Report: F1 signs three-year ESPN US TV rights extension worth up to US$90m a year

Series secures huge increase on current contract with Disney-owned broadcaster.

Report: F1 signs three-year ESPN US TV rights extension worth up to US$90m a year

Getty Images

  • Comcast, Amazon and Netflix had also submitted bids
  • ESPN’s current three-year deal until end of 2022 worth US$5m per year
  • Bulk of races set to air on linear television, with some to be streamed exclusively on ESPN+

Formula One has agreed to renew its US media rights deal with ESPN until the end of 2025, according to Sports Business Journal (SBJ).

The three-year pact is reportedly worth between US$75 million and US$90 million per year, a massive increase on the Disney-owned broadcaster’s current three-season contract, which expires after 2022 and is worth US$5 million annually.

According to SBJ, most races will be carried on the linear television channels ESPN or ABC, though an undetermined number of Grands Prix will air exclusively on the ESPN+ streaming service.

Amazon and Comcast had reportedly tabled bids, with the former’s said to be worth around US$100 million and included the rights to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was worth a similar amount to ESPN’s and would have seen several races streamed on its Peacock over-the-top (OTT) platform, in addition to linear coverage on NBC and USA Network.

Netflix also reportedly made a bid, but it was not close in value to rival proposals, with Formula One executives said to not be prepared to put all of the series' races exclusively on a streaming service yet.

ESPN has always remained hopeful of renewing its broadcast partnership with Formula One. Last month, the network’s president of programming and original content Burke Magnus said ESPN had held “very positive talks” with the series.

The whopping increase in ESPN’s reported extension comes off the back of a major rise in viewing figures for Formula One in the US. For example, last month’s Miami Grand Prix pulled in an average viewership of 2.6 million on ABC, the largest ever audience for a live Formula One broadcast on US television.

There is also a reported expectation from Formula One owner Liberty Media to further increase viewership during the next rights cycle. Helping that cause will be six races in 2023 occurring in US time zones – Austin, Brazil, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Miami, and Montreal – and there will be three races on US soil for the first time.