The Formula 1 Esports Series has burst on to the world’s sports gaming stage. More than 60,000 gamers raced against each from early September to the end of November for the chance to become the first-ever Formula 1 Esports Series World Champion.
The winner was Britain’s 18-year-old Brendon Leigh, who beat Chile’s Fabrizio Donoso Delgado and Germany’s Sven Zurner in second and third place respectively in the Grand Final, held in the paddock of the Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday 25 November during the 2017 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The first edition of the Series was a great success in terms of digital audience. Social media and digital platforms were a key factor in promoting the event, as the F1 Esports Series World Championship final gathered more than 20.5m impressions and 6m video views.
Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1 said:
“The strength of the Formula 1 brand permits us to move into many new markets, and esports was a logical year-one strategy for us. The audience numbers, particularly in the digital realm, are a testament to the future opportunity for us in this space.”
On Facebook, the final event saw a total of 1.8m video views (72% higher than the semi-final). Also, there were 2.8m minutes viewed on Facebook which is equal to the time watched for the semifinals content.
The event generated 54,000 views on Twitch, and was watched by an average 5,734 viewers (peaking at over 8,000).
Instagram also had a strong performance, with 6.1m impressions and 310k engagements, while video views on this platform reached over 1.6m.
Twitter had more than 7.8m impressions across the event with over 830k engaging on the day.
YouTube’s top performing video for the World Finals’ content reached over 3.5 million minutes watched, after being published for only two days. Total video views have reached over 950k so far. F1 Esports finals video (494k) on YouTube has gained more video views than the NBA 2K17 all-star tournament championship (259k video views) and the NFL Madden 17 Championship Final (227k) in 2017.
The F1 Esports Series World Finals has been broadcast in 123 countries across the world. The combined total TV reach of the semifinals, which took place in the Gfinity Esports Arena in London on 11 October, and of the finals has reached to date an audience of 1.16m viewers.
The semifinals’ audience was a viewership record for any live esports event broadcast on linear TV in the UK, with 282k viewers and Britain maintained the leadership also in the Grand Final, with an audience of 197k, followed by Italy (153k) and the Philippines (106k).
Frank Arthofer, Director of Digital and New Business, Formula 1, said:
“The audience numbers we reached with this first edition have been incredible, confirming we made the right choice when we decided to begin this new adventure for Formula 1. The engagement with a broad and committed younger generation of F1 and esports fans is something that we are proud to support and nurture, and we look forward to establishing a season-long series in 2018.”
Julian Tan, Manager of Digital Initiatives & Growth, Formula 1, said:
The audience has been great not only in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality, with 94% of the fans who thought the Finals were exciting and 95% who would like to see F1 run more events like this one. It’s particularly impressive that 17% of the sports fans in the UK were aware of the Formula 1 Esports Series. It must be also underlined that all the above-mentioned figures will continue to grow and we will provide a further update when the content has been available for a more comparable period of time.”