Formulation One CEO Stefano Domenicali Talks U.S. Media Rights Talks, TV Scores Increase – Deadline

Formulation 1 is again on acquainted turf this weekend on the Monaco Grand Prix, a glamour-wrapped race that has been a fixture since 1929.

Whereas most of the monitor contours and Côte d’Azur vistas are little modified, the auto racing circuit itself has a decidedly revamped look. Earlier this month, it made a splashy debut in Miami, the most recent cease in its U.S. enlargement, which is able to take it to Las Vegas subsequent yr. That bow adopted the arrival of the most recent season of Netflix docu hit Drive to Survive, with the present including pop-culture luster to negotiations for a probably profitable new U.S. media deal.

“The American market is prepared for F1,” Formulation One Group CEO Stefano Domenicali informed Deadline in an interview forward of as we speak’s race. “Being prepared implies that we have to maintain engaged on the truth that we have to keep linked with our followers within the U.S. We have to converse the identical language, we have to give context.”

The Miami occasion supplied the most recent template, as movie star attendees like Tom Brady, Matt Damon, Serena Williams and Dangerous Bunny mingled with company dealmakers, model sponsors and a cross-section of others across the metropolis over the weekend. On Sunday’s race day, 2.6 million viewers tuned in on ABC, making Miami the most-viewed F1 race ever within the U.S.

The Italian-born Domenicali succeeded former longtime Rupert Murdoch lieutenant Chase Carey as CEO of Formulation One in 2020. He had beforehand led sports activities automobile maker Lamborghini and served a prolonged exec stint at Ferrari. Formulation One Group is a part of the portfolio of billionaire media investor John Malone’s Liberty Media. It’s the mother or father of the Formulation 1 circuit, which is an entirely owned subsidiary, and has minority pursuits in varied different holdings.

Formulation 1 dates to 1950 and its present world championship season runs from March to November, spanning 23 races in 21 international locations on 5 continents. Goosed by the Miami tune-in, TV scores to date this yr have jumped 49% over 2021 ranges.

Domenicali stated Miami had “the best vitality,” cross-pollinating conventional sports activities with vogue, music, know-how and different spheres, as F1 units out to do. “This world is transferring to us if what they see is attention-grabbing,” he stated of the occasion’s boldfaced names. “In any other case, they do different stuff.” The exec added that it was “very, very vital that enterprise leaders had been there,” noting that the Miami race adopted the profitable reboot a number of years in the past of the Austin Grand Prix as a part of the F1 world championship. It pulled in 400,000 attendees final fall in Texas.

Media watchers marvel what all of this momentum might imply when it comes to ongoing rights talks. F1’s present U.S. deal, prolonged by ESPN in 2019, is because of expire on the finish of the yr. Current studies have recommended that the circuit might ask for as a lot as $75 million a yr, however many variables stay, amongst them the character of the bidding and the size of the time period.

Domenicali most popular to not speak numbers or particular suitors, emphasizing that various prospects are nonetheless in play. He acknowledged hypothesis that Netflix, regardless of its previous vows to not pursue stay sports activities, is likely to be induced given the recognition of Drive to Survive, which it simply reupped for 2 extra seasons. Fellow tech titans Apple and Amazon can’t be discounted as doable streaming-only properties given their aggressive strikes with the NFL and Main League Baseball. New streaming gamers like Peacock and HBO Max have additionally added to the record of these trying to carve out items of the sports activities market, particularly through a property with the extra life-style dimension of F1.

“We’re exploring all the alternatives,” Domenicali stated. “We’re not in a rush to make the choice.” He additionally went out of his solution to reward the manufacturing work and dedication of ESPN at an essential earlier stage of F1’s improvement.

On Liberty’s earnings name final February, execs had been requested by one Wall Road analyst in the event that they covet extensive publicity even when the greenback worth of a rights deal isn’t sky-high, versus a path like that of the UFC, which is seen through subscription service ESPN+ (whose viewers is a fraction of ESPN’s) however at a hefty premium. Liberty CEO Greg Maffei stated the corporate opted to take “broader protection over the cash” in the latest deal, “and I believe that’s paid off.” Within the present analysis, he added, “We are going to weigh what’s accessible to us. And I don’t suppose as it’s an entire trade-off. There shall be levels of entry levels of protection and there’ll be levels of cash.”

Demographics, not simply scores momentum, look like one other factor in F1’s favor as advertisers more and more hunt down methods to achieve well-defined targets.

“In case you examine the demographics of F1 and NASCAR, our inhabitants is far youthful” and extra feminine, Domenicali stated. From 2017 to 2021, the corporate stated its feminine fan base elevated 8% within the U.S., reaching 40% of the full, whereas the variety of followers aged 16 to 24 climbed 6% to 22% of the general combine.

It’s value remembering as properly that the U.S. market is only a sliver of the full, with F1 final yr drawing 500 million followers and 5 billion TV viewers world wide. The typical age of these followers, on a worldwide foundation, fell from 39 years previous to 37 years previous from 2017 to 2021.

The worldwide footprint of Netflix has been a superb match for F1’s far-flung community of supporters. Drive to Survive makes use of an uncommon diploma of in-season entry to drivers, crews, homeowners, sponsors and different stakeholders to craft an episodic drama out of the earlier season, whetting appetites for the upcoming one.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos talked up the sequence on the corporate’s most up-to-date earnings interview and declined to rule out a rights bid, although he stated it hasn’t been a main focus, particularly given the corporate’s give attention to on-demand and never stay programming. “I’m not saying that we’ll by no means do sports activities,” he stated, “however we’ll need to see a path to rising a giant income stream and an important revenue stream with it.”

The streaming large “has been crucial for our development,” Domenicali stated. “Alternatively, we had been crucial for them, too. … As all the time, in a wedding it is advisable be two to be completely satisfied, in any other case there’s a downside.”

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