Hockenheim thriller fails to revive Channel 4 viewer numbers


Just one week before the thrilling cat and mouse battle featuring Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in Hungary, race fans were treated to a Hockenheim thriller which featured action from lights to flag throughout the field.

In the eyes of many, fans, drivers, team bosses, TV pundits and Ross Brawn, it was one of the best races in living memory.

However, internet and social media buzz surrounding the race, which saw Verstappen claim his second win of the season and Hamilton finish a distant eighth, failed to get fans tuning into Channel 4's highlights show.

"Channel 4 will have the highlights next year and we have worked with them to ensure they show the races in a favourable prime time slot,” said F1's global research director Matt Roberts late last year.

"We estimate that we will actually have more viewers next year in the UK (thanks to this prime time slot) than we had this year," he added.

However, according to BARB, the highly-regarded, industry standard, Broadcasters' Audience Research Board, the figures for Channel 4's German Grand Prix highlights show were 17.3% down on 2018 to 2.1 million viewers.

Demonstrating that Matt Roberts prediction was wildly optimistic, the figures for the 2019 and 2018 races can be compared directly because both were highlights shows.

According to Forbes, other than watching on their TVs, 23,465 people streamed the highlights show on their computers, whilst 7,300 used a tablet and only 5,545 watched on their phones.

As previously reported, for some inexplicable reason, the most watched highlights show this year on Channel 4 was the French Grand Prix, which, contrary to Hockenheim, has been described as one of the worst in living memory.

Since the French event, there have been four highly entertaining races, the Austrian, British, German and Hungarian Grands Prix, and while BARB has yet to release the data for last weekend's event, the cumulative audience for the other three is down 1.2 million on 2018.

Interestingly, though this year's German Grand Prix had the lowest figures since 2012, that particular year the race was up against the British Open and the Tour de France, which was won by Britain's Bradley Wiggins.

BARB does not have the data for Sky Sport's coverage of the Hockenheim race, therefore it is unclear whether it compensates for the loss on Channel 4.

However, as previously reported, over the course of the first ten races of the season, F1 has haemorrhaged 3 million viewers in Britain, somewhat ironic when you consider that the sport is headquarter in the UK, as are seven of the teams.

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Published: 07/08/2019
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