Formula 1 racing returned to the United States, and over-the-air television, last Sunday and netted a triumph in viewing audience.
ABC’s live telecast of the Miami Grand Prix had a record average viewership of 2.6 million — the largest audience for a live F1 telecast ever on U.S. television, according to ABC/ESPN, peaking at 2.9m in the closing laps (the all-time F1 audience record remains ABC’s same-day coverage of the 2002 Monaco GP, which followed the network’s live coverage of the Indy 500 and averaged 2.8m viewers).
The full Miami GP telecast, which included the 90-minute pre-race show, averaged a 1.08 Nielsen rating and 2.066m viewers, per numbers from ShowBuzzDaily.com. The upward momentum carried over to coverage of practice and qualifying on cable, with an average audience of 953,000 tuning in on Saturday to watch qualifying on ESPN and 398,000 watching Friday’s Practice 1 on ESPN2. Both represent the largest viewership for a qualifying or practice session since F1 returned to ESPN in 2018.
Through five races, the 2022 F1 season is averaging 1.4 million viewers per race, up 49 percent over the 2021 season average (949,000 viewers) and up 131 percent over the 2020 season average (609,000 viewers). This year’s seasonal average of 1.4 million viewers is 53 percent larger than average of 922,000 for the first five races of the 2021 season, which was the most-viewed F1 season ever on U.S. television.
NASCAR was on cable last weekend at Darlington, with the Cup Series race Sunday afternoon on FS1 averaging a 1.45 rating and 2.614m viewers, down from a 1.71/3.091m last year on the same weekend and network.
Xfinity Series action from Darlington on Saturday averaged 0.58/876,000, compared to a 0.58/934K last year. Friday’s Camping World Truck Series averaged 0.37/583,000, down from 0.38/643K in 2021.
Last Monday’s coverage of the rain-delayed Cup Series round from Dover averaged 0.60/944,000 on FS1.
In the 18-49 age demographic, though, F1 clearly outpaced NASCAR last Sunday with 735,000 viewers, compared to 517K for the Cup race. Xfinity and Trucks had 163K and 97K respectively in this demo.