The Japanese Grand Prix continued what is turning into a stronger than expected ratings period for Formula 1 in the UK, overnight viewing figures show.
The race aired across Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event on Sunday morning from 05:00 to 08:30 to an audience of 384k (20.0%), a strong increase on last year’s figure of 316k (14.8%). These figures include viewers who recorded Sky’s live broadcast and watched it before 02:00 on Monday morning (Live + Video on Same Day as Live [VOSDAL]).
It is Sky’s third highest number for the Japanese round of the championship, only behind 2012 and 2014, which aired an hour later than this year. An audience of 302k (15.9%) watched via the F1 channel, with 82k (4.1%) watching via Main Event.
Live coverage of the race itself started with 594k (40.3%), staying above 500,000 viewers for the duration. A peak audience of 672k (20.8%) watched as Lewis Hamilton won the Grand Prix, this figure split 517k (16.0%) and 162k (5.5%) across F1 and Main Event respectively.
Channel 4’s highlights programme also performed strongly, averaging 2.03m (17.7%) from 15:00 to 17:15. Of course, Formula 1 benefited from no Premier League football action on Sunday, but for Channel 4’s highlights number to be only 300,000 viewers behind the 2.36m (20.9%) who watched the BBC programme in 2012 is a real achievement.
A peak audience of 2.61m (20.4%) caught Channel 4’s highlights show at 16:45 as their edit concluded. Channel 4’s audience figures are comfortably up year-on-year, and higher than both Australia and China earlier this season.
The combined average audience of 2.42 million viewers is an increase of 23 percent on last year’s average of 1.97 million viewers. Japan has historically rated lower than the season average. To give two examples, in 2012, the average audience was 2.77 million viewers, whilst the average in 2015 was 2.64 million viewers. Certainly, Sunday’s average is promising for the rest of the season.
At its peak, 3.29 million viewers watched Channel 4’s and Sky’s programming on Sunday, an increase of around 18 percent year-on-year. Both metrics increased for the fourth race in succession, a rare trend for Formula 1 considering the channel switch from the BBC to Channel 4 at the end of 2015.
Live coverage of qualifying, broadcast across Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event, averaged 240k (8.1%) from 06:00 to 08:40. The average is Sky’s highest ever for a Japanese qualifying broadcast, beating last year’s figure by 4,000 viewers.
Although it is Sky’s highest figure, it should be noted that from 2012 to 2014, qualifying started an hour earlier than what it currently does, so the comparison is not necessarily like-for-like. An average of 196k (6.6%) watched via the F1 channel, with the remaining 43k (1.5%) watching via Main Event.
Channel 4’s highlights programme averaged 1.16m (13.8%) from 13:00 to 14:30, an increase of 151,000 viewers compared with 2016. Both broadcasters posted solid numbers, resulting in a combined audience of 1.40 million viewers, an increase on last year’s audience of 1.24 million viewers, but still below the two million barrier numbers seen when F1 was on the BBC.
The 2016 Japanese Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.