"And for us it's a market where we are really just scratching the surface," Carey said. "It's not only the size of the market but the fact that we have only really just tried to begin developing the potential of the sport there." -- Chase Carey, CEO of Formula 1.
Formula 1 is here to stay. That should worry NASCAR.
Formula 1 has made a number of moves over the last few weeks that show it's intent of strengthening its foothold in the United State Market. Among them:
- F1 is opening an office in New York City to snag partnerships, focusing on the financial sector
- F1 has signed a multi-year deal to show its races on ESPN, ESPN 2, ABC-TV, and on digital channels, ESPN announced in a press release on its website.
- FI has announced changes to make its races louder and faster because that's what their fans want.
Meanwhile, NASCAR has announced a Roval is coming at Charlotte -- next year. It's also been consumed with news of teams losing sponsorship, the sport losing its most popular drivers to retirement (Dale Jr.) or lack of money to find cars (Danica Patrick), and TV ratings that have been nothing short or awful.
The TV agreement may be the most significant because it shows that F1 is going all in on distributing races directly to consumers instead of just on broadcast TV and major cable channels. That was the sticking point with NBC, which currently broadcasts F1 races and decided it didn't want to renew its agreement. NBC saw F1's efforts as competition saying in a statement on its website, said:
"Although we take great pride in having grown Formula One's visibility and viewership since we became its exclusive U.S. media rights holder in 2013, this will be our last season with the series. In this case, we chose not to enter into a new agreement in which the rights holder itself competes with us and our distribution partners. We wish the new owners of F1 well."
That's a big loss for NBC because F1 races -- unlike NASCAR -- have been growing audience. And in this case, F1 will be on the dominate sports channel and an over-the-air network; NASCAR is often relegated, for the most part, to NBCSN, which doesn't have the name recognition or clout of the ESPN brands.
According to USATODAY, F1 viewership is up 13 percent this year. Just this year, Monaco was it's second-most watched F1 race ever, attracting and average of 1.444 million viewers.
Now, the Disney-owned networks in the ESPN family and on ABC will broadcast 21 races, starting with the Australian Grand Prix in March and ending with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. When including practices and qualifying, the channels will add 125 hours of programming to its existing lineup.
"ESPN has had a long commitment to motorsports, and Formula 1 is a crown jewel in the sport," Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming & scheduling, said in the ESPN release. "There are many passionate Formula 1 fans in the U.S. and we look forward to bringing the pageantry, spectacle and excitement of F1 to viewers across the ESPN platform."
The European motor sport is making its way to the United States in a big way. It's opening an office in New York City and is going after sponsors in several sectors, including financial, telecom, insurance, spirits and apparel.
For example, the New York Times has written that F1 is the pinnacle of the racing world. It's story noted that while television viewership is down, it's still a dominant force in broadcasting, with some 115 broadcast partners in 150 countries. F1 tends to crush the competition in Europe, the report noted.
F1 is also making changes that will make it faster and louder, changes the fans have asked for.
Contrast that to NASCAR, which has been suffering from declining ratings and is having a very hard time with sponsorship. Monster Energy is debating whether to extend it's deal with the sport's primary sponsor, and several teams -- most notably, Richard Petty Motorsports -- has lost sponsorship dollars that throw their plans for 2018 in turmoil.
F1's entry into the United States, looking for sponsorship dollars, adds a layer on competition NASCAR doesn't need.