Kay stands out as North One takes Channel 5’s Formula E coverage trackside

After an underwhelming first season covering the sport, Channel 5’s Formula E coverage has started its second year off on a fine note, with a little help from the electric series’ new production partners.

For the first four seasons, Aurora Media Worldwide produced Formula E’s World Feed, with UK broadcasters ITV and Channel 5 left to their own devices. As regular readers are aware, both broadcasters opted for studio-based coverage, although Formula E filmed features on-site on their behalf. All of that changed for this season.

Strong UK production…
Whilst Aurora remain involved, the addition of North One Television has bolstered Formula E’s UK presentation. Alongside their World Feed responsibilities, North One are also producing Channel 5’s programming, meaning that for the first time ever UK viewers get tailored, on-site coverage at every round.

North One have experience in this field: historically they produced ITV’s Formula 1 coverage until 2008, and have produced BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage since 2013. The production company relied on their two-wheeled personnel, led by British Superbikes director Richard Coventry, to produce Channel 5’s Formula E output.

In front of the camera, Vernon Kay replaced Andy Jaye as lead presenter. Kay’s appointment generated unnecessary criticism across social media, even though he has presented sporting events before on Channel 4. As I remarked at the time of his appointment, Kay is “enough of a veteran for me to feel that he will be just fine in the role.” Four races in, and I stand by this viewpoint.

Kay has interviewed drivers and team personnel, alongside his own miniature grid walk, something he looks like he has been doing for years. It helps that the Formula E grid is sparser than Formula 1, nevertheless you cannot help but be impressed by his work so far. Importantly, Kay has done his research, and is clearly passionate for Formula E on-screen, and has done his research, a vital asset for a series in its infancy.

2018 Santiago EPrix - Vernon Kay and Felix Rosenqvist
Presenter Vernon Kay interviews Mahindra driver Felix Rosenqvist.

Because of the changes behind the scenes, Channel 5’s programming has felt significantly more polished than last season’s output. The build-up has contained a mixture of pre-recorded segments, such as the track guide, and a grid walk. The pre-recorded segments add to the programme, with Kay interviewing drivers prior to qualifying.

There is a tendency to focus on the British contingent of racers, but considering the stage Formula E is at within its life cycle, this is an understandable directive. The commentary team, consisting of Jack Nicholls, Dario Franchitti and Bob Varsha also have their own segment with Kay, helping viewers put a face to the voices.

Commercials have generally been well-timed, a vast improvement on the early offerings in their first season. Impressively, despite airing the race on a tape-delay, Channel 5 covered the whole of the red-flag period during the Hong Kong E-Prix broadcast.

…but poor scheduling lets down Channel 5’s coverage
If I gave the production standards a first-class rating, then the scheduling fits into the lower second-class category. Short-term pain, long-term gain should be Channel 5’s motto here, but I worry if Channel 5 are in this for the long-term.

On-site coverage is fantastic for Formula E. But, was that a decision by Formula E, or did Channel 5 influence the decision? Who is paying for the extra expenses in producing on-site coverage? If the answer to that question is Channel 5, then surely that would have served as an incentive to broadcast races live on their main channel…

And there is the crux of the problem. Both Hong Kong races aired on tape-delay, so whilst the production was excellent (by Formula E’s UK TV standards to-date), the races were not live. Arguably, it did not matter as much in Hong Kong, a tape-delay meant that the races aired at a more sociable hour.

2018 Santiago EPrix - pre-race standings.png
A new-look broadcast package for Formula E’s fourth season. Here, the Drivers’ Championship standings is displayed prior to the race.

Marrakesh was live on Channel 5, but Santiago less than a month later aired on sister channel 5Spike, as the time difference meant that the race flowed into prime time. According to overnight viewing figures supplied by Overnights.tv, Channel 5 averaged 604k (3.1%) from 18:30 to 20:30 on Saturday 3rd February, not a great number considering a quarter of that covers the relaunched Blind Date.

The Buenos Aires E-Prix from February 2017 averaged 426k (2.2%) on Channel 5 in a similar time slot. Last weekend, the Santiago E-Prix struggled on 5Spike (even compared to 5Spike’s own numbers), averaging just 86k (0.4%), with Eurosport 2 adding a further 32k (0.17%), down on the combined Marrakesh number of 245,000 viewers.

