The W Series’ British Grand Prix at Silverstone last weekend attracted a record domestic audience for the international all-women motor racing championship, which peaked at over one million viewers during the race.
The figure represents the biggest-ever live audience for a motorsport event in the UK outside of the men’s Formula 1 (F1) since 2014, with coverage across pay-television network Sky Sports and free-to-air broadcaster Channel 4.
Average viewership hit 713,000 for the race as British driver Jamie Chadwick won her sixth consecutive race.
Making history at Silverstone with a UK TV audience of more than one million viewers, our highest, EVER.#WSeriesSilverstone was the second most-watched motorsport event since 2014 outside of @F1!
One million views, one million thank yous to our fans.💜
— W Series (@WSeriesRacing) July 4, 2022
After the race, the W Series tweeted: “ONE MILLION. Making history at Silverstone with a UK TV audience of more than one million viewers, our highest, EVER. One million views, one million thank yous to our fans.”
Catherine Bond Muir, chief executive of the W Series, said: “We had big ambitions to make 2022 W Series’ biggest season so far, which kicked off in Miami where we achieved our largest-ever TV audience to date, with 453,000 viewers across the Sky network.
“Coming into our Silverstone race weekend, we set ourselves the ambitious target to double that. To achieve a peak of more than one million viewers is a landmark achievement in our history and a real statement of intent.”
Sky Sport secured broadcast rights to the series in the UK and Italy after signing a three-year deal in April ahead of the start of the 2022 season – the championship’s largest media rights deal since its launch.
Under that deal, covering the 2022 to 2024 season, Sky shows live coverage of every qualifying and race session across its various channels in the UK and Italy. The broadcaster also has a separate rights deal for the series in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Channel 4, the previous rightsholder of the championships, has rights to simulcasts live coverage of the British Grand Prix and show highlights of the other nine races through a one-year deal. The free-to-air broadcaster provided live coverage of the series’ debut season in 2019 before the 2020 campaign was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The agreements were negotiated in-house by W Series, which hired the Football Association’s Tom Gracey as the head of broadcast and media rights last year. Sports agency Pitch International brokers distribution deals for the series rights outside the UK.
In May, international sports heavyweight ESPN agreed a US media rights deal with the W Series for the 10-race 2022 season, covering all practice and qualifying sessions, as well as the races themselves. The first two editions of the series were broadcast by national network NBC in the US.
Bond Muir added: “I’m incredibly proud that W Series has achieved this milestone, but we’re not done yet. We have big ambitions for W Series’ continued growth, and thanks to the support from our broadcast partners, we can bring incredible racing to an ever-increasing global fanbase and strive to inspire as many women and girls as possible to get into motorsport.”
In November 2020, W Series announced a major expansion to its partnership with F1, which saw the series feature in support races at eight grand prix weekends last year.
In March, the series announced the addition of two more races to its 2022 calendar, creating the longest-ever calendar for its third season. All 10 races this year feature as part of the overall race weekend of the F1 series, held the day before F1 events at the same venues.
The 2022 W season began in Miami, Florida with a double-header from May 6 to 8, and is due to end with another double-header in Mexico City from October 28 to 30.