F1 2018 season opener starts on same footing as 2017

The 2018 Australian Grand Prix, which featured the same one-two finish as the year before, also remarkably had near identical audience figures in the United Kingdom across the weekend, overnight viewing figures show.

Race
As noted prior to the start of this season, this site will continue to use the three-and-a-half-hour time slot, or equivalent, for Sky’s race day broadcasts. For 2018, this encompasses the final half of Pit Lane Live, On the Grid and the race show itself. All audience figures are Live + VOSDAL (Video on Same Day as Live), they include simulcast (+1) channels as well as commercial breaks.

Live coverage of the race, which aired on both Sky’s Formula 1 channel and their Main Event channel, averaged 344k (18.4%) from 05:00 to 08:30. During this period, an audience of 256k (13.8%) watched via the dedicated F1 channel, with 88k (4.6%) watching via Main Event.

Sky’s race coverage across both channels peaked with 562k (20.4%) at 07:30 as Sebastian Vettel won the Grand Prix. This figure includes viewers who recorded the live airing to watch later in the day. At the time of the peak, 418k (15.2%) were watching Sky Sports F1, and a further 144k (5.2%) via Main Event.

Compared with 2017, Sky’s average audience is down by 12.9 percent, and their peak audience down by 11.6 percent. Last year’s programme averaged 395k (22.2%), peaking with 636k (38.7%). The figures are more favourable with 2016, only a slight dip in average (344k versus 360k), but an increase in the peak audience (562k versus 559k).

Seven hours after the race finished, Channel 4’s highlights broadcast averaged 1.71m (16.8%) from 14:30 to 17:15, an increase of 3.7 percent on last year’s figure of 1.65m (20.6%). Whilst an audience increase is always nice, the total television audience year-on-year was up by 2.2 million viewers in the slot, yet Channel 4’s F1 coverage only gained by 61,000 viewers, hence why the percentage share has dropped drastically.

Similarly, Channel 4’s show peaked with 2.15m (18.2%) at 16:40, compared with a peak of 2.07m (26.0%) twelve months ago. Both the average and peak metrics for 2018 are down by around 19 percent on Channel 4’s 2016 Australia audience figures.

The combined average audience of 2.05 million viewers is a very marginal increase on last year’s average of 2.04 million viewers, or to be exact an increase of 10,000 viewers, which is within the margin of error. The same applies for the combined peak audience of 2.71 million, which itself was up 13,000 viewers on last year’s figure of 2.70 million viewers.

Considering the relative heat wave the UK experienced this time last year, to start off on the same level as that is not a great way to start the season. The low audience shares are cause for concern, as the viewers were around on Sunday, they just chose to watch something other than the F1. Australia’s numbers only serve to continue the general downward trajectory for Formula 1 – on linear television at least.

Qualifying
Sky’s qualifying coverage aired from 05:00 to 07:45 across Sky Sports F1 and Main Event to an audience of 252k (13.2%). 181k (9.4%) watched via Sky’s F1 channel, with 71k (3.8%) choosing to watch via Main Event.

Coverage of qualifying peaked with 477k (14.6%) at 07:05 as Lewis Hamilton partied to pole position, in-line with last year’s peak figure of 481k (14.6%). Again, the average for 2018 of 252k was in-line with last year’s average of 254k (12.6%). Both metrics were up around 10 percent on 2016.

Later in the day, a further 1.18m (15.1%) watched Channel 4’s highlights show from 13:00 to 14:50, down 45,000 viewers on last year’s number of 1.22m (18.2%). The broadcast peaked with 1.62m (20.2%), marginally down year-on-year.

The combined average audience of 1.42 million viewers is slightly down on last year’s audience figure of 1.48 million viewers.

The 2017 Australian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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5 thoughts on “F1 2018 season opener starts on same footing as 2017

  1. A few ‘minor’ things might have affected the figures. Clocks went forward one hour, and last week, many TV channels were moved to new frequencies to make space for future 5G services. This affected many in London and the South East who would have watched 4+1, because there was/still is, a service interruption, or their aerial system is incompatible with the new frequencies.

    O.T. Surprised to see the amount of F1.com material on YouTube.

    • If watching on Sky via Taltalk, you need extra YouTube coverage to catch up on things you’ve missed, I.e. Principles press conference, not on guide as that, just as Formula one, so missed that. Plus when recording the various programs, I have to also record the programs either side, or I miss either the beginning or the end, this applies to the other very few useful programs I’m given included in my rather expensive F1 package. I expect I’m supposed to be grateful that I can now also access loads of other sports plus various soccerchannels, non of which I want or like. I still prefer the actual Sky F1 programs to ch. 4, especially Teds notebook, and the occasional other techs stuff. Supposed to be getting some new Legends progs soon too, hopefully.

  2. I think a number of people started watching on NowTV with the £150 season pass, including myself who watched the C4 highlights last year, which could at least explain why the increase was so small.

  3. I think any extra figures could be wanting to see if the new F1 management changed programming much, as for lots on YouTube, my thoughts as follows:-
    If watching on Sky via Taltalk, you need extra YouTube coverage to catch up on things you’ve missed, I.e. Principles press conference, not on guide as that, just as Formula one, so missed that. Plus when recording the various programs, I have to also record the programs either side, or I miss either the beginning or the end, this applies to the other very few useful programs I’m given included in my rather expensive F1 package. I expect I’m supposed to be grateful that I can now also access loads of other sports plus various soccerchannels, non of which I want or like. I still prefer the actual Sky F1 programs to ch. 4, especially Teds notebook, and the occasional other techs stuff.

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