US media rights to Liberty Media’s burgeoning motor racing circuit, Formula 1, have reportedly been renewed by ESPN until 2025 after the Disney-owned sports operation outmaneuvered Netflix and other tech suitors.
The pact is worth between $75 million and $90 million a year, according to Sports Business Journal, who first reported the matter. While such a number is exponentially higher than the $5 million level of the current contract, it is believed to be lower than what several tech giants were offering.
Representatives for ESPN and Formula 1 declined to comment on the report when contacted by Deadline. Full plans for how the package would be delivered remain under wraps, but other sports set up at ESPN can be found on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+, ABC and other platforms.
Netflix is said to have joined the tender, unlike its earlier avoidance of live sports. He justified the pursuit as an effort to possibly position live F1 racing as a complement to his top-rated docuseries. Drive to survive. Amazon, which is in the midst of a big push in live sports, is also reportedly making a play, as is NBCUniversal.
Liberty, controlled by John Malone, acquired Formula One Group for $4.6 billion in 2017. Longtime former media executive Chase Carey led it as CEO until 2020, when the ex-Ferrari and Lamborghini boss Stefano Domenicali has taken over the reins. During the Italian-born Domenicali’s tenure, F1 enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and viewership, adding US dates to its long-established global schedule. First-ever event in Miami in May drew 2.6 million viewers for ABC, a US F1 record
In an interview with Deadline last month, Domenicali said his team was “exploring all opportunities” and “were in no rush to make the decision.”
Amid a continued rise in sports rights in the United States, live events with particular draw among young fans are particularly coveted. During Liberty Media’s earnings call last February, executives were asked about a similar scenario that apparently unfolded – a renewal with ESPN even though the dollar figure isn’t the highest in all offers. Liberty CEO Greg Maffei said the company chose to take “broader money coverage” in its last ESPN renewal in 2019, “and I think it paid off.”
In this year’s assessment, Maffei added: “I don’t think, as you know, that this is a complete compromise. There will be degrees of access, degrees of coverage, and there will be degrees of money.