Formula 1 has always been a sport of excitement and adrenaline, but it was not until Netflix’s documentary series Drive to Survive premiered in 2019 that it truly captured the world’s attention. The series is a behind-the-scenes look at the teams and drivers of Formula 1, and it has changed the way people perceive the sport.
Has the ‘Netflix effect’ worked for Formula 1?
Increased fan base with global exposure
Formula 1 is a global sport, but it has always been difficult for fans to get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes. The Netflix sport series, Drive to Survive, provides an unprecedented level of access to the sport, allowing fans to see what goes on in the paddock, the garage, and on the track. This has resulted in an increased fan base for the sport, with many new fans tuning in to watch the races.
After Liberty Media took over the sport in 2017, they have made their goal in growing Formula 1 in the US, and making it accessible to younger audience, no secret. Before the Liberty Media takeover and Drive to Survive Formula 1 was followed by mostly rich male audiences. So, the sport was in dire need of an overhaul and Drive to Survive did exactly that.
Currently 28% of US adults identify as Formula 1 fans, which has increased from 21% since the start of the series. Formula 1 has seen an increase in popularity across the states, this can be seen through US races and attendance.
Paul Martin, producer of the series, said: “When we went to the Austin GP it really hit home. Attendance had gone up and tickets sold out in record time and people in hotels and at the track just kept referencing the show.”
The series has massively diversified the viewership as we now see millions of younger generations show an interest in the sport this, including both male and female fans – which will benefit the sport in the long term. But, why are people suddenly interested?
Humanising the sport and drivers
Formula 1 drivers have always been seen as superhuman, with their extraordinary driving skills and their high-tech cars. For most people, the lifestyle and characteristics are out of reach and entirely un-relatable. The series shows a different side of the drivers, highlighting their personalities and the human side of the sport.
Marketing opportunities for teams and drivers
With fans forming better relationships with the drivers and the viewership growing with every season, the Netflix series has opened up several marketing opportunities for teams and drivers.
In the past, only the most successful teams and drivers received significant exposure, but the Netflix series has given exposure to smaller teams and lesser-known drivers. This exposure has led to increased sponsorship opportunities, which has allowed smaller teams to compete on-track with the larger, better funded teams.
The only thing left for teams and drivers to do now is to segment their audiences and build partner sponsors for each segment. This benefits both sponsor and audience as the sponsor gains access to a highly engaged, highly specific audience, resulting in better ROI. The audience benefits as they will receive hyper-personalised content created by the sponsor in collaboration with their favourite team. Win-win right?
The increased exposure the Netflix series has brought to Formula 1 has also resulted in increased competition. Drivers and teams are now under more pressure to perform, knowing the eyes of the world are on them. This has led to more exciting races, with drivers pushing themselves and their cars to the limit in order to win. In return, this will keep fans engaged and hopefully fans will become advocates for the sport, encouraging new fans to tune in.
Did it succeed?
The impact of Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” on the world of Formula 1 cannot be overstated. The series has increased the sport’s global exposure, humanised the drivers, provided marketing opportunities for teams and drivers, and increased competition. Best of all, it has created a snowball effect as highly engaged fans are becoming advocates of the sport, both on and offline. As the sport continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how the series continues to influence and shape the world of Formula 1.
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