ITV draws peak of 8.8m viewers for historic Grand National
UK horse racing’s Grand National returned to domestic television screens with a sizeable peak audience of almost 9 million on Saturday.
Viewers were treated to a moment of history as Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore became the first female rider to win the world-famous steeplechase at Aintree, coming home first on Minella Times.
The number of viewers on free-to-air commercial network ITV1 hit a high of 8.8 million, a 31.8 per cent share, as the Grand National Festival returned after being cancelled, due to the coronavirus pandemic, in 2020.
The audience was down on the peak of 9.6 million, and share of 39 per cent, in 2019, but up on the 2017 and 2018 events. Amid ongoing Covid-19 restrictions there were no spectators in attendance at the meeting.
ITV averaged 4.78 million viewers for its full afternoon broadcast from Aintree on Saturday, with the main race starting at 5.15pm.
The network did attract a record average audience of over 1 million for the opening day of the festival on Thursday, and 900,000 for Friday’s racing, albeit there was a switch from ITV1 to ITV4 because of news coverage of the death of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.
Some 400,000 viewers watched Saturday’s ‘Opening Show’, a preview of the day’s racing, up from 300,000 on the equivalent day last year.
On social media, the hashtag #ITVRacing reached over 122 million users, with videos from the meeting viewed over 2 million times.
In addition, 500,000 minutes of ITV social content were consumed during the festival, with the most-watched moment predictable being Blackmore’s victory.