A peak audience of nearly four million viewers watched Lewis Hamilton’s victory in a dramatic Singapore Grand Prix, overnight UK viewing figures show.
Channel 4’s live build-up coverage, followed by the race itself, averaged 2.29m (22.1%) from 12:00 to 15:30. Thanks to the long race length inflating the average, it is marginally the broadcasters’ highest average of the year, just ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix from June, and their highest average since last year’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Because of the early drama, Sky extended their race show until 15:50 before switching to Paddock Live until 16:30. Sky’s coverage across the dedicated F1 channel and Sky Sports Mix averaged 723k (7.0%), their highest audience for Singapore since 2014. The audience was split 585k (5.6%) versus 139k (1.4%) in the F1 channel’s favour, or 81:19.
The combined average audience of 3.01 million viewers is amazingly identical to the last round of the championship in Italy! Compared with 2016, the audience is up by a massive 625,000 viewers, the largest year-on-year rise of the season so far. Furthermore, the 2017 average is not too far away from the 2015 number of 3.45 million viewers, although the 2015 race faced tougher competition from the Rugby World Cup.
An audience of 3.91m (38.5%) watched Ferrari’s Marina Bay meltdown, otherwise known as the race start, at 13:05. Sky’s audience peaked at this stage, with an audience of 1.06m (10.5%) watching the start via their two outlets. Only in two other five-minute segments did their audience increase beyond a million viewers, at 13:20 (just before Arsenal versus Chelsea) and 14:25 (during half-time of said game).
The combined Sky and Channel 4 audience dropped to around 3.6 million to 3.7 million viewers, dipping to a low of 3.55m (32.7%) at 13:50. The audience pattern followed the football, rising during half-time and dropping again afterwards, eventually peaking with 3.97 million viewers (35.9%) as Lewis Hamilton won the Grand Prix. At the time of the combined peak, 3.03m (27.4%) were watching on Channel 4, with 942k (8.5%) watching via Sky, a split of 76:24.
The gap between the average and peak is not as large as other live races, simply because the audience did not grow throughout the race like other live races have done previously, instead it simply flat lined as the outcome was largely known as soon as the first corner accident occurred. It is the worst trajectory we have seen for a F1 race on free-to-air television since last year’s Spanish Grand Prix. The conclusion: start-line accidents at the front not only wipes out leading drivers, but it also takes out some of the casual audience as well.
Qualifying and Speed with Guy Martin
Live coverage of qualifying aired on Channel 4 from 12:55 to 15:45 to an audience of 1.16m (13.8%). Sky Sports F1’s programme added a further 294k (3.5%) from 13:00 to 15:45, bringing in a combined average audience of 1.45 million viewers. The average audience is down around 150,000 viewers year-on-year, and the lowest on record for a Singapore qualifying session.
The qualifying session peaked with 2.20 million viewers (24.8%) at 14:55 as Sebastian Vettel clinched pole position. At the time of the peak, 1.74m (19.6%) were watching on Channel 4, with the remaining 460k (5.2%) watching via Sky, a split of 79:21. Sky’s programme did peak five minutes earlier, with a slightly higher 469k (5.3%). The combined peak audience of in-line with last year’s peak audience of 2.21 million viewers.
Guy Martin’s second Formula 1 documentary did not draw as many viewers as his first one did last year, but still performed solidly for Channel 4. The documentary, focussing on his role with the Williams team during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, averaged 2.12m (10.4%) from 20:00 on Sunday evening, a good number for the broadcaster in that timeslot.
The 2016 Singapore Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.