Formula One’s Qatar Grand Prix averaged 824,189 viewers on Disney-owned ESPN in the US.
- Average viewership fell three per cent compared to the last race in 2021, which hit 850,312 viewers
- The US audience peaked at 1.07 million in the first 15 minutes
Last weekend’s race aired at 1pm ET in the US, which clashed with six games from the National Football League (NFL). This was a much friendlier start time than the 2021 edition of the race, however, which got underway at 9am ET. Despite that race featuring Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the midst of a titanic championship battle, the race began at 8am or earlier for just over half of the US population.
It’s more consolidation for Formula One in terms of viewership in the US. The audience peaking at the start of a race is not unusual, but a first-corner crash between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, which removed any hope of Red Bull and Max Verstappen being challenged for victory, will have certainly contributed. The McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, who looked so imperious in the Saturday sprint race, were also out of position after poor qualifying performances.
While there is the argument that Formula One has always experienced periods of dominance and, therefore, Max Verstappen’s supremacy shouldn’t be seen as a negative factor on viewership, this is an insular view. It’s new fans here that are the issue, specifically those who were swept up in the drama of one of the greatest championship battles in history. The foundation of sport is competition and Formula One risks shrinking back to the fringes if things continue as they are on track.