US broadcaster ESPN reveals that its networks witnessed a record audience for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, the opening round of the 2022 season.
An average of 1,353,000 viewers tuned in on ESPN as Charles Leclerc won the season opener, the largest audience for an F1 race on any of ESPN’s networks since the championship returned to ESPN in 2018.
The previous high was 1.2 million for the 2021 United States Grand Prix, which aired on ABC.
Viewership for the Bahrain race, which started shortly after 11:00 ET, peaked at 1.54 million between 12:30 and 12:45.
The race was also the second most-viewed on both cable and ESPN on record, exceeded only by the 1.74 million average audience for the 1995 Brazilian Grand Prix, and falls among the top 15 most-watched F1 races of all time in the United States.
The telecast viewership also set an event record, becoming the most-viewed Bahrain Grand Prix ever, surpassing last year’s mark of 927,000 on ESPN2.
The telecast averaged 656,000 viewers in the Persons 18-49 demographic, a substantial increase over the 486,000 average for last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the largest of the 2021 season.
The top U.S. metered television markets for ESPN’s telecast of the Bahrain Grand Prix were Richmond, Va. (1.9 rating); Miami/Fort Lauderdale and Raleigh/Durham, N.C. (1.6); Charlotte, N.C. (1.5); and Indianapolis (1.4).
The Bahrain audience comes on the heels of the record-setting 2021 season that saw F1 races on ESPN networks average 949,000 viewers, making it the most-viewed F1 season ever on American television.