A year earlier, Liberty Media had completed a $8bn deal to acquire F1. It announced as a priority the desire to make F1 a more fan-centric brand and diversify the appeal of a sport estimated to have 503 million fans globally. The burning question for Chase Carey & Co was how to pull a global sporting series - one that stretches across 9 months and 21 countries - into the 21st century, in order to expand fan engagement.
So, what progress have they made? The data below demonstrates that they are well on their way. This challenges a certain perception that still lingers in 2019 - that despite the sport being at the forefront of technological innovation and the pinnacle of motor racing, F1 remains stuck in the past when it comes to the area that arguably matters the most – its fans.
Old and male or young and diverse? For many, the answer is still the former. However, if you are on that side of the fence, you may be pleasantly surprised to hear that you could well be wrong. Indeed, our recent The Global Sports Fan Survey has found that 46% of F1 fans are now under 35 – a higher proportion than football (43%). Meanwhile, in terms of new fans, of those who have started following the sport within the last 12 months 61% are under-35 and 25% are between 16-24 years of age. The last, the largest ever conducted in the sport, also found that 26% of its 215,872 respondents were under the age of 25.
So, what does this mean? Put simply, the average age of the F1 fan is in fact decreasing, with the sport having a substantial and growing Gen Y and Z fan base. It therefore has a greater cross-generational appeal than many of us perhaps realise. It is well known within the sport and entertainment industry that F1 has been working hard to make itself more accessible to younger generations and new geographies and demographics. Digital investment has been a priority. This includes starting an esports competition and running fan festivals in existing or new markets. And the data suggests it’s working…
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As has been well publicised, new rules and regulations intended to be introduced in 2021 are set to be finalised by teams later this year. The outcome of these discussions, in terms of the racing and entertainment spectacle they could create, will be vital in continuing this trend and inspiring a range of different fans in the future. For now, the initially slow shift in diversity is picking up speed faster than you might think – creating a sport that will be more exciting for brands, fans and consumers than ever before.
CSM, part of the Chime Challenger Network, is a global integrated marketing agency working across sport, entertainment, media, lifestyle, innovation, social impact and more. Driven by people pursuing the extraordinary, we build brands, work with properties and create meaningful, memorable and measurable live experiences. www.csm.co