Toyota’s Le Mans victory peaks with 343,000 viewers

Toyota’s first Le Mans victory, with Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and debutant Fernando Alonso at the helm, peaked with 343,000 viewers on Sunday afternoon in the UK, overnight viewing figures show.

Le Mans down on 2017, but solid against World Cup competition
2018 was always going to be a tough year for Le Mans thanks to reduced competition in the flagship LMP1 class, as well as the football World Cup competition getting underway, but the famous race fared solidly.

Live coverage of the race aired in its entirety on Eurosport, with three portions airing on free-to-air channel Quest TV. ITV4’s coverage, which was present last year, did not return for 2018 which should be factored into year-on-year comparisons. However, the level of coverage was like that provided in 2015 and 2016.

The audience figures in this piece exclude those who watched via the Eurosport Player, FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) App or via other online means.

Across all UK television outlets, the whole race averaged 84k (1.3%) from 13:45 on Saturday through to 14:15 on Sunday, which is in the same ballpark as previous years. The audience is lower than 2015 and 2017, when the race averaged 98k (1.5%) and 98k (1.7%) respectively. In both years there was no major football tournament to contend with.

Le Mans was up on the 2016 race average of 73k (0.9%), which should be considered a success, considering 2016 clashed with the Euro 2016 tournament (the weekend also clashed with Formula 1’s European Grand Prix).

Eurosport’s coverage averaged 53k (0.9%) from 13:45 on Saturday, a slight decrease on last year’s audience of 59k (1.0%). It is Eurosport’s worst average audience for the race since 2012, although the margins are tight between the different years. Their coverage peaked with 146k (2.4%) at 10:50 on Sunday, down around 20,000 viewers on the 2017 peak audience of 166k (2.5%).

Unlike in previous years, Eurosport’s coverage did not build its audience in the final few hours, slipping back under 100k at 12:05, and only jumping back above that mark at 13:20. At 13:50, 135k (1.5%) were watching Eurosport’s coverage.

Three separate shows aired on Quest TV. The start of the race averaged 62k (0.7%) from 13:30 to 15:00, down on last year’s audience of 89k (1.6%). Saturday’s evening update at 22:00 averaged 102k (0.8%), an increase of 4,000 viewers on last year’s figure of 98k (0.7%).

The highlight for Quest was Sunday’s live coverage, which averaged 130k (1.8%), peaking with 209k (2.3%) at 13:50, their highest Le Mans peak since 2015.

The combined peak audience of 343k (3.8%) came at 13:55 on Sunday, with the audience split 134k vs 202k in Quest’s favour. The peak audience is down 176,000 viewers year-on-year, some of that a result of ITV4 no longer airing coverage, some of it due to the World Cup.

Even-stevens between BTCC and Formula E
The weekend prior to Le Mans, as well as Formula 1’s excursion to Canada, there was British Touring Car Championship action from Oulton Park and Formula E racing from Zurich, both airing live on free-to-air television on Sunday 10th June.

The touring car action aired on ITV4 from 11:15 to 18:10, to an average audience of 219k (3.0%). Race 1 started at 12:20, averaging 221k (3.7%), with race 2 following on with an audience of 285k (4.0%) at 14:50.

An opening lap accident halted race 3, resulting in a 25-minute delay. 329k (3.2%) watched the delayed race from 17:30 to 17:55, with the peak audience of the day coming at 17:45 as 347k (3.4%) watched the closing laps.

Further up the channel order, Channel 5’s coverage of the Zurich E-Prix averaged 290k (3.0%) from 16:30 to 18:15. The race itself from 17:00 to 17:55 averaged 331k (3.4%), peaking with 396k (4.0%) at 17:25. Eurosport 2’s coverage of Formula E is unlikely to make a substantial difference to audience figures.

It is interesting to note that 70,000 viewers switched from Formula E to the BTCC as race 3 restarted, with ITV4 overtaking Channel 5 at this point. Channel 5 dropped from 396k (4.0%) to 304k (3.0%) between 17:25 and 17:40, whilst ITV4 increased from 275k (2.8%) to 338k (3.3%) in the same period.

