There are a few thoughts that come to mind when you read that since 2017, the combined ESPN/ABC telecast audience is up 40%. You also have to wonder what changed to make this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix the largest viewed race on cable in more than two decades—since the 1995 Italian Grand Prix.
Numbers are a tricky thing and TV ratings numbers are even trickier. I am no expert on how the Nielsen Rating system works or how broadcasters use those numbers as a metric to determine ROI for their investment but if ESPN’s numbers are correct, you may have to wonder what was NBC Sports doing wrong?
There could many factors at work here in increasing the number of viewers including Formula 1’s efforts to press marketing and brand awareness much more since acquiring the sport last year. It could be that ESPN’s coverage is actually a re-broadcast of Sky Sports F1’s comprehensive coverage which adds more technical elements to its broadcast as well as a host of former drivers and broadcast professionals that bring a level of access that NBC simply did not have in the paddock. NBC’s Will Buxton and Jason Swales did a fantastic job but in comparison, Sky’s crew at each race is very large and they can cover a lot of ground that two people simply cannot do.
Perhaps fans have resonated with F1’s closer title battle as Ferrari have been somewhat resurgent in the past two seasons and fans could be intrigued to see if they can end the Mercedes-dominated series.
Monaco is known to be a difficult track to pass on and as such, usually produces more of a processional race than others on the calendar and yet the TV numbers were up? That’s curious. After all, the fallout from Monaco has a throng of young fans calling for track changes because it was “boring”. Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton thought the same.
Still, ESPN was able to haul in the eyeballs for the race and here is their assessment of the ratings:
Audience for Combined ESPN, ABC Telecasts Up 40 Percent Over 2017
ESPN’s live telecast of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, May 27, earned F1’s largest audience on cable in more than two decades, according to Nielsen Fast National data.
With an average of 809,000 people watching, the telecast was the most-viewed Formula 1 race on cable since the 1995 Italian Grand Prix, which also aired on ESPN and averaged 876,000 viewers.
Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix aired live at 9:05 a.m. ET on ESPN and an encore presentation aired on ABC at 3:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
The ABC telecast averaged 1.6 million viewers. Based on fast national data, the combined live and re-air telecasts on ESPN and ABC averaged 2.4 million viewers, an increase of 40 percent over the final combined numbers of the live and re-air telecasts that aired on NBC and NBCSN last year.
Why do you think TV ratings are increasing on ESPN over NBC?