Amazon, Netflix and more locked in battle for US TV rights

Jon Wilde
A Netflix cameraman films Pierre Gasly. Bahrain March 2022.

A Netflix cameraman films Pierre Gasly for 'Drive to Survive' while walking. Bahrain March 2022.

Netflix’s association with Formula 1 may not be limited to making ‘Drive to Survive’ in future, it has been reported.

That is because the US media rights for F1 are up for grabs and Netflix are among the interested parties, according to sources.

‘Drive to Survive’ has been credited with the major growth of Formula 1 in the United States and, consequently, an increase in that country’s number of grands prix to three per season from 2023, with the additions of Miami and Las Vegas.

Since 2018, ESPN have held the Formula 1 broadcasting rights in the US but that deal expires at the end of this season.

ESPN, who utilise the Sky F1 coverage, say they are “aggressively pursuing a renewal” – but they have considerable competition.

Apart from Netflix, this is reported to comprise NBCUniversal, who preceded ESPN in holding the rights from 2013-17 and, perhaps even more significantly, Amazon.

Business Insider contacted all three of Netflix, Amazon and NBCUniversal for comment. The latter two companies declined to comment, while Netflix did not immediately respond.

However, Sean Bratches, former F1 managing director of commercial operations who struck the deal with Netflix to film ‘Drive to Survive’, is quoted as saying he thinks it would be a natural step by the streaming service to progress to live coverage.

“Based on the success of ‘Drive to Survive’, it would seem obvious that Netflix would be an interested participant and that Formula 1 would feel similarly,” said Bratches.

Netflix have a new advertising-supported subscription tier set to launch at the end of this year for which Business Insider suggest F1 would be a suitable fit.

ESPN’s director of programming and acquisitions, John Suchenski, meanwhile, spoke about his company’s efforts to keep the F1 rights.

“We are aggressively pursuing a renewal,” said Suchenski. “We feel we have a distribution package and event presentation that can’t be matched in the industry, and the viewership and exposure growth they have received since returning to ESPN platforms in 2018 is reflective of what we can do for them. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship.

“Understandably, they are looking at other options. We had very good meetings with them in Miami recently and are in constant communication.”


Viewing figures for Formula 1 in the United States are rising fast and the recent Monaco Grand Prix was watched by an average of 1.4 million viewers, up 43% from last year’s race.