More Than 8 Million Viewers Watch Grand National; Animal Aid Protests TV Coverage
More than 8 million viewers "watched Channel 4's first ever Grand National," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. The figure was 2 million down from the BBC's final race last year, but "in line with previous years." A peak audience of 8.9 million tuned in five minutes into the race at 4:20pm London time. That represented 61% of the U.K. TV audience at that time, "an almost identical figure to that which watched the BBC's coverage" in '12. The entire 15-minute spectacle attracted an audience of 8.4 million, while Channel 4's four-hour-plus coverage was "watched by an average of 2.9 million," a 28% audience share (TELEGRAPH, 4/7).
CHANNEL 4 PROTESTS: In London, Mark Townsend wrote animal rights campaigners "have staged a protest outside the headquarters of Channel 4, accusing the Grand National broadcaster of cynically exploiting the brutality of the world's most famous horse race." Around 80 campaigners gathered in central London to chant "shame on Channel 4" before reading out a list of the 23 horses that have died during the Grand National since '89. Animal Aid Dir Andrew Tyler accused the broadcaster of deliberately ramping up the danger inherent in the steeplechase, in particular condemning a commercial promoting its first broadcast of the steeplechase as "cynical, callous and pretty disgusting" (GUARDIAN, 4/6).
PLACE YOUR BETS: Also in London, Chris Cook wrote bookmakers estimated that betting on the Grand National could top £150M ($230M) "for the first time in the history of the race." Millions of punters "were expected to wager more cash than usual as Saturday's race at Aintree is the only major sporting event of the weekend." A capacity crowd of more than 70,000 in Liverpool "will be joined in watching the 166th race by an estimated 600 million television viewers worldwide" (GUARDIAN, 4/6).