John Malone’s cable TV conglomerate Liberty Media now owns Formula One racing, after the company with stakes in Charter Communications, SiriusXM radio and the Atlanta Braves announced a $4.4 billion acquisition Wednesday.
The New York Times reports that Malone’s company is buying the racing series from a group led by the Luxembourg-based investment fund CVC Capital Partners.
“With more than 400 million global viewers, Formula One is among the world’s most popular sporting organizations. But it has struggled to break into the American market, where scrappier racing series, in particular NASCAR, reign supreme,” The Times reports. “But Formula One’s American television audience has grown by 40 percent since NBC Sports took over the domestic broadcast rights in 2013. The surge of interest occurred as another traditionally international sport, soccer, has also taken off in the American market.”
The report notes that no American drivers are currently running in Formula One, but adds: “Celebrity drivers like Lewis Hamilton, the current world champion, have become fixtures on the fashion and music circuits. The series also added an American-based team, Haas F1, this year.”
Chase Carey, the longtime lieutenant to Rupert Murdoch who left 21st Century Fox in June, sits on the Liberty board and will serve as the new chairman of Formula One.