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Saturday, May 18, 2024

U.S. Grand Prix in Austin Draws 1.3M Viewers

  • That’s down 7% from last year’s coverage on Disney’s ABC.
  • But still third-best TV viewership for the race after 2021 and 2007.
Red Bull races in Formula 1.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Formula 1 is having a moment in the U.S. thanks to ESPN’s race coverage and the popular Netflix series, “Drive to Survive.” But that momentum didn’t show up in the TV numbers for this past weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.

ABC’s race coverage from 3-5:12 p.m. ET averaged 1.3 million viewers, down 7% from 1.4 million last year. But it was still the third-best TV showing for the race ever, behind 1.4 million for ABC last year and the same number on Fox in 2007.

Several key factors impacted those numbers: 

  • Max Verstappen had already won the F1 world championship before the race. Before last year’s race, Verstappen and rival Lewis Hamilton were still duking it out.
  • As with last year, ESPN’s race coverage had to compete with Sunday afternoon NFL football games. The late Sunday game is the most-watched TV window of the year.

How Austin Became America’s Formula 1 Capital

Circuit of the Americas has helped put Austin on the sports map.
October 23, 2022

The TV numbers don’t do justice to the wild scene on the ground in Austin, where F1 set a U.S. attendance record of 440,000 fans over four days. Among them was Hollywood actor Brad Pitt, who’s poised to star in an F1-themed film.

Disney is investing big money in the future of F1 in the U.S. Disney, ESPN, and F1 just announced a contract extension that will keep the circuit’s races on the entertainment giant’s TV networks through 2025. 

The three-year deal is worth $255 million and represents a 17-fold increase over ESPN’s current deal which expires after this season.

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