In other words, viewing figures dropped by half the moment Formula E lost any sort of coverage on Channel 5’s main channel. Furthermore, Channel 5 failed to air a repeat of the Santiago round on their main channel, a strange decision. Mexico City is also airing on 5Spike, and Punta del Este is likely to follow suit.

How can Formula E gain momentum with inconsistent scheduling? If you are going to produce coverage on site, at least give the series a chance and air Santiago on the main channel. Airing the European phase of the season on Channel 5 is not enough, by that point the attention of the motor racing world is on the traditional season.

New broadcast package for season four
A new season, a new graphics suite. In their fourth season, Formula E are already on their third graphics set, a ‘throwing the kitchen sink at the wall and seeing what sticks’ approach.

The first set lasted for two seasons, however the broadcast package introduced at the start of season three only lasted for one season, despite being a vast improvement on their opening effort. I can forgive this change with North One coming on-board, but Formula E needs to build an on-screen identity, and you cannot do that by constantly changing the graphics.

2018 Santiago EPrix - progression.png
Jean-Eric Vergne leads in his Techeetah, whilst the timing wall graphic on the left shows the number of positions a driver has gained or lost.

The third graphics set is an evolution of the second set, moving away from a sky-blue suite and more towards a blue and purple style (claret and blue might be the right phrase here). The major change for fans is that the timing tower now updates frequently at every sector, as opposed to once a lap.

Formula E has taken inspiration from MotoGP with their timing tower. MotoGP ‘groups’ the riders together based on who they’re battling with, however Formula E has gone a step further, grouping drivers but spreading them down the tower based on the size of the gap, a nice innovation. The tower also displays when a competitor has jumped ahead of their rival by switching colour, and shows progression (or lack of) for a driver.

For the opening races, an “activate start” VT sequence aired immediately prior to the start of the race, however did not appear in the Santiago show. Frustratingly, the World Feed direction remains troublesome. With Formula E in its infancy, it needs to knuckle down to hook new viewers.

Switching between battles constantly, yet failing to capture this information on-screen only serves to confuse the audience. On a new street circuit with no history, the viewer is unfamiliar with the layout so will be unaware if the director has jumped ahead or behind on the circuit. A simple caption ‘Battle for 8th’ for example, listing the drivers involved would solve the problem.

A second problem with the direction is the length it takes to react to incidents. In Santiago, the graphics indicated that reigning champion Lucas di Grassi was dropping out of contention, but the production team was far too slow to pick this up. You get the impression that no one in gallery is monitoring the timing graphics, otherwise the director would be faster in reacting to such developments. As social media demonstrated days later, further on-track incidents were unnoticed by gallery.

There are other smaller problems on the production side: too many reaction shots, arguably worse than F1 in this respect (use picture-in-picture where possible); and the pit lane car swap still disturbs the flow (but is no longer a problem from season five onwards).

Overall, Formula E’s coverage of season four in the UK has started promisingly with major strides compared to previous seasons. Elsewhere, the World Feed is not terrible by any stretch, but I feel tweaks are necessary moving forward.



MotoGP’s UK audience rises thanks to Channel 5 switch

MotoGP’s viewing figures in the UK rose during 2017, because of the move of its highlights programming to Channel 5, overnight numbers show.

As regular readers will know, MotoGP aired on the BBC until the end of 2013, regularly averaging around one million viewers. With pay-TV money arguably more important to MotoGP than it is to other forms of motor sport, Dorna left the BBC at the end of 2013, instead choosing BT Sport as their new home, the rights fee rising considerably as a result.

BT Sport has been the sole live broadcaster of MotoGP since 2014, with free-to-air highlights airing on ITV4 from 2014 until 2016. This season, Channel 5 took over the baton on that front, exposing MotoGP to a larger audience in the same Monday evening time slot. The one down side is that Channel 5 also have the rights to some England cricket highlights, which caused MotoGP to air in a midnight time slot for the British round in August, a less than ideal situation.

In 2017, the MotoGP championship battle between Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso went down to the wire in Valencia, with Marquez coming out on top. This was the second season finale championship decider that BT have aired live, the first being the controversial tussle between Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo in 2015.

The BT Sport picture
Throughout 2017, BT Sport’s live coverage of race day, around five hours of coverage in total, has averaged 100k (1.7%), a decrease of around 12 percent on last year’s audience average of 114k (1.9%). BT’s average audience is their lowest since their opening year in 2014, which averaged 90k (1.4%).

