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Formula One UK viewership in the pits

Exclusive deal with Sky Sports said to be driving fans away

Formula One lost 8.6 million UK viewers in 2019 after granting Sky Sports exclusive rights to show all but one of the races live.

The deal was signed by former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, driving Sky’s annual fee to around £120 million and fans away from the sport.

According to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), Channel 4’s highlights were watched by a total of 34.7 million viewers in 2019, down 10.8 million from 2018, reports The Independent.

Although Sky’s audience rose by 2.2 million viewers to 20.1 million, the total number of UK viewers fell by 13.6 per cent to 54.8 million.

F1 global research director Matt Roberts said: “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.

“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.”

Earlier this year, World Champion Lewis Hamilton said: “It’s the fans that make the sport what it is so the more you almost block them or deter them the worse the business is going to be.”