Weekly Column: Beyond Netflix, Why Formula 1 is Growing in Popularity

In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder Jeremy Evans has written a column about the recent growth and potential of the Formula 1 racing circuit popularity and success in the United States.  

You can read the full column below.


The “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” series on Netflix is a hit series and has inspired millions of people to reengage with the open-wheel racing series. The streaming series is now in its fifth season. Formula One (“Formula 1” or “F1”) is the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars, which is sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The Formula One Group promotes and licenses the FIA Formula One World Championship commercial rights. In early 2017, Liberty Media completed its acquisition of the Formula One Group for $8 billion dollars. Liberty’s leadership has resulted in massive popularity for the sport.

There are several interesting facts about F1. For one, it is very expensive to own and run an F1 team at roughly $265 million dollars per year. In other words, there are high barriers to entry because like NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) or golf there is no draft or college selection process, but the talent and business process is driven by financial investment and the ability to compete at junior and lower-level circuits. Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney, and Michael B. Jordan recently learned this reality when they invested $220 million dollars with other partners for a 24% ownership stake in the Renault-owned Alpine Formula 1 team.

F1 cars are the fastest regulated road-course racing cars in the world and have undergone some significant changes in recent years to engine use and performance by introducing a hybrid turbocharged V8 engine. Formula E, the fully electric racing series, and E-1 Series, the fully electric boat racing series, have also been introduced and are some seeing significant growth and interest. Viewership for the Drive to Survive series continues to climb.

Beyond the popular Netflix series that highlights F1, why has F1 become more popular of late? There are few reasons.

First, the additions of the Miami Grand Prix (2022) and Las Vegas Grand Prix (2023) to the Austin race (e.g., United States Grand Prix) (2012) as host cities have Americanized the F1 racing circuit and brought it closer to home for millions of American fans. There are plans for further expansion in the United States. New York, San Diego, Newport Beach, Chicago, and other cities would provide for amazing backdrops, crowds, and interest. America is abundant in natural beauty with perfect locations for races. With three yearly locations, the United States already hosts more F1 races than any other country in the world.

Second, as F1 has new television deals, the distribution for the sport has increased on streaming platforms. This means that more fans and potential fans can access the content. The new television deals and the Netflix series likely benefited from each other in popularity and viewership as fans could search and watch additional F1 content.

Third, post-pandemic there was increased interest in seeing events, things, and people. People wanted to get out and express their pent-up desire to see the world. In response, sponsors and advertising dollars skyrocketed and of course so did the experiential opportunities to get ever closer to the action on the track through paddock experiences, celebrity endorsements, investments, and appearances. As a side note, the various F1 and racing films over the years have helped to increase interest and knowledge of F1 and racing in general (e.g., Ford vs. Ferrari (2019), Rush (2013), and Driven (2001), not to mention car-centric films like Bullitt (1968), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), and the Fast & Furious franchise feature films. There have also been numerous documentaries.

The potential for F1 and car racing growth is apparent. Indy car racing just saw one of the largest crowds ever for the Indianapolis 500. It was expected that 300,000 fans attended in 2023.


About Jeremy M. Evans:

Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clients in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.   

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Jeremy M. Evans is the CEO, Founder & Managing Attorney of California Sports Lawyer® representing entertainment, media, and sports clients and is licensed to practice law in California.