All figures in this article are overnight audience figures (live, plus VOSDAL supplied by Overnights.tv, and exclude viewers who watched via BT Sport’s online platform, nor does it include fanatics who may have ventured towards the official MotoGP app to consume their coverage.

The patterns presented above repeated themselves for the other two key metrics: the MotoGP segment and the peak audience. The 18 races, using the 90-minute slot covering 30 minutes of build-up and a small wrap-up at the end, averaged 165k (2.6%), a slightly smaller drop of 9 percent compared with 2016’s equivalent audience of 181k (3.1%). In 2015, BT Sport’s coverage of each MotoGP race averaged 212k (3.6%), meaning that 2017’s numbers represent a 22 percent drop.

BT Sport’s coverage throughout 2017 peaked with 223,000 viewers for each race, a drop on last year’s peak audience of 245,000 viewers. The picture is the same throughout the trends, with BT Sport’s coverage of 2017 slotting in below 2015 and 2016, but ahead of 2014, despite this year’s action going down to the wire. In comparison, live coverage of British Superbikes peaks with around 130,000 viewers on Eurosport, inflated to 190,000 viewers if you include viewers watching on Quest. Contrary to popular belief, British Superbikes does not bring in higher audiences than MotoGP.

Marquez versus Dovizioso not a draw for UK audiences
In 2015, the season finale in Valencia recorded BT Sport’s highest ever audience for a MotoGP race, peaking with 433k (3.9%), a figure that has yet to be beaten. Whilst low compared with the BBC days, the figure showed that there was clearly a portion of the audience who do not normally tune into MotoGP, yet chose to watch the race on that day.

Fast-forward two years, and the 2017 season finale in Valencia peaked with 254k, not far above the season average, and not the highest peak audience of the season either. Live coverage of the season finale across the five hours of coverage from 09:30 to 14:15 averaged 125k (1.5%), with the MotoGP segment averaging 173k (1.9%). The programme average was 25 percent above the season average (and their highest programme average since Austin in April), but the MotoGP element was lower than the likes of Austria and San Marino just a few months earlier.

You normally expect a noticeable boost for any championship decider, yet such a boost did not materialise this year, suggesting that the battle between Marquez and Dovizioso did not appeal to BT’s audience. To put it another way, you may argue that BT not market the battle very well to their audience in other popular junctions (such as football). In 2016, Cal Crutchlow’s two victories helped BT Sport, Britain’s first premier class wins in over 30 years.

Channel 5’s highlights boosted compared to ITV4’s numbers
Highlights of MotoGP averaged 406k (2.4%) on Channel 5 this season, an increase of 42 percent on ITV4’s average audience from 2016 of 285k (1.4%), a pleasing rise. ITV4’s audience dropped across their three years, meaning that compared with 2014’s ITV4 number, Channel 5’s average audience is up 18 percent.

Channel 5’s highest audience in 2017 came with the Australian round of the season in October. The thrilling race, which arguably was the one which helped decide the destination of the championship, with Marquez winning and Dovizioso down in 13th, averaged 487k (2.6%) for the free-to-air broadcaster, peaking with 636,000 viewers. Audience figures like that show why MotoGP needs a free-to-air presence of some form after 2018.

Despite the promising numbers in some areas, Channel 5’s broadcasts lost steam after the Summer break, averaging 365k (2.3%) for the second half of the year, compared with 446k (2.5%) for the opening phase of the season. This impacted on the overall combined figures for the season…

Final thoughts and combined audiences
The switch to Channel 5 helped MotoGP bring in its highest combined audience since leaving the BBC, with an audience of 571,000 viewers watching. As noted above, the second half of the season struggled, with the phase from Austria through to San Marino struggling on Channel 5. An average of 632,000 viewers watched during the first half of the year, dropping to 509,000 viewers for the second half.

The Grand Prix of the Americas from Austin in April brought in a combined average audience of 701,000 viewers (split 475,000 to 226,000), peaking with 951,000 viewers (split 668,000 to 282,000). Including the BT Sport and MotoGP app, it is highly likely the peak audience will have exceeded one million viewers, a major achievement.

Aside from Britain, the Austrian Grand Prix was the low-light, averaging 456,000 viewers, whereas every other race before it had averaged 544,000 viewers or higher.

If the ITV4 trajectory is to go by from 2014 to 2016, then Channel 5’s audience figures might see a second-year dip in 2018. Next year will be fascinating on the MotoGP broadcasting front, as the destination of the series for 2019 onwards should be known, with BT Sport’s contract expiring.

