Formula 1’s television and digital audience continued to grow in 2018, with unique viewers up 10% globally.
A total of 490.2 million unique viewers featured growth of 20% in the United States to 34.2 million, making the US the third biggest market in terms of TV reach behind Brazil (115.2 million) and China (68 million). China’s figures more than tripled compared to 2017, boosted by the return of rights to CCTV as the main free-to-air broadcaster.
The cumulative TV audience in the top 20 markets grew by 3% to 1.59 billion — the second consecutive year of growth — with the global cumulative audience reaching 1.758 billion.
The highest cumulative audience of the season was registered at the Monaco Grand Prix, with 110 million viewers tuning in, also an increase of 10% on 2017. The races in Bahrain, France, Austria, Great Britain, Italy and Mexico all had more than 90 million viewers each.
“In today’s world, just having a flat TV number is a strong performance,” F1’s global research director Matt Roberts told Reuters. “We’re really pleased that we’ve seen growth for the second year in a row after many years of decline for the longer term trend.”
F1 has focused on its digital offering since being taken over by Liberty Media at the start of 2017, an area that was seen as neglected to an extent under Bernie Ecclestone’s management. That low starting point means the sport remains the fastest-growing major sport on social media channels, as its followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube see a 53.7% rise to 18.5 million. Total impressions of F1 content grew by 29.2% to 10.4 billion, including 2 billion video views.
In 2018, the sport launched its own OTT service — F1 TV — as well as additional regular content such as nine live post-race Twitter shows and the Beyond The Grid podcast.
The fan base was calculated as increasing by three million to 506 million, of which 205 million fans are under the age of 35. As F1 focuses on trying to attract a younger audience, market research company IPSOS found 61% of new fans acquired over the past two years are under 35, and 36% are under 25 years old.