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March 12, 2024
Kurt Benson

"Drive to Survive" Season 6 Wins Again (1 minute read)

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Sports are changing, and so is our entire world. When we think about technology and, the difference between one generation and another is almost catastrophically different.

Technology has changed our world drastically in the last 25 years, and
because of that, consumer behaviour has changed, and we see it amongst ourselves generationally. So where am I going with this, and how does it impact a Netflix show named "Drive to Survive"?

It starts with sports; almost every major sport in the world has had to make changes to engage fans. When we look at Gen-Z, for example, are they really watching a baseball or football game, or are they far more interested in following their favourite players on social media? Today, we don't need to watch a 3-hour event or game when we can scroll through social media and see the top clips/highlights from last night's game and hear about it directly from our favourite players on their respective platforms.

This is where Formula 1 has won, and they've won big. A sport I grew up watching with my dad on Sundays in Zimbabwe wasn't necessarily the hottest thing when my family and I moved to Toronto, Canada, in the early 2000s. To be honest, up until 2019, nobody really cared about Formula 1 in North America. The only leagues ever talked about were the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL. This all changed when Formula 1 was acquired by a US entity called Liberty Media; once the deal went through, they had one goal, and that was to drive fan engagement and acquisition in the US, especially young fans.

This sparked the partnership between Formula 1 and Netflix, a perfect marriage at the perfect time. Netflix was doubling down on sports, and Formula 1 needed a content partner to bring the sport to the forefront of fans. Netflix assembled the best team and made it clear that in order for this to succeed, they need full autonomy and access.

Fast forward six years, and the Formula 1 craze in America has gone wild; whether or not all these new fans have watched an entire race or not, they 100% have watched Drive to Survive and definitely follow the drivers on social media. In a sense, Formula 1 purists hate it, but from an economic standpoint, it's been a huge commercial success. Engagement is at an all-time high, and sponsorship is at a premium, from walking into your local shopping mall and finding Formula 1 branded merchandise in
your favourite apparel stores to playing fantasy with your friends. It feels like Formula 1 has become the "cool" sport amongst young fans.

Recently, with the latest season launching, I can say, as someone who watched the sport prior, that what Formula 1 and Netflix have done is incredible. All these other sports leagues should be taking notice because there is no other league that provides their fanbase with the level of access that Formula 1 does. When watching season 6, I was constantly amazed at the all-access approach and found myself actually feeling as if I was in the room during these huge moments of last year.

The only concern I have is whether the actual racing matches the storylines that are being driven off the track. That will be the sport's biggest challenge moving forward as it grows and maintains its new audience.

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