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Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Formula 1’s Growth Hits A Speed Bump With U.S. Viewers

  • Viewership for Formula 1 races on ESPN was down 8% in 2023.
  • The sport will return to its three American markets for grand prix in 2024.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Formula 1 has clearly stated its goal to continue growing in North America, but it will head into the 2024 season looking to rebound from a decline in U.S. viewership.

F1’s 22 races this season averaged 1.11 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC. That’s an 8% drop from last year’s record U.S. viewership average of 1.21 million on the same Disney-owned channels.

This dip in viewership came in a second consecutive season dominated by Max Verstappen, who won 19 of the 22 races and secured the constructors’ championship for Red Bull along with teammate Sergio Perez. The lone grand prix not won by a Red Bull driver was Carlos Sainz’s victory in Singapore.

The 2024 season will grow to 24 grand prix races and return to three American stops: Miami, Austin, and Las Vegas. The next campaign will also mark the second year of ESPN’s three-year deal for the sport’s U.S. broadcast rights at a reported price of $255 million.

Next season’s viewership could be crucial in determining how high a fee F1 can command for a subsequent U.S. deal, which would begin in 2026 — and how much competition ESPN may have to retain those rights.

Hold The Caution Flags 

NASCAR, meanwhilesaw a 5% viewership decline over its recently concluded 2023 season, but that didn’t stop the racing outfit from sealing a big combined media rights increase from its incumbent partners and two new broadcasters.

Amazon, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, and Warner Bros. Discovery just agreed to seven-year deals with NASCAR, which will reportedly receive $7.7 billion for its media rights, including a separate package for its Xfinity Series on The CW.

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