The docu-series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” has been one of my favorite series on Netflix, providing an in-depth look at the sport with great interviews, incredible visuals and a little bit of drama as well. The series aired its first episode on the popular streaming service on March 8, 2019, but did the fandom carry over to live action?
Formula 1 TV Audience
In the above image provided by statista, we can see that the average TV audience since 2014 has been relatively stable per Grand Prix, outside of a blip in 2019. Of course, that increased viewership coincides with the Netflix docu-series, though in 2020 it had regressed nearly to 2018 levels.
Anecdotally speaking, several teammates working at Odds Shark headquarters who were not previously racing fans watched the show and started to tune in to the qualifying sessions and subsequent Grands Prix. Some even purchased the latest video game and it’s safe to say they became Formula 1 fans.
Now, there was a dip in 2020 of just over four million viewers per Grand Prix from the previous year. My guess here would be that the COVID-19 pandemic played a major role in the reduction of the audience, similar to the trend seen across many professional sports around the globe.
In the graphic provided, there is no data on the 2021 season as it hasn’t been completed, though I would lean toward the likelihood of viewership increasing again.
With season 4 on the horizon and likely to be released in the spring of 2022, news has come out that Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, one of the sport’s biggest stars and the favorite in the 2021 Formula 1 championship odds, will no longer be taking part in the show. He asserts that the docu-series is fake, ginning up rivalries between drivers that aren’t genuine.
It will be interesting to see how the show handles this situation with potentially the reigning champion not taking part and whether this will cause a downturn in viewership of the documentary as well as the sport of Formula 1 itself.