Formula One is heading into a new season on Sunday with plenty in the tank and more in reserve. Liberty Media, F1’s parent company, reported on Wednesday that the racing promotion posted $2.5 billion in revenue in 2022, a 20% increase from 2021’s total of $2.1 billion.
F1 reports it had a total of 5.7 million fans in attendance in 2022, up 36% from 2019, which is the most recent season without COVID-related attendance restrictions. Additionally, F1 saw increases across all primary revenue streams, namely in media rights and race promotion revenue, due to higher fees and freight revenue, partly generated from the addition of three races outside of Europe to the 2022 schedule.
F1’s viewer popularity is at an all-time high, with nearly a third of fans engaging within the last few years, and the company is looking to convert casual viewers into active, long-term fans.
“We’re very focused on sustaining the growth and interest in F1,” Liberty CEO Greg Maffei said during an investors call. “That’s in many ways, with new innovations on the track, ensuring more competitive racing, with [other] innovations around the weekend like our spring races… There’s a lot of ways to grow fan interest in some of things we do off the track like exposing the drivers.”
The Netflix series Drive to Survive is partly responsible for boosting ratings for Formula One by 54% on ESPN last season. This year, F1 is moving on to the big screen—Top Gun Maverick director Joseph Kosinski is set to direct a fictional F1 movie starring Brad Pitt which will be shot during race weekends this year.
ESPN renewed a three-year deal with F1 in October and will carry a record 16 races between that network and fellow Disney subsidiary ABC. The two entities are teaming up again in an expanded partnership after F1 had its most viewed year on U.S. television, averaging 1.2 million viewers per race in 2022.
F1 expects operating expenses to increase mainly due to investment surrounding the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November. The organization will spend about $500 million for the building and land purchase tied to its new paddock site ahead of the race weekend on Nov.16-19.
Maffei is confident that the inaugural street circuit race will be one of the most profitable races of the F1 calendar. The Vegas GP will be a “massive noisemaker” for the sport and will be another avenue to bring in fans who were previously not aware of F1, Maffei said.
“While there were 16 and 17-year-olds who were crazed to get up in the morning to watch [last season], there are many people who do not follow Formula One,” he added. “It will be hard to miss Formula One after Las Vegas. It will be loud, and we will get a lot of attention.”
Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, also owned by Liberty, posted full-year results as well in the report. Despite falling to the Philadelphia Phillies in the Divisional Series of the National League playoffs, the Braves tallied record revenue of $588 million in 2022. That’s up 4% from when the Braves earned in $568 million in 2021 on their way to their first title since 1995.
The Braves managed to report an operating loss of $28 million in 2022, with an adjusted OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization) of $61 million for the year compared to $104 million in 2021. Liberty said on Wednesday that the Braves planned split-off is expected to be completed by the second quarter of this year. The Braves open the regular season at the Washington National on March 30 while the F1 seasons opens on Sunday in Bahrain.