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Update: I did hear from the nice folks at ESPN that the broadcast would be using the F1-produced world feed including announcers who have not been determined yet, which is what NBC and SPEED used if I have my facts correct, and that there would be no ESPN announcers involved in the broadcast. Now this adds a different slant to the situation. 

Big news in the US! As is typical, the end of a broadcasting contract means that the bidding war begins and just like Speed losing F1 to NBC, this time it is NBC losing out to ESPN/ABC for the 2018 season.

I’ve known for some time now that the NBC folks were in discussions with F1, as well as others, about continuing their broadcast relationship and knowing the folks like I do, I know NBC’s F1 broadcast team were putting together some very nice digital platforms and options to bring a more immersive experience for US-based F1 fans. NBC offered this statement earlier today:

“Although we take great pride in having grown Formula One’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. 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.”

In the end, it is about money and who is willing to pay the most as well as which broadcast package Formula 1 Management believes can deliver the scope, reach, frequency and digital platforms to achieve what they want in the next three years.

Many will believe it’s just a case of ESPN offering the most but F1 has a role in this as it is their product and they will vet all offers with a view to achieving the mission which will include more scope and digital than in previous years.

I can confidently say that what a group such as F1, NFL, MLB and others require from a broadcaster is immense. They look for massive financial commitments, broadcast technology SLA’s, digital platform creation and much, much more. Imagine being Sean Bratches of F1…you are going to want the network you choose to offer as much of the heavy lifting from a marketing and digital platform developments standpoint as you can, right?

To put it simply, if you have 10 things on your list of world domination, you’ll want ESPN or NBC to do as many of the ten things as you can. Sure, in the end, money is a factor and the highest bidder will stand the best chance for sure but there is more at play here than just the highest bidder.

On-air Talent:

The first question everyone will want to know, and ESPN/ABC will surely know, is who will the on-air talent. I have not spoken to Steve, Leigh, Will or David on this so please do not take this as something you can write on a rock.

First, on-air talent is contracted and usually in line with the master contract. In the case of Bob Varsha and SPEED, it was my understanding that Bob had a contract with Fox—owners of SPEED—and therefore didn’t make the jump to NBC.

I am not aware of the current NBC F1 broadcast team’s contracts but I will say that Leigh is a complete broadcast guy and covers more than just F1. He does the Olympics, Indycar and many other sports so my hunch is that Leigh is a sports broadcaster, not just an F1 guy and NBC is a good fit for him but that’s just looking at it from the outside. It would not surprise me if he didn’t make a jump to ESPN because I think he has a great deal and opportunity as a NBC sports broadcaster as it is. I could be very wrong if ESPN/ABC offer him and equally lucrative package that would have him calling all kinds of sports across the ABC network.

As for Will and his team on the ground as well as David and Steve, I would imagine it would make sense to at least consider speaking with ESPN as they are a very cohesive and professional group and bring a lot to the US broadcast in continuity as well as the know-how and paddock connections to the sport. ESPN would find that attractive surely.

Having said that, there is also the factor that perhaps Bob Varsha would like to step back in to the fold if he has no contractual obligations preventing it. Also, I think it is worth bearing in mind that ESPN has their own talent who may be looking at this as a real opportunity for them to take the helm of F1 as well.

Will ESPN want to keep continuity like NBC did by retaining the same players from NBC? Will they want to start an all-new broadcast team with their own style and approach to F1? I don’t know the answer to that. It’s hard to ignore the connections and paddock tribal knowledge that Will, Jason and the on-site crew have as well as team connections that Steve has. Very hard to ignore.

Complete Press Release from ESPN/ABC:

  • Flag to Flag Coverage of All 21 Races of Championship Live Across ESPN and ABC
  • Immersive Race Week Approach With All Practices and Qualifying Airing on ESPN Platforms

ESPN and Formula 1 have agreed to a multi-year linear and digital partnership that brings the FIA Formula One World Championship back to its original television home in the United States starting in 2018 when ESPN and ABC will televise all 21 races in the championship. The first Formula 1 race ever aired in the U.S. was on ABC in 1962.

Beginning with the season-opening Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix on March 25, and ending with the Nov. 25 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, all of the races will air live in the United States on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. All in more than 125 hours of Formula 1 programming, including all practice sessions, qualifying and races, will air live and in replay across ESPN platforms in 2018.

