Formula One confirms unprecedented growth on social media

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Ahead of the 2021 F1 season, Formula One has released audience figures for the 2020 championship which shows the a significant growth on the sport’s social media platforms compared to other major sports.

The coronavirus pandemic led to an unprecedented season in 2020, forcing the FIA and the FOM to come up with a heavily-upgraded schedule following the initial lockdown period. In the end, the final calendar features 17 race weekends with Formula One becoming the first international sport to safely resume.

The average audience per Grand Prix was 87.4m in 2020 which was marginally down at 4.5 per cent n 2019, but it was in line with the average for the past years with the 2016, 2017 and 2018 producing an average audience of 87m. These averages show a significant growth compared to the 2015 season which produced an average audience of 80m.

This figure was a huge success for the sport considering that the season took place in Europe and the Gulf and race times were not always suited to certain important markets. Despite these challenges, the figures showed significant growth in certain markets with +43% YoY in China, +28% YoY in the Netherlands, +10% YoY in the UK, + 71% YoY in Russia and +5% YoY in Germany.

The cumulative TV audience for 2020 was 1.5bn compared to 1.9bn in 2019 which is a result of the fact that only 17 races took place instead of 21 races.

The highest audience figure for a race in 2020 was 103.7m for the Hungarian Grand Prix, +7% higher than the same race in 2019, and we saw strong figures for the new races that joined the revised calendar with 100.5m for Portugal, 98.1m for the Bahrain outer track and 89.1m for Turkey.

Regarding the digital platforms, Formula One has also made significant gains across digital, making us the second fastest growing major sports league on the planet across the four major social platforms.

In 2020, followers (across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok, Snapchat, Twitch and Chinese social platforms) were up 36% to 35m, video views up 47% to 4.9bn and total engagement up 99% to 810m.

Chinese fans have different social media platforms such as Weibo, WeChat, Toutiao and Douyin. These channels also saw a significant digital growth up +133% to 1.9m.

„The biggest drivers of the digital growth have been fuelled by a 20% uplift in video uploads, new races during the revised 2020 calendar and also the excitement during the races that resulted in increases in traffic and activity during a race week,” read the statement.

Commenting on the audience figures, President and CEO of Formula One, Stefano Domenical said: “Last year was an unprecedented time for everyone and Formula 1 had to adapt to the challenges presented by the pandemic. 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,” he concluded.