APRIL 24, 2007

F1 viewing figures looking good

Formula 1's viewing figures this year are looking good, despite the fact that two of the three races this year have been at times which are not good for Europe, F1's major market. There was also a relatively poor showing in Bahrain because of the good weather in Europe which saw many viewers choosing to go out for the day rather than watching television.

In Britain there is clearly a Lewis Hamilton effect going on with Malaysia boasting a 27% increase compared to 2006. Bahrain was not as good but the sport's share of the audience was up eight percent and the highlights programme in the evening attracted more than twice the number of viewers than in 2006.

Italy remains one of the heavyweights thanks to Ferrari and there were audiences of 5.8m for Malaysia and 11.1m for Bahrain. This was the largest audience for any race other than last year's World Championship deciding Brazilian GP.

In Germany audiences have declined since the retirement of Michael Schumacher but the TV stations were happy with a result that was slightly down on last year, as this was a strong year in comparison to 2005. The percentage share of the viewers was still good but the number of viewers was down nearly 40% overall because of the good weather. Overall, however, it is estimated that the audience was almost the same for Bahrain as it was a year ago.

Spain has recorded increased viewing figures for all the races to date with Bahrain attracting an average audience of 5.2m, which is up a million compared to last year. The audience peaked at 6.7m, which was a 57% share on the audience.

France continued to struggle with Malaysia attracting an audience of 2.5m but the numbers for Bahrain were down because of the weather.

All things considered the numbers reflect rather more interest than last year but F1 needs a few more cloudy Sundays in order to get the big numbers as the sports heads for the big European events.