“ESPN has had a long commitment to motorsports, and Formula 1 is a crown jewel in the sport,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming & scheduling. “There are many passionate Formula 1 fans in the U.S. and we look forward to bringing the pageantry, spectacle and excitement of F1 to viewers across the ESPN platform.”

Among the season highlights will be the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, May 27 (Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.), which will air live on ESPN at 7:55 a.m. ET and re-air later in the day on ABC at 3:30 p.m. after the Indianapolis 500. The United States Grand Prix in Austin, Tex., on Oct. 21 and the Mexican Grand Prix on Oct. 28 also will air live on ABC while the Canadian Grand Prix (June 10) and British Grand Prix (July 8) will be featured live on ESPN. The Singapore Grand Prix, the only night race of the championship, will air on ESPN2 on Sept. 16.

“We are excited about the return of the world’s foremost motor racing platform to the ABC and ESPN platforms,” said Sean Bratches, managing director, commercial operations at Formula 1. “ABC’s Wide World of Sports first started airing live grands prix in the early 1960’s 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 very important growth opportunity for Formula 1 and we are looking forward to working with ESPN to ignite the growing fan interest.”

Formula 1 made its debut on American television with the airing of highlights from the Monaco Grand Prix on ABC’s Wide World of Sports on June 10, 1962, one week after the race was run. Select races appeared on ABC until 1988. ESPN began televising F1 races with a 10-race schedule in 1984, expanding to 14 races from 1985-1988, and then 15 from 1989-1993. ESPN aired 16 races in 1994, then a high of 17 in 1995, followed by 16 in both 1996 and 1997, the last years the championship appeared on ESPN.

2018 FIA Formula One World Championship Schedule on ESPN and ABC

(all times Eastern)

Date Time Event Network
March 25 12:55 a.m. Australian Grand Prix ESPN2
April 8 1:55 a.m. Chinese Grand Prix ESPN2
April 15 10:55 a.m. Bahrain Grand Prix ESPN2
April 29 8:55 a.m. Azerbaijan Grand Prix ESPN2
May 13 7:55 a.m. Spanish Grand Prix ESPN2
May 27 7:55 a.m. Monaco Grand Prix ESPN
3:30 p.m. Monaco Grand Prix ABC *
June 10 1:55 p.m. Canadian Grand Prix ESPN
June 24 7:55 a.m. French Grand Prix ESPN2
July 1 7:55 a.m. Austrian Grand Prix ESPN2
July 8 7:55 a.m. British Grand Prix ESPN
July 22 7:55 a.m. German Grand Prix ESPN2
July 29 7:55 a.m. Hungarian Grand Prix ESPN2
Aug. 26 7:55 a.m. Belgian Grand Prix ESPN2
Sept. 2 7:55 a.m. Italian Grand Prix ESPN2
Sept. 16 7:55 a.m. Singapore Grand Prix ESPN2
Sept. 30 7:55 a.m. Russian Grand Prix ESPN2
Oct. 7 12:55 a.m. Japanese Grand Prix ESPN2
Oct. 21 2:55 p.m. United States Grand Prix ABC
Oct. 28 2:55 p.m. Mexican Grand Prix ABC
Nov. 11 10:55 a.m. Brazilian Grand Prix ESPN2
Nov. 25 7:55 a.m. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ESPN2

* re-air

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Andrea_Rae

    Meh, just another in a long line of stupid decisions by ESPN, overpaying for overvalued commodities. Their on air “talent” is in the bin after their most recent purge. They seem to be shifting to sophmoric talent and coverage, I suppose to appeal to younger viewers, which won’t suit the limited domestic F1 viewership.

  • charlie white

    As a long-time critic of NBCSN’s F1 broadcast, I am very pleased about the change. NBCSN’s broadcasts were getting so bad that I were ready to give up F1 after 2017. The interesting point here is the subject of streaming. ESPN pushes its streaming services very hard.

    • The Captain

      Sadly I fear we’re about to see rock bottom and not a move ‘up’ from NBCSN. ESPN is loosing employees (two rounds of layoffs in two years) and money.

  • Tom Firth

    “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.”

    An over-the-top streaming service by FOM coming to a tv near you soon?

    • Yeah, it sounds like a key feature that F1 wanted collided with what NBC is currently providing and perhaps its distribution partners. Would imagine it is a digital platform.

      • The Captain

        It’s also strange of the reports that Liberty wanted a short term deal. Perhaps they have something else in the plan that effects the local broadcast deals other than the streaming rights too?

