ESPN Announces Details of Deal to Keep Formula 1 Racing Through 2025 Season, With New ESPN+ Rights
Although the speculation never reached the fever pitch that the negotiations over NFL Sunday Ticket has achieved, the subject of Formula 1 racing’s broadcast rights became a hot topic earlier this year. Even Netflix, which has never offered live sports before, got in on the bidding to be the next home of F1.
Sadly for Netflix, its efforts were all for naught. Formula 1 and the Walt Disney Company have announced that Formula 1 will be staying on ESPN and its affiliates until the end of the 2025 season. The deal was first reported in June, but now the details are available at last. Intriguingly, the deal now includes expanded direct-to-consumer rights, so more races will likely be coming to ESPN+.
“Formula 1 and ESPN have been a strong and successful team and we’re delighted to extend our relationship,” ESPN President of programming Burke Magnus said “We look forward to serving fans in some new and innovative ways in the next three years as we continue to bring the reach and relevance of the Walt Disney Company networks and platforms to Formula 1.”
The deal will include at least 16 races on ESPN and ABC, which is more than under the previous deal signed in 2018. Races broadcast on linear networks will continue to be commercial-free, something that Disney and Formula 1 pride themselves on and was carryied over from the last deal.
F1 racing has continued to set viewership records in the U.S. Last year was the most-watched season ever, with an average of nearly 950,000 viewers tuning in each week. This season, that number has jumped to over a million audience members per race, according to Disney.
The amount of F1 content on ESPN networks has been increasing each of the past five years as well. This year, the Sky Sports F1 programs “Ted’s Qualifying Notebook” and “Ted’s Race Notebook” were added, airing on ESPN3 during race weekends, and the video podcast program “Unlapped” began appearing on the ESPN YouTube channel.
“After Formula 1 returned to the ESPN networks five years ago, the popularity of the sport has grown impressively,” Formula 1 Director of Media Rights Ian Holmes said. “The extension and expansion of our partnership is a reflection of exciting times ahead and a result of our shared desire to bring Formula 1 to as broad and diverse an audience as possible in the U.S. The popular commercial-free broadcasts ensure that viewers continue to engage with F1 before, during and after the race. From next year we will have six races in the Americas, which means more favorable time zones to fans in the region, making the Formula 1 offering more compelling than ever.”
Disney has been busy this year in securing more rights deals for its dedicated sports channels. The company may sign a new agreement with the Big 12 Conference soon, and has also secured the rights to top Spanish soccer competitions. ESPN did lose out on the Big Ten’s broadcast rights to a group of bidders including NBC, CBS, and FOX.