been the most spectacular race of the year so far, but it did help Sky Sports hit a 2016 high where its Formula 1 coverage was concerned, overnight viewing figures show.
Live coverage of the race, broadcast across Sky Sports 1 and F1 from 12:00 to 15:30, averaged 932k (11.8%). Even taking into account the simulcast on Sky Sports 1, that is a really strong number, the highest for a European based round for Sky since the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which averaged 963k (7.1%). The audience was split 75:25 across Sky’s channels: 700k (8.9%) on the F1 channel compared with 232k (2.9%) on Sky Sports 1.
Sky’s audience peaked with 1.47m (17.4%) at 14:30, the highest for a European based round since the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix. Considering the race was a largely dull, the numbers are higher than what I expected for Sky by some margin. A 17 percent share for an event on pay-TV is impressive. Okay, this includes Sky Sports 1, but I would argue that simulcasting Sky Sports 1 makes no difference to the overall number, although it will be interesting to see if Sky’s number drops further than expected come Spa.
Channel 4’s highlights, broadcast from 18:00 to 20:00, averaged 2.27m (14.1%). This is their second highest highlights audience of the season; a meagre 12,000 viewers lower than their Austria highlights show! Their coverage peaked with 2.86m (16.2%) at 19:30, also slightly down on their Austria figure.
The combined average audience of 3.20 million viewers is the highest of 2016 so far, surpassing the previous highest of Austria. The combined peak of 4.33 million is the second highest of 2016, only behind Britain. However, we do not escape the fact that the combined average and peak is still the lowest since 2006 for Germany (albeit 2012 is not a million miles away).
Live coverage of qualifying, broadcast across Sky Sports 1 and F1 from 12:00 to 14:35, averaged 447k (6.7%). Channel 4’s coverage averaged 1.24m (9.8%) from 17:45 to 19:30, resulting in a combined audience of 1.69 million viewers.
After a slight dip in Hungary, the trajectory is upwards… slowly. The past four races have all recorded peak audiences of above 4 million viewers. That is a good sign, it appears having four races in five weekends has helped maintain momentum. Whilst Lewis Hamilton leading the championship is a good, a comfortable lead for him will send viewing figures decreasing again. So, there is a balancing act to be had.
Spa is next on the calendar. Belgium tends to be low, more often than not below three million viewers. There is a slight chance that the audience could hold up more over on Channel 4, and that Spa could pose the first chance for 2016 to realistically beat 2015 in the TV audience figures, maybe.
The 2014 German Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.