F1 hits market expecting big fee hike next year as US interest continues to grow

Increased interest in F1 racing in the United States is pushing the circuit to seek up to $75m per season for media rights.Images: getty

Formula One has been on the market looking more than $75 million a year for his media rights in the United States, according to multiple sources.

Currently, sources say that ESPN pays around $5 million a year for the rights. ESPN signed a three-year contract worth $15 million in 2019 and owns US F1 media rights throughout the current season.

F1 told executives he wanted his US media rights to be more in line with international football rights. By comparison, ESPN pays the Spanish soccer league La Liga about $175 million for the rights and the German soccer league Bundesliga about $40 million a year for its rights.

After Like many other sports, football rights have benefited from the deployment of direct-to-consumer platforms. Television executives from several networks have identified international football as a major driver for streaming subscribers.

For months, it seemed likely that ESPN would renew his F1 contract. ESPN and F1 executives are pleased with the increase in viewership for its races last year, which grew by more than 50%.

ESPN is the favorite to renew, but Last week, Freedom Media chief Greg Maffei take from CNBC say he was selling the rights on the open market. Liberty owns F1. “Following year, we are looking for a broadcast partner,” he said. “We have a lot of interest.”

That interest includes NBCwho carried F1 for five years before the racing series moved to ESPN in 2017.

NBC enters these negotiations with less bandwidth than five years ago, because he closed his all-sports channel NBCSN at the beginning of the year.

NBC can broadcast races on television or American Network and can carry F1 with its international programming (Premier League) or other racing programs (NASCAR and IndyCar).

Viewership of F1 races live on ESPN

2021: 934,000
2020: 608,000
2019: 672,000
Source: Nielsen

F1 views Fox Sports As an option. In 2017, he hired the former Fox Sports boss David Hill to advise race productions. Hill has had a deep relationship with the network since his time there.

F1 had contact with Amazon, but sources said those talks had not progressed. F1’s interest in Amazon is said to be based on finding a broadcast point for its most high-profile races.

When Amazon has bid for the Premier League rights, it has partnered with Fox. Amazon’s plan was to buy Fox time and handle the production.

More Sports company executives contacted for this story believe F1 will get a substantial raise, but see the $75m figure – 15 times higher than what they are currently getting – as a fantasy.

the The motor racing series expects to enjoy a significant increase in popularity in the US market, both on television and on the track.

Last races of the year on ESPN were up 54% over the previous year, averaging 934,000 viewers. netflix renewed the popular F1-focused docuseries “Drive to Survive”.

Not to mention the fact that F1 has added several races in the United States, and now has six races that take place in American time zones: Austin, Brazil, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Miami and Montreal.

F1 is also looking to capitalize on a hot market for media rights that has started to see digital companies such as Amazon and Apple compete with traditional media companies for sports rights.

A higher duty fees will of course entail trade-offs. US TV stations are expected to start inserting commercials into races for higher rights fees. ESPN has offered commercial-free F1 racing since 2018. During its coverage of the Australian Grand Prix that year, ESPN was heavily criticized for attempting to put commercials in its TV broadcast of the sky sports stream, which resulted in abrupt commercial breaks, sometimes interrupting commentators.

F1 is prepared to allow ads if it gets a high enough rights fee, sources said, adding that there is precedent for ads as several global markets run F1 races with advertising.

Another The problem for US-based broadcasters is the F1-produced TV Pro app, which provides access to ad-free racing for $80 a year or replays and highlights for $27 a year.

Like rights fees are rising, the presence of such an application is likely to irritate American networks, which want to attract as many people as possible to their linear channel or their own streaming service.

John Ourand can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ and read its weekly newsletter.

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