ESPN sets new F1 audience record, with female and younger viewers up

ESPN has registered a new record audience for Formula 1 in the United States in 2022, and achieved its first season with an average of more than a million viewers per race.

The previous record was only set last season, but this year averaged 1.21 million viewers per race across the three channels used – ESPN, ESPN 2 and ABC – marking an increase of 28% on 2021. Importantly, that growth included significant increases in female viewership, with the average up 34% on 2021 and women making up 28% of the overall audience this year.

There was a 29% increase in viewers between the ages of 18 and 49; the specific breakdowns within that bracket showing those aged between 12-17 increasing 49% over 2021, marking the largest year-on-year growth across all key demographics. Persons aged between 18-34 were up 43%, and there was an increase of 46% in the 25-34 age range.

The new Miami Grand Prix’s 2.583 million audience made it the most-watched live F1 telecast ever in the States, and was one of 12 races to set all-time event viewership records. The majority of those were in the early and mid part of the season before the championship battle petered out, but the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil – the penultimate round of the season won by George Russell – delivered its largest live audience of 1.401 million.

Seventeen of the 21 races registered an average audience of over one million, while the rain-hit Japanese Grand Prix – where Max Verstappen won the title in a delayed and shortened race – is not included in the figures.

Viewership for qualifying sessions was also up 17% year-on-year, averaging over half a million viewers for the 2022 season.

ESPN recently announced a new contract to broadcast Formula 1 in the United States for a further three years, up to and including the 2025 season.