Will the return of the Monaco GP to free-to-air F1 TV boost Channel 4’s viewing figures in 2017?
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Posted By: Editor   |  05 Jan 2017   |  10:27 pm GMT  |  149 comments

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.

ahrain Grand Prix start

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 F1

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.

What did you make of Channel 4’s F1 TV coverage in 2016? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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Personally I think Monaco works better as highlights, not usually the most exciting race. I’ve been watching F1 for 23 years now and I love it still and don’t understand the negativity it gets, If people want a real example of processional racing think back to the early 2000s! It’s great now and the only thing that NEEDS changing is keeping it free-to-air so people can actually see it, so the sponsors get the exposure – seems pretty bloody obvious to me! I can’t/don’t want to pay to see it on tv, so I have to more years of enjoying it……..it’s such a shame


It’s all about the product. When something is free then people will consume it. But when you have to shell out for it in times when household budgets are shrinking then the product has to be good. For me when cars are being lapped after 15 races and the same team always wins is a poor product. So poor, in fact, that I too haven’t watched a live race since about 2015. I’ll usually check the BBC sport page for the result then watch the highlight if it looks like something happened.


The total fools at the BBC who gave up the rights to F1 should have been sacked on the spot. Their coverage of the sport was always good, and we didn’t have to endure split sessions where a load of crappy adverts interrupted the viewing. Any organisation which cedes sole broadcasting rights to that thief Murdoch should have a serious reassessment of its policies, and in realty deserves to lose viewers and interest in its product. Is it too much to hope that Liberty will ‘do a Trump ‘ on this agreement and get a substantial amount of F1 viewing back into the system where pensioners will be able to continue following it without starving? Even on Pay per View it would cost about £125 a year to follow all the races.

As for Monaco being the prize race, – actually in general it is quite boring, as there is little chance of most drivers overtaking unless they have an exceptionally powerful and set up car plus an unhealthy disregard for the safety of themselves and others around them. I’m not that excited by seeing a car in the tyre wall, when others are tooling around under yellow flag restrictions catching up the often hard earned gap to a leader!




Coulthard is pure gold. Knowledgeable, entertaining and very watchable. I prefer Ch4’s coverage to that of Sky’s because of this. The downside is of course that they can’t show all races live and that as a free-to-air broadcaster it is a very short term gig as Sky have exclusive coverage rights in the UK from 2019. Let’s just hope that someone at FOA sees sense and that doesn’t come to be.


Channel 4s coverage of f1 was a lot better than expected. I’m sure that will continue..


No No No. the most guaranteed procession on the calender. As for the Channel 4 coverage very juvenile. F1 in general has lost it’s way.


I really don’t want to pay Sky for coverage since I would watch practically none of their other sports coverage and i just could not justify the cost.

However, I found the post season coverage by C4 totally bland and sycophantic.

C4 were hosted by Mercedes and (presumably as a result of this) didn’t ask any interesting questions at all! I would have been fascinated to know if Nico felt he raced better than Lewis in 2016. I would have been fascinated to hear Toto talk about the disparity in reliability – did the team feel they needed to apologise to Lewis?

I didn’t expect anything too punchy, but they didn’t even edge towards any awkward questions. It really was nauseating and if that’s the standard they set themselves, we shouldn’t expect much next season!


They need to get rid of Steve Jones Eddie Jordan (who seems more interested at how much he’ll say depending on how much he’s paid) Chandock and Susie Wolf.
Get Jake Humphreys back in the show and bring Lee Mckenzie in alot more. DC needs to up his grid run as he always seems to be chasing and waiting for German and Italian Sky to finish their chats with the drivers…
I [Mod] SKY (Sorry for shouting but it’s passionate [Mod])


I love the coverage on channel 4. Never miss it when it is “live” Keep going David & co Sorry they have chosen Monaco though. Well, it is just a ride around town really!


Maybe but there’s always something happening!


It rains sometimes James.
Other than that it’s a rich man’s convoy around Monaco.
Dull race . One GP that Sky is welcomed too.


Monaco is the worst racing track of the year afaic, but it doesn’t matter: half the races live is a terrible product that’s why Sky pay so much for the full thing. We can only hope Liberty take it back to FTA, maybe in HD while Sky does 4k or something.


Ideally I would like an F1 app I can subscribe to, to watch F1, be it on phone, tablet or smart TV. We get so much entertainment via services like Netflix or Amazon, why not F1?


Free-to-air was the reason Formula One was a part of so many families in the late 70s/80s.
I have so many memories from the 80’s related to watching F1 on Free-to-Air TV.

I think F1 has lost itself to future generations, its become a niche & the soul of the sport has been bleed out for profits.
F1 also lacks a big internet presence, the official website is obviously very low priority.


