Formula One’s Fast-Growing American Fanbase

Although Formula One has always been a somewhat prevalent racing series for motorsport fans in the United States, the popularity of the competition has seen tremendous amounts of growth in the recent decade, almost tripling its viewership and fandom from 2018 through this upcoming 2024 season. Is this simply incidental? Or is there a more specific set of reasons for this sudden spike in stateside support?

A Fruitful Acquisition

Formula One was acquired by Liberty Media Corporation in the early months of 2017. Liberty’s inaugural season as owners saw them capitalize on their media prowess by forging a groundbreaking collaboration with Netflix. Together, they embarked on an innovative venture, producing a riveting docuseries titled Formula 1: Drive to Survive, capturing the essence of the thrilling 2018 season. The impact of this deal was immediate, with a little over 50% of U.S.-based F1 viewers claiming the Netflix program as the reason they became fans.

For many fans, creating and following a narrative inside of a sport is just as important as the sport itself. Although many fans may have enjoyed the racing portion of the sport if they stumbled upon it themselves, the built-up narratives and personalities in Drive to Survive allow the viewer to connect to the sport on a different level. It is important to keep fans involved through specific narratives like this and these same tactics are used all around the world of sport in various different ways.

Strengthening the Bond

While building a general fanbase is one thing, it is also essential for the racing series to hold these new fans for multiple campaigns to come. While the continued release of the ever-popular Drive to Survive docuseries certainly captured the attention of new fans for longer than a single season, F1 and Liberty Media need to ensure that these fans will become lifelong viewers.

Social Media utilization is an immense tool in keeping fans engaged within the realm of F1. Not only can teams continue to push narrative through social media interaction, but the fans of specific teams and drivers can follow their favorites much more closely. Oftentimes, fan competitions will be run throughout various social media accounts and platforms to keep new viewers of the sport interested and engaged.

Race accessibility is also massively important in ensuring continued support for fans in the United States. ESPN is currently the sole licensed U.S. broadcaster, showing commercial-free races and extra content on their premium platform ESPN+. With this deal set to expire at the end of 2025, it should be interesting to see where Formula One ends up for stateside broadcasting.

American fans have definitely been rewarded for their recent boost in support, however, with Formula One having added both Miami and Las Vegas to the F1 calendar within the last two seasons, each for an apparent 10-year stretch. More races running in the United States will help to keep American fans hungry throughout the season for the possibility of seeing a Formula One race on American soil.

Building fanbases is something that takes time and skill. F1 and Liberty Media have done a very efficient job of cultivating a welcoming environment for both new and old motorsport fans in the U.S. alike. With more plans for investment in the American fandom, it is very likely that Formula One fan numbers in the United States will only continue to flourish.

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