The dismantling of the cable sport channel Speed is under way. It was announced last Friday that Fox Sports Media Group and the FIA would end their partnership and 2012 will be the last season for Formula One (F1) to be televised on Speed (source - Associated Press).
In its wake, NBC Sports Group announced yesterday that they had signed an agreement for four years with F1 for the rights to televise the world's most popular motorsports series (source - NBC).
This comes on the heels of NASCAR's new deal with FOX that will go in effect in 2015. That agreement will extend NASCAR's involvement with stock car racing for another 10 years, all-the-while increasing its investment (see related articles).
Speed going away
The Speed cable channel has been involved with televising F1 since the outlet started back in '96. But FOX, who purchased Speed 11 years ago, had stated earlier this year (source - Sports Business Journal) they will transform and rebrand the all-motorsports channel from dedicated race programming to an all-sports network. This new cable outlet will likely compete against ESPN.
F1 is very popular world-wide but never has drawn well here in the United States. Still there is a small but fervent fanbase. The IndyCar series is trying to climb their way back up the popularity pole after a schism and civil war of-sorts that lasted for more than two decades. Most of IndyCar's programming is on NBC Sports. Combining all open wheel sports on one generalized network could benefit and work in favor of both sports.
Who the announcers will be for the NBC Sports Network F1 broadcast is pure speculation, but the current threesome is arguably the best announcing group in racing: Bob Varsha, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett. As a fan, I believe they should do everything they can to retain these three.
We could also speculate as whether the huge new deal FOX agreed to with NASCAR made it tougher for FOX to deal monetarily with F1 but that is conjecture at this point. To be fair, again, Speed is being dismantled so time and space are now limited with other sