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The broadcaster sub-let the free-to-air element of their contract to Channel 4 , in a one-year deal. The free-to-air element covers highlights of every race, as well as live coverage of the British Grand Prix.
But how have viewing figures stacked up in the first half of compared to last year? Overnight viewing figures Traditionally at this point, Motorsport Broadcasting would use the UK overnight viewing figures data to generate averages across several years, using the data for comparative purposes.
To continue to access overnight data would cost a significant amount, and is not a viable option financially for an independent writer. Instead, we must now rely on a limited amount of consolidated audience data via the BARB website. Therefore, the consolidated audience figures in this piece cannot be compared to overnight audience data elsewhere on this site.
The consolidated data in this piece covers the TV set only, to allow for fair and accurate comparisons with Although Motorsport Broadcasting no longer has access to overnight audience figures, I still intend to present a fair and accurate picture of Formula 1 viewing figures in the UK, as increasingly difficult as that becomes over the months ahead.
The analysis in this article covers the first eleven races of the season, meaning that the Hungarian Grand Prix is excluded. Channel 4 In , Channel 4 aired five of the first eleven rounds live, with the remaining six airing in highlights form.
Now in its new contract with Sky, only one of the first eleven rounds have aired live this season, that being the British Grand Prix.
The free-to-air broadcaster splits their live race day programming into three blocks: build-up, the race itself and post-race reaction. To present a fair comparison between live and highlights, this site uses the first two portions to generate a weighted average.
A two-hour programme, with less on-track action will inevitably result in a lower average audience for the entire programme.
A portion of the audience only cares about the on-track action and will skip over the chatter. The scale of the year-on-year drop has diminished as the season headed towards the Summer break, but only two races have increased their audience year-on-year on Channel 4.
France up On the opposite end of the spectrum, 1. Sky Sports Ten out of the first eleven races in aired exclusively live on Sky.
But, has the pay television broadcaster clawed back the loss that Channel 4 has made, or do we end up with a net loss overall? As highlighted above, Sky aired the first three races of on Sky One to try to attract further subscribers to Sky Sports F1. Calculating a three-and-a-half-hour average, as this site has historically done, is impossible without access to detailed five-minute breakdowns.
Instead, we will use the whole of On the Grid 35 minutes in length and the race itself around minutes , using those figures to produce a weighted average per race.
Of course, the analysis from this point forward should be treated with a degree of caution.
Constructed in and hosting its first Formula One race in , COTA and its residency of Austin, Texas, have become a destination venue for the Formula One industry, which will descend upon the Violet Crown for the fifth time as the United States Grand Prix gets underway this weekend.
But I would rather write about it and let an informed debate happen, instead of choosing not to publish an article at all. The averages above include simulcasts where BARB have reported the data, and excludes Canada, as there is no data available.
Close behind, a controversial Canadian Grand Prix averaged 1.
What can we decipher? Combined, an average audience of at least 2. The decrease year-on-year is likely to be smaller than that, given the missing data points for Sky.
It would bring the combined average audience up to 2. Whilst any drop is disappointing, the decrease is less than 10 percent, and could well be closer to 5 percent when including all the consolidated data.
Formula 1 cannot be complacent though; the sport needs to work with broadcasters to try to stop the audience decline. With F1 now releasing highlights in a variety of formats across social media, it is inevitable that their television audience figures for non-live programming will be hit harder as a result.
What we have not mentioned at all so far in this piece is the impact that the on-track action can have on audience figures.
Formula 1 has had a fantastic period on-track heading into the Summer break, with thrillers in Austria, Britain, Germany, and Hungary.