F1 New Balance ESports Series Watched By 4.4 Million People
A brilliant start for the new ESports series - with a sign of greater things to come.
Yesterday, it was announced that the F1 New Balance ESports Series was viewed by 4.4 million people worldwide on social media streams and TV networks such as Sky Sports. 3.2 million people watched on dedicated livestreams, while a further 1.2 million watched on TV.
The 2018 season of the series was an exciting one - with Mercedes driver Brendon Leigh winning his second consecutive drivers championship. Overall, 100 million social media impressions and 20 million online video views of F1 ESports content were accumulated over the course of the series. In an example of how the sport is reaching a younger and digitally minded audience, 70 percent of viewers tuning in to watch the final were below 34 years old.
“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," said Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1.
"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.”
In total, 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. During the qualifying period, a total of 1.1 million laps were completed on F1 2017, on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC devices. At the Pro Draft, the 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.
A total of 26 drivers (representing 12 different countries) joined their F1 ESports teams to compete on the F1 2018 game, 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.
“The viewing figures for this year’s series are a testament to the series’ growing interest and engagement with a new audience," stated Frank Arthofer, Director of Digital and New Business at Formula 1.
"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.”
“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," added Julian Tan, Head of Growth & F1 ESports at Formula 1. "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.”
WRITERS OPINION - F1 IS LEADING THE WAY IN ESPORTS FOR MOTORSPORT
I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the F1 ESports Series this year - and a lot of it is down to how much the real-life F1 teams (apart from Ferrari) are embracing it. The series has felt so much more authentic this year as a result, and it's clear to see that Formula One is leading the way for ESports contests in motorsport.
The fact that 66,000 people attempted to gain one of only 40 qualifying positions for the Pro Draft goes a long way to show just how popular the series has become - and no doubt this number will increase massively next season. I myself may actually participate in the qualifying period, just to get a feel for how fierce the competition is.
Long may the F1 ESports revolution continue.
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Gaming & F1 writer. University student. Sometimes controversial.