Steiner not concerned by reports of US F1 ratings drop

2023 F1 season

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says he is not concerned about suggestions F1 viewing figures in the United States have dipped this season.

Formula 1 has experienced a well documented boom in popularity in the USA in recent years, credited to factors such as the Netflix documentary series Drive to Survive.

However, TV ratings for this season have reportedly dipped slightly compared to 2022. Ratings figures in the United States are traditionally measured through the Nielsen Company, which uses viewing data from equipment installed across thousands of example households to extrapolate national viewing figures.

Haas at the only American-owned Formula 1 team currently competing in the sport. Asked if he was concerned about the reports of falling ratings, Steiner said “no, not really.

“I think TV ratings is one of these things – I’m not an expert on TV ratings and TV, so don’t take my word as the gospel here – but I think there’s a lot of things watched now not on TV, especially young people, and I think there is not a real instrument yet to measure this,” Steiner explained.

“I think people are working on it, because I think there are more people watching than we actually know, because we still measure TV ratings like we did 20 years ago. As I said, I’m not the guru of TV ratings, but I just spoke with some people who know about stuff and they said they think we need to go to a more current way to measure eyeballs on a race.”

Haas acquired a new American title sponsor for this season in a multi-season deal. Steiner says that his team are continuing to see increased commercial interest both in Haas and Formula 1 generally.

“There’s still a lot of interest in general,” he said. “We are talking with different parties at the moment, but there’s very good interest.

“I think you can see also there’s very good interest when you see on a race weekend how much advertising is on the racetrack and things like this – new advertising. But as a team we’ve got quite a lot of discussions going on. In a normal sponsorship discussion, people want to know the facts and everything. They take their time and they are not in a hurry now to sign for next year. But discussions are good.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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30 comments on “Steiner not concerned by reports of US F1 ratings drop”

  1. Not surprised there’s been a drop in viewing figures. Many of these new ‘fans’ were brought in by the championship drama of 2021. This season has served up the exact opposite in terms of racing excitement at the front of races. There’s no shortage of other US motor sports to watch, that are also on at friendly / sociable times.

    1. The new fans came because F1 was on the telly (specifically Netflix’s Drive to Survive). Novelty appeal. And now the novelty has worn off.

    2. Absolutely 100 percent agree. F1 needs to seriously address the lack of competition. I like Max but there is
      Nothing worse than a great driver with no competition.

    3. Yeah, it’s quite different whether you are watching a tight fight for the championship between with several teams looking promising and it really going to the wire with Verstappen majestically doing more or less as he pleases to win with astonishing margins over everyone more often than not!

      That is always going to give a drop in ratings

  2. I know there has been a good battle this year between the teams who run 2nd/3rd/4th etc but this is not a substitute for a battle at the front. At the moment, we can almost guarantee Max will win every race.

    Having a very dominant team or driver will not effect the appeal of the sport to die hard fans of F1. However for new, or more casual viewers, I expect this aspect must detract. So I am not surprised there is a small reduction in viewing figures at least. This will probably continue unless next year is more competitive.

  3. It’s not just that ratings have started to dip a bit in the US, I said earlier in the year that overall engagement was starting to decrease, Especially for sprint weekends where it would appear a lot of people who don’t like the format are only tuning in for the Sunday GP & not paying much attention to the Friday & Saturday action.

    There are also indications that despite something Stefano said not that long ago it’s the newer & more casual fans that are tuning out with the longer term/more dedicated fans sticking around (Aside from sprint weekends where it seems it’s mostly the longer time fans that are been less engaged, Especially on Friday & Saturday).

    It’s not been seen as anything to worry about yet as overall ratings & so on remain high but since last year there has been signs that the growth may be starting to stall if not decline.

    1. Sprint weekends are a shallow gimmick aren’t they @gt-racer. Does anybody like them?

      F1 is risking being seen as a bit of a fake show at this rate. The safety cars at literally every race are the same thing, ‘shaking up the order’, along with the million rules, power matching, car design, trying to force equality. But at the same time we have Adrian, brilliant in a way we don’t understand or get to see, which gives us the worst of both worlds.

