ESPN signs three-year F1 rights extension for US

ESPN has signed a three-year, US-based contract extension with Formula One that keeps the motorsports property on ESPN and sister network ABC through 2022 after a return to the ESPN networks in 2018. 

The new term includes a provision for ESPN Deportes to become the exclusive Spanish-language home for all F1 races in the US starting next year. The new deal also includes terms for all F1 races to be aired live on ESPN, ESPN2, or ABC, and all practice sessions and qualifying events to air both live and on-demand on ESPN platforms including replays on the ESPN app. 

The races will continue to run commercial-free, and ESPN will again partner with Sky Sports to use their presentation of F1 in the US.

“When we brought Formula 1 back to ESPN two years ago, we had faith that Formula 1 fans in the United States would support the coverage. That faith has been rewarded many times over,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming and scheduling.

F1 in the US is averaging 671,000 viewers on ESPN Networks through 18 races this season, up 19 per cent from last year, and up 24 percent from coverage on NBC networks in 2017. Viewership among the much-coveted 18-34 age demographic has increase 81 per cent from a year ago. 

Sean Bratches, F1 managing director of commercial partnerships, was previously a longtime ESPN executive. 

“The US is one of our key focuses for growth and ESPN know and understand the US audience like no one else,” Bratches said. 

ESPN previously broadcast F1 from 1984 to 1997. The latest contract extension was announced November 1 ahead of the US Grand Prix.