ESPN’s rights deal with F1 expires at the end of the 2022 season, and F1’s sights are set high for its next deal. The sport’s popularity is surging, thanks in no small part to Netflix’s Drive to Survive, and if ESPN wants to retain F1’s rights, the company will need to pay significantly more than they currently are.
Per the Sports Business Journal, ESPN’s Burke Magnus is “very positive” about the company retaining the rights, saying they’re “very aggressively” hunting a renewal.
As for a number, F1 is reportedly looking for as much as $75 million per season. ESPN is currently paying just a fraction of that – around $5 million per year, or less than they’re paying some on-air personalities. That fifteen-fold increase is eye-popping, but the raw number is still pretty low, all things considered. ESPN is paying La Liga a reported $175 million per season, more than twice what F1 may command. Serie A reportedly got $75 million per season from CBS. The UFC, UEFA, and Premier League have all gotten huge TV deals in recent years, dwarfing what F1 is asking, not to mention the deals for three of the big four in MLB, NHL, and NFL
I almost feel like F1’s current TV deal has been a “prove it” deal, setting the table for a future bounty that could come in its next deal. F1 has delivered, and now it’s time for interested parties to open up their bank accounts.