The F1 TV rights in the USA have been the subject of a fierce fight between several candidates, and it is ESPN who will retain the rights until 2025.
There is no doubt that the popularity of F1 is growing in the country of Uncle Sam, the attendance on the circuits as well as the TV audiences attest to it. Thus, the acquisition of TV rights for the broadcast of the Grands Prix gave rise to a fight between the biggest broadcasters, including the new platforms such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video!
ESPN keeps F1… but pays a lot more!
When negotiating F1 TV rights in the USA, we had ESPN hoping to come back, but there were other majors on the other side, such as Netflix, Amazon and even Comcast (NBCUniversal). The latest information was reassuring about the extension of the agreement with Disney / ESPN, now, even if the 3-year agreement has not yet been signed and formalized, it has been announced that its competitors will not have the TV rights.
Which means that the offers from Amazon and Comcast were not accepted. Sources say ESPN has agreed to pay around $75-90 million a year for the rights. Currently, ESPN had a broadcast deal for $5M per year, and signed a 3-year/$15M deal as of 2019.
ESPN’s deal gives flexibility to put a small, but undetermined number of races exclusively on its ESPN+ streaming service. Most of the races will be shown on linear television, either ABC or ESPN, sources said.
According to these sources, Amazon made a higher offer, in the range of $100 million per year, with the right to sub-license a linear streaming network. Comcast’s offer was financially similar to ESPN’s. But the latter reportedly put many of her races on her (paid) Peacock streaming service, in addition to classic coverage on NBC and USA Network.
Through its Sky subsidiary, Comcast is an important partner of F1 outside the United States. Netflix had discussions with F1 and did make an offer, but it fell too far short of the requirements. F1 bosses have made it clear that they are not yet ready to put all their races on a streaming service.