F1 CEO sees opportunity for TV rights as ESPN deal expires

Formula One is gaining popularity in the US and its CEO is haggling with potential media partners for a better US media deal.

The current racing league agreement with ESPN expires at the end of 2022. In 2019, it was extended to $5 million per year. It is reported by the Sports Business Journal. the league, owned by Liberty Media, is seeking up to $75 million a year for its next television rights deal.

Formula 1 Group CEO Stefano Domenicali declined to say what potential partners the league is in talks with or how many the league is looking for, but he told CNBC he sees “big opportunities” in the talks and expects the next deal to “develop” the relationship. ESPN fee.

“We have to respect the fact that ESPN has done a great job for us in promoting business in this environment,” he said at the first Miami Grand Prix. “But we have a great opportunity to make sure that the future proposals that we are discussing with partners are well positioned in terms of content, opportunities for fans to follow them and, of course, in terms of royalties. The future is very interesting for us.”

Formula 1 set a new viewership record last season with an average of 934,000 viewers watching each race on ESPN and the ABC network, up 54% from Formula 1 races in 2020. F1 spectators in 2021 included an average of 1.2 million at the US Grand Prix in Austin.

Growth shows no signs of slowing down. ESPN reported that the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix in March averaged 1.3 million viewers in the US and peaked at 1.5 million viewers in the closing minutes of the race.

Formula 1’s core share price is up 34% year-over-year and has doubled since 2017.

The sport’s recent surge in the US is largely due to the Netflix documentary series Drive to Survive. The show’s fourth season, released in March, attracted the largest audience to date and broke into the weekly top 10 in 56 countries according to Formula 1 and Netflix. On Thursday, the parties announced that the series had been confirmed for a fifth and sixth season.

Some have speculated that Netflix may be looking to buy the media rights to F1’s live streams and mark its first foray into live sports. Domenicali refused to rule it out.

“Netflix helped us a lot,” he said. “They did an incredible job. We’ve done an incredible job together because it’s something you can’t do alone. I think that together we can have other things that we can do together to improve our availability in the US market.”

In 2023, F1 will host three races in the US, as well as a race in Las Vegas in November and the US Grand Prix in Austin in October. This weekend will host the first Grand Prix of Miami.

While the sport has long been popular overseas, with a global audience average of over 80 million per race, it lags far behind NASCAR in the US, which averaged just under 3 million per race last year.

“We are only at the beginning of this new journey,” Domenicali said. “The popularity of our sport has increased enormously. It requires a lot of attention to make our stories appeal to American fans.”

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