Virtual Grand National reins in 4.8m viewers with £2.6m going to the NHS

Saturday’s Virtual Grand National recorded a peak audience of 4.8m, almost a third of all TV viewers in the UK, with bookmakers generating £2.6m for NHS Charities Together.

The computer-simulated event took place after the horseracing spectacle had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However its virtual replacement was soon announced and has been used as a charity tool to combat the virus.

All losing bets placed on the virtual horses were donated to the NHS which generated £2.6m in the UK’s fight against coronavirus.

Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) Chief Executive Michael Dugher stated: “I am proud that so many BGC members, up and down the country, are supporting in so many different ways the national effort to combat COVID-19, including here by contributing all of their race profits to NHS Charities Together.”

“NHS Charities Together thanked the BGC yesterday but I’d like to thank them for the amazing work that they do in support of the NHS all year round.

“When the nation was in much need of some light relief, millions joined in the fun in honour of one of Britain’s greatest sporting events and helped raise a fantastic amount for our brave heroes in the NHS.”

The event, which was won by Potters Corner, was aired on ITV and follows the trend of traditional sports transitioning onto an online course, with the Grand National following a similar route to F1 and NASCAR’s esports approach. 

However, unlike the esports tournaments, the Virtual Grand National used CGI technology and special algorithms in order to create the broadcast which averaged 4.3m views over its 30 minute runtime.

Insider Insight: The Virtual Grand National has seemingly been a resounding success for everybody involved. The NHS continues to get support from the sporting world, along with various other sectors. 

Moreover a mainstream audience enjoyed watching this relatively new horseracing sector for many people, with ITV producing one of the most popular shows in the UK last weekend.