        • It is interesting. I have no way of knowing but if it were me and I have several long-term broadcast contracts around the globe and I knew I was leading to an entirely new world and different digital package as well as broadcast rights program in the near future, I would want to make sure that my new contracts lined up with the roll-out of a master plan in the future and I would want all the contracts to end at around the same time so I could launch a new platform and keep all options open. That’s just me, though.

          • Tom Firth

            A few –

            CAN 2019
            GBR 2024 (New contract signed from 2019-2024)
            GER – End of 2017
            FRA – 2020

            Its a bit all over the place really in terms of when you can do it.

          • Aside from UK, it all culminates in 2020 along with the tech regs and sporting regs and F! prize money etc. Seems like 2020 will be a big year for F1.

          • Tom Firth

            Netherlands, Belgium and a few others shouldn’t be too big an issue anyway. Already on Liberty owned channels.

          • Mat

            You are on the money Todd

    • Mat

      Gotta be. Which can only be good news for US fans. Especially for cord cutters.

      Side note, I like the whole NBCSN crew and would love for ESPN to sign them all. But at the very least, they have to get Buxton. He is the best in the world at this, genuine guy and an F1 nut.

      • Darren Wellenreiter

        Agree!

    • Junipero Mariano

      I really hope so! I’d especially like archival footage and exploration of F1 beyond the immediate race.

  • peter riva

    My opinion? Can’t be any worse. ESPN is more accessible than NBCSN, CNBC, NBC, partial coverage, stupid commercial inserts, unwatchable split screens and, always, inane comments from (sorry NC, I know you like him) Leigh and missed questions from I-want-to-be-liked Will in the pit lane.

    • I hate commercials, Peter, but I know the guys at NBC and they are really terrific people. Will and Jason on the ground have serious tribal knowledge of F1 and connections as does Steve.

      • Samouri

        The amount of commercials that NBCSN ran during a race, was truly maddening, and seemed to have popped up for every 5 laps. I suspect that ESPN will be not much better. Bad news if some races will be broadcasted for only 2 hours.

        Hopefully that Sam Posey’s visual essays will continue with ESPN, because they are simply a joy to watch.

        • There’s certainly value in retaining the crew NBC has and I know the challenge of commercial breaks are difficult and often times maddening at best. It almost, at times, seemed like any on-track action was always missed. It is a for-profit broadcast company though and part of the landscape. I suspect ESPN will be similar but you never know, maybe they’ll sell all their ad space before and after or have a different approach.

          • Guy Fawkes

            I understand broadcast TV and the need to pay the bills but somehow Univision can carry the world feed flag to flag (plus podium ceremony) uncut and turn a profit, or at least not lose their shirts. NBC managed to miss the VSC restarts from Japan both times, the first by over a full lap! The last two seasons I’ve listened to the NBC feed while watching Univision for just this reason.

            How is it possible for one for-profit network to cover an event commercial free and the other to run coverage that appears to be a commercial showcase interrupted by racing occasionally?

        • Jimmy27

          Watching other sporting events on ESPN (and random stops on the website) leads me to believe that they will be just as bad, if not worse with commercials. It’s going to happen no matter how much we complain about it.

          I would love to see a compilation or the Sam Posey clips that he does prior to races. Seems like they used to air much more in the past and it was a top reason I wanted to catch pre-race show

          • Samouri

            Agree with your general conclusions, and especially regarding Sam Posey’s pictorial essays.

    • Ralph

      Agreed couldn’t stand Duffey’s chutney Aussie accent. Brockton is just annoying.

  • Guy Fawkes

    I agree with peter riva. Hard to get much worse. I have no issues with the on-air talent (though, honestly, David Hobbes may be getting a bit old to continue) but I’ve gotten tired of the NBCSN coverage subsidizing the commercial free coverage on Univision. It’s nearly unwatchable.

    Now let’s hope ESPN doesn’t decide that Daryl Waltrip and Kyle Petty would be a good on air team. Cuz, you know, it’s all cars, right?

    • Junipero Mariano

      I hope to see Steve Matchett continue. Will Buxton does alright, too. I’d like to see other announcers in the mix, though. I’ve seen David Hobbs flub too many calls and driver’s names, etc.

  • The Captain

    Todd I applaud the really nice spin you put on this news. And be sure i’m not using “spin” in a negative connotation here. But lets jut say you did your best to put a positive face on this pig.