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Scheduling: The 2018 French Grand Prix

Formula 1 returns to Paul Ricard for the first time since 1990, with the French Grand Prix! The race makes its return to the calendar, having last held a Grand Prix in 2008 at Magny-Cours. It forms the start of Formula 1’s first ever triple-header, Austria and Britain following in the next two weeks.

A returning race is normally a big thing, generating more publicity for the sport than usual, however that is not quite the case this year thanks to the clash with football’s World Cup extravaganza.

The start times for all the weekend’s action is an hour later than usual (and 130 minutes later than the 2017 European times), the change designed to avoid a clash on Sunday between the Grand Prix and England’s football game against Panama.

Because of the race starting at 15:10 UK time, Channel 4’s highlights are pushed deep into the evening. Channel 4 have opted to keep Bake Off: The Professionals and The Handmaid’s Tale in their usual slots, the F1 highlights starting at 22:10.

The free-to-air broadcaster cannot start their highlights programme at 18:00 (less than 3 hours after the race starts), so the options were to run a truncated show from 19:00, start the programme at 19:00 and drop either Bake Off: The Professionals or Handmaid’s Tale for a week, or do what they have done and start the F1 at 22:15.

It is very unfortunate as the F1 would comfortably bring in more viewers than both programmes based on audience figures so far. The football competition in that scenario would have been Poland versus Colombia, not exactly tier 1 material.

Sky have failed to capitalise on their exclusively live coverage, sticking to the usual routine of airing coverage on the F1 channel, with a Main Event simulcast. Exclusive race or not, I am struggling to grasp why they have not gone a step further and aired live coverage on Sky 1.

There is a massive shop window here for Sky to bring new viewers to their output, and they have not recognised that fact. Furthermore, there is limited coverage on 5 Live, so a major missed opportunity, in my eyes. A separate question is just why the FIA decided to run a triple-header in the middle of the biggest sporting event of the year, and not at either the start or end of the European season…

On the personnel front, Tom Clarkson continues to be super sub for Channel 4 reporter Lee McKenzie, McKenzie currently presenting rugby coverage elsewhere on Channel 4.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
23/06 – 18:30 to 20:10 – Qualifying Highlights
24/06 – 22:15 to 00:10 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
22/06 – 10:30 to 12:55 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
22/06 – 14:45 to 16:50 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
23/06 – 11:45 to 13:15 – Practice 3
23/06 – 14:00 to 16:40 – Qualifying
=> 14:00 – Pre-Show
=> 14:55 – Qualifying
24/06 – 13:30 to 18:10 – Race
=> 13:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 14:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 15:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 17:30 – Paddock Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)

Supplementary Programming
20/06 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Preview (also Sky Sports Mix)
21/06 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
21/06 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
23/06 – 18:15 to 18:50 – The F1 Show
27/06 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Review (also Sky Sports Mix)

BBC Radio F1
22/06 – 10:55 to 12:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
22/06 – 14:55 to 16:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
23/06 – 11:55 to 13:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
23/06 – 14:55 to 16:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
24/06 – 15:00 to 18:00 – Race Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Blancpain GT Sprint Series – Misano (BT Sport 2)
23/06 – 18:45 to 20:30 – Qualifying Race
24/06 – 12:15 to 14:15 – Championship Race

British Touring Car Championship – Croft (ITV4)
24/06 – 11:15 to 18:20 – Races

Formula Two – France (Sky Sports F1)
22/06 – 12:50 to 13:50 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
22/06 – 16:50 to 17:35 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
23/06 – 16:40 to 18:15 – Race 1
24/06 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Race 2

GP3 Series – France (Sky Sports F1)
22/06 – 17:45 to 18:30 – Qualifying
23/06 – 10:25 to 11:20 – Race 1
24/06 – 09:40 to 10:40 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Road America (BT Sport/ESPN)
24/06 – 17:30 to 20:30 – Race

World Superbikes – Laguna Seca
23/06 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
23/06 – 21:15 to 23:15 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
24/06 – 21:30 to 23:15 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
26/06 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

World Touring Car Cup – Vila Real (Eurosport 2)
26/06 – 09:00 to 10:30 – Qualifying
26/06 – 15:00 to 18:00
=> 15:00 – Race 2
=> 16:30 – Race 3

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.

