F1 Esports appears to have captured the imagination of a big segment of Formula 1 fans and gaming enthusiasts, with 4.4 tuning in to watch the live stream broadcasts of events this past season, which Mercedes team’s Brendon Leigh won for a second time.
Bringing the excitement and exhilaration of Formula 1 to a new generation of fans around the globe, the award-winning 2018 F1 New Balance Esports Series drew a record audience of 1.2 million across selected TV networks and 3.2 million people on a dedicated live stream.
Cementing F1’s position at the forefront of the e-racing wave, over 100 million social media impressions and 20 million online video views of F1 Esports content were accumulated over the course of the series. In a clear demonstration of how the sport is reaching a new, younger more digitally minded audience, 70% of viewers tuning in to watch the final were below 34 years old.
The dramatic 2018 season culminated with Brendon Leigh securing his second Drivers’ Championship title in a row after his 2017 success in Abu Dhabi. His clear dominance of the series, combined with teammate Daniel Bereznay’s second place, also propelled Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports to victory in the first-ever Teams’ Championship.
Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1 said: “2018 was a pivotal year for our efforts with respect to Formula 1 Esports as it saw the inclusion of the first official teams and built firm foundations for the future success of the series. The exponential growth in esports is a material fan engagement and commercial opportunity for us on myriad fronts and we plan to remain in the vanguard as we move into the 2019 season. Our continued focus will be on broadening opportunities for the next generation of motorsport fans and brands that understand the value of this audience and are hence investing in this space. Formula 1’s message is clear that esports is an open door for anyone with a passion for gaming and racing.”
The F1 New Balance Esports Series brought together the most talented motorsport gamers in the world for the second year in a row. This year, the drivers had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a Formula 1 team and to race with the backing of some of the most prestigious names in motor racing, following an intensive selection process.
Some 66,000 players competed over four online qualifying rounds earlier in the year to secure a coveted place in the inaugural F1 Esports Pro Draft in July. Over the course of the qualifying period 1.1 million laps were completed on F1 2017, the official game of the FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP™, on the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and the Xbox One family of devices including the Xbox One X and PC. At the Pro Draft the F1 teams then selected a total of 16 drivers from nine countries – such as the UK, Germany and Finland to as far away as Chile – to move forward with them to the Pro Series Championship.
The exciting finale of the award-winning F1 New Balance Esports Series, the Pro Series comprised of three live broadcasted events held in London, UK. A total of 26 drivers representing 12 different nationalities joined their F1 Esports teams to compete on the F1 2018 official video game developed by Codemasters, for the coveted prize fund of $200,000 – allocated to the teams based on their positions in the team standings. More than 3,000 laps were completed, covering at least 1,000km of virtual track and taking over four hours of combined race time.
Frank Arthofer, Director of Digital and New Business at Formula 1 said: “The viewing figures for this year’s series are a testament to the series’ growing interest and engagement with a new audience. The younger generation has truly embraced the F1 Esports Series. Looking to next year it is our ambition to continue to grow participation and engagement with the series and we will be building on various elements, such as giving fans the opportunity to go from living room to podium, which has clearly resonated with this audience.”
Julian Tan, Head of Growth & F1 Esports at Formula 1 said: “The 2018 F1 Esports Series has been a resounding success, and it’s fantastic to see such a strong response in the viewing figures and levels of engagement. We have also had great partners in New Balance, DHL and Fanatec come on board to support the programme. With esports being a new direction for F1, we came into this season with a test and learn approach, and this is something we will continue into 2019. The introduction of components such as the Pro Draft mechanic helped to drive another layer of excitement that captured imaginations, and a key goal for next year will be to continue to move towards building a sustainable series structure.”
The F1 New Balance Esports Series was operated in partnership with Codemasters, the developer and publisher of the official Formula 1 video game franchise and Gfinity, one of the world’s leading esports companies. New Balance was named the title sponsor of the competition, joining the established sponsors DHL and Fanatec.