The BBC thumped SKY in the British ratings race

Despite only being offer free-to-air viewers a delayed and heavily-edited highlights package of the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, the BBC not only managed to attract more UK viewers than its full live broadcast one year before, but it also thumped rival network SKY – which had a complete dedicated channel broadcasting live for the entire weekend – in the ratings race.

From 2012, Formula 1 fans in the UK have the choice of pay-TV network SKY’s live feed of all practice qualifying and race sessions each weekend, or they can opt for the offerings of the publically-funded BBC, which will show half of the races live and the other half via an edited one-hour highlights package.

Last year’s BBC TV audience for the Australian Grand Prix was 2.13 million viewers, but its delayed highlights package – aired many hours after the race had finished – attracted an audience of 2.7 million viewers.

Meanwhile, SKY’s live coverage attracted just 526,000 viewers over the course of its broadcast, according to the latest ratings results.

A spokesperson for the channel refused to comment on SKY’s satisfaction – or otherwise – with its audience figures.

“It is the performance of the whole (F1) channel we are interested in. We are pleased with the launch of the channel overall,” they are quoted as saying in the Guardian newspaper.

It will be interesting to see if there is a noticeable shift in viewing habits when the races return to more audience-friendly viewing times after the first four flyaway races in Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.