Speaking to this site earlier this year, Dorna did not give anything away, but did say that they were happy with BT’s coverage and in negotiations with them post-2018. But do not rule out Sky or Eurosport snapping up the rights, with the latter becoming a more prominent player in the market. Where MotoGP ends up in 2019, is anyone’s guess.


F1’s UK television audience stabilises in 2017

Formula 1’s viewing figures dropped slightly year-on-year, following on from last year’s significant decline, overnight audience numbers show.

> Both Channel 4 and Sky record marginal drops
> Anti-climatic championship fight hurt audiences
> Combined audience lowest since 2006

2017 was Formula 1’s second season on Channel 4, coverage was shared with Sky Sports. The viewing figures in this article are overnight average audiences supplied by Overnights.tv for Channel 4’s and Sky Sports’ broadcasts, including Sky Sports Main Event and Mix where applicable. Sky’s numbers are for their three-and-a-half-hour broadcast covering ‘Pit Lane Live’ and the race itself from 12:00 to 15:30, or applicable. Channel 4’s numbers broadly follow the same pattern, excluding their post-race reaction show.

Viewing figures presented in this piece exclude viewers who watched via the likes of Sky Go, Now TV and All 4. The numbers also do not include audiences who did not watch Formula 1 on the same day. Overnight audience figures are known in the industry as ‘Live + VOSDAL’ (video on same day as live). So, if you chose to record Channel 4’s highlights programme to watch on a Monday morning, you are excluded from the overnight audience numbers. Overnight figures are still important, especially for sports programming which fans view live, or as close to live as possible.

Radio audience figures are reportedly separately by RAJAR, and use a different methodology compared to television, meaning that you cannot compare BBC’s 5 Live audience figures with the television figures presented in this piece.

Channel 4’s overnight figures
In 2017, Channel 4 aired ten races live, with the remaining ten races airing in extended highlights form. Their race day coverage in 2017 averaged 1.87 million viewers, a decrease of 4.5 percent on last year’s average audience of 1.96 million viewers. Their live programming averaged 2.13 million viewers, with their highlights shows bringing 1.62 million viewers to the channel. Year-on-year, Channel 4’s live shows dropped by just 2.5 percent, whilst their highlights output decreased by 8.1 percent.

The season highlight for Channel 4 came towards the end of the season, with live coverage of the United States Grand Prix averaging 2.78m (12.8%) in peak time. One week later, Lewis Hamilton clinched his fourth world championship, resulting in an audience of just 968k (13.0%) watching Channel 4’s Brazilian Grand Prix highlights programme in mid-November.

Channel 4’s problem in 2017 was with the way they started the season, with double-digit drops for four of the first ten races. Once you start off from a low base, it is very difficult to recover that position. For the first half of the year, only Spain and Europe were the stand-out races compared with 2016, both increasing their audience figures by around 10 percent. The post-Summer break period offered more promise as Channel 4’s race day programming increased for five races on the bounce from Italy through to USA.

An average peak audience of 2.63 million viewers watched Channel 4’s programming, a decrease of 4.5 percent year-on-year. For the first time since Channel 4 started their coverage, however, the broadcaster recorded a peak audience of over 4 million viewers, with the US Grand Prix. USA was the stand out, with all of Channel 4’s other peak audiences below 3.5 million viewers, a disappointment considering three races were above the same last year. Behind USA, were Bahrain and Malaysia, both peaking with 3.42 million viewers.

Sky’s overnight figures
Now in its sixth year as Formula 1’s main broadcaster in the United Kingdom, Sky Sports’ viewing figures continued to ebb and flow, with little upsurge. Live coverage of Sky Sports’ race day programming in 2017, excluding Paddock Live, averaged 652,000 viewers, a slight decrease of 2.5 percent on last year’s average audience of 669,000 viewers.

An average of 699,000 viewers watched Sky’s exclusive coverage, whilst 605,000 viewers watched Sky’s programming when shared with Channel 4. In the pecking order for Sky, 2014 stays on top with an average audience of 790,000 viewers watching Lewis Hamilton’s third world championship; 2012 a distant second on 709,000 viewers. Sky’s other four seasons remain closely clustered together between 635,000 viewers and 670,000 viewers.

