Formula 1’s parent company Liberty Media has been ranked by Forbes as the world’s most valuable sports empire for 2023, adding US$7.8 billion to its valuation since 2021.
Forbes valued Liberty Media’s sports empire at $20.8 billion for 2023. Formula One sits on the top of Liberty’s portfolio, with an enterprise value of $17.1 billion followed by the Atlanta Braves MLB team worth $2.1 billion.
Liberty Media acquired Formula 1 from a consortium of sellers led by the private equity firm CVC and Bernie Ecclestone in late 2016 for $4.4 billion and didn’t appear within the Forbes yearly rankings until 2021, after change in methodology.
The 2023 $17.1 billion valuation, which includes debts, of F1, is timely after the President of the FIA Mohammad Ben Sulayem released a series of tweets warning any potential buyers against “inflated price tags.”
This was after it emerged that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund had explored acquiring F1 in a deal worth more than $20 billion.
Ben Sulayem continued further on Twitter, to say that “any potential buyer is advised to apply common sense, consider the greater good of the sport and come with a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money.”
But F1 Management and Liberty Media have been in agreement that Ben Sulayem’s comments exceeded the FIA’s remit, feeding an ongoing spat between F1 and the FIA. A letter sent to the World Motorsport Council, first reported by Sky Sports News, said that the comments risked exposure to “serious regulatory consequences” and that the FIA could also be liable.
The valuation placed on Liberty Media of $20.8 billion has increased year-on-year, with a $3.6 billion increase since 2022’s ranking and a massive $7.8 billion increase since 2021.
During that time viewing figures continued to increase with the cumulative TV audience for 2021 up 4% from 2020 and US viewing figures surged in 2022 as ESPN announced record viewership.
Formula 1 was valued $4.35 billion more than the second highest on the list, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, the owners of Premier League football club Arsenal, Los Angeles Rams, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.
While the Glazer Family, owners of Premier League football club Manchester United and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are valued at $9.57 billion less than Formula 1’s enterprise value.