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Why Formula 1 failed in India? 🏎
And what it needs to learn from IPL.
2000s → F1 had 60 mil viewers 🏎
2023 → It has 6 million viewers 💔
Here’s why F1 lost the game in India ⬇️
Quick history pages 🗓
In 2011 the first F1 race was championed by a German driver on the roads of the Buddh International circuit in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Unfortunately, that was one of the first & last F1 races held in India.
Fast forward 12 years ⌛️
Even after millions of people watching Netflix’s critically acclaimed ‘Drive To Survive’, the F1 viewership in growth has only gone down. Some extremely wrong comparison, IPL has 10X the viewership than F1 in India.
So what’s behind F1’s failure in India? 🇮🇳
1/ The whole tax tussle 💵
F1 wanted to not pay entertainment tax on its races as it considered itself as “sports” - this battle between the Indian government and F1 made any large championship races come to India.
2/ Fragile distribution 📺
You need live races, you need stadium sales and you need broadcasters. F1 failed on all three fronts. Which brings us to ticket prices.
3/ Extremely high ticket prices 🎟
The range of ₹1,500 to ₹21,000 was just wrong. Compare this to the most awaited sports tournament in the country → IPL which has tickets starting at ₹500. This was a huge miss.
4/ Broadcasters weren’t convinced 🥺
F1’s official broadcaster through ages has chosen to not renew their rights for India. F1 had to launch its own live-stream service F1 TV, in India. I have no words to explain this.
5/ Missing Indian car drivers 🙋🏼♂️
F1 viewership peaked during Narain Karthikeyan, an Indian driver & when Force India (Indian F1 team) was on the grid. Once that went away - local news/ social had no incentive to cover races.
6/ The European timings ⏱
Europe is the oldest and biggest market for F1. Exactly why qualifying events & races are adjusted for EU time. But this translates to odd timings on Sat & Sun for the India timezone - you lose the massy fan base.
7/ Category education missing 👩🏻🏫
You can’t experience F1 (except Xbox & GoKarting) without the races. Unlike Cricket & Football, it’s expensive to pay ₹500/1000 for a 10 min Go Karting session. Car racing as a category hasn’t been nourished, yet.
So, what’s next for F1 in India? ⚡️
The live F1 streaming service launched does not feel like any major change. If F1 can find a broadcaster, get better local talent & really learn some pages from the IPL playbook. Plus, might be a good shot to scale F2/F3 first - a more localized approach before pulling the plug off on the 5th largest economy.
That’s all of F1 India for today 🎯
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