The highlight for Sky in 2017 was the Mexican Grand Prix, which averaged 1.09m (4.8%) in prime time, helped by Hamilton winning the championship on that day. Like Channel 4, Sky had a strong mid-season run, with eight consecutive races from Canada to Singapore peaking with over one million viewers, a strong run for the pay-TV platform. As a result, an average peak audience of 1.03 million viewers watched Sky’s programming across the season.

For Sky, it is likely that their Now TV and Sky Go platforms have seen increased demand compared with 2016 and before, although figures for these platforms are not available in the public domain. With only one year left though before the major switch over to pay-TV, there are no substantial signs that viewers are migrating over from Formula 1’s free-to-air product to Sky’s pay-television product despite having the access to do so.

Overall audiences
During 2017, a combined average audience of 2.52 million viewers watched Formula 1’s race day action across Channel 4 and Sky Sports, a decrease of 4.0 percent on last year’s average audience of 2.63 million viewers. F1 has lost exactly a third of its UK television audience since it left the BBC in 2015. The BBC’s television audience in 2015 was 3.74 million viewers, meaning that 2017 results in a 33 percent drop. Like last year, this year’s audience will be the lowest for Formula 1 since at least 2005.

A year that promised so much failed to deliver a spectacular championship decider. The headlines do not tell the full story, and I feel that is the case here. The battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel enticed viewers, with Spain (up 6%) and Europe (up 10%) proving that point. However, their on-track battles were too infrequent to have an overarching impact. To go from a sizzling race in Baku to a cold race in Austria was to the detriment of the championship.

2016 started off on a low-note, with Formula 1 victim to a warmer Spring than usual in the UK: the season opening Australian Grand Prix lost 17 percent of its audience year-on-year. Sometimes audiences take time to arrive, and you need several good races for fortunes to turn. After Baku, the following four races failed to bring in the viewers. It was not until the Italian Grand Prix where viewing figures increased compared with 2016. And then, came the Singapore Grand Prix which ultimately decided the outcome of the championship.

What followed Singapore was a brief resurgence as Hamilton strolled his fourth championship, but audiences plunged for the final three races in Mexico (down 43%), Brazil (down 23%) and Abu Dhabi (down 20%). If you were to, hypothetically speaking, add 30 percent to the audience for the final three races, viewing figures across the entire season would be equal with 2016. One move decided the fate of the season, and with it probably sent millions of viewers around the world switching off their television sets for the final hurdle in the Formula 1 season.

However, where Formula 1’s viewing figures drop, it remains firmly head and shoulders above the rest of the motor racing pack thanks to its exposure which no other series has in this country. On four wheels, only Formula E comes close with live coverage on Channel 5, and as documented elsewhere on this site, it is struggling to pick up a significant following. To put it into context, F1’s 2017 season average of 2.62 million viewers is ten times higher than Formula E’s 2016/17 season average of 280,000 viewers.

Is Formula 1 set for a shock in 2018?
We talk about a ‘new era’ every season, it feels like. 2019 on the broadcasting front in the UK heralds a new era with Sky Sports taking full control of Formula 1’s television rights. Before then, there is the small matter of 2018 to plough through. And with that, the Halo. Safety first, aesthetics second in this instance, with the much-derided cockpit protection system coming into force from the 2018 season.

F1 has survived, and flourished, upon major rule changes. But, arguably, the Halo is the biggest aesthetic change that F1 has seen in generations, changing the ways that cars fundamentally look to fans at home. I can write words about Hamilton versus Vettel: Part II all I want, but if the reaction is negative by media and fans, I fear that viewing figures could be set for another shock in 2018.

Halo is not meant to look attractive, that is not its purpose (you can read about the positives of the Halo elsewhere, this is not the place for that). From a broadcasting perspective however, are casual fans less likely to watch Formula 1 because of this system? The answer, in my view, is likely to be yes.

How many viewers will turn off Formula 1 because of the Halo in 2018, we do not know. But, the viewing figures for the Australian Grand Prix next March may give Liberty Media an unpleasant surprise…


Formula E season opener peaks with 329,000 viewers

The Formula E season started in Hong Kong last weekend, with the UK television audience peaking with 329,000 viewers, overnight viewing figures show.

Live coverage of both races aired exclusively on Eurosport across the weekend. Race one aired in an extended time slot from 06:45 to 08:45 due to the red flag on lap 1, and averaged 14k (0.40%). Eurosport’s broadcast peaked with 24k (0.72%) as the race restarted at 07:40. It is the lowest audience for a Formula E race that has broadcast live on television, just behind the 20,000 viewers who watched BT Sport Europe’s coverage of the 2016 Mexico City ePrix.

