Most Americans have heard the news that SPEED will be ending their 17-year run with Formula One. No question that many Americans are concerned about the future of F1 coverage now that NBC will take the reigns but we haven’t heard too much from FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone or NBC on the deal until now:
“NBC and its various media assets have a huge profile throughout the United States and I am obviously delighted to have concluded this agreement,” said Ecclestone.
“I feel that they will promote Formula 1 to a level not seen before in the United States.
“I very much look forward to working with NBC. Together, we will endeavour to broaden the scope of Formula 1 coverage available to US viewers incorporating additional digital content in particular that has not been available before.”
There is no word yet on who will call the races or what team NBC will put in place but suffice to say, they do have their eyes on offering a digital package that was not available via SPEED. The reality is, NBC has pull all the stops and paid big dollars for F1’s coverage. Offering the races and online digital pakcages and features all cost money and in my estimation, SPEED didn’t have the advertising dollars to off-set those costs. The big question is, will NBC?
“We are thrilled to add the top international open-wheel racing series to our already-strong motorsports portfolio,” said Jon Miller, president of NBC Sports Network.
“Formula 1 is a perfect fit for the NBC Sports Group as it provides content across three platforms – broadcast, cable and digital – for nine months a year with more than 100 hours of premier programming annually.”
For those upset with the news, I understand. For those excited about it, you may have a reason to be. An increased package with digital, online options and promise of greater coverage. Our UK friends enjoy comprehensive coverage with a dedicated F1 channel and hours of additional programming and if NBC can get anywhere close to that, then it could be a win for US fans. There are a few non-negotiable issues such as live coverage regardless of the time of day, full practice, qualifying and race coverage as well as podium celebrations and interviews (which is a contractual obligation the FOM mandates). As long as US fans have access when it happens, then NBC could stand to be an improvement but the last remaining element will be the on-air talent and if they go to their current stable of motor sports commentators, I am afraid they will have a difficult time holding interest.
NBC needs to understand one thing, however, and I would encourage you to re-tweet this link below or email it to them…Steve Matchett matters!! He is critical to the success of any broadcaster who handles F1 in America.