      Perhaps we should have Indy in Europe as well as F1, or F1.5? Totally different, one spec about the drivers and one free about the engineering with more information like live tyre temperatures. Neither of them fake.

      1. Sprint weekends are a shallow gimmick aren’t they @gt-racer. Does anybody like them?

        And even if nobody else did – Liberty and the teams do, and that’s all that matters.

        F1 is risking being seen as a bit of a fake show at this rate.

        F1 has long been a fake show, and will forever be.
        It’s not about sporting purity or engineering excellence – it’s about marketing and profit-making. It is business.

        Every sporting series is making these same compromises as F1, except most sports don’t involve an active, non-human component that acts very much as a mobile billboard and which exists primarily to be exploited by the corporations who fund it.
        But don’t feel bad – if you really want that purity and excellence, it exists elsewhere already.

        1. Liberty and the teams do, and that’s all that matters.

          Think you need to read the title again. And a bit about business, perhaps – where ratings come into it.

          1. Think you need to remember that they are the ones benefiting, and also the ones who have the power to decide.
            The teams have never had so much money, and they got it via their support for sprint events – which themselves attracted a new title sponsor…

            Only when the ratings changes convert to significant revenue loss will sprint events be reconsidered.

      2. no, I do not like the sprint race. gimmick for sure. Also, the British announcers from Sky One are not as relatable (or as good) as the old US announcing team of Matchett, Varsha and Hobbs. Made watching much more enjoyable and relevant.

  4. And meanwhile they betted all in on the US market, against european and indian markets who are really put off with all that fake american barf like CGI eagle shadows, “cheering crowd” audiosamples that sound the same everytime and are also played where there are no grandstands and the ‘need for a show’ before races with drivers awkwardly acting as if they are tough dudes

  5. With very boring races this year… and always the same unpopular team/driver winning, the ratings will come down not just in the US, but all over the world. Get ready!

    1. This, exactly.
      Uncompetitive and predictable F1 is a turn off for all markets.
      We’ve seen it several times before in the last couple of decades. Domination goes up = viewing figures go down.

    2. Coventry Climax
      20th August 2023, 15:44

      We had the same situation with the Schumacher years. We had the same situation with the Hamilton years.
      We’re only in year three of Verstappen thusfar.
      You’re a bit early, quite wrong, and very biassed in your blame seeking.
      Viewer numbers fluctuated before.
      If anything, it’s pay-TV and the novelty wearing off of Nutflux that’s -quite predictably- to blame.

      1. When schumacher was dominating, williams and mclaren were winning races; when hamilton was dominating, ferrari and red bull were winning races; now nothing, hence arguably worse.

        1. Do not agree.
          Lors of fighting behind Verstappen and every week another contender for podium.
          Apart from Verstappen this season is one of the most nerve wrecking for the podium places.
          Lots of new viewers really like this. Number one driver takes of and is only shown in the last lap or so.
          Lots of nice on track fighting.
          If you do not see that your bound to only one driver and not the sport.

  6. Coventry Climax
    20th August 2023, 13:06

    The mechanism ‘developed’ to measure the numbers of watchers is all too clear to me.
    Paid subscriptions only, zero free to air. That shouldn’t be too hard to count.
    But then, I’m no expert on TV ratings either. Nor do I believe in gospels.

    1. I was ‘picked’ to be a Nielson ratings household earlier this year. Thing is I don’t watch commercial TV and don’t have cable TV. I’m guessing they dumped my data.

      1. Coventry Climax
        20th August 2023, 15:32

        That’s funny. No way to decline the ‘invitation’?
        They may have dumped your data, but it is still part of total viewer behaviour.
        Which means their findings aren’t reliable and that makes me wonder what they -incorrectly- use it for.
        If someone finds out, they’ll probably say it’s all your fault! ;-)

        1. I wanted to participate and did, hoping to inject a bit of off grid reality into the numbers. They did pay and I took the money. I suspect their ‘ratings’ don’t reflect real viewing numbers; they are selling a service to advertisers and broadcasters and want repeat business, so I’m sure they have some fudge factors.

