Formula 1 is a hot item and has grown in popularity worldwide in recent years. Now that Netflix has invested in its docuseries about the sport, F1: drive to survivethe streamer has reportedly been interested in getting further into the action, but despite the bidding, it won’t be airing live broadcasts of races in the United States anytime soon, according to new reports.
With Netflix’s growth challenges of late, Netflix is reversing course on some of its biggest hurdles. The largest of these are ads it hopes to introduce by the end of 2022 and the other looks set to go live sports.
Formula 1 makes an obvious choice for Netflix when it comes to live sports, especially with its connection to the sport through Drive to Survive. Other reasons to invest in the sport are that it is still in demand, it is almost year round which would be great for churn, and third, its popularity extends all over the world, not just in one individual country.
However, how much Netflix’s involvement in creating a Formula 1 boom is a contentious topic. Many have argued F1: drive to survivean accompanying documentary coming shortly before new seasons is directly attributable, but the reality is probably a bit darker.
Contributor to What’s on Netflix, the Entertainment Strategy Guy, argued that the story behind Netflix is the sole reason for its growth being exaggerated. In his piece in The Ankler, he states: “Formula 1 has indeed seen a rise in interest in America, but Netflix only plays a partial (perhaps even tangential) role in the story.”
He argues that in general there are four main drivers for growth, namely:
Cause 1: Liberty Media buys a majority stake in Formula 1, which was completed in January 2017.
Cause 2: ESPN buys the rights to Formula 1, which from 2018 will broadcast most races in the morning on Sundays.
Cause 3: Netflix will start streaming Formula 1: Drive to Survive in 2019.
Cause 4: Nielsen adds “out-of-home” viewing to their standard linear rating measure.”
ESPN wins F1 rights until 2025, but Netflix was in the running
For years, live sports were not a Netflix priority, but the first real copy of Netflix to show any interest was in July 2021, when Ted Sarandos said “never say never”. Since then, the steady drum beat of rumors has been hard to ignore.
The US rights to Formula 1 are up for grabs in 2022 and that’s where Netflix comes into the equation.
In early June 2022, BusinessInsider said it was a four-horse race with ESPN, NBCUniversal, Amazon and Netflix all bidding. This was big news, but a source told BusinessInsider that Netflix’s pitches were “tricky” as “the company doesn’t have an internal sports negotiator.”
Now, thanks to a new report from SBJ (posted on June 24), it gives us the news that while Netflix tried to bid for the Formula 1 rights in the United States, it ultimately fell short with Liberty Media choosing to relaunch. to partner with ESPN despite a larger offer from Amazon.
Disney’s ESPN has reportedly won the rights to broadcast races until 2025, but did so at a significant cost. They reportedly paid somewhere up to $90 million a year compared to the $5 million a year they paid between 2019 and 2022. They will also be streaming some races exclusively on ESPN+.
About Netflix, the report states:
“Netflix had talks with F1 and actually made an offer, but the offer was nowhere near money. F1 managers made it clear that they were not ready to put all their races on a streaming service.”
Formula 1 rights outside the United States could be up for grabs in the coming years. In the UK Sky has the rights until 2024 and in France Canal+ has the rights until 2029.
Netflix will, of course, continue to produce and release new seasons of Ride to survive† It has been renewed for a fifth and sixth season, with season 5 expected in early 2023. It is also expanding further into sports docu-series with new series covering the PGA Tour and professional tennis.
Are you disappointed that Netflix won’t show F1 soon? Let us know in the comments.