Nearly four million viewers watch Hamilton take control

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.


Scheduling: The 2017 Singapore Grand Prix

The fly-away races begin for the Formula 1 paddock with the Singapore Grand Prix! It is Singapore’s tenth race since it returned to the calendar in 2008. The race will air live across Channel 4 and Sky, which is great news as Singapore is one of the longest races on the calendar, meaning it receives a brutal edit when not covered live on free-to-air television.

Channel 4 have two special programmes during the weekend. The first is their usual F1 Meets output, this time Lee McKenzie interviews Sir Jackie Stewart. The special edition of Speed with Guy Martin also airs this weekend as he becomes part of the Williams team for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. North One Television have turned the programme around quickly, with just a three-week gap between Belgium and transmission. I am slightly surprised that Channel 4 have not held this back until October and November, but at the same time it will have more of an impact airing closer to the filming date.

Singapore will play host to one of Channel 4’s stronger line-ups this year with Eddie Jordan and Mark Webber alongside Steve Jones and David Coulthard. Over on Sky, Rachel Brookes was due to return to their output for the fly-away races, except she has been ruled out through knee injury, so viewers will hear more of Craig Slater this weekend. Brookes joins NBC’s Jason Swales on the side lines, Swales having broken his ankle over the Summer break. Get well soon both!

There is no Formula Two or GP3 action in Singapore, both championships return in three weeks’ time from Jerez. This weekend does mark the end of the IndyCar Series season, with four drivers in contention for the crown, as always, the action is live on BT Sport.

Channel 4 F1
15/09 – 09:25 to 11:05 – Practice 1
15/09 – 13:25 to 15:05 – Practice 2
16/09 – 10:55 to 12:25 – Practice 3
16/09 – 12:55 to 15:45 – Qualifying
17/09 – 12:00 to 16:15 – Race
=> 12:00 – Build–Up
=> 12:35 – Race
=> 15:10 – Reaction

Supplementary Programming
16/09 – 12:25 to 12:55 – F1 Meets… Jackie Stewart
17/09 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Speed with Guy Martin: F1 Challenge

Sky Sports F1
15/09 – 09:15 to 11:25 – Practice 1
15/09 – 13:15 to 15:10 – Practice 2
16/09 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
16/09 – 13:00 to 15:40 – Qualifying
17/09 – 11:30 to 16:10 – Race (also Sky Sports Mix)
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
13/09 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
14/09 – 11:00 to 12:00 – Driver Press Conference
14/09 – 23:45 to 00:00 – Paddock Uncut
15/09 – 15:15 to 16:00 – Team Press Conference
15/09 – 16:00 to 16:30 – The F1 Show
20/09 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
14/09 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
15/09 – 09:25 to 11:05 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15/09 – 13:25 to 15:05 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
16/09 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
16/09 – 13:55 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
17/09 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Blancpain Sprint Series – Nurburgring
16/09 – 12:45 to 14:15 – Qualifying Race (BT Sport 3)
17/09 – 13:45 to 16:00 – Championship Race (BT Sport/ESPN)

British Superbikes – Oulton Park
16/09 – 16:00 to 18:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
17/09 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
17/09 – 16:00 to 18:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
20/09 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

British Touring Car Championship – Silverstone (ITV4)
17/09 – 11:00 to 18:30 – Races

FIM CEV Repsol – Jerez
17/09 – Races
=> 09:45 to 13:45 (BT Sport/ESPN)
=> 13:45 to 15:00 (BT Sport X3)

Formula V8 3.5 – Austin (BT Sport 3)
16/09 – 14:45 to 15:45 – Race 1
17/09 – 15:45 to 17:00 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Sonoma (BT Sport/ESPN)
17/09 – 23:30 to 02:30 – Race

World Endurance Championship – Austin
16/09 – Race
=> 17:30 to 00:45 (BT Sport X3)
=> 17:45 to 00:20 (
=> 17:50 to 21:55 (Eurosport)
=> 22:30 to 00:15 (Eurosport)

World Superbikes – Portimao
16/09 – 10:45 to 16:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
17/09 – 10:45 to 13:00 – Support Races (Eurosport 2)
17/09 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
19/09 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.