    Form the reports I read today ESPN didn’t ‘outbid’ NBC. Instead NBC waned the streaming rights, Liberty wouldn’t budge on it, so NBC basically ‘passed’. Liberty also seems to have wanted a short term deal and NBC wanted a long term one. So ESPN became the next in line. According to some sources ESPN is not even paying a rights fee for the programing, which would make sense because ESPN is loosing money badly (think of all the layoffs last winter). So this isn’t ESPN stepping up to reach for the moon, what we got is going from a major network that is financially sound and wanted a long term deal to promote the sport, to one that is on shaky finical ground who doesn’t mind not committing to the sport. UGH!

    Look, I’ve been the first and often loudest around here to complain about NBC’s coverage of the sport, but for all of NBC’s flaws ESPN is known as one of the worst networks when it comes to motorsports coverage. They put on some of the most terribly commercial ridden, and shallow broadcasts when they do show auto-sports. And their ABC auto-sport partnership produces some of the most sleep worthy shows I’ve slept through. I also have no faith ESPN will show practice live anymore (just replay). No fans seem to be enjoying this decision.

    As far as the on air talent goes, I would hope they would keep Will, Steve, and David. I’m not sure about Bob but the reason he didn’t go over before was he sighed his contract with FOX just weeks before the nbc deal was done. He may be available again. I’m pretty sure Leigh will stay with NBC, and I hope Steve goes to ESPN, but I would understand if he didn’t since ESPN doesn’t have a lot of other auto-sports work.

    The irony here is I’ve always considered the real flaw of the broadcast outside the constant commercials to be Leigh Diffy’s need to turn everything about the sport in to a ‘narrative’ in lieu of anything technical. Well ESPN is known for even more commercials than NBC, and the only coverage they gave of the NSCAR event last week (the first coverage of an auto-sport event in weeks) was to send a crew to ask drivers what they thought of kneeling during the anthem. UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is not good news for U.S. F1 fans and I’m frankly very surprised Liberty Media would go this route. Along with NBC spilling the beans on Liberty’s new streaming service the big news is how little Liberty seem to be concerned about giving US fans a good broadcast.

    • subcritical71

      It caught my attention that there was no mention of practices being broadcast on TV which had me apprehensive. Now with the background you provided I’m not convinced this is a good move for the fans.

      Could we bring back Chalk Talk? That was my favorite part of the weekend outside of the race.

      Edit: I must have missed where it said all practice sessions would be broadcast – disregard my first comment… Now its just about Chalk Talk :)

      • LOL. Yeah, I would imagine they will offer all session via streaming app. That would be my hunch. There’s an element to the digital streaming and I wrote about this before that it is the disruptive model that will challenge NBC and other broadcasters. ESPN apparently isn’t bothered by it.

        I wrote several posts last year speaking to the fact that the streaming is a bigger impact to broadcasters and sponsors than we fans are making it sound like. It’s disruptive to the existing broadcast model that many are still relying on to keep the lights on. Inevitable I suspect but each broadcaster will wade into those tepid waters in their own time. That’s my hunch anyway, I’m no broadcaster although I’m pretty sure I could lead the ESPN broadcast team for F1. ;)

    • I haven’t had time to read all the other articles and they all may have more insight than what I have had a chance to read but your point is well taken. I believe there is a digital component that both NBC and F1 know are crucial and it may have not been to NBC’s taste to have F1 retain that as they offer it now. Their Gold App for example.

      I am intrigued about the choice given the level of toxicity that ESPN is having at the moment. No matter where you stand, the network seems more interested in politics than sports of late and that’s had a serious impact on their revenue stream and one presumes cash flow but that’s just speculation on my part. Maybe you don’t agree or you agree a lot with their political commentary but the fact is, people tune in to get away from that and watch sports. I think this has had a negative impact. Surely NBC has more resources but perhaps NBC also wasn’t going to give away their digital delivery method either.

      • The Captain

        ESPN has been getting a lot of hate (which it rightly deserves) for focusing so much on politics rather than ‘sports’ but it’s slide started well before that. It could be more accurately said the ESPN turned to ‘outrage’ politics and sports commentary as an easy cheap way to make up the viewers it was losing anyway.

        The last round of layoffs for example they laid off mostly reporters and noticeable kept all of their ‘shock jock’ annalist.

        Hockey fans like to joke that ESPN dropping the NHL for Poker was the best thing to happen to the NHL.

