California: Walt Disney renewed its deal to show Formula One races in the US, paying at least a 1,500 per cent premium to hold on to the sport as its popularity surges, according to a person familiar with the deal.
The company will pay between $75 million and $90 million a year for the rights as part of a three-year deal, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Disney had been paying about $5 million a year under its previous deal, the person said.
Disney will show most of the car races on the TV networks ABC or ESPN, but can also put events on the sports-streaming service ESPN+. Representatives for ESPN and F1 declined to comment.
F1, which has long been popular in Europe, has gained traction among US audiences in recent years. Viewership of races on ESPN jumped 56 per cent in 2021 from a year earlier, and hundreds of thousands of people have attended races in Miami and Austin, Texas.
A Netflix series taking viewers behind the scenes of the sport has helped the streamer attract subscribers, and the service has held talks about buying the rights to air races. Amazon.com and Comcast have also shown interest in F1, according to Sports Business Journal, which first reported the deal.