The NBC Sports Group has announced it has signed a four-year deal with Formula One Management to exclusively broadcast the sport to the American TV audience, as we had speculated over the weekend.
The deal will see the NBC and its sister NBC Sports Network broadcast over 100 hours of programming to Formula 1 fans across both stations, although it has conceded that it may not be able to offer all-live broadcasts in the same manner that outgoing US broadcaster, SPEED, has done in recent years.
Jon Miller, the network’s programming president, told The Associated Press that the deal was part of the network’s strategy to grow its motorsport presence, with the network already owning the co-shared rights to broadcast the IndyCar Series.
“This gives us quality events to put on our air, and this is a sport with a huge following around the world that we feel we can grow in this country,” he said.
No details on who will yet fill the on-air talent roles have been revealed, although it is believed that NBC will follow the model used by SPEED: having a US-based in-studio team front the telecast and commentary duties, with an on-site reporter at every event.
The NBC’s primary station will air the Canadian Grand Prix and the final three rounds of the championship, while the Sports Network cable channel will broadcast the remaining races. All practice and qualifying sessions will be broadcast on the Sports Network, and streamed live on its live-stream web channel. Subject to ironing out some current scheduling conflicts, Miller added, the NBC group intends to air all of its content live.
“NBC and its various media assets have a huge profile throughout the United States and I am obviously delighted to have concluded this agreement,” added F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
“I feel that they will promote Formula One to a level not seen before in the United States.”
Not if it won’t broadcast everything live, Bernie – that would be a step backwards for the American fans…