        • Agreed. I’m not sure what its slide, if present, is. I’ve read and heard that they have had a downward slope in viewership in recent years but I’m not there and have no way of knowing why. I would assume the recent political commentary they engaged in hasn’t helped.

          • Tom Firth

            Are many issues for ESPN, most of which centre around being the ‘market leader’ at a specific time in history and struggling to adapt quickly enough to the landscape changing beneath them, which is no different to Microsoft, Sega, Nokia etc.

            Cord-Cutting is ESPN’s biggest challenge. It demands far higher carriage costs than its rivals of which are a growing amount, so gets hurt most when the subscription numbers fall. ESPN/ABC/Disney are launching their own online subscription service very soon to adapt, but some could argue that it is five years too late at doing so.

    • Samouri

      I believe that your sort of dire predictions, are truly what F1 fans here face.
      Good post!

  • Fred Talmadge

    Maybe NBC will pick up IMSA and we can watch more sport car racing.

  • Joseph Simmons

    12 million dollars well spent by NBC for F1! What did F1 US fans get in return; multiple channels, no F1 report show, no tech talk, recycled talking heads, little to no promotion, and a retreaded Bob Hope road show. So what can we expect from ESPN; multiple channels, no F1 report, no tech talk, recycled talking heads, little to no promotion, and the old NASCAR road show! My wish would be to have Bob Varsha and Nico Rosberg. Rosberg has been seen at Stanford University researching opportunities. If available, he could easily handled the technical and racing combination. And he is still relative to the current racing and drivers. Hmm, lets see the Glen, Dallas, Long Beach, Detroit, Phoenix, Indy, and now Texas, can F1 equal this mark with networks? Will I miss “micro climate of Silverstone or the raining on one side and sunny” sizzling insightful commentary? Will see in March 2018 on ESPN deuce

  • Update: I did hear from the nice folks at ESPN that the broadcast would be using the F1-produced world feed including announcers who have not been determined yet, which is what NBC and SPEED used if I have my facts correct, and that there would be no ESPN announcers involved in the broadcast. Now this adds a different slant to the situation.

    • The Captain

      Hmmm, that can be read a couple of different ways.

      Speed and NBC used the world feed and THEIR own announcers technically. ESPN saying there would be no ESPN announcers involved in the broadcast makes me worried they are talking about using the world feed announcers who may not be determined for next year yet (this year was DC an someone else I think?).

      Perhaps they mean to set up the F1 announcing crew as contract employees so we could still get Steve, Will, David but they wouldn’t ‘work’ for ESPN?

      • Agreed. There are several way to read that or insinuate how that could play out. It would seem that retaining Steve, Will, production folks and others would make sense for sure. If I’m Leigh, I would have to have a really compelling reason to leave NBC because he’s a multi-sport broadcaster and good talent for NBC. A great guy too!

        I know a lot of people who would be elated just to carry the Sky broadcast but there are those who have issues with that too. :)

        • The Captain

          Yea I would be very sad if we loose a U.S. centric broadcast.

        • Meine Postma

          What you’ll probably get is a few commentators in a studio in the US doing the commentary.

      • charlie white

        So it may mean Matchett, Hobbs and another player TBA would be broadcasting from Bristol, Connecticut instead of Charlotte, North Carolina. I don’t think Leigh will jump ship to ESPN; he’s a part of the NBC’s Olympics coverage both Winter and Summer Games.

        • The Captain

          I really hope so.

          But even though we’re mostly speculating it’s looking like that’s not gonna be the case. If Liberty is going to do their own stream it makes sense they will have their own broadcast team (or partner with someone who does like Sky). With ESPN saying that no ESPN announcers will work on it it would hint that F1 is providing the commentary and show, while ESPN is just the distribution vehicle.

          I hope that’s not true. But this brings up an interesting idea, Liberty has said the rights paid by NBC where trivial. If they are waving those rights (rumors are ESPN is not paying them) then that brings up the possibility that Liberty is demanding the races be run commercial free and is waving the fee so ESPN can to do so. Or we might end up still with a ton of commercials and a non-American broadcast team that doesn’t know we didn’t see something due to c commercial break. That scenario is so bad I can’t possibly see it happen… so it will :)

    • Tom Firth

      Everyone uses ‘World Feed’ pictures but are no F1 ‘World Feed’ commentators per se at the present time. However the F1 app currently uses BBC Radio Five Live commentary and various countries take the UK commentary of Channel 4 or Sky at present, or the BBC in the past.

