F1 Rights Move From NBC To ESPN In New Multiyear Rights Deal
F1 will move from NBC Sports to ESPN next year as part of a multiyear rights deal that is expected to be announced later today. Neither side would comment on financials, but ESPN is not believed to be paying a rights fee for the programming and will rely on a world feed to carry the races. The circuit's OTT rights are not part of this deal, as F1 will retain control over those rights -- a position that proved to be a sticking point with NBC, which had carried races on NBCSN since '13. F1 also pushed for a shorter deal length. The circuit, which is trying to build itself up under new ownership, did not want its U.S. rights to be tied down in any kind of long-term deal, sources said.
ESPN committed to televise all 21 races live next year -- 16 on ESPN2, three on ESPN and two on ABC. ABC will re-air the May 27 Monaco Grand Prix in the timeslot following the Indianapolis 500. ESPN has committed to carry all practice sessions, qualifying and races live and in replay on one of its platforms next year.
“We had the ability on Sunday mornings on ESPN2 to slide the races right into the schedule,” ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Scheduling Burke Magnus said. “The design here is to lean heavily into the sport once again. It’s been a few years. We want to make it a big deal again.”
NBC, which has touted itself as the U.S. television home of motorsports, still retains the rights to NASCAR through '24 and IndyCar through next year. It also carries several smaller motorsports properties, like Red Bull GRC. An NBC Sports spokesperson said, "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.”
For ESPN, the addition of F1 could rekindle a connection with motorsports fans, following decisions in recent years that has seen it drop rights for NASCAR and NHRA. ABC was the first U.S. broadcaster to carry an F1 race in '62, when “Wide World of Sports” aired highlights of the Monaco Grand Prix a week after the race. ESPN televised F1 races from '84-97.