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BTCC is best of the rest on Sunday

Away from the Formula 1 last Sunday, which peaked with 5.55m (46.3%), there was a lot of motor sport action on Sunday, albeit most of it occurred in the early hours. Nevertheless, as expected, the figures are once again a reminder that, in the UK at least, the F1 stands head and shoulders above anything else. And sadly, where BTCC and MotoGP are concerned, viewers appear to be tuning out…

The factors associated with both though are different. The British Touring Car Championship finale aired on ITV4 across a whopping eight hours, from 10:15 to 18:30. The entire programme averaged 186k (1.6%) according to overnight viewing figures, peaking with 360k (3.6%) at 15:00 at the conclusion of race two. The first of three races peaked with 99k (1.1%) at 11:40, whilst the final race peaked with 357k (2.0%) at 17:45, the huge difference in number can be put down to the fact that race one clashed with the build-up and early laps of the Russian Grand Prix, clearly taking a bite out of the audience.

I haven’t looked at all the numbers in detail, but there does appear to have been a fairly big fall in comparison to 2012 and 2013. Last year’s season finale averaged 328k (2.6%), peaking with 697k (3.8%) for the final race of the day, although that was with no F1 clash. Even so, that doesn’t account for the peak figure, outside of the F1 timeslot, dropping by almost half. I’m not sure why the figures have dropped year-on-year, but something has changed to make people turn off.

Meanwhile, over in Motegi, BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage peaked with 108k (10.1%) at 06:05. Their live programme from 02:45 to 07:15 averaged 42k (3.8%), with the MotoGP portion from 05:30 averaging 74k (6.4%). As always at this point, it is worth me pointing out that the figures include anyone who timeshifted that programme before 02:00 on Monday morning, it does not mean that 108k were up watching MotoGP at 06:05 in the morning, it just means that an average of 108k watched that five-minute ‘segment’ before 02:00 on Monday, which is the cut off for overnight ratings. BT’s repeat averaged 34k (0.3%) from 12:00 to 13:30, peaking with 79k (0.7%). ITV4’s highlights programme on Monday evening brought 283k (1.3%), which I believe is their lowest MotoGP rating of the year so far.

What that means is that the MotoGP year-on-year comparisons with the BBC are worse than usual. 204k (18.4%) watched BBC Two’s live airing last year, with 900k (8.1%) catching the repeat. A combined audience of 1.10m last year compares with about 391k for this year, which is a 64 percent drop. BBC’s peak was 1.33m, with 281k (24.1%) for the live airing and 1.05m (9.2%) for the re-run. The ITV4 rating surprises me the most, given that Motegi was the title winning race for Marc Marquez, I would have expected that to pick up one or two casual viewers, but clearly that wasn’t the case.

The weekend also seen both the Bathurst 1000 and the latest round of the World Touring Car Championship take place, again in the early morning. The latter peaked with 29k (0.4%), whilst the Bathurst 1000 peaked with under 20,000 viewers.

3.9m watch inaugural Russian Grand Prix

The Russian Grand Prix performed solidly in the UK viewing figures yesterday, unofficial overnight figures show.

BBC One’s coverage of the race from 11:00 to 14:15 averaged 3.22m (31.3%), peaking with 4.56m (38.1%) at 13:30. Sky Sports F1 added an average of 665k (6.5%) from 11:00 to 14:30, peaking with 985k (8.2%). Obviously there are no historical comparisons, however the combined average of 3.89m is directly in-line with the season average so far, so its not a great rating, but it is not a poor rating either.

The combined peak figure of 5.55m (46.3%) at 13:30 is split 82% vs 18% in BBC’s favour, which is similar to the peak splits in the past, suggesting that there has been no real movement between the two channels in the past two years. As an aside, that peak figure is pretty impressive, which might indicate that some of the more casual audience was caught out by the earlier start time. Considering the race quality was pretty bad, it did well to hold a stable audience throughout, I suspect Lewis Hamilton leading had a lot to play in that. As there was a lot of motor sport yesterday, there will be another post soon summarising the remaining motor sport numbers from BTCC to MotoGP.

Live coverage of qualifying on BBC One averaged 2.10m (25.5%) from 11:15 to 13:30, whilst Sky Sports F1’s coverage from 11:20 to 13:35 averaged 442k (5.3%). The combined average of 2.54m is just above average, so a solid rating there. The most interesting story from Saturday though was not the qualifying rating itself, but rather how well the GP3 Series did sandwiched between practice and qualifying.

On Saturday, Sky Sports F1 stayed above 100k from 08:45 to 13:35, this including F1’s practice three and qualifying. I thought Sky did a clever move here, wrapping the qualifying build-up around GP3. The GP3 race from 10:35 to 11:20 averaged 161k (2.4%), which is an excellent number and Sky’s highest ever for a GP2 or GP3 race. GP2 after qualifying averaged 53k (0.6%), showing how much either GP2 or GP3 would benefit from a permanent slot in between F1 practice and qualifying on Saturday’s. Yes, Sky may ‘lose’ twenty minutes of F1 build-up, but how else are the likes of Jolyon Palmer going to introduce themselves to an F1 audience? If ‘the powers that be’ are reading, maybe Russia’s Saturday scheduling could become permanent for 2015…

2014 Japanese Grand Prix UK ratings report

BBC One’s live coverage from 06:00 to 09:15 averaged 1.74m (37.1%), up on last year’s 1.30m (30.5%) Sky Sports F1 averaged 494k (10.0%) from 06:00 to 09:30, up on last year’s 370k. BBC One’s repeat from 13:15 to 15:15 averaged 2.24m (21.3%), up on last year’s 1.92m (15.3%).

