For the 2017 Formula 1 season, Channel 4 will bring the Monaco Grand Prix back to terrestrial TV in the UK for the first time since 2012 as one of the ten live races it will broadcast this season.
Channel 4 took over the rights for terrestrial coverage in the UK ahead of the 2016 season after the BBC ended its contract early at the end of 2015. Like the BBC’s previous deal, Channel 4 screens half of the races live with the remaining events shown as delayed highlights.
Following a picks process with Sky Sports, which broadcasts all of the races live in the UK and has exclusive rights to broadcast F1 from the 2019 season, Channel 4 has chosen the Bahrain, Russia, Monaco, Azerbaijan, Great Britain, Belgium, Singapore, Malaysia, USA and Abu Dhabi events as the races it will show live in 2017.
Speaking as Channel 4’s choices were announced, Stephen Lyle, the broadcaster’s Head of F1, said: “Following a thrilling first year covering Formula 1, we’re delighted to reveal our schedule for the 2017 season.
“Once again our team will bring extensive coverage of every race with the Monaco Grand Prix, Great Britain and the finale in Abu Dhabi among our ten live race weekends. It’s a particular delight to welcome Monaco back to terrestrial television live, for the first time in five years.”
In the announcement of its live races for 2017, Channel 4 explained that its coverage was “frequently the most watched programme over its time slot”. As expected with the more niche channel, according to figures published on the F1 Broadcasting blog, supplied by overnights.tv, Channel 4 had a smaller average audience in 2016 than the BBC managed the year before.
Channel 4’s 2016 race coverage was watched by an average of 1.96 million viewers, which is down from 3.11m on the BBC. Its most watched live event was the Mexican Grand Prix, with 3.93m peak viewers, followed by the British Grand Prix (3.89m) and Abu Dhabi (3.85m).
But Whisper Films, the production company created by former Williams, McLaren and Red Bull driver David Coulthard and presenter Jake Humphrey that produces Channel 4’s F1 broadcasts, did win an award for its coverage of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix from the Association for International Broadcasting.
Updates on Channel 4’s 2016 presenting team, which included Steve Jones, Coulthard, Mark Webber, Susie Wolff, Karun Chandhok and Alain Prost, last year, are yet to be confirmed.
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