The sun went down on the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship last Sunday, and yielded another decent number in U.S. TV audience to conclude this most unusual of seasons.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix telecast on ESPN2 early Sunday morning averaged a 0.31 National Nielsen rating and 523,000 household viewers. That’s a big step down from the 717,000 average from the previous week’s Sakhir GP, which benefited from a better (noon ET) start time, but a slight uptick over last year’s race, which was also the season finale and had a 0.30/473,000 on the same network.
Overall, the 17-race season — the most Euro-centric F1 campaign in years, cobbled together after wholesale changes to the original calendar were forced by the COVID-19 pandemic — averaged a 0.37 rating and 603,000 viewers. That’s down from the 671,000 per-race average of of 2019’s 21-race calendar, but last year featured coverage of the North American races as well as the Monaco GP on the ABC broadcast network, while all of this year’s races aired on ESPN cable channels. That 2019 average was an increase of 21 percent over the average of 554,000 on ESPN and ABC networks in 2018 and up 25 percent from the 538,000 average on NBC Sports networks in 2017.
At the end of 2019, ESPN and Formula 1 concluded a new three-year deal to keep F1 races on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC through the 2022 season.