      What i’m wondering though is that if Liberty are launching their own platform, it will need commentary, so perhaps ABC/ESPN could use those commentators, like how MotoGP has actual world feed commentators in Nick Harris and Matt Birt or has had until the end of 2017, who provide commentary to countries who haven’t got their own on air talent for MotoGP.

  • James Cox

    I’m afraid this is downgrade in viewing service. From ESPN statement, “More than 125 hours of F1 programming”. Lets do the math(s) on this one. 125 hours divided by 21 Races (Scheduled for 2018) comes out to a little less than 6 hours of “programming” a race.

    FP1 = 1.5 hr
    FP2 = 1.5 hr
    FP3 = 1 hr
    Qually = 1hr ish (FOM says “designed to last an hour”)
    Race = 2 hr (Max Length)
    Total = 7 Hours

    That doesn’t leave a lot of headroom for pre/post race and qually that NBC provides. I was never a huge fan of NBC’s coverage but respected the fact that they provided access to all sessions and provided before/after coverage. NBC also went over the top to grow new fans through the seemingly endless rehashing of the same info, stats, track talk, ect. This ESPN decision runs the risk of being a serious step back if the world feed package doesn’t at least equal NBC’s coverage.

  • Jacob Wright

    If only we could get SkySports’ coverage in the US… legally.

    • jakobusvdl

      Over here in NZ the Skysports package includes ESPN2, so we’ll get to compare the coverage.

  • Goodyear or Cheever are involved, I’m out.

  • deadbroke

    Eh, doesn’t change much for me. I will still illegally download and or stream the Sky Sports coverage from random Russian hosted sites.

    I love the US broadcast team, truly I do. But my god. Once you watch Sky’s full pre/post race coverage and a full race with no commercials… It’s like mainlining F1 when before I was just getting a contact high. There’s no turning back.

    Here’s the bottom line; It’s pure economics. There is a point at which the demand for the product offered will meet my desire to pay for it. All these convoluted rights contracts are merely attempts to manipulate the supply of a product, and will ultimately not work.

    Oh well, maybe in 2020 they will finally roll out a real way to watch formula1 in the states. The only question is, will the quality of the product be something I will be willing to pay for? I suppose we’ll see. I damn sure won’t be paying any money to watch Formula E.

  • Geoff Peterson

    Ted Kravitz chatted with Will Buxton on air during his Japan Qualy notebook. Sounds like Will Buxton has lost his job, and has an uncertain future. It’s a shame, because he’s the one strength NBC had in their broadcast. Liberty should hire him to do some world feed work.

  • charlie white

    FWIW, there was a very short exchange between NBC’s Will Buxton and
    SkySports’ Ted Kravitz during Ted’s post qualifying notebook segment.
    Both were inside the drivers’ interview area. When asked about the ESPN
    deal by Ted, Will answered, “this is what Americans viewers will lose
    next season.”

  • Guy Fawkes

    Hmm, no ESPN personnel. Here’s a thought. Could Liberty have handed ESPN coverage rights for (next to?) nothing for the short term in order to have a platform to experiment with formats for its own, dedicated F1 streaming service? That would give them infrastructure to work within while they work out the logistic and broadcast issues. The language about “world feed announcers who have yet to be named” makes me suspect they may be planning a full package broadcast from FOM aimed at the English speaking market, not just the current world feed cameras and ambient noise stream. Just a thought.

    • mrvco

      I fully expect an F1 premium world-wide, direct-to-consumer OTT offering at some point in the near future. This would be in addition to whatever deals they can renegotiate or cut for non-exclusive FTA broadcast rights. Basically an arrangement comparable to what MotoGP and WRC have been doing in recent years.

      Aparently Liberty wants to build their digital offering independently of the local broadcast rights holders.

  • fk Bobby Turkalino

    I have liked the NBCSN coverage, especially Steve Matchett and Will Buxton. But agree with others who prefer the the Sky coverage and who especially prefer coverage produced for experienced F1 fans. It seems to me that if Liberty is as concerned about the US market as they say, then they would try to maintain just a little bit of continuity. So I bet that some of the NBCSN talent will find their way into coverage that reaches the US.

    F1 and the Tennis Channel are the only reasons I have not agreed to cut the cord at our house. I am very enthused about streaming options not contingent upon cable TV subscriptions. I’m happy to pay for those if given the option. I am a baby boomer and grew up with a TV. But to be candid, the damned thing feels like an antique unless I attach at least a TiVo or use one of the streaming apps built into it.