Scheduling: The 2018 Canadian Grand Prix / Zurich E-Prix

Formula 1 heads across the ocean to North America for its annual June trip: the Canadian Grand Prix!

The race airs exclusively live on Sky Sports, with late night highlights the order of the day for Channel 4.

Lee McKenzie continues to wind down her Formula 1 commitments and focus on other sports, this time presenting rugby for Channel 4. McKenzie is missing several races this Summer with Wimbledon also on the agenda.

Elsewhere, Formula E heads to Switzerland for the very first time, as racing returns to the country for the first time since 1954. Note that the race takes place on Sunday evening, clashing with the first part of Sky’s build-up for the Canadian Grand Prix.

The BBC is airing a documentary looking at the electric series on its news channel on Friday evening called Driving Change. Part of a wider strand of programming from Radio 1’s Newsbeat team, the documentary looks at how Formula E is helping people make the shift to electric cars.

With Jack Nicholls on Formula E duty, Alex Jacques steps back into Nicholls’ shoes as BBC’s 5 Live F1 lead commentator.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
09/06 – 22:55 to 00:25 – Qualifying Highlights
10/06 – 22:40 to 00:40 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
08/06 – 14:30 to 16:50 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
08/06 – 18:45 to 20:50 – Practice 2
09/06 – 15:45 to 17:15 – Practice 3
09/06 – 18:00 to 20:35 – Qualifying
=> 18:00 – Pre-Show
=> 18:55 – Qualifying
10/06 – 17:30 to 22:10 – Race
=> 17:30 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 18:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 19:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 21:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
06/06 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Preview
07/06 – 16:00 to 16:30 – Driver Press Conference
07/06 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
09/06 – 20:35 to 21:10 – The F1 Show
13/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
08/06 – 14:55 to 16:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
09/06 – 18:55 to 20:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
10/06 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula E – Zurich (online via YouTube)
10/06 – 07:55 to 08:55 – Practice 1
10/06 – 10:25 to 11:10 – Practice 2

Formula E – Zurich
08/06 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Driving Change (BBC News)
10/06 – 12:45 to 14:10 – Qualifying (5Spike)
10/06 – 16:30 to 18:15 – Race (Channel 5)
10/06 – 16:45 to 18:15 – Race (Eurosport 2)

British Touring Car Championship – Oulton Park (ITV4)
10/06 – 11:15 to 18:00 – Races

Euroformula – Spa
09/06 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 2)
10/06 – 12:15 to 13:15 – Race 2 (BT Sport 3)

IndyCar Series – Texas 600 (BT Sport/ESPN)
10/06 (Sunday morning) – 01:00 to 04:00 – Race

International GT Open – Spa
09/06 – 14:00 to 15:45 – Race 1 (BT Sport 2)
10/06 – 13:15 to 14:45 – Race 2 (BT Sport 3)

World Rally Championship – Italy
Every stage live via WRCPlus.com
07/06 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Live: Stage 1 [Ittiri Arena Show] (BT Sport 1)
08/06 – Day 1 Highlights
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 23:30 to 00:00 (BT Sport 2)
09/06 – 07:30 to 08:30 – Live: Stage (BT Sport 1)
09/06 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Live: Stage (BT Sport 1)
09/06 – Day 2 Highlights
=> 21:30 to 22:00 (BT Sport 3)
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (Motorsport.tv)
10/06 – 08:30 to 09:30 – Live: Stage (BT Sport 1)
10/06 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Live: Stage 19 [Power Stage] (BT Sport 1)
10/06 – Day 3 Highlights
=> 21:30 to 22:00 (BT Sport 1)
=> 22:30 to 23:00 (Motorsport.tv)
12/06 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (Channel 5)

World Superbikes – Brno
08/06 – 08:40 onwards (Eurosport 2)
=> 08:40 to 09:30 – SBK: Practice 1
=> 11:25 to 12:15 – SBK: Practice 2
09/06 – 09:00 to 14:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
10/06 – 10:00 to 14:00 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
13/06 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.

