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26 | Sunday Sift

Formula 1: A Marketing Masterclass

Whit Rasmussen
Whit Rasmussen
3 min read
26 | Sunday Sift

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Formula 1: A Marketing Masterclass

This week, I finished the entire 10-episode season of Netflix's Drive to Survive in two days. Season 4 was released in late March. For several of you, Season 4 is already in your rearview mirror. Sadly, I chuckled to myself while writing the previous sentence.

For others, this may serve as your first introduction to the show, and the sport, so I'll share a brief overview.

Formula 1 (aka F1) is "the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars" -

People drive cars that look like this...

... around tracks that look like this ...

... at speeds over 220 miles per hour.

If you're a car nerd, you will enjoy these stats:

  • Listed top speed of 223mph (cars have been known to reach 248mph)
  • 0-60mph in 2.4 seconds
  • Cornering speeds of 186mph

F1 will host 23 races this season in some of the most exotic locations worldwide. Twenty drivers are spread two apiece across ten teams. The goal is simple: win the world title. The process, however, is far from simple.

Drive to Survive showcases the behind-the-scenes world of the thrilling, grueling, and borderline insane sport that is F1. If you enjoy competition, extravagant personalities, and dramatic storylines, Drive to Survive is worth your time.

Drive to Survive - The Best Commercial on Earth

Before Netflix, Formula 1 experienced a decline in popularity. Worldwide viewership decreased from 500 million in 2012 to 390 million in 2016 (22% decrease). In 2012, F1 was valued at $9 billion.

In 2016, Liberty media purchased F1 for ~$8 billion. During the four years between 2012-2016, F1 lost 11% of its value while other sports leagues boomed.

Viewership growth in the vibrant U.S. market moved at a snail's pace. Despite its flair for the dramatic, F1 failed to establish a foothold in the U.S. market.

Enter Liberty Media, Netflix, and Drive to Survive.

Nathan Baugh (@nathanbaugh27)  details the story beautifully in a Twitter thread I've included below.

TLDR; Formula 1 is now a $13 billion organization. Since Drive to Survive launched in 2019, F1 has seen:

  • 40% increase in U.S. viewership
  • 7 of the 10 most-watched races ever
  • The most-attended race ever - 400,000 at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, TX
  • Plans to add two new U.S. races to the circuit - Miami and Las Vegas

The craziest part of it all... Netflix PAYS Formula 1 a licensing fee for Drive to Survive. Said differently, F1 gets paid to air one of the best commercials ever. A marketing masterclass.

Here's Nathan's detailed analysis of what I've reiterated above.

Thread by @nathanbaugh27 on Thread Reader App
@nathanbaugh27: Formula 1 is a $13 billion global behemoth. But — until 2019 — it failed to crack the US market. Then it launched Drive To Survive, the most effective content campaign in history. Here’s a...…

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Sunday Sift

Whit Rasmussen

Investor 📈, Photographer 📸 & Writer 📝, Obsessive CrossFitter 🏋️‍♂️, One-Time IRONMAN 🥇, Regular Reader 📚, Perpetual Learner 💡, Habitual Optimist 😎