The BBC live programme peaked with 2.84m (33.6%) at 09:05, with Sky’s live coverage peaking with 776k (9.5%) at 08:50. 3.55m (42.0%) were watching BBC One and Sky Sports F1 at 09:05. BBC’s highlights peaked with 2.80m (25.1%) at 14:55.

Year-on-year, the combined number of 4.48m is up significantly on 3.58m in 2013 and is the most watched Japanese Grand Prix since at least 2006, and probably the last decade and a half. Same applies for the combined peak of 6.35m, which is the second highest peak of the entire year. Given the circumstances, those facts are not worth boasting about though, really.

The 2013 Japanese Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

Singapore soars to record highs

The Singapore Grand Prix attracted record viewing figures in the UK across the weekend, as both BBC and Sky enjoyed their highest numbers for Formula 1 in recent memory.

Live coverage of the race, screened exclusively on Sky Sports F1, averaged 961k (10.5%) from 12:00 to 15:45 according to unofficial overnight figures. That number in my opinion is particularly good considering what was happening in the Leicester City vs Manchester United game over on Sky Sports 1 at the same time, no doubt there was a lot of channel hopping during yesterday afternoon. It is also up nearly 200k on the 2013’s figure. BBC One unsurprisingly also recorded an increase year-on-year. The highlights programme from 17:00 to 18:30 averaged a strong 3.72m (23.9%), comfortably BBC’s highest highlights figure of the entire year.

The combined average of 4.68m is easily the highest ever for Singapore, beating the previous best of 4.43m (35.7%) in 2010. In comparison, last year’s average was 3.94m, so a year-on-year increase of 19 percent. For a European time-zone round, it is the highest figure for over a year. It is a brilliant number, and one that was desperately needed given the well known ratings difficulties that Formula 1 has had this year. The peak figures are just as impressive. Sky Sports F1 peaked with 1.46m (13.9%) at 15:00, whilst BBC One’s highlights programme peaked with 4.75m (28.9%) at 18:10 as the race edit came to a conclusion, a combined figure of 6.22m. In comparison, the 2011 race peaked with 5.74m (41.6%), admittedly there are some people in the 2014 figure who may have watched both channels, but the exact number who may have chose to do that is impossible to know.

BBC One’s highlights of qualifying averaged 2.45m (17.9%), with Sky Sports adding 509k (5.9%). The 2.96m combined figure is also the highest ever figure for a Singapore qualifying session. As always the case, the numbers exclude Now TV, Sky Go, BBC iPlayer and the such like. In the UK, numbers for the remaining rounds should all be up year-on-year, given the slump we seen at the back end of last season. It looks like that the Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg title battle is starting to draw in casual viewers, in the UK at least.

The 2013 Singapore Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

Formula E debut peaks with 0.7m in UK

A peak audience of 713k across live and highlights on ITV4 watched the inaugural Formula E race from Beijing, overnight viewing figures show.

The live airing, from 08:00 to 10:55, averaged 266k (4.0%). The audience grew throughout the build-up, hitting 367k (5.4%) for the race start at 09:10 and then 446k (6.4%) at 09:30. The peak came at 10:00 as Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld collided, with an audience of 477k (6.8%) watching at that point. Later in the day, highlights of the race at 18:00 averaged 161k (1.1%), peaking with 237k (1.7%). The combined number, if you wish to use that measure, is therefore an average of 425k, with a peak of 713k.

If I’m to be honest, the viewing figures are a little lower than what I was hoping for, it would have been nice if a one million peak was breached. However, when you consider that it is the start of a new series, in an unfamiliar slot (motor sport races do not happen on Saturday mornings at 09:00), then the number is solid. If you’re to compare to other motor sport series, Formula E’s figure would fall in line with the current MotoGP numbers, except that the split is different there between live and highlights. The numbers are very slightly ahead of BTCC as well, whenever that series does not clash with the F1.

For anyone wondering, according to BARB, back in 2005, A1 Grand Prix’s series launch averaged 247k on Sky Sports 1 on Sunday 25th September, on a lower profile channel but in a friendlier timeslot of 13:00. Whilst on the subject of ratings, I noticed this yesterday on the official FIA website:

Some 40 million are believed to have watched the race worldwide on television with 75,000 attending on site and one billion social interactions recorded around the race.

Both figures are reach figures. There is no way that an average of 40 million people watched Formula E yesterday. The highest F1 race of the year normally averages between 50 and 80 million worldwide depending on varying circumstances, so to expect Formula E to be slightly below that is frankly codswallop. An average of 10 to 15 million is perhaps more likely. Looking ahead, round two in Malaysia will dip as it clashes with the Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi. But, from round three onwards, numbers should rise as you have five races in a row taking place in a European friendly primetime slot.


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