Formula 1 virtual Grand Prix series races to record viewership | Ratings/Measurement | News | Rapid TV News
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Aiming to fill in some regard the hole in Formula 1 season after races were cancelled due to the coronavirus, the F1 Esports - Virtual Grand Prix Series has proven to be a huge hit on-screen with racing fans.
F1 esports 22 June 2020
The series was created to enable fans to continue watching Formula 1 races virtually, despite the ongoing Covid-19 situation and to watch their favourite drivers battle it out when racing was not possible. Throughout the series over half the F1 grid took to the track, with 11 drivers competing in at least one race in the series. The F1 drivers were also joined by a host of famous faces, including a Ryder Cup winner, professional footballers and music chart toppers.

As it came to a close on the weekend of 13/14 June, data released by Formula organising body FIA showed that the series achieved a record breaking 30 million views across TV and digital platforms during the lockdown period, as fans tuned in for live sporting action, including eight Virtual Grands Prix, Pro Exhibition races and #Challenge events. The Virtual Grand Prix races reached 21.8 million views on digital platforms alone, including the official Formula 1 YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels as well as Weibo and Huya channels in China. TV viewership estimates suggest the Virtual Grands Prix also accumulated a further 5 million views through broadcast partners in over 100 countries.

The second event, titled the Virtual Vietnam Grand Prix but took place on the Albert Park circuit, was the leading trending video on YouTube UK post-event on 5 April when it was held. Further success was evident on YouTube, with F1 having three of the top five sports videos on the platform in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy between 15 March – 28 April, with #2 and #5 being Virtual Grands Prix. In terms of social output, the Virtual Grands Prix, gathered 695 million impressions across multiple platforms, and over 85 million views on video content throughout the series.

In addition to its clear on-screen popularity, FIA says that the virtual Grand Prix has allowed a number of F1 drivers to engage with fans on a more personal level, as well as boosting their profile on a wider scale, with drivers including Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Lando Norris and Alex Albon all regularly connecting with fans through their personal Twitch accounts, reaching an additional 2.7 million viewers, according to TwitchTracker.

The likes of Belgium and Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero and the F1 gaming community also contributed to the growth, having streamed the events from their own homes. Due to the success of the Virtual Grands Prix, the official F1 2019 video game, developed by Codemasters, saw1,000% month-on-month growth of streaming hours on the popular gaming platform.

Alongside the main Virtual Grand Prix events, #Challenge events featuring the likes of George Russell, Lando Norris, Nico Rosberg and David Coulthard achieved 1.9 million views across digital platforms. Pro Exhibition races, featuring the Pro F1 Esports drivers, received over 2.5 million digital views, as competitors honed their skills ahead of the F1 Esports Series 2020 which will take place later this year.

Commenting on the results, FIA’s head of digital business initiatives and eSports Julian Tan, said: “Now the series has come to an end, it gives us a chance to reflect on the huge success that it has been, which is reflected in the very impressive viewing figures and engagement stats. Our aim at the start of this journey was to provide live sporting action for those craving some racing relief, and now as we and the teams, whom we are extremely grateful to for their support and commitment throughout the series, turn our focus to the 2020 season and the F1 Esports Series, we can be proud that we were able to provide such entertainment to our fans, and beyond.”