  • RLF

    Please plug in the existing NBCSN team, swapping out Diffy for Bob Varsha!

  • The Captain

    Hey Todd, don’t know if you follow old threads like this but I found this today where ESPN confirmed they will not be airing any pre or post race coverage.
    https://f1broadcasting.co/2017/10/04/f1s-digital-strategy-unfolds-as-conflict-with-tv-model-takes-centre-stage/

    “We will not air additional pre and post-race coverage on television.
    It’s been our experience that the overwhelming majority of motorsports
    viewers tune in for the race itself.”
    I would like to know what NBCSN’s experience with that was since it has been so long since ESPN has even had any motorsports experience?

    Then this,
    “We want to attract new audiences for F1 by drawing ESPN fans from one
    program directly into race coverage. We will not have any ESPN
    announcers involved in the telecasts.”
    So ESPN’s ‘strategy’ to get new fans is just hope they keep watching the channel after whatever it is they really tuned in for?!

    This is really shaping up to be a giant step back for U.S. F1 fans. Like an insultingly bad. I am seriously questioning how in any way Liberty Media sees this as a good thing for U.S. fans. And until i hear it will be commercial free (something I have not seen) this is looking more like a complete disaster (and almost abandonment of the U.S. market).

    • Jack

      I can’t stand it any longer. ESPN’s attitude is downright insulting. What was F1 thinking when they selected ESPN? They are bleeding viewers already and these comments prove they have no real interest in F1 racing or its fans. I guess the question now is, does Liberty have any interest in satisfying U.S. F1 enthusiasts? I really expected much, much better……

      The only good news is that ESPN’s typical jock sniffing commentators/amateur political analysts won’t be involved.

      • F1 was probably thinking of taking a short term deal so they can wrestle back coverage for their own team in the near future.

        I hope so, anyway. Sounds like I’ll be back to digging for pirate broadcasts next year.

    • That’s very unfortunate. To NBC’s credit, they did offer pre and post coverage and at least understood that the key to F1 is trying to unpack the sport for the fanatics and lure the new fans in.

      ESPN could be banking on the level if detail that the Sky broadcast provides as enough but one of the things about the UK broadcast is the pre and post so there again, we lose.

      If they believe that attracting new fans is by colliding their coverage with F1 races in the hopes that viewers will not change the channel, I find that a very sophomoric approach to the issue. The way to do it is how NBC does Football (English football…soccer) with Rebecca and the Robbie’s.

      Something just doesn’t seem right to me about this. I wonder if NBC wanted a three-year deal or more and F1 Management wanted a shorter term in order to align all their contracts globally? I have to think that guys like Chase and Sean know that they could produce a complete broadcast package and sell it globally with digital options etc. A complete overhaul of the F1 broadcast as it were.

      ESPN seems to be simply hosting a world feed and phoning it in. They can’t even make good arguments as to why their coverage will be so anemic.

  • Roo

    It was mentioned on FP2 today that “the boys” will not be commentating next year. Horrible choice by ESPN. I love listening to Steve get excited over technology and the interaction between All three of them.

  • Jack

    ESPN has always been about sticks and balls……Now I guess it’s about dumbing down their programming to save money. Maybe if they emphasized actual event coverage over studio production and chat fests they’d do better.

    If the MSNBC crew reads this blog….thanks, boys for the fine coverage. Yes, the commercial interruptions were annoying, but that wasn’t your doing. Steve has been a wealth of knowledge and experience and Will’s enthusiasm is unmatched. I’ll miss all of you.

  • Gus

    GUYS! It’s only a few days until the last wee-KHEND in Abu Dhabi! The current announcers entertained my girlfriend enough to get her into F1 and root for Red Bull. If this is indeed the last race with the joy of hearing the current announcing crew, I’ll be crushed. HOTTAKES!!!: DRS zone needs to be extended to 3 seconds back, historic seasons need to be available to stream, and different tire compounds need to be 2 seconds faster per lap per compound with shorter life than they currently have.

  • mtbross

    I can’t imagine watching a F1 weekend without Will Buxton. There’s got to be on-site coverage every race, and I can’t think of anyone that does it better than Buxton and his team. Surely ESPN will bring him on board. And his “Off The Grid” specials are superb. Need him ESPN! And would be great to expand the number of OTG shows too.