Nine million watch The Grand National

7th April 2013

A peak audience of almost nine million viewers watched The John Smith’s Grand National yesterday on Channel 4 – the first time the broadcaster has covered the iconic event.

The peak audience of 8.9 million – larger than three out of the last four broadcasts of the world's most famous steeplechase on BBC1 and a huge 61% share of the television audience – came at 4.20pm; with the 15 minutes around the race itself attracting an audience of 8.4 million.

Simon Bazalgette, one of the key executives involved in negotiating British racing’s four-year terrestrial television deal with Channel 4 as Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, which owns and runs Aintree Racecourse, said:

 "The terrestrial viewing figures for the 2013 John Smith's Grand National on Channel 4 were exceptional, peaking higher than the large national audience we enjoyed on BBC1 for three out of the last four years.

"That is testament to the British public's love of the world's most famous steeplechase, the efforts of our partner, Channel 4, to promote the event like never before and to the Aintree team for their incredible hard work.

"For many, the Grand National is the shop window for Britain's second biggest spectator sport. I'm delighted so many people saw a fairytale result from the grassroots of Jump racing, at the same time as the race set new standards for safety and welfare. 

"I look forward to the 2014 race once again capturing the nation’s imagination."

Channel 4’s Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt said:

“I’m delighted that Channel 4’s first year covering The Grand National was enjoyed by nearly nine million people. It’s testament to the innovative approach of the new Channel 4 racing team and the efforts of the whole channel
in supporting this iconic event.”

Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4's Sports Editor, adds: " We are delighted to be broadcasters of this iconic race. Congratulations to Aintree for putting on such a fabulous spectacle for our viewers.

"Channel 4 has shown this week our commitment to this fantastic sport and I would like to congratulate IMG for their coverage across the three-day meeting.