Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain steers his car out of pit lane after a tire change during the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korean International Circuit in Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Roslan Rahman,Pool)
NBC Sports Group signed a four-year deal with Formula One for the exclusive U.S. media rights to the world’s most popular global motorsports series.
The deal, which begins next season, will provide over 100 hours of programming across NBC and cable channel NBC Sports Network.
Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network, told The Associated Press on Sunday night it gives the network content to grow its motorsports presence. NBC Sports Network owns the rights to the bulk of the IndyCar Series schedule.
“This is an opportunity for us to get further engaged in open [auth] wheel racing and really acquire some great live first run content,” Miller told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
“This gives us quality events to put on our air, and this is a sport with a huge following around the world that we feel we can grow in this country.”
The agreement between NBC Sports Group and Formula One Management brings an end to the 17-year run cable channel Speed had as the U.S. rights holder to F1. A spokesman for parent company Fox Sports told The AP on Friday that Speed had been outbid by another network during contract negotiations.
Miller said only that NBC Sports Group had made “a significant financial commitment” and that a dialogue that began several months ago with FOM rapidly came together in this four-year agreement.
“NBC and its various media assets have a huge profile throughout the United States and I am obviously delighted to have concluded this agreement,” Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One Group CEO, said in a statement.
“I feel that they will promote Formula One to a level not seen before in the United States.”
NBC will air four races — the Canadian Grand Prix in June, and the final three races of the season in November — while the remaining 16 races will air on NBC Sports Network. All practice and qualifying sessions will also be on the cable station.
Miller said the intent is to broadcast everything live, but the network is working through a small number of scheduling conflicts. All 20 races will be live streamed on NBC Sports Group’s live-stream platform.
The addition of F1 could also help NBC Sports Network with its IndyCar coverage, Miller said. There are four 2013 dates in which the F1 race be televised before the IndyCar race on the network.
“We think there’s real upside for IndyCar and this super-serves the open wheel racing fan,” Miller said. “There will be days we have a Formula One race at 9 a.m. and an IndyCar race at 1 p.m. — we walked the IndyCar people through that on Friday and they are excited about the opportunity.”
Miller said NBC Sports Group will use F1’s world feed, but is still ironing out its production details. The network will likely use a reporter on site at every event with a booth based in the U.S. — the same way Speed covered its races — but Miller indicated there was possibility of having an expanded on-site crew at certain events.