ITV will take over coverage of the Derby from Channel 4 from 2017
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Graham Dench 4:40PM 5 JUN 2016
CHANNEL 4’s final Derby of its contract to cover racing was watched by a peak audience of 1.4 million.
That was fractionally down on last year’s 1.47m, and represents only 42 per cent of the 3.3m who tuned in for the BBC’s last Derby in 2012.
More positively, it represented 17 per cent of audience share on a day when there was plenty of competition. The Derby was still the most watched sporting event of the afternoon.
An extended 90-minute Morning Line, featuring Emma Spencer at Richard Hannon’s to see Humphrey Bogart and Sir Anthony McCoy and Frankie Dettori riding the full Derby course upsides, peaked at 246,000.
Friday afternoon’s Investec Oaks had a peak audience of 594,000, which was down on last year’s 625,000, but an average audience of 390,000 that was up from 353,000.
Ali’s death was receiving wide coverage
Saturday afternoon’s broadcast went out in competition with the ladies’ final of the French Open tennis on ITV, athletics and boxing on the BBC, and at a time when Muhammad Ali’s death was receiving wide coverage on all networks. Channel 4 Racing’s average audience was 630,000.
Steve Lyle, Channel 4’s commissioning editor for sport, said: “Channel 4 has hugely enjoyed its four years broadcasting the great race, which thanks to continuous innovation and a brilliant team, led by Clare Balding and Nick Luck, never looked better than on Saturday.”
A viewing figure of 1.4m for BBC2’s coverage of the women’s football match between England and Serbia, which kicked off at 5pm, just as the racing coverage had finished, suggests a bigger audience might tune in if the Derby were given an even later spot than Saturday’s 4.30pm. But that will be something for ITV to take up with Epsom officials when they succeed Channel 4 as racing’s terrestrial broadcaster in 2017.
In the meantime Channel 4 is hard at work preparing for the start of Royal Ascot a week tomorrow, when Balding and McCoy will return to the screen.
Peak viewing figures
Year Channel Figure
2016 Channel 4 1.4m
2015 Channel 4 1.47m
2014 Channel 4 1.55m
2013 Channel 4 1.95m
2012 BBC 3.3m
2011 BBC 3.2m
2010 BBC 1.9m
2009 BBC 2.8m
2008 BBC 3.0m
2007 BBC 3.0m
2006 BBC 4.1m