Formula Two smashes its way to a record high; Formula 1 jumps to season high

The high-octane action of Formula Two helped the championship to a record high audience on Sunday morning, overnight viewing figures show, in what was an excellent weekend for both the feeder series and its bigger brother.

Formula Two soars to record high
Last week in the Belgian Grand Prix ratings post, I joked that I would report the Formula Two audience figures as a one-off. Evidently that changed the moment this past weekend’s figures landed in my inbox. Formula Two, or its predecessor the GP2 Series, has always been the unloved sibling. Whilst Sky Sports F1 has broadcast the World Feed for the leading feeder series, and GP3 since 2012, both entities have been under promoted for various reasons well documented on these pages.

Nevertheless, the new emphasis on the series from Sky and Liberty Media, combined with the rise of Charles Leclerc and Britain’s Oliver Rowland has caused a spike in Formula Two’s viewing figures. The feature race on Saturday was delayed thanks to the excessively long rain delay for Formula 1 qualifying. An audience of 68k (0.6%) stuck around from 17:15 to 18:30 on Saturday evening, a very good figure considering the delay.

The following day, an audience of 103k (1.6%) watched Formula Two’s sprint race from 09:10 to 10:05, peaking with 128k (2.0%) as the race ended, the highest ever overnight audience for a feeder series race on Sky Sports F1 dating back to the channel launch in 2012. Depending on the overarching circumstances, Formula Two can rate anywhere between 10,000 and 60,000 viewers, a very wide margin, but the audience for the feeder series is not as loyal as Formula 1. For a small number, Formula Two may be ‘must watch’, for others it will be a case of watching if nothing else is on.

Quite simply the audience is fantastic for the series, and should please those at Sky and Liberty Media. The next round in Jerez is a standalone event during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, and based on current standings, it is likely that the championship will be resolved during the weekend. I dare say that Sky should consider giving extra treatment to the Jerez rounds (whether via some extra London studio wrap around or some other mechanism) otherwise the potential championship decider may go unnoticed.

The good news extended through to Formula 1, as both Sky Sports and Channel 4 saw healthy boosts over the weekend, perhaps helped by no top-flight domestic football action.

Live coverage of the race, broadcast across Sky’s dedicated F1 channel and Sky Sports Main Event from 12:00 to 15:20, averaged a strong 857k (9.5%). Note that I would not normally tape-check Sky’s numbers, however Sky concluded their main show ten minutes early, meaning that Main Event went off the air earlier than anticipated. In any event, tape-checking makes little difference to the overall audience as Sky Sports F1’s post-race segment performed better than usual. An audience of 550k (6.1%) watched on the F1 channel, compared with 307k (3.4%) on Main Event, a split of 64:36.

Sky’s audience is their highest ever for the Italian round and their highest European audience since the 2016 German Grand Prix. The same facts apply for the peak audience of 1.39m (15.0%), which occurred at 13:30. At the time of the peak, 883k (9.5%) were watching via the F1 channel, with 505k (5.4%) watching on Main Event. However, Main Event’s audience grew further to a peak of 586k (6.1%) of 14:15, except during the same period, the F1 channel dropped to 762k (8.0%). Overall though, Sunday was an excellent news day for Sky, and they have several reasons to be happy.

After a rough couple of races, Channel 4’s numbers also flourished across the weekend. Their race highlights programme averaged 2.15m (11.6%) from 17:45 to 20:00, their highest audience for highlights since Germany 2016. Channel 4’s peak audience of 2.72m (16.2%) was their highest since the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

The combined audience of 3.10 million viewers is the highest average audience of the entire year, the first time Formula 1 has jumped above three million viewers in this metric since the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix! Last year, Italy aired live on free-to-air television to an audience of 2.57 million viewers, so the average jumped year-on-year by 17 percent.