Personally I will never watch F1 on sky. I don’t watch any other sport and paying a sky sports subscription for 20 races is exorbitant. The move to pay broadcast TV has cut number of viewers and if it continues will see a further research reduction as many like me will stop watching F1 once it is no longer available on C4.


I now live in Australia that takes the UK feed. Since half the races are not live I and many friends have stopped watching all races and have drifted away from F1 after 40 years of following it. Pay to view must have decimated the audience numbers to the detriment of the sponsors


Getting rid of that awful steve jones would be a better move


Thought that C4 coverage was as good if not better in 2016 than BBC in 2013/14/15. Since 2013 it always seemed to me that the BBC team had been kicked out of the paddock before the race ended and were left to skulk behind the scenes, hoping to get a scrap of an interview with anyone that passed by!
Been to Monaco lots of times on visits and a few times to the Historic GP. I’ve walked the tracks o many times so I really appreciate the Monaco GP – glad it’s live but shame about Spain and Canada. Monza’s not what it used to be so no loss so not a huge loss to me.
I won’t pay Sky to watch it though.


The C4 presenting line up was generally excellent during 2016, especially Ben Edwards and DC in the commentary box. All we need now is for C4 to screen all the races live and F1 might just get some of it’s audience back. Down with Sky!


Yes, channel 4 viewing figures should increase as a result of including the Monaco GP , wish choice of races 👍👍


Despite the subscription fee and the adverts there was a lot of cost cutting on sky f1 last season. No f1 show on Fridays outside race weekends, at some races there was either Johnny Herbert or Damon Hill instead of both, Paul di Resta (who Williams were paying to be there) instead of the excellent Anthony Davidson even when he had no wec commitments, they even had sky italia’s Davide Valsecchi commentating on the gp2 races (which made them almost unwatchable for me). David Croft still commentates like he did on radio 5 (please David the viewers are watching the same pictures as you so you don’t need to describe every minute detail). Ted Kravitz is both enjoyable and irritating at the same time. Martin Brundle is still as good as ever. The f1 midweek report with Natalie Pinkham and ex mclaren mechanic Marc Priestley is good. I wonder if sky’s costing is a sign of a waning of their commitment to f1or just about profit and greed? I suspect it’s about money like everything else in f1.


The only thing that I noticed last year was how much less we saw of Anthony Davidson whom I missed and the increased presence of the monotone dull as dishwasher Paul di Resta.


Sorry to say but the Channel 4 show was not a patch on the BBC output. Too many presenters without clearly defined roles and as for Steve Jones well IMO he just is not up to the job Suzi Perry is far better in that role. Also most of the VT’s are about style and not about real good content and way is the closer a mix of a bands video and F1, the show is a F1 show not a music show. Need I say more. Also if you want to grade your VT’s can you at least make the car colours correct and consistent.


Shame to lose Canada and Monza and not have Australia. Bahrain is rarely a good race, ditto Singapore and Malaysia.
I watch for Lee McKenzie first of all – she’s got a real talent for getting the drivers to act normally. Webbo’s good and so is DC and Karun.
Is there any chance that Liberty will stop the shut-down of F1 in the public eye when they take over ? No terrestrial coverage = niche. Surely they know that.


Its all pot luck which races will be good so lets see.The ones they have dropped live in 2017 could be borefests for all we know.
One thing they need to do is make the highlights show more interesting.Currently the rabid fanbase just get excited about how long the actual footage of the race is but this could just consist of dull laps ticking off.
Just look at BBC match of the day. 8mins of a footie match and intelligent analysis after.
Meanwhile C4 just blather on with trivial ‘he said she said’ rubbish even though they have one event and 2hrs to fill.
If F1 is so great why are we subjected to this? The whole thing always seems bogged down in explaining the rules.
When was the last time any time was spent explaining the rules in MOTD ?
They need to stop listening to the idiots that write in or tweet as the veiwing figures were higher before all this bogus opinion was listened to.


Here’s an idea James. How about validating whether commenters have a Sky F1 package, otherwise only let them comment on every other race? 😛


I enjoy watching the advertising hoardings at Monaco, I really like the way the camera lingers on them for lap after lap. My only complaint is that sometimes a racing car gets in the way and spoils the shot.

Seriously: the Monaco TV coverage is beyond awful. I believe it’s the only race not filmed by FOM.


Having read most of the comments on here I can’t believe there are so many about what I consider acceptable commentators and none about Johnny Herbert. He can’t string a sentence together and just repeats the same phrases constantly and doesn’t actually say anything. With all the money Sky spend to try and make the coverage professional then employ him is beyond a joke.

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