ESPN Sees Double-Digit Viewership Growth, Numerous Records In 2019 Formula 1 Season

(Press release from ESPN)

ESPN saw record viewership numbers in 2019 for Formula One coverage (Photo: Courtesy ESPN)

In a record-setting season for television viewership, ESPN networks averaged more than 20 percent in audience gains and set seven event viewership records during the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship season that ended this past weekend. Live Formula 1 racing returned to ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC in 2018

Over the 21-event season, live race telecasts averaged 671,000 viewers, an increase of 21 percent over the average of 554,000 on ESPN networks last year and up 25 percent from the 538,000 average on NBC networks in 2017.

Seventeen of the 21 races saw year-over-year viewership increases and seven races earned U.S. viewership records. In addition, the young adult demographic (persons ages 18-34) was up 75 percent over 2018 and 89 percent over 2017.

“This was a fantastic season for Formula 1 on our networks,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president, programming and scheduling. “The viewership increases and event records demonstrate that the core F1 fans in the United States are tuning in and new viewers are watching as well.

“We look forward to helping Formula 1 celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2020.”

ESPN and Formula 1 recently announced a new, three-year deal to keep F1 races on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC through the 2022 season. 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 U.S. starting in 2020.

The 2020 Formula 1 season begins with the Australian Grand Prix on March 15.

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  1. Fast Eddie says

    It always amazes me the interest F1 draws. Yeah, they’re cool, and fast, and the technology is at the top of the racing world. BUT… There’s 20 cars running on a road course 2 to 8 (a guess) miles long. Once they start and the field spreads out, it becomes mostly a high speed parade.

  2. Valid points, Fast Eddie. Not to mention, the difference in quality from the front of the field to the back is an enormous spread. If the top 1 or 2 teams are like the Patriots, then the back of the grid is a Pee-Wee football team. And mid-pack teams are division 3 college teams. Most of the time, the only competition a driver has is his own teammate, because they’re in similar equipment.
    But, hey, people watch….

  3. The percentages are way up buy the actual viewers isn’t that impressive. A half million customers in a country our size is ok. Then you figure every bar in America has ESPN on its TV and it puts it in perspective. It is moving in a positive direction though. Baby steps I suppose.

  4. The movie, “Ford vs Ferrari”, has been a hit, so there is still some interest in motorsports. However, only older people would understand the topic of the movie. Still have to get younger people interested in motorsports.

  5. The percent increase is impressive but it’s 600 thousand plus compared to the deteriorating NASCAR audience of 6 to 9 million. I suppose that doesn’t really mean much since the audiences are completely different. From what I’ve read Formula 1 has been trying to gain ground in the US market forever with limited success making the spike in viewership news worthy.
    I tune in as well for a bit mostly having no idea of what I’m watching. NBCSC said it best:
    ” For over 70 years, Formula One has been a premier global sport, with opulent, multi-day races held in countries across the world” It’s all so very continental. Their haulers are jet planes.
    I know they are fast, highly sophisticated and popular the world over. Then there’s the watching part where you hunger for a pass, get bored so it’s click and off to reruns of Green Acres. Then again I’m about as far from their target demographic as a person can get.

  6. One thing to remember about F1 is the start times. Probably half the races are aired live between 8-9 am here on the east coast. I don’t think you’ll find too many Bars offering 25 cent hot wings during those hours. Never mind those on the west coast. It’s probably why ESPN rebroadcasts the race later in the day. I know my 85-year-old Mom thinks there the coolest racecars going! I enjoy watching the races with my breakfast.

    P.S. Green Acres is only on in the morning on weekdays, not the weekend, at least not in the Boston area. 🙂

  7. Over the air DVR or Amazon Prime will put Green Acres on your tube whenever you’re in the mood.

  8. Less people attending the tracks.

    More people watching from some sort of video device?

    The stands are E-M-P-T-Y.

  9. Reading some TV numbers yesterday I came across this stat. 20 million people watched the LSU-Alabama football game in November. Highest rated game in several years. Just to give you a comparison.

  10. Technology is taking over in America and the world Incase you didn’t notice. The younger generation is way more advanced than us (yes even you Dareal) and that’s why F1 will continue to grow. Nascar is a blue collar sport fan base. That’s where they messed up. Chasing the white collar fan group. F1 has that and will continue to keep that. The NASCAR fans leaving the sport will need a place to land as well. We are all race fans and will continue to watch races.

  11. The technology in an F1 car is completely inconceivable and understandable to anyone other than highly trained and educated engineers. The energy management and power unit technology is rather high tech and can not be understood by anyone without an engineering education. The technology in these cars is far beyond intuitive.

    With flip phones being just about completely extinct, almost all should be using a smartphone by now. That smartphone has more computing power than the most advanced workstations from 20 years ago, and orders of magnitude more power than the computers that ran the moon missions. Don’t fret, you don’t have to know anything about the technology that you are surrounded by. It has been thought out for you by engineers, so you don’t have to. Just use it. Your cars and trucks are all computer controlled, with several computers. You don’t have to know anything about it.

  12. I second that. Have known three engineers in my life fairly well and each was humble, easy to talk to, never talked over my head and bent over backwards to take complex technical subjects and put them in terms I could understand. Just cool guys.
    Right now I’m using the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system and I’ll bet some of you are using Apple products. Neither Steve Jobs or Bill Gates were engineers nor did either graduate from college. I don’t know if that means anything but it’s interesting that guys that changed the world didn’t have or care about a label.

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