Italy is a race made for highlights simply because of its short length meaning that viewers are not missing as much action. The combined peak audience of 4.11 million viewers is an increase of two percent compared with 2016’s live coverage. Describing these audience figures as fabulous may be disingenuous, however they are healthy numbers in the context of the season so far.

Due to torrential rain, Sky Sports F1 was live on-air for over five hours on Saturday, from 12:00 to 17:10 for their qualifying broadcast. Their coverage averaged 363k (5.0%) for the duration, a good performance in the circumstances. From 13:00 to 16:45, the channel never dipped below 310,000 viewers, so most viewers stuck with the broadcast during the two-and-a-half-hour delay. Sky’s coverage recorded a five-minute peak of 543k (6.7%) as the second part of qualifying eventually ended at 16:15.

A little over 15 minutes after Sky went off the air, Channel 4’s highlights programme averaged 1.39m (11.2%) from 17:30 to 19:05, a slight overrun which is unusual for a highlights programme, no doubt the edit was still being completed whilst the programme was ‘live’ on air! The highlights show peaked with a strong 1.92m (14.0%) at 18:45 as Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position.

The combined average audience of 1.75 million viewers is a marginal increase on last year’s audience of 1.70 million viewers. The peak audience is down around 170,000 viewers year-on-year, with a combined peak this year of 2.46 million viewers, compared with 2.63 million viewers twelve months ago.

The 2016 Italian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

Bank Holiday and warm weather knocks Belgian Grand Prix down

The Belgian Grand Prix dipped last Sunday (27th August) compared with previous years, overnight viewing figures for the UK show.

Live coverage of the race, broadcast on Channel 4 from 12:00 to 15:10 for the build-up and the race itself, averaged 1.65m (19.6%), a drop of over 300,000 viewers on last year’s average of 1.98m (21.1%), which covers a longer time slot. It is Channel 4’s second lowest audience for a live race, only ahead of last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix programme. Typically, live European races on Channel 4 so far have averaged between 1.9 and 2.2 million viewers.

Sky simulcast Sunday’s action across their dedicated F1 channel and Sky Sports Mix, which now has a more prominent slot on the EPG thanks to the latest Sky reshuffle. The F1 channel brought in an average audience of 418k (5.0%) from 12:00 to 15:30, with Mix adding a further 151k (1.8%) over a shorter slot from 12:30 onwards. The weighted combined average for Sky of 547k (6.5%) is down in audience but slightly up in share on last year’s audience of 617k (6.3%). It does represent an increase though on all the figures from 2012 to 2015.

The race, including build-up, was down year-on-year from the very beginning. At midday, a combined audience of 640k (10.2%) were watching Channel 4 and Sky’s coverage, compared with 934k (12.3%) at the top of the pre-show hour last year. The race itself fluctuated between 3.1 million and 3.3 million viewers throughout, eventually reaching a combined peak audience of 3.49m (38.6%) as Lewis Hamilton won the Grand Prix. Whilst Channel 4’s coverage peaked with 2.57m (28.5%) as the race ended, the two Sky channels hit a combined peak of 1.03m (11.6%) at 13:25 prior to the first Super Sunday football game.

The combined average audience of 2.19 million viewers is down 15.5 percent on last year’s average of 2.60 million viewers. Last year’s average was stronger than anticipated, so a larger year-on-year drop is unsurprising, even if it is the lowest average for Spa since records began in 2007. The combined peak audience of 3.49 million is a decrease of 11.4 percent year-on-year on the 2016 peak audience of 3.94 million viewers.

Qualifying and Support Races
Live coverage of qualifying on Channel 4 averaged 937k (12.5%), down on last year’s audience of 1.08m (13.4%). Interestingly, the peak audience that the broadcaster recorded was up year-on-year. The main reason for this is that, in 2016, Lewis Hamilton was out of last year’s running from the beginning, starting from the back of the grid due to engine penalties. Nevertheless, it shows that, as with the race broadcast, less viewers watched Channel 4’s build-up programming.

