ESPN and Formula 1 have set a multi-year linear and digital partnership bringing the FIA Formula One World Championship back to its original U.S. TV home starting in March 2018. ESPN and ABC – where Formula 1 first aired in 1962 – will televise all 21 races in the championship.
All races will air live in the U.S. on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. From March through November, more than 125 hours of Formula 1 programming, including all practice sessions, qualifying and races, will air live and in replay across ESPN platforms. NBC had been airing the races since 2013.
“ESPN has had a long commitment to motorsports, and Formula 1 is a crown jewel in the sport,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming & scheduling. “There are many passionate Formula 1 fans in the U.S. and we look forward to bringing the pageantry, spectacle and excitement of F1 to viewers across the ESPN platform.”
Among the season highlights will be the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, May 27 (Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.), which will air live on ESPN after the Indianapolis 500. The United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 21 and the Mexican Grand Prix on Oct. 28 also will air live on ABC while the Canadian Grand Prix (June 10) and British Grand Prix (July 8) will be featured live on ESPN. The Singapore Grand Prix, the only night race of the championship, will air on ESPN2 on Sept. 16.
“We are excited about the return of the world’s foremost motor racing platform to the ABC and ESPN platforms,” said Sean Bratches, managing director, commercial operations at Formula 1 (and a former longtime ESPN exec). “ABC’s Wide World of Sports first started airing live grands prix in the early 1960s and this linear and digital partnership with ESPN represents a significant step forward in achieving Formula 1’s aim of broadening the sport’s appeal. The U.S. market is very important growth opportunity for Formula 1 and we are looking forward to working with ESPN to ignite the growing fan interest.”
A spokesperson for NBC Sports said in a statement, “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.”