Report: F1 To Renew Media Rights With ESPN For $75-$90 Million Annually

Reportedly, Formula 1 will be renewing media rights with ESPN in a deal that runs through 2025. … [+] (Photo by Paolo Pedicelli/ATPImages)

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It appears Formula 1 will continue to be broadcast on Disney-owned ESPN.

According to a report by John Ourand and Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal, ESPN will be renewing the media rights through 2025 for somewhere between $75-$90 million annually. Multiple reports prior had said Liberty Media-owned F1 had been seeking $100 million per year.

The renewal is significant for several reasons. Notably, NBC and streaming services Amazon AMZN and Netflix NFLX were in the mix for the rights. Netflix streams the docuseries Drive To Survive which is seen as a factor in the increasing popularity of F1 in the U.S.

According to the SBJ report, Amazon offered more money than ESPN — the $100 million a year that F1 had been seeking — for the rights, indicating that, at least for now, Formula 1 is not yet ready to jump all the way into an all-streaming deal. The other bidders were reportedly notified on Friday that ESPN had won the rights, although the contract still needs to be signed.

ESPN will continue to rebroadcast U.K.-based Sky Sports coverage of the global racing series. The Worldwide Leader In Sports has been showing live races commercial-free with a title sponsor. That sponsor has been Mothers Polish. Repeats of races have been shown in their entirety with commercial breaks. With the increase in the cost of rights, it will be interesting to see if this pattern of commercial-free will continue, or whether “side-by-side” ads will run next to race content as NBC has done.

Key to the reported new deal is the ability for some F1 content to be shown via the ESPN+ streaming service. The report does not define whether that would include races or other race-supported content that has been part of the ESPN deal prior. Traditionally, free practices 1 and 2 have been aired on Fridays, with free practice 3 and qualifying sessions on Saturdays. While not reported, it seems possible that this content could be made available at times on ESPN+.

As is the case now with the current ESPN media rights deal, the network will have the option to air races on the ESPN family of networks, as well as ABC. Signature races such as the Monaco Grand Prix and races in the U.S. time zones have been traditionally aired on ABC.

As popularity in the U.S. has grown, Liberty Media and Formula 1 have increased the number of events in the country. For 2022, they added the debut of the Miami Grand Prix on a temporary road course around the Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium and will race the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) near Austin on October 23. For 2023, F1 will add a Saturday night Las Vegas street circuit race in November that will run partially down the iconic Strip. All told, by next year, six races will run live within the U.S. time zones; a key factor in viewership numbers. Those races are located in Austin, Brazil, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Miami, and Montreal.

The renewal is a substantial increase from what ESPN is currently paying for the media rights. The deal that expires at the end of the current season sees the network paying just $5 million annually.

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