ESPN will continue to broadcast Formula One in the United States until 2022 after posting double-digit viewership growth over the past two seasons.
Through 18 races this season, F1 has averaged 671,000 viewers on ESPN networks, an increase of 19% over the average of 561,000 at this point last year on ESPN networks and up 24% from the average of 542,000 on NBC networks in 2017. In the demographic of people aged 18 to 34 -- a target area of growth for F1 -- the gain from 2018 is 81%.
The extension will see F1 races continue to air live and commercial-free on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC, and all practice sessions, qualifying and races will air live and in replay across ESPN platforms, including on-demand replays on the ESPN App. ESPN will continue its partnership with Sky Sports to bring the UK broadcaster's presentation of F1 to American viewers.
An additional element of the deal will be ESPN Deportes serving as the exclusive Spanish-language home for all F1 fans in the U.S., starting in 2020.
Sean Bratches, managing director, commercial operations at Formula One, said: "Our partnership with ESPN has delivered a 19 percent increase in viewership across the US and we are delighted to extend our partnership through to 2022.
"The US is one of our key focuses for growth and ESPN know and understand the US Sports audience like no one else. The combination of their dedicated coverage and Formula 1's amazing racing spectacle is a perfect partnership for us to build on our recent success with US audiences."
Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president, programming and scheduling, said: "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, and we greatly appreciate how fans have responded in record numbers.
"We're also delighted to add Spanish-language rights to this new deal. This provides us with a unique opportunity to serve Hispanic Formula 1 fans across ESPN platforms in English and Spanish. We look forward to continuing the relationship with Formula 1 and working together to build the sport in America."
It's a mixed bag:
I like the extensive coverage with minimal commercial breaks and no commercials during quali and race - great progress.
Also online coverage is available in case you have no TV/cable access (was the case for me this summer on cross-country trip).
Commentary style (creating artificial excitement, bias) and douchy commentators are highly annoying.
But you take the good with the bad. It's definitely a good thing to continue.