ESPN’s investment in Formula 1 continues to pay off as the Hungarian Grand Prix is the latest to set a new F1 TV ratings record.
If you’ve been following Formula 1, live in the US, or have a keen interest in television ratings, you’ll be familiar with similar headlines. Netflix’s Drive to Survive and ESPN’s wise decision to broadcast SkySports F1 coverage rather than create their own, combined with the dramatic and intense 2021 Championship battle led to a massive surge in interest within America. Despite often starting early on the East Coast and requiring weekend alarms for the West Coast, Hungary continued the trend with a new F1 TV ratings benchmark.
🏁 1.23M avg. viewers
🏁 Up 25% over last year's audience
🏁 @F1 season averaging 1.3M viewers per race – up 35% over '21 season (949K)
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) August 2, 2022
It’s not simply the marquee races, Grand Prix events on US soil, or well-timed ones that are boasting record highs. The Hungarian Grand Prix’s 1.23m has the 2022 season average at 1.3m heading into the summer break. That’s up from about 950k last season and 600k in 2020. Considering the remaining 2022 schedule includes races in Austin, TX, Mexico City, and the season finale in Abu Dhabi, it’s a safe bet that the 2022 final average will maintain or surpass 1.3m.
ESPN’s contract with F1 expires at the end of the 2022 season. There have been reports of Comcast, Amazon, & Netflix trying to bid away the American TV rights. Instead, the Sports Business Journal reports that ESPN will maintain its exclusive deal with F1 but at an increased annual fee of $75-90 million. That’s a 1,400% increase from the $5 million fee for the current contract. Exactly the impressive growth the American company Liberty Media was hoping for when they purchased F1 back in 2016.
F1 returns from the summer hiatus on August 28th at Spa for the Belgium Grand Prix.