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Las Vegas Grand Prix draws sizable West Coast TV audience to ESPN

Residents of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and Sacramento helped juice the ratings for the late-night race.

Residents of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and Sacramento helped juice the ratings for the late-night race.

ESPN's coverage of the Las Vegas Grand Prix drew more than 1.3 million viewers in late night. (Photo courtesy ESPN)
ESPN’s coverage of the Las Vegas Grand Prix drew more than 1.3 million viewers in late night. (Photo courtesy ESPN)

More than a million people stayed up late to watch the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix on ESPN last weekend, the network announced this week.

The Sunday morning (Saturday evening Pacific Time) broadcast — whose commercial-free coverage was produced by London-based Sky Sports — drew 1.3 million to ESPN and its streaming service ESPN Plus, according to Nielsen ratings cited by the network in a press release.

The broadcast notched a 7.4 share in Las Vegas, the network said. Nine of the top 10 cities with the most viewers to the event were based in the western half of the United States, with residents of Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, San Francisco, Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Dallas among those who tuned in past their normal bedtimes.

The event started at 1 a.m. Sunday Eastern Time (10 p.m. Saturday Pacific Time). Despite the relatively late time slot compared to other blockbuster sporting events, ESPN said the Las Vegas Grand Prix was the third most-watched Formula 1 (F1) event on cable and the sixth-largest overall for ESPN this season.

ESPN said viewership of the Las Vegas Grand Prix peaked between 1:15 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Sunday Eastern Time (10:15 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday Pacific Time). The event was won by three-time F1 world champion Max Verstappen, who started the race in the second position.

“With one race remaining, the 2023 F1 season remains on track to be the F1’s second most-viewed season ever on U.S. television, averaging 1.12 million viewers,” a spokesperson for ESPN said in a press release, citing data from Nielsen. They continued: “Last year’s record-setting season, which included the inaugural Miami Grand Prix that averaged a record 2.6 million viewers, averaged 1.21 million viewers.”

ESPN said the 2023 F1 season is poised to become the most-watched ever on American television, with around 1.12 million viewers. By comparison, this year’s NASCAR season on NBC- and Fox-owned channels averaged around 2.86 million viewers this season.

The final F1 race of the season takes place on Sunday, November 26 in Abu Dhabi. The Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will air on ESPN and stream on ESPN Plus around 8 a.m. Eastern Time (5 a.m. Pacific Time).

The Walt Disney Company and Hearst Television operate ESPN as a joint venture, with Disney owning a controlling 80 percent stake. Sky Sports, which produces F1 telecasts for ESPN and other global broadcasters, is part of Sky Group, a division of Comcast.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).