ESPN, F1 extend rights deal
November 4, 2019
By Colin Mann
As the Formula One circus pitched up in Austin, Texas, for the US Grand Prix, ESPN and Formula 1 revealed they have forged a new agreement that will keep the FIA Formula One World Championship on ESPN and ABC through 2022. F1 returned to the ESPN networks in 2018, seeing double-digit television viewership growth in the United States over the past two seasons.
As an additional element of the new deal, ESPN Deportes will serve as the exclusive Spanish-language home for all Formula 1 races in the US starting in 2020. Spanish-language coverage of F1 will be made available to fans on ESPN Deportes television network and streaming on the ESPN App.
The new deal will see all F1 races continue to air live on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC and all practice sessions, qualifying and races will air live and in replay across ESPN platforms, including on-demand replays on the ESPN App.
ESPN also will continue to air the races commercial-free and will again partner with Sky Sports and Formula 1 to bring Sky Sports’ award-winning presentation of Formula 1 racing to American viewers.
“When we brought Formula 1 back to ESPN two years ago, we had faith that Formula 1 fans in the United States would support the coverage,” commented Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president, programming and scheduling. “That faith has been rewarded many times over, and we greatly appreciate how fans have responded in record numbers.”
“We’re also delighted to add Spanish-language rights to this new deal,” he added. “This provides us with a unique opportunity to serve Hispanic Formula 1 fans across ESPN platforms in English and Spanish. We look forward to continuing the relationship with Formula 1 and working together to build the sport in America.”
Through 18 races this season, Formula 1 is averaging 671,000 viewers on ESPN networks, an increase of 19 per cent over the average of 561,000 at this point last year on ESPN networks and up 24 per cent from the average of 542,000 on NBC networks in 2017. All but three of the 18 races this season have seen year-over-year viewership increases on ESPN networks. In addition, the demographic of persons aged 18-34 has grown 81 per cent from 2018 and is up 87 per cent from 2017.
“Our partnership with ESPN has delivered a 19 per cent increase in viewership across the US and we are delighted to extend our partnership through to 2022,” said Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Partnerships at Formula 1. “The US is one of our key focuses for growth and ESPN know and understand the US Sports audience like no one else. The combination of their dedicated coverage and Formula 1’s amazing racing spectacle is a perfect partnership for us to build on our recent success with US audiences.”
When it began in 2018, the relationship marked the return of Formula 1 to its original US television home – the first race ever aired in the country was on ABC in 1962. F1 races also aired on ESPN from 1984-1997.
In addition to the telecasts, ESPN’s coverage of Formula 1 also includes the dedicated ESPN.com Formula 1 website, which reports on the championship year-round.