Scheduling: The 2018 Monaco Grand Prix / Indianapolis 500

One of the biggest motor racing weekends of the year is here: it is time for the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500!

The Monaco round of the Formula 1 season airs live across Sky and Channel 4; however, this weekend Sky’s coverage is airing on four different channels. As usual, the action is airing on their dedicated F1 channel. Sky are simulcasting some on-track sessions across Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix, which is not unusual.

The major departure for Sky is that both the qualifying and race are airing live on their main entertainment channel, Sky One, which is a fascinating move ahead of 2019. It is the first session to air live on Sky One since the Spanish Grand Prix qualifying session in 2015, and the first time a Formula 1 race has aired on the channel.

Whether Sky One fulfils F1’s criteria of ‘free to air’ is unclear (given that the channel is not on Freeview, I suspect not), but this is one to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

Over on 5 Live, the radio broadcaster is airing the Chequered Flag podcast on their main station Sunday evening, from 18:00. It is the earliest they have aired the podcast, I imagine this will air on a small tape-delay following the race. Channel 4 meanwhile has highlights of the Historic Monaco Grand Prix weekend airing across the weekend.

BT Sport plays host to the 102nd Indianapolis 500. Although the scheduling is identical to last year, there is no studio coverage, reverting to the set-up from 2016. Last year featured significantly more interest because of Fernando Alonso’s participation in the race.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
24/05 – 09:55 to 11:45 – Practice 1
24/05 – 13:55 to 16:00 – Practice 2
26/05 – 10:55 to 12:25 – Practice 3
26/05 – 12:55 to 15:45 – Qualifying
27/05 – 13:00 to 17:30 – Race
=> 13:00 – Build-Up
=> 13:45 – Race
=> 16:30 – Reaction

Supplementary Programming
26/05 – 09:55 to 10:55 – Historic Grand Prix of Monaco (part 1)
27/05 – 08:00 to 08:55 – Historic Grand Prix of Monaco (part 2)

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
24/05 – 09:45 to 11:55 – Practice 1
24/05 – 13:45 to 15:50 – Practice 2
26/05 – 10:45 to 12:15 – Practice 3 (also Sky One)
26/05 – 13:00 to 15:40 – Qualifying (also Sky One and Sky Sports Mix)
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying
27/05 – 12:30 to 17:30 – Race (also Sky One)
=> 12:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 13:30 – On the Grid
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
23/05 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Driver Press Conference
23/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Preview (also Sky Sports Mix)
23/05 – 21:00 to 21:15 – Paddock Uncut
26/05 – 15:40 to 16:15 – The F1 Show (also Sky One and Sky Sports Mix)
30/05 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio 5 Live
24/05 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview
26/05 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Qualifying
27/05 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Race
27/05 – 18:00 to 18:30 – Chequered Flag

Formula Renault Eurocup – Monaco
26/05 – 08:45 to 09:45 – Race 1 (BT Sport 1)
27/05 – 10:15 to 11:15 – Race 2 (BT Sport 2)

Formula Two – Monaco (Sky Sports F1)
24/05 – 08:10 to 09:05 – Practice
24/05 – 12:15 to 13:05 – Qualifying
25/05 – 10:25 to 11:55 – Race 1
26/05 – 16:15 to 17:25 – Race 2 (also Sky Sports Mix)

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 (BT Sport 1)
27/05 – 15:30 to 21:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Monaco (Sky Sports F1)
27/05 – 09:25 to 10:10 – Race

Speedway Grand Prix – Prague (BT Sport 3)
26/05 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races

World Superbikes – Donington Park
25/05 – 09:40 onwards (Eurosport 2)
=> 09:40 to 10:30 – SBK: Practice 1
=> 16:45 to 19:00 – SBK and SSP: Practice
26/05 – 10:15 to 15:15 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
27/05 – 11:00 to 14:00 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
29/05 – 22:00 to 23:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

As always, this post will be updated if the schedule changes.

