The toughest task for any sport is to increase its audience. They usually have a set demographic for the same, but Formula One has managed to achieve tremendous growth in its audience, thanks to Netflix. Debuting in 2019, the Drive to Survive docu-series has resulted in a 56 percent viewership increase for the sport. An interesting debate succeeds the rising popularity of Formula One – is football finally going to be toppled?
During the coronavirus epidemic, Netflix has cemented itself into many people’s daily life. A recent phenomenon, called the “Netflix Effect“, has emerged which shows the actual impact of the streaming service. Due to Netflix, things have changed. Our search and buying behaviors have altered dramatically as a result of the growth of the streaming service. For example, a chess boom was brought on by the drama series Queen’s Gambit, which follows the talented young chess player Elizabeth Harmon. Chess and chess rules searches instantly doubled, while sales of chess sets increased by a staggering 1,000%. By this point, it should be quite evident how Netflix really does have a significant impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions. Netflix is now more than just an entertainment-focused streaming service and at this point has evolved into a trend radar.
One such product of the Netflix Effect is the sport – Formula 1.
If you are unfamiliar with Formula 1, the fundamental idea is straightforward: drivers drive open-wheel, single-seat racing cars around a track at different venues around the world with one aim in mind – to win the race. The driver who crosses the finish line first after completing a predetermined number of laps is declared the winner.
It’s a combination of determined drivers, famous car manufacturing companies – Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, etc., and a perfect dose of competition and drama.
Drive to Survive, a Netflix F1 series is what contributed to the hype surrounding the Formula 1 races. In a recent survey, more than half of the fans who identified themselves as Formula 1 fans attributed their fandom to this behind-the-scenes docu-series. The show debuted in 2019 on Netflix with a 10-episode season, filmed during the previous year’s championship. It has since gained immense popularity by providing a close-up look at a traditionally private sport, resulting in a 56 percent increase in the viewership with the ESPN numbers jumping from 548,000 to 934,000. A sport usually has a tremendously difficult time expanding its audience and is rarely able to diversify its fan bases since people have a tendency to become rooted in their ways, and yet Formula 1 managed to achieve this, thanks to the “Netflix effect.”
With more than 400 million viewers, Formula 1 is one of the most popular sports in the world. People are going from ‘I’ve never watched a Formula 1 race in my life,’ to ‘I’ll never miss a Formula 1 race again.”
An excerpt from a recent article reads, “How popular is Formula 1? Let’s just say football might need to worry.”
The words provide some interesting food for thought, as football’s dominance as the number one sport in terms of popularity was seemingly unmatched. But with the advent of Formula 1’s rising popularity, coupled with the Netflix Effect, the two might just clash headfirst into each other.
Despite increasing the audience for the sport by portraying everything that occurs both on and off the F1 circuit, the show has faced some harsh criticism. Max Verstappen, the reigning world champion, is not a big fan of the docu-series and he has been outspoken about his distaste for it, saying that it misrepresented him and other drivers. The main problem is that ‘Drive to Survive’ purposefully edits videos of actual races and driver interactions to give the impression that there is more driver drama than what is the truth. A lot of storylines that don’t really exist have been created to keep the audience engaged.
Some of the Netflix-enhanced rivalries that don’t actually exist and were created to make the show dramatic include the tension between Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz about the seat in McLaren and the portrayal of the tension between Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris when both happen to be friends off the track.
Despite the show’s exaggeration of action, the Netflix Effect remains persistent and has helped this highest class of international racing reach the zenith that it deserves.
Mariam Tuba is a student pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Anzal Khan