Sky’s coverage on Sky Sports F1 averaged 262k (3.5%), in-line with last year’s audience of 263k (3.3%), although like with Channel 4, the peak for Sky was higher year-on-year. The result was a combined average audience of 1.20 million viewers, down 10.5 percent on 2016’s average of 1.34 million, yet the peak audience of 2.01 million viewers was up 10.4 percent year-on-year! It is very unusual to see that kind of pattern.

I normally do not publish Formula Two’s viewing figures, but there has been special interest over on Twitter to publish some numbers, so as a one-off, I will include them in this piece. The Formula Two qualifying session, broadcast live on Sky Sports F1 on Friday afternoon from 15:20 to 15:50, averaged 34k (0.6%). The two races averaged 51k (0.7%) and 34k (0.6%) on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning respectively.

Formula Two’s viewing figures look slightly higher than previous GP2 figures in the past few years. The viewing figures above are on the higher end of the pay TV scale for motor sport outside of Formula 1 and motorbikes. It is certainly lower than Moto2 and Moto3 on BT Sport, but higher than recent IndyCar figures (which have dropped back off post-Alonso).

The 2016 Belgian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

Scheduling: The 2017 Italian Grand Prix

The 2017 Formula One season heads to the last stop on the European calendar, the Italian Grand Prix! The race will air live on Sky Sports F1 and their Main Event channel, with highlights on Channel 4. After this round, the next highlights programme for Channel 4 is not until Japan, with both Singapore and Malaysia live on free-to-air television.

On the Sky side of things, Johnny Herbert is back with the team, having been absent since the Canadian Grand Prix back in June. Also on Sky, as noted last week, is a new show called The Inside Line. The show, produced by Inverleigh, airs on other Sky channels around the world, so it is probably little surprise to see it turn up on the UK version.

Channel 4 F1
02/09 – 17:30 to 19:00 – Qualifying Highlights
03/09 – 17:45 to 20:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
01/09 – 08:45 to 10:55 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
01/09 – 12:45 to 14:55 – Practice 2
02/09 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
02/09 – 12:00 to 14:40 – Qualifying
03/09 – 11:30 to 16:10 – Race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 12:30 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
31/08 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Driver Press Conference
31/08 – 18:15 to 18:30 – Paddock Uncut
01/09 – 15:50 to 16:35 – Team Press Conference
01/09 – 16:35 to 17:05 – The F1 Show
06/09 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
01/09 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
02/09 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
03/09 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Euroformula – Silverstone (BT Sport 2)
02/09 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Race 1
03/09 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Race 2

Formula Two – Italy (Sky Sports F1)
01/09 – 10:55 to 11:40 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
01/09 – 15:20 to 15:50 – Qualifying
02/09 – 14:55 to 16:25 – Race 1
03/09 – 09:10 to 10:25 – Race 2

Formula V8 3.5 – Mexico City
02/09 – 22:30 to 23:45 – Race 1 (BT Sport 3)
03/09 – 15:30 to 17:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport 2)

GP3 Series – Italy (Sky Sports F1)
02/09 – 08:45 to 09:20 – Qualifying
02/09 – 16:45 to 17:45 – Race 1
03/09 – 07:55 to 08:50 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Watkins Glen (BT Sport/ESPN)
03/09 – 18:00 to 21:00 – Race

International GT Open – Silverstone (BT Sport 2)
02/09 – 15:00 to 16:30 – Race 1
03/09 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Race 2

Porsche Supercup – Italy
03/09 – Race
=> 10:25 to 11:20 (Sky Sports F1)
=> 10:30 to 11:30 (Eurosport 2)

World Endurance Championship – Mexico City
03/09 – Race
=> 17:45 to 00:20 (
=> 18:30 to 01:30 (BT Sport 3)

The above schedule will be updated if anything changes.