As anticipated, Channel 5’s as-live coverage comfortably outstripped Eurosport’s audience. Their programme, also extended from 09:00 to 11:10, averaged 176k (2.5%). The audience is Channel 5’s second lowest for a Formula E race, only ahead of the second Montreal ePrix race from July which aired live on Spike and in highlights form on Channel 5. The free-to-air broadcaster’s coverage peaked with 207k (3.1%) before the race coverage started.

Viewing figures perked up for Sunday’s action. Eurosport’s coverage of race two aired from 06:45 to 08:10 on Sunday morning, averaging 17k (0.61%). A peak audience of 33k (1.19%) watched their coverage at 07:30 as Daniel Abt headed to victory prior to his post-race disqualification.

Channel 5’s highlights programme aired from 08:55 to 10:40, averaging 228k (3.4%), beating ITV in the time slot. Their coverage dipped before the race started to under 200,000 viewers but encouragingly climbed to a peak of 297k (4.2%), both metrics marginally higher than their live Hong Kong programme last year.

The combined Formula E audiences across the weekend of 190,000 viewers on Saturday and 245,000 viewers on Sunday paints an interesting picture. Sunday’s combined audience is up year-on-year on the 2016 Hong Kong race, which also took place on a Sunday.

There is a fair difference between the Saturday peak of 231,000 viewers and the Sunday figure of 329,000 viewers, suggesting that Sunday’s race may have attracted extra viewers to Channel 5 who were not aware that the Formula E season was starting last weekend.

Saturday’s numbers are poor, but Sunday is a vast improvement. If Channel 5 make the effort for the remainder of the year scheduling wise, with the on-site effort that they showed in Hong Kong, the viewers will hopefully come.

Elsewhere, Sunday afternoon hosted Sky Sports’ and Channel 4’s Formula 1 season reviews. Sky’s show played out at 12:00 and attracted an audience of 12k (0.2%), with 439k (5.4%) tuning into Channel 4’s review an hour later.


F1 2017 swan song peaks with 3.5 million viewers

A peak audience of 3.47 million viewers watched the 2017 Formula One season finish on a whimper in the UK, overnight viewing figures show.

With both championships decided prior to Abu Dhabi, audiences were down across all metrics on Channel 4 and Sky Sports over the weekend.

Live coverage of Channel 4’s full programme, on air from 12:00 to 16:30, averaged 1.53m (15.1%), down on last year’s equivalent full-slot average of 2.25m (19.1%). The race itself from 12:00 to 15:10 averaged 1.86m (18.7%).

Sky’s average audience was down by 28 percent year-on-year. Their programming in 2017 averaged 454k (4.6%) on Sky Sports F1, with a further 97k (1.0%) watching on Sky Sports Mix. However, Sky should take solace in the fact that their audience is up on the 2015 average audience of 399k (3.0%), which occurred in similar circumstances.

The combined average audience of 2.41 million viewers is the lowest for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on record. Compared with 2015, the average audience is down by around 200,000 viewers. In the context of the season, 2.41 million is slightly below the average, but up on Mexico and Brazil, neither of which were live on free-to-air television.

The race started with started with 2.90m (29.5%) at 13:00, hovering around 3.1 million viewers for the duration, climbing slightly after 14:00 to reach a combined peak audience of 3.47 million viewers (30.8%) at 14:35 as Valtteri Bottas won the final race of the season.

At the time of the peak, 2.66m (23.6%) were watching on Channel 4, with 811k (7.2%) watching via Sky Sports F1 and Mix, a split of 77:23. Last year’s coverage peaked with 4.99m (38.3%), a drop of 30 percent year-on-year, arguably less than expected given that there was little to fight for in the final race of the season.

Channel 4’s live coverage of qualifying aired from 11:55 to 14:45, and averaged 945k (11.7%). Sky Sports F1’s programme added a further 319k (3.9%) from 12:00 to 14:35, resulting in a combined audience of 1.26 million viewers. The peak audience of 2.01 million viewers (22.2%) came at the end of qualifying, down around 14 percent on last year’s peak audience of 2.34 million viewers.

As in previous years, this site will in forthcoming weeks analyse the 2017 Formula One viewing figures picture from a UK audience perspective: increases, decreases, the peaks and the troughs, and what lies ahead for 2018.

The 2016 Abu Dhabi ratings report can be found here.