Updated on May 24th to reflect slight changes for Sky’s simulcasts.

Scheduling: The 2018 Berlin E-Prix / French MotoGP

Formula E and MotoGP are back in action this weekend, in the heartland of Europe.

The electric single seater series heads to Germany for the Berlin E-Prix. The scheduling of the E-Prix at first sight is odd, with the E-Prix scheduled to satisfy domestic viewers rather than international ones. Domestically, the race takes place between the women’s and men’s football domestic cup final; however internationally this results in a clash with the English FA Cup final! Expect a lower than usual UK number as a result.

On the punditry front, it is a newsworthy weekend, with Channel 4’s Formula 1 analyst David Coulthard joining Jack Nicholls and Bob Varsha in the Formula E commentary box. As readers will know, Coulthard is also part of the Whisper Films production company, and Whisper have not yet collaborated with Formula E. Coulthard replaces Dario Franchitti, who is on Indianapolis 500 duty.

MotoGP returns with the French round of the championship, the action as usual live on BT Sport. Elsewhere on BT Sport, it is qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, live coverage airing on both Saturday and Sunday evenings.

In a further scheduling oddity from the outside, the main World Touring Car Cup action from Zandvoort takes place on Monday, but this is because Monday is Whit Monday in Netherlands and many other parts of the world.

MotoGP – France (BT Sport 2)
18/05 – 07:45 to 15:15 – Practice 1 and 2
19/05 – 07:45 to 15:15
=> 07:45 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
20/05 – 07:30 to 15:00
=> 07:30 – Warm Ups
=> 09:15 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – France (Channel 5)
22/05 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

Formula E – Berlin (online via YouTube)
19/05 – 07:55 to 08:55 – Practice 1
19/05 – 10:25 to 11:10 – Practice 2

Formula E – Berlin
19/05 – 12:30 to 14:00 (Eurosport 2)
=> 12:30 – Preview
=> 13:00 – Qualifying
19/05 – 12:45 to 14:10 – Qualifying (5Spike)
19/05 – 16:45 to 18:15 – Race (Eurosport 2)
19/05 – 16:45 to 18:30 – Race (Channel 5)

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup – Silverstone
19/05 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Race Start (Motorsport.tv)
19/05 – 14:30 to 18:30 – Race (BT Sport X2)
19/05 – 17:05 to 19:30 – Race Finish (Motorsport.tv)

British Touring Car Championship – Thruxton (ITV4)
20/05 – 11:15 to 18:00 – Races

Formula Renault Eurocup – Silverstone
19/05 – 13:15 to 14:15 – Race 1 (BT Sport 3)
20/05 – 13:15 to 14:30 – Race 2 (BT Sport X2)

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500
19/05 – 21:00 to 23:00 – Qualifying – Day 1 (BT Sport 2)
20/05 – 21:00 to 23:00 – Qualifying – Day 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)

World Rally Championship – Portugal
Every stage live via WRCPlus.com
17/05 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Live: Stage 1 (BT Sport/ESPN)
18/05 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Live: Stage 8 and 9 (BT Sport 2)
18/05 – Day 1 Highlights
=> 23:30 to 00:00 (BT Sport 2)
=> 23:30 to 00:00 (Motorsport.tv)
19/05 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Live: Stage 13 (BT Sport 3)
19/05 – Day 2 Highlights
=> 23:30 to 00:00 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 00:00 to 00:30 (BT Sport 1)
20/05 – 09:00 to 10:00 – Live: Stage 17 (BT Sport 3)
20/05 – 12:00 to 13:30 – Live: Stage 19 [Power Stage] (BT Sport/ESPN)
20/05 – Day 3 Highlights
=> 23:30 to 00:00 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 00:30 to 01:00 (BT Sport 3)
23/05 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (Channel 5)

World Touring Car Cup – Netherlands
21/05 – 07:30 to 08:50 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
21/05 – 11:00 to 12:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport)
21/05 – 15:30 to 16:30 – Race 3 (Eurosport)

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.