<iframe src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-P36XLWQ" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">

F1’s next US broadcast rights contract to be at “much better price”, says Liberty Media CEO

Greg Maffei says ESPN and several other networks are eyeing a deal from 2023.

5 April 2022 Ed Dixon

Getty Images

  • F1’s US audience averaged 949k viewers per GP on ESPN in 2021
  • Disney-owned network took over rights from NBC in 2018
  • F1 will stage three races in the US next year

Formula One is in talks with ESPN and several other networks as it eyes a bumper new rights deal in the US from 2023.

Speaking to CNBC, Greg Maffei, president and chief executive of the global motorsport series’ owner Liberty Media, revealed several broadcasters were in the mix.

The US rights are currently held by Disney-owned ESPN, which made clear last August of its desire to continue its Formula One coverage beyond the 2022 season.

“This year we’re on ESPN and next year we’re looking for a broadcast partner. We have a lot of interest,” Maffei said.

“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.”

ESPN replaced NBC as the series’ US broadcasting home in 2018, a year after Formula One was acquired by Liberty. The network has seen its audience for the series grow consistently in recent years, aided by the popularity of the Drive to Survive docuseries on Netflix.

For the 2019 campaign, the network grew its Formula One viewership by 21 per cent, racking up an average 671,000 viewers for each of its live broadcasts. For 2020, ESPN’s live coverage surpassed one million viewers for a number of races, including the French and British Grands Prix.

Through two races this season, the 2022 Formula One season is averaging 1.4 million viewers on ESPN, up 47 per cent over the full 2021 campaign, which scored an average audience of 949,000 per race.

Maffei did not disclose which other networks were circling a deal from 2023, but said discussions were ongoing. He added that Liberty was seeking a far more lucrative contract, which would better reflect Formula One’s increased popularity in the US.

“Our hope is we’ll find a great partner going forward, which could be ESPN or it could be somebody else,” Maffei continued. “And it’s likely to be at a much better price for us that’s hopefully still good for our broadcast partners too.”

Maffei’s comments come less than a week after Formula One confirmed a night race in Las Vegas from 2023 on an initial three-year contract. The event, which is expected to be staged in the second half of November to coincide with Thanksgiving weekend, will become the third US Grand Prix on Formula One’s calendar, joining races in Austin and Miami.

Rather than turning to a local organiser, the Vegas race will also be promoted through the Liberty-owned Live Nation global entertainment company.

“The role we’re assuming in Las Vegas is broader than we normally have, where he have a local partner who does most of the arrangements, takes a lot of ticket risk, works on local sponsorship and alike,” Maffei told CNBC.

“Here, because of the nature of Vegas, because of the opportunity we saw, because it’s probably close to our home offices in Denver, all those set up well for us to take on an enlarged role here.”

1 / 2news articles read

Enjoying SportsPro content? Create your account and get enhanced access to all the latest stories.


Already have an account?