Netflix in pole position for F1 in the United States?

Liberty Media, owned by John Malone, bought F1 in 2017 for just over $7 billion. In the country of Nascar and IndyCar, F1 was not really known, watched and appreciated by the American public at the time of the transaction. But since the seizure of power by Liberty Media, the competition has continued to become Americanized. To the point of hosting 2 Grands Prix in 2023. And above all to see Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” series achieve a real hit. This year, ESPN achieved an audience of 1.4 million viewers for the Monaco Grand Prix, posting a growth of 43% compared to 2021.

Jackpot for ESPN

A great opportunity for ESPN (The Walt Disney Company), which has held the rights since 2017 and only pays $5 million per year to broadcast the full season. But Liberty Media no longer wants to settle for such a small sum. Business Insider recently revealed that Liberty Media is now expecting $100 million per season. According to a specialist, the most likely price would be around 75 million dollars per season.

Inflation or speculation?

In order not to lose the competition, ESPN would be ready to go up to 70 million dollars per season. But that may not be enough since the arrival on the starting line of other media giants: NBC (which broadcast F1 before 2017), Amazon and especially Netflix. While Amazon has already acquired a solid reputation for broadcasting live sports competitions (La Ligue 1 and Roland Garros in France), the arrival of Netflix may seem surprising. Because to date Netflix has always declared that it is not interested in broadcasting live events and even less sports competitions. But that was without counting on the power of seduction of Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, Alpine etc. Indeed, the success of the “Drive to Survive” series has undoubtedly made the mouths of streamer leaders water.

Operation Seduction

The new F1 boss, Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula One Group, knows that his competition has advantages with broadcasters: “If you compare the demographics of F1 and NASCAR, our population is much younger and more female”. From 2017 to 2021, the female fanbase grew by 8% in the United States, reaching 40% of the total, while the number of fans aged 16 to 24 rose by 6% to 22% of the total. total audience. And Netflix is ​​no doubt no stranger to the rise in popularity of F1. What the boss of F1 recognizes: “The streaming giant has been very important to our growth, but on the other hand, we have been very important to them too. As always, in a marriage, it takes two to be happy, otherwise there is a problem. »

Netflix, one step closer to Live TV

Liberty Media already knows that it has won the Grand Prix for the rights that will fly away for the period starting in 2023. But to find out who will cross the line first, we will have to wait a little longer: “We are exploring all possibilities and we are in no rush to make a decision” explained Stefano Domenicali. If Netflix wins, it will be the confirmation of the mutation of the pure SVOD Cine/Series model in favor of a hybrid model which is getting closer and closer to dad’s TV, the one that Reed Hastings, the boss of Netflix, likes to predict approaching death.

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