NBC, US fans defy waning F1 viewership numbers

We’ve been discussing American motor sport and the health of it in particular and I got on my soapbox about the Circuit of the Americas and how vital I believe this circuit is to American racing interests regardless if a particular series races there or not. It seems that American Formula 1 fans are in agreement that motor sport in the US can be a healthy, vital entertainment and pastime.

According to the WSJ, NBC Sports Network experienced a 10.1% increase in viewership last year. What I found very encouraging is this statement in the article:

“The report also showed that the number of viewers in the U.S. who watched between four and nine races last year increased by 128% while those who watched 10 or more doubled. It adds that NBC Sports Network, which carries the series, “recorded year-on-year increases for every single round shown. On average each race shown on NBCSN attracted 85% more viewers this season when compared to 2013.”

We’ve certainly tried to do our part as an American F1 website and podcast to drive more US fans to the sport and the good news is that NBC Sports has made significant strides in gaining viewers so that’s a very positive footing to launch their 2015 season covering Formula 1.

I’m slightly biased as my dear friend Steve Matchett represents one arm of the broadcast team and I believe him to be a national treasure although, as I admitted, I am biased.

Formula One’s move from free-to-air TV in favor of more lucrative broadcasting contracts with Pay TV or subscription broadcasts has reduced the overall number of viewers from 600 million in 2008 to 425 million in 2014. This reduction in viewers is certainly a topic that team bosses are speaking of when calling for a revolution in F1.

No team likes their sponsors to hear that the viewership numbers are down even if the series is making more money and the team prize money is higher. It’s balancing act to be sure as teams do prosper via sponsor dollars as well as F1 prize money. Keeping all the plates spinning is the job of F1’s commercial rights holders but if the US can find a resurgent interest in F1, then I assume the world can as well.

Hat Tip: WSJ

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