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ESPN optimistic of F1 rights renewal after “very positive” talks

Series reportedly seeking upward of US$75m annually for new US broadcast deal.

27 May 2022 Cian Brittle

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  • ESPN’s deal until end of 2022 worth about US$5m a year, according to SBJ
  • Network pursuing F1 rights “very aggressively,” says ESPN’s Burke Magnus

ESPN has held positive talks with Formula One over renewing its broadcast partnership with the series, the US network’s president of programming and original content, Burke Magnus, has said.

Disney-owned ESPN’s current deal with Formula One expires after the 2022 season and the broadcaster made clear last August of its wish to continue its coverage.

According to Sports Business Journal (SBJ), ESPN currently pays about US$5 million annually for the rights, but Formula One’s owner Liberty Media is reportedly seeking upward of US$75 million per year for the next contract.

The significant increase comes down to the swell in viewing figures for the sport in the last few years. Notably, the Miami Grand Prix on 8th May managed an average viewership of 2.6 million on Disney-owned ABC, the largest ever audience for a live Formula One broadcast on US television. The race also saw ESPN score the largest viewership for a qualifying or practice session since it secured rights to Formula One in 2018.

Despite Formula One’s new demands off the back of its greater popularity in the US, Magnus told SBJ that talks have been “very positive” and the network is preparing to level up its coverage should it retain the rights.

“[We are pursuing the rights] very aggressively – we want to continue what we started here, and there’s so much happening right now that excites us,” Magnus added.

Last month, Greg Maffei, president and chief executive of Liberty Media, revealed several broadcasters are in the running to secure the new deal.

Speaking to CNBC, he said: “This year we’re on ESPN and next year we’re looking for a broadcast partner. We have a lot of interest.

“ESPN has been a great partner. They got a very good deal because we’ve had a rise in popularity and they’ve capitalised on that as well.”

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