Each year the world of sport produces TV broadcasts for certain events which in terms of viewership eclipse all other genres and programmes.
The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was the exception to the rule in 2022 with Statista claiming an astonishing 4.1 billion people across the globe tuned in to the broadcast by the BBC.
Global sporting events smash movie box offices numbers
The most viewed sporting events in a year often include multi-day events such as the Olympics, The FIFA world cup along with Wimbledon and the top US golf tournaments. The TV audiences for these events would smash the global record for any movies box office takings.
However, when considering just one day sport’s broadcast year in and year out the Superbowl is the top of the pile. The 2023 event was just short of the 2015 record number of 114m viewers who tuned in to see the Kansas City Chiefs emerge victorious against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Horner claims F1 Vegas bigger than SuperBowl
However, Christian Horner has made an incredible claim to Bloomberg that the inaugural Formula One event to be held in Las Vegas in November, will be the biggest sporting event on the globe in 2023.
To put this into context the dramatic 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi drew 108.7m viewers, +29% higher than the same race in 2020.
Though strangely this was not the most watched race in Formula One history as the 2019 Italian GP drew an alleged 111m according to certain sources.
F1 global TV audience collation difficult
Formula One global TV audiences are difficult to collate and no organisation appears to have a clearly collated database of Tv viewership by race by year.
Formula One has seen its popularity skyrocket in the US and although last weekends Bahrain GP TV audience was down on the previous year but it suffered less than both NASCAR and IndyCar whose year on year numbers fell significantly.
It is not inconceivable that the F1 global TV audience for the inaugural Las Vegas GP will exceed the 113m of this years SuperBowl, though with the starting form of Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen the championships will be wrapped up long before the penultimate F1 event of 2023.
Historic F1 races to be protected
Horner’s views on the coming mega money spinning Las Vegas GP are tempered with an understanding the history of Formula One has its place too.
“I think you’ve got to protect the old circuits like the Monacos and the Silverstones and the Monzas. But then to bring in new circuits, we had Miami last year as a new venue and this year we’ve got Las Vegas,” said the Red Bull boss.
“I have never seen hype around a race like that, I think it’s going to be the biggest sporting event on the globe this year. The demand for that race is off the charts.
“Of course, the commercial demand for the sport is at an all-time high with 23 races at different venues around the world. So I think it does cater for everything.”
Bigger audiences means bigger commercial opportunities
Of course the F1 TV audiences in the US will be a fraction of the SuperBowl figures, but for the King of the single day global sporting event TV ratings to be dethroned by F1 is nothing short of remarkable.
The thorny issue of new teams wishing to take advantage of F1’s commercial success was also tackled by Horner against the backdrop of a new entry fee of $600m to be introduced.
He explained: “I think it boils down to the practicalities – you mentioned an entry criteria. Of course the commercials like in any business are going to drive the decision making on this.
F1 Entrance fee set to treble
“Effectively you’ve got a 10-franchise setup at the moment that have their value through the exclusivity of those 10 franchises. I think Liberty are keen to protect that as the custodians and the owner and the commercial rights holder.
“The FIA, the regulator, they’re obviously looking to see if more teams can be accommodated. Inevitably there will need to be a compromise found at some point. At the end of the day it will come down to who pays for it.”
Horner’s words echo a recently found consensus behind the scenes that F1’s grid should not be restricted to just 10 teams. However, the teams now argue the price point set for the anti-dilution entry fee in the 2020 Concorde agreement with the FIA needs to be significantly raised.
There will be a new Concorde agreement between the teams, F1 and the FIA for 2026. And this is why Andretti Racing is desperate to join the sport before the contract expires where the entry fee is presently set at $200m.