Advanced Television

Survey: F1 fans prefer live TV

October 22, 2021

By Colin Mann

Findings from the 2021 F1 Global Fan Survey, commissioned by Motorsport Network in partnership with Formula 1 and Nielsen Sports, reveal that Formula 1 is considered the pinnacle of motorsport in the eyes of fans globally. Formula 1 is also seeing greater interest and engagement from a more enthusiastic, diverse, and evolving fanbase since the last survey in 2017.

Overall, the survey recorded the youngest and most diverse sample size to date with an average age of 32 (down 4 years from 2017), female participation in the survey nearly doubled to 18.3 per cent (up from 10 per cent in 2017), and student age responses increased to 26 per cent, up from 18 per cent in 2017.

“We are hugely grateful for all the fans that have given their time to share their views in this huge survey,“ said Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1. “Their views are very valuable to us, and we are extremely pleased with what we have seen in the results. I also want to thank Motorsport Network and Nielsen Sports for the incredible job they have done. We are privileged as a sport to be truly international, racing in continents and countries around the world with a global fan base. We reach every corner of the globe through our events, tv broadcast and social media and media content. This is a blessing – to have such a platform – but it is also a responsibility. We must protect what we have, grow it, reach more fans, and ensure those blessings remain and get stronger. The results of the survey show we are doing the right things and we will continue to be focused on creating excitement and entertainment on and off the track which is what all our fans want. We are hugely excited about our future, and we know our fans are too.”

Findings from survey indicate fans are very enthusiastic with the direction the sport is taking. Based on survey respondents, F1 strengthened its position as the global leader of motorsports, with a remarkable 90 per cent of fans surveyed believing that Formula 1 is ‘the pinnacle of motorsport.’ In 2017, 25 per cent of fans said the sport is in better health than 5 years ago – and that number has grown to 55 per cent, and even higher amongst those under 35 years of age (59 per cent).

“What an exciting time to be a Formula 1 fan,” declared James Allen, President of Motorsport Network. “This survey is always a huge undertaking, made possible by the collaboration between Motorsport Network, Stefano, Ellie Norman and the team at F1, as well as our colleagues at Nielsen. And of course the fans in 187 countries who completed the survey, whose results show that F1 is in excellent health, certainly the best I have known it in my 30-year career in the sport. F1 struggled in the past to attract younger fans and particularly the female fan base and this survey speaks volumes about how the new management’s digital first approach and the funnel effect of projects like Netflix Drive to Survive are engaging a new generation of passionate F1 fans. Thanks to the Internet and social media anyone anywhere today can become a fan. At Motorsport Network we identified this some time ago, which is why we have created our global motorsport communities all over the world; and they have spoken.”

Among fans surveyed, F1’s number 1 brand attribute is “exciting” – with other top brand attributes including “technological,” “expensive,” “competitive,” and “entertaining.” This is the first time “competitive” and “entertaining” have appeared in the top five, and over two-thirds of fans surveyed believe that F1 exceeds their expectations in terms of “pioneering technology.”

“Nielsen Sports is pleased to once again have collaborated with Motorsport Network and Formula 1’s massive fan base around the world to deliver them a platform in which their voices can be heard,” commented Nigel Geach, Senior Vice President, Global Motorsport, Nielsen Sports. “This was the largest single sports survey that we ever conducted, and the data has clearly demonstrated the incredible growth and overall health of both F1 and motorsports.”

The survey findings include the size and demographics of the sport’s audience, fan disposition and attitudes towards the sport, their affinity for races, teams, drivers, and their consumption of racing as remote and live audiences.

Key findings from the 2021 F1 Global Fan Survey include:

  • Penetration of pay-TV is high, with half of the fans now watching races on pay-TV.
  • 68 per cent of fans say that in the future they want to watch the live races on TV, while 13.8 per cent say they want to watch online.
  • More than half of all fans (51 per cent) are playing motorsports-specific video games, with 64 per cent of those aged 16-34 as active motorsport gamers.
  • Within the 16-24 demographic, 80 per cent have played the F1 game in the past year and 34 per cent have watched F1-specific esports broadcasts.
  • New, younger audiences show growth: US (50 per cent), India (55 per cent), China (58 per cent), Mexico (45 per cent); they also indicated that they have been following the sport less than five years.
  • 55 per cent of fans believe F1 should be a world leader in the development of 100 per cent sustainable fuels. 67 per cent of fans are aware of F1’s plan to introduce 100 per cent sustainable fuels by 2025.
  • 58 per cent of fans say the sport has the right balance of sport and entertainment (up from 39 per cent vs. the 2017 survey results. This is especially felt by new entrants to the sport – 81 per cent of those who started following F1 in the last 12 months.
  • Twitter is the most used platform in social media use during race weekends. Instagram is the fastest growing.


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