F1 expect to reach one billion fans by 2022

Date published: April 11 2021 - Tom Rawcliffe

Formula 1 is expected to continue its growth and reach one billion fans by April 2022, with a particular increase found within the 16-35 age group.

In a study conducted by analytics firm Nielsen Sports, their analysis suggests – perhaps unsurprisingly – that the success of Netflix’s behind-the-scenes show ‘Drive to Survive’ and the emergence of Esports events have helped to increase the interest in F1.

That comes particularly from the younger age group, with Nielsen claiming those in the 16-35 age group have accounted for 77% of the recent growth in interest and that 46% of all F1 fans in January 2021 were within this range, compared to 40% last year.

Tom McCormack, head of rights at Nielsen Sports, said: “F1 continues to benefit from its strategy of broadening the content offering through peripheral and additional programming that appeals to that 16-35 year-old market.

“The current grid of social media-savvy young drivers, such as Lando Norris, is helping to reach new consumers through platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.

“By embracing these platforms – as well as OTT (over-the-top) services such as Netflix, with its ‘Drive to Survive’ series – F1 is now well poised to convert newcomers to the sport into long-term fans and generate unprecedented levels of interest.

“F1’s continued commitment to its #WeRaceAsOne initiative, which focuses on sustainability, diversity, inclusion and community, also addresses that younger demographic that places great value on those issues.”

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As mentioned by McCormack, drivers have taken to platforms such as Twitch to interact with the younger generation of fans, and that was one of the benefits to come from the delay of the 2020 season as Formula 1 also took the opportunity to host virtual grands prix with some of its drivers.

Nielsen’s forecast also identified that interest in the sport increased by 73 million people in 10 key territories last year – Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Korea, Spain, UK and US.

Matt Roberts, F1’s director of research and analytics, added: “The Nielsen study is important in understanding our sport and how fans are getting hooked on it.

“The increase in interest we have seen is very encouraging and reinforces F1 as one of the world’s leading sports.

“In particular, the growth in interest among 16 to 35-year-olds shows F1’s commitment to digital, social and Esports programs is having a tangible impact.”

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