Australian Formula 1 fans could have a choice of TV viewing options, with Fox Sports rumoured to be in negotiations with current broadcaster Network Ten to jointly hold the broadcasting rights by as early as 2016.
The deal – which many industry insiders believe is already signed – will align with the two networks’ already agreed to joint broadcasting deals to cover the MotoGP and V8 Supercars Championship series’ – the latter is a new-for-2015 deal.
Mirroring the MotoGP deal, the new F1 broadcasting contract between the two networks will see both airing live for every qualifying and race broadcasts, while Fox Sports will provide exclusive pre- and post-race packages. The pay-TV channel already airs the Formula 1 feeder series’, GP2 and GP3.
Should the Network Ten / Fox Sports deal go ahead, it would pave the way for the currently non-championship V8 Supercars races at the Australian Grand Prix to be awarded full championship status as the broadcasting partners will be the same.
Network Ten – which has motorsport journalist Greg Rust and 1980 World Champion Alan Jones as its anchors (pictured above) – has exclusively held the Formula 1 broadcasting rights in Australia since it acquired them from founding broadcaster, the Nine Network, at the end of the 2002 season.
While the switch initially received plenty of praise amidst an improved quality and standard of telecast, fan dissatisfaction has increased in recent years as Ten sought to curb costs with a substantially trimmed pre-event telecasts and a part-time switch to a Standard Definition broadcast quality.
Network Ten’s current broadcast deal expires at the end of the 2015 season. There are rumours that the rival Nine and Seven networks are also interested in pursuing a bid for a new free-to-air broadcasting contract.
Image via Alan Jones