The 2023 Mexican Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix has drawn its largest US audience on sports broadcaster ESPN since its return to the yearly F1 calendar.
ESPN holds the rights in the US to the F1 motor racing series until the end of the 2025 season after striking an extension in October. Under that deal, ESPN will provide live coverage of all F1 grands prix across its ESPN and ESPN2 channels, with at least 16 races per season aired on free-to-air sister channel ABC.
The live broadcast of the race (October 29) drew 1.46 million viewers on the ABC network, a record for the Mexican Grand Prix since 2015, when it returned to the F1 calendars after a 21-year absence between 1993 and 2001. The race peaked at 1.94 million viewers.
This figure is also far higher than the average of 1.03 million viewers who watched the 2022 race on ESPN. The 2023 race peaked at 1.94 million viewers.
The full broadcast of the Sunday race day, which included a 90-minute pre-race show, averaged 1.08 million viewers across its full show, which was also a record for a full Mexican Grand Prix broadcast.
The Mexican Grand Prix, hosted at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City, is the eighth race this F1 season to set domestic viewership records in the US.
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The record viewership for the latest race means that the 19 races so far in the season have averaged 1.12 million viewers across the ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC channels, all of which are owned by global media conglomerate Disney.
Despite this, it has been reported that tech giant Apple is eyeing up the global rights to the sport in a deal that could cost as much as $2 billion per year.
The BusinessF1 magazine reported that Apple, which operates global streaming service AppleTV, is looking to bid for the global rights to the racing series.
This would more than double the reported $936.6 million that F1 made from media rights fees in 2022.
The deal will reportedly see a “sliding scale of exclusivity” that would see Apple begin at 25% exclusivity and scale up to 100% control over the rights within five years, owing to the expiry of broadcast contracts over that time.