  7. Nothing was more predictable than this. And y’all been treating us long-term (real F1, not Drive to survive) fans almost with contempt. F1 was always something between a sport and a show, but the balance was very important here. Now they’ve tipped that balance towards the show side of things, and not the way the show used to be, but making it American-style show which most of us F1 fans don’t care for (there’s certain cultural difference between American midwest and Europe when it comes to sport, broadcasts and overall presentation). Liberty acts like parents who’ve get their second child, then figured it’s more promising than the firstborn and they put all their hopes on the new son/daughter and do everything for his/her comfort at the expense of the other one. Of course the firstborn may feel like leaving home if things don’t change. The spoiled child will go after new things eventually. The whole foundation gets lost. Is it too late to pay attention to the actual fans of the sport, those who guarantee its survival? Not yet, but Liberty needs plain numbers to realize what they need to do, but numbers can be deceiving. You need to understand the sport, the people… Way too much show, way too much PR, extreme bureaucracy and lack of meritocracy, plus unnecessary changes of format (that even go against all the polls) can’t help. Even listening to the drivers became super-boring. They train them like dogs, how to behave, what to say, what to think… If Lauda, Senna, Prost, Schumacher or Hunt, to name a few, were like Russel or Leclerc for example, I don’t think F1 would ever get this far.

  8. Maybe if Perez was a Nico Rosberg at least. But he’s not and no one wants to watch Max drive up alone 30 seconds up the road no matter how good the racing is for the mid field.

  9. Those rating systems are flawed. They don’t take into account houses that have more than two television sets, and other things of that nature.

  10. When viewers found out how boring it was they stopped watching.

  11. Well, this is totally expected. The added US fans are casual visitors enabled by breaking down payment walls. They were always going to disappear. Meanwhile Liberty has also managed to alienate the more loyal viewer by degrading the sport with gimmicks like Sprints. All totally as expected. Short term revenue gain over common long term sense. Typical.

  12. I don’t believe F1 fits the younger US audience on a long time basis. They don’t sit down and watch things that long. They watch the synopsis on YouTube on Monday IF they have a compelling reason. I have a feeling that 75% of the DTS fans will fade over time if not given that “Compelling Reason”.

    What’s a compelling reason?
    American team with a stud of a driver. We need a US driver on a US team and advertise it and maybe you will keep 50%

    HAAS is American (German and Danish drivers with German motors) and we have had that team for years. Until a little while ago they were run by a Russian sponsor with the colors of Russia. I mean WTH?

    I still like F1 but no longer watch all of the weekend as soon as I see Max on pole.

    Here in Texas, COTA needs to put on concerts Friday and Saturday (Queen and the Killers) to get attendance up. F1 reports that as attendance to the race but it is General Admission carryover from the concerts. Queen draws people.

    Here’s the other thing, I have stopped buying F1 merch as I have figured out that they are not an inclusive bunch and don’t want the Americans to come play with them. I’ll keep my money. I hope RedBull wins all of the rest of the races to set the record so this boring season won’t be a complete waste. Or maybe on the last race Lewis will crash into Max on the last lap and take him out of the race. Wouldn’t that be amazing news for Monday morning YouTube.

    1. Correction: Italian Motors.

  13. Since the start of the psycho-drama Drive to Survive, F1 has pandered to an audience with a very limited attention span. The introduction of sprint races is a good example of this. And, as you would expect, after a while the ‘new’ audience lose attention and go off to watch the next Big Thing. The TV/Netflix audience wanes and that then leads to one of two roads. One is to cut losses and drop DTS, losing the rest of most of the new audience and the other is to try and create more artificial drama. Neither of these are desirable for the sport but that now takes a back seat to money grabbing. DTS stirred up lots of interest because it was the first big sport reality show, but now there are dozens of competitors. It was bound to be a flash in the pan but no-one was long-sighted enough to work out what to follow it up with.
    F1 has become a bit like the dot com boom. Teams are now ‘worth’ many times more than 5 years ago and it is almost impossible to join the club. And eventually the house of cards fall. I hope it doesn’t but the current model cannot be sustained.

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