Updated: Jul 19
ESPN is reportedly reached a new broadcasting rights deal with F1 to continue their exclusive right to broadcast races in the United States through the 2025 season. While this deal doesn't come as that big of a surprise, what was surprising was the amount of money ESPN reportedly had to pay to retain this right. Previously, ESPN had a three-year deal with Formula One and Sky Sports (a UK-based sports channel) to use their broadcast on ESPN as the exclusive way to view a race in the United States and was worth approximately 15 million dollars. This new deal, also for three years, is rumored to be worth 85 to 90 million.
This substantial jump comes as no surprise to anyone who follows Formula One, or has seen the Netflix docu-series Drive to Survive, which follows a Formula One season for each “season” of the show. This, paired with increasing the number of events held in North America and a brilliant marketing campaign led by Liberty Media who owns Formula One, has led to this massive increase in viewership, causing them to have much more bargaining power when negotiating this contract with ESPN that it had three seasons ago. This is further proof that Formula One has solidified its hold in North America where it has many opportunities to continue to grow, showing that Liberty Media has made Formula One into a much more profitable organization and asset than it was when they purchased it.
This contract again highlights the dichotomy between formula one's growing popularity in the United States despite being a “primarily European" motorsport up until recently, and the decline of the truly homegrown motorsport of NASCAR shrinking in popularity within the U.S. It will certainly be interesting to see how much more Formula One grows in the coming years within the U.S., and I hope for the sake of NASCAR as an organization they're taking notes on how to properly increase the popularity of a sport outside of the United States traditional “big four” of football, basketball, baseball, and hockey.
Zachary Bryson is a graduate from Wake Forest University with B.A. in Economics and a Minor in Entrepreneurship. He is currently JD candidate at Elon University School of Law, Class of 2023. You can connect with him via LinkedIn or follow him on twitter at @ZacharySBryson.