Liberty Media intends to continue adding more events to the Formula 1 schedule and rotate between some venues in coming seasons.
The sport’s commercial rights holder recently confirmed a record-breaking 23-race 2021 F1 calendar, including a new event in Saudi Arabia. Chairman and CEO Chase Carey told an an investors’ meeting today that growth will continue.
“Looking beyond 2021 we continue to feel great about the excitement from locations around the world in hosting Formula 1,” he said. “Many locations we raced at this year expressed great interest in new races and other countries have stronger than ever interest.
“We expect to move to a 24-race calendar in the next few years and will probably rotate a few races so we will be able to accommodate a few new partners. But they will be limited as long term partnerships continue to be our priority.”
The 2020 schedule was heavily disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. F1 was forced to delay the start of its season, races were cancelled, rescheduled or replaced, and mostly held without spectators.
But Carey expects the sport will “provide an experience close to normal” for fans in 2021.
“We will also look to bringing the Paddock Club back to our events. We have great plans for the Paddock Club, which were deferred this year, and expect it to be a significant contributor to our long-term growth. We have proven that we can safely travel and operate our races and our promoters increasingly recognise the need to move forward and manage the virus. In fact, many hosts actually want to use our event as a platform to show the world they are moving forward.”
Carey said F1 has outstripped other sports in attracting attention from fans despite the disrupted 2020 calendar.
“The fans have reacted to the revised season and new venues very well,” he said. “While many sports have struggled with viewership declines this year, our viewership is up modestly over last year. To achieve these results in a season with Mercedes dominance and Ferrari’s struggles, while so many other sports have seen steep declines is a solid achievement.
“Our digital growth has been more dramatic. Formula 1 is the fastest growing sport league in terms of followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, with a 17%-plus growth rate between March and September. F1 also saw the highest year on year growth rate for social engagement, with growth of 70% which is more than three times higher than its closest competitor, La Liga, which saw an increase of over 22%.”
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