Sources: NBC Sports Outbids Fox In Multiyear Deal For U.S. Rights To F1 Telecasts
F1 is close to signing a multiyear U.S. rights deal with NBC Sports, according to several sources. The deal could be signed as early as this afternoon. NBC is expected to make a formal announcement early next week. Terms of the deal are not yet known, but sources said NBC outbid Fox. Sources valued Fox' previous deal in the low seven figures annually. The move ends a 16-year relationship between Fox and F1, as the racing circuit first sold its U.S. rights to Fox in '96. In the ensuing years, Fox showed a handful of races every year on its broadcast network, but the majority were on Speed. Fox Sports VP/Communications Lou D'Ermilio said, "It's disappointing to learn that F1 has elected to move forward with a different media partner. Speed has been the U.S. voice of F1 since the mid '90s, and it is a passion for many people at the network. Fox Sports Media Group made what we believed to be a fiscally responsible bid based on the sport's current viewership levels, but F1 has elected to go in another direction. We wish them well." NBC and F1 have agreed to a similar deal to what the racing circuit had with Fox, with the broadcast net carrying a small number of races each year and NBC Sports Network carrying the bulk of the schedule. The move helps NBC as it looks to build up the programming lineup on NBCSN with more live sports. The move also fits Fox Sports' strategy, as it is in the process of switching its Speed cable channel into an all-sports channel called Fox Sports 1. That channel would carry programming like MLB, college football and UFC. There is less of a need for racing programming like F1.