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Formula 1

F1 2020 viewing figures show sport's growing popularity

The viewing figures for the 2020 Formula 1 season have been released and, despite the various issues caused by COVID-19, the popularity of the sport is on the rise.

Despite the various challenges caused by COVID-19, Formula 1’s viewership trends remained strong in 2020 compared to other sports that also had to be shut down for a period.

The number of followers across the sport’s various social platforms increased by a massive 99 percent in 2020 up to 35 million, which makes F1 the second-fastest growing major sports league in terms of follower growth according to Shareablee.

As well as this, and despite the shortened 17-race schedule, the average audience per grand prix in 2020 was 87.4m, down just 4.5 percent on last year’s figure but very much in line with the general average during the turbo-hybrid era.

Less races meant a reduction in the cumulative audience, down to 1.5bn from 1.9bn in 2019, and the highest audience figures came at the Hungarian GP (103.7m) and the Portuguese GP (100.5m).

Additionally, satisfaction rates appear to be up, with 72 percent of 6,000 fans surveyed saying the sport has improved in the past two years compared to 52 percent in 2019.

Fans of the sport engaged through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok, Snapchat, Twitch, and Chinese social platforms, increasing the number of followers by 36 percent and video views also went up by 47 percent, all of which led to the 99 percent total engagement improvement. This means that F1 is outperforming other major sports leagues like La Liga, NBA, PGA Tour, and the Premier League in this area.

Finally, the F1 Esports 2020 Series proved very successful with 11.4m live stream views registered across the various digital platforms, a 98 per cent increase on 2019. In total, the Pro Series achieved 291m total social media impressions, up by 151 percent on 2019.

“Last year was an unprecedented time for everyone and Formula 1 had to adapt to the challenges presented by the pandemic," Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said. "We delivered 17 races, something many thought impossible earlier in the year. We did it safely and brought excitement and new races to our fans around the world.

"The audience figures for 2020 show the strength and resilience of our sport, with average audience figures in 2020 at 87.4m and a total season cumulative audience of 1.5bn. We had strong growth figures in China, the UK, Netherlands, Germany, and the USA, combined with the huge boost in our digital figures. We saw only a marginal reduction in TV audiences, caused by multiple reasons but clearly driven but a shortened and limited geographical calendar compared to 2019, but something every major sport has experienced in 2020.

"We are proud of what we delivered in 2020 and know we have an incredibly strong fan base and audience platform to grow in the coming years. We are delighted our fans feel a strong satisfaction with the sport, our season, and the way we responded to the global pandemic. We are looking forward to the start of the 2021 season after the winter break and we know our fans are as excited as we are to get racing."

Formula 1 vs Other Major Sports

Major Sporting League Increase in Engagement
Formula 1 99%
Bundesliga 48%
UFC 48%
Serie A 44%
LaLiga 27%
PGA Tour 14%
WWE 6%
NBA 4%
MLS 3%
Premier League 3%
NFL -10%
Champions League -11%
Formula E -14%
MotoGP -14%
NHL -26%
MLB -32%
Ligue 1 -49%

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