Breaking: Big TV change possible for F1 in the U.S.

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Speed, which has carried Formula 1 for 17 years, will stop broadcasting the sport after this season, the Associated Press is reporting — based, admittedly, on two anonymous sources.

Where’s there’s smoke, will there be fire? We’ll have to see. Speed, F1, FOM — no one is commenting yet on the record yet.

According to the AP, F1 is negotiating with NBC to take over broadcast rights. But what that means is unclear. I don’t think I’d jump right into concluding that F1 will suddenly be on a major broadcast network every race weekend. It could end up on any one of NBC’s alphabet soup cable stations — or worse?

Before we speculate too much — and I of course encourage your wild speculation — I want to quote one very important part of the AP story:

Broadcasting from a studio in Charlotte, the booth of Bob Varsha, Steve Matchett and David Hobbs is considered by many fans to be the best in motorsports. The excitable trio breathes excitement into often single-file racing, and closely follows storylines and strategy despite being halfway around the world from most of the tracks.

It’s no secret that the American part of the F1B team are all huge fans of our Speed trio. They are, in a word, fabulous. Whatever happens, we hope 1. that they are included and 2. if they aren’t, that all three get even better gigs in the future.

According to the AP, Speed’s retreat from F1 comes as Speed’s parent, Fox, works on rebranding the channel into a broad-based sports station. “Fox has not commented on the rebranded channel, expected to be called Fox Sports 1, but it is expected to be heavily utilized in the eight-year television contract announced earlier this month with Major League Baseball.”

Sounds like an ESPN competitor, huh? Doesn’t Fox already have sports stations, though? Why the need to take this station over for this move? (Does Fox not have a national sports channel? I guess I’m thinking about Fox Sports West, etc., plus how sports takes over Fox’s broadcast channel on weekends.)

OK, let the speculation begin. What do you think will happen? What do you hope will happen? (Is there any chance those two answers are the same?) Sadly, I don’t think there are enough F1 fans in America to raise a Sky Sports-type stink over this.

And, final speculation: What might it end up meaning for the United States Grand Prix(s)?

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