Formula 1 Surge: Was it Netflix or ESPN?
In sports media, the rise has many causes beyond one disruptor
I’ll be straight up: today I’m griping about media narratives. The media often repeats simplistic narratives that don’t stand up to even slight scrutiny. Worse, the simpler the explanation — and the more it reinforces our preconceived beliefs — the more it gets echoed.
Which brings me to the topic of Formula 1. Look at the graph below and guess the answer to this question: what caused the rise in average U.S. viewership for Formula 1 from 2017 to 2022? There are four pivotal moments anonymized below.
I’m hiding the “causes” to make a point. So let’s unravel the mystery and what it reveals about our culture of assumptions.
Formula 1’s “Boom” and the Netflix Narrative
The sport in question is Formula 1 — the open wheel, global racing competition — which has a huge international audience. But in the U.S.,