American Formula 1 fans will be watching Grands Prix on the ESPN network next year after it signed a multi-year deal to take over the sport’s broadcasting rights.
The current television rights have been held by rival outfit NBC since 2013, which fronts live telecasts across the season anchored by commentators Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, with Will Buxton (pictured above) and Jason Swales providing on-the-ground coverage.
ESPN will predominantly split its television coverage across its ESPN and ESPN2 channels, while the United States and Mexico Grands Prix will be shown on the ABC channel, a statement confirmed.
“We are excited about the return of the world’s foremost motor racing platform to the ABC and ESPN platforms,” said Formula 1 commercial chief Sean Bratches.
“ABC’s Wide World of Sports first started airing live Grands Prix in the early 1960s and this linear and digital partnership with ESPN represents a significant step forward in achieving Formula 1’s aim of broadening the sport’s appeal.
“The U.S. market is a very important growth opportunity for Formula 1 and we are looking forward to working with ESPN to ignite the growing fan interest.”
NBC issued a brief statement confirming it had opted not to renew its agreement with the sport’s owners, Liberty Media, who own the stock of several rival major media and telecommunication companies. It hinted that this potential conflict of interest was one of the determining factors behind its decision.
“Although we take great pride in having grown Formula 1’s visibility and viewership since we became its exclusive U.S. media rights holder in 2013, this will be our last season with the series,” read a statement.
“In this case, we chose not to enter into a new agreement in which the rights holder itself competes with us and our distribution partners. We wish the new owners of F1 well.”
Image via Motorsport.com