Everyone in Formula 1 has their Silly Season and broadcasters are no different. Contracts end and negotiations begin. So it is with NBC Sports and their hosting of the F1 series.
Set to end this year, NBC Sports has been given a 12-month extension but F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says he’s speaking with other stations about the broadcast rights to F1 in America.
Since moving to NBC, the sport’s viewership numbers have increased for an American audience. An article at Autoweek says:
“F1’s viewing figures on NBC have accelerated over the past three years with the Singapore Grand Prix in September 2015 being the most-watched broadcast of the race on the network ever. It averaged 510,000 viewers with the audience up 26 percent on 2014.
It was the fifth NBC F1 race in 2015 which had an audience of more than 500,000 and followed a strong year in 2014 when its numbers grew by 10.1 percent to 12.6 million viewers.”
The same article quotes Ecclestone as saying that he’s in talks with a few stations about the broadcast package and certainly Fox seems to be an obvious possibility after losing the broadcast rights to NBC Sports back in 2013.
Ultimately the US is viewed as an emerging and untapped market and that’s great but it is difficult to know just what the total fanbase size is in America. Regardless, it isn’t huge and it would seem there is plenty of room to grow.
A new US team in Haas F1 and a vibrant broadcast package seems to be the way forward in capturing new interest in America but as an American website, I can tell you that we are a fickle lot over here and have a lot of sports vying for our attention.
NBC has done a nice job of covering F1 and to be perfectly honest, ramping up their coverage would be a welcome sight. It’s unclear whether Fox Sports 1 would have an appetite in re-acquiring F1 broadcast rights but Ecclestone was relatively evasive about the idea:
“NBC’s contract was meant to be up at the end of this year but we have given them another year. We are in talks with several stations so we will have to wait and see.”
“I don’t know if Fox would take over.”
We’ll have to wait and see if NBC feels strongly about their continued F1 coverage or if Fox or even another sports broadcaster might find it intriguing to snatch the broadcast.
Hat Tip: Autoweek