No doubt some of the increase was due to ESPN finally working out the kinks and broadcasting the event when they had scheduled it. Last year they struggled - especially in the beginning of the year - to put the show on at the time everyone was tuning in to watch it.
That said, it is an incredible achievement by them to broadcast the races without any commercials. The SKY Sports on air team is also on site as opposed to the old team of Hobbs, Matchett, and "what's his name" who were calling the race from their spare room or maybe the studio in Charlotte. The coverage is simply better. Brilliant!
They might actually be able to kick it up a notch next year. With the Sky/Murdoch - Disney merger, they are in the enviable position of weeding through their roster of impressive talent. Depending on existing contracts, much of the SKY TV F1 with ESPN F1 duplications will likely be gone.
Keeping a close eye on the microphone's logo, beside his ESPN gig, Will Buxton seems to already have one foot in F1.com direct TV.
Will we still see him and Ted Kravitz?
I did the free trial period of their F1 TV Pro, and they still had issues. But once they have ironed them out, for viewers to have in addition to the regular race broadcast, the choice of any cars camera with forward or backward view plus other bells and whistles is pretty impressive.
It won't be cheap though. But eventually F1.com will have an impressive and additional revenue stream from hardcore F1 fans around the globe.
I think SKY TV F1 has the best F1 coverage by far. ESPN viewership already get some glimpses.
Millennials raised on the internet would likely panic were they transported via time warp back to the 70's West Africa and Middle East, where the only source would be to listen to the BBC sports radio broadcast, on an illegal to possess shortwave receiver.
For more in depth reports were 2 German motorsport publications I subscribed to, and received by airmail (exceeded to cost of the magazines).
Looking back, its pretty amazing how easy it is now.
Btw, for a second US event the return of F1 to Indy had apparently been discussed between all parties, but F1 decided it wasn't an internationally big enough 'Destination Race', dooh
More likely the Hulman family didn't want to pay the hosting fee, or it was a case of once bitten, twice shy.