As motorsports begins to settle down towards a full season of normalized racing, the focus turns to off-track business matters  This month we will take another look at the money aspects of entertainment on racing – where they stand and what’s lies ahead.

The reason media matters is the dollars it brings to the sport and its contribution to financial coffers of industry stakeholders.

Ticket sales and concessions has long been the primary driver of revenue for tracks. As these areas has stagnated the growth of broadcast dollars has exceeded these categories.

The early season races have delivered strong ratings across the board this year.  There will be week to week variances based on the venue, weather and landscape of competitive programming.

For each race, agencies typically report Total Audience Delivery which represents the combined viewership of broadcast/cable and streaming platforms.

IndyCar viewership is at its highest in almost two decades. They are up over 30% compared to last year. Thru the first three races IndyCar is averaging 1.148 million viewership.

Nascar is also showing impressive numbers.  There are averaging 4.76 million viewers, an increase of 17% over the first eight races of the 2022 season.

The ratings for Formula One has been solid.  The global footprint of the series creates variability with late / early start times.  Thru the early races Formula One is averaging in excess of 1.0 million viewers, up over 20% from the prior season.

The Netflix series, Drive to Survive has bolstered the popularity of Formula One, especially in the United States.  Season 4 launched prior to the beginning of the 2022 calendar, with skyrocketing popularity. It brought the sport into the homes of a whole new audience, who became captivated by a canid behind the scenes inside look at the drivers and teams.

The production team behind the series, Box to Box Films is fielding inquiries from many sports properties including the PGA and Tour de France.  Nascar, IndyCar, and other sanctioning bodies have film crews at tracks and race shops gathering content for multi-channel platform distribution.

Several of the broadcast deals for motorsports are expiring over the next few years.

Sports remains a desirable category due to it favorable characteristics – live content, appointment viewing, and audience demographics. 

Media companies heavily on sports content. Rights deals continue to rise.

The NFL remains the most lucrative property will annual rights fees at $10 billion per year.    Multiple entities are involved in the latest ten year contract the goes from 2023 to 2033.  Football games are broadcast four nights a week and the Super Bowl attracts over 100 million viewers.

The next closest league is the NBA at $2.6 billion per year, followed by the MLB at $1.6 billion, and NHL at $625 million. The Premier League is at $450 million for US rights.

The current deal for Nascar is at $820 million annually. The ten year deal was signed in 2015 and expires after the 2024 season.

Several factors will come into play – long term deals provides stability, traditional revenue splits (tracks – 65%, teams – 25%, and sanctioning body – 10%) may be reallocated, the dynamics of multi-channel distribution (broadcast vs streaming).

The global value of Formula One media rights deals exceeds $650 million.  Viewed in over 100 countries, the average global viewership was 60.3 million per race.

In the US, ESPN has carried Formula One since 2018 with a non-traditional contract. The current deal expires in 2022. 

Record viewership and attendance, new US races, are raising expectations for Formula One’s US based owners, Liberty Media. That renewal may be up to $75 million per year.

Motorsports retains a prime position in the media rights deal pack. A long term solid results track record bode well for next set of negotiations.