Sky’s F1 channel gets 874,000 for first live grand prix

Sky Sports F1, the new Formula One-dedicated channel from UK pay-television broadcaster BSkyB, attracted an average audience of 874,000 for its live coverage of Sunday’s season-opening Australian grand prix, which was won by British driver Jenson Button.

Live coverage of the race ran from 6am to 7.40am. According to the Guardian newspaper, the audience peaked at 1.02 million. The channel’s average audience for the whole programme, from 4.30am to 9am, was 526,000.

UK public-service broadcaster the BBC had an average of 2.13 million viewers for the full programme of live coverage of the corresponding race last year.

Sunday’s race was the first to be covered live by Sky in its seven-year deal from 2012 to 2018. Sky has the rights to all 20 races per year, while the BBC, the previous exclusive UK live rights-holder, has scaled back its coverage to 10 races live plus highlights of all races.

The BBC attracted 2.7 million viewers and a 22.9-per-cent share of the television audience for its Sunday afternoon highlights of the race, which were shown from 2pm to 4pm on BBC One.

In Germany, commercial broadcaster RTL attracted an average of 3.35 million viewers and a 48.6-per-cent audience share for its live coverage of the grand prix. The audience peaked at 4.21 million viewers for the conclusion of the race, in which German driver Sebastian Vettel finished in second place.

In France, commercial broadcaster TF1’s average audience for the race was 1.5 million, representing a 36-per-cent share. The audience was down by 300,000 on the figures for last year’s corresponding grand prix despite the presence of three French drivers in this year’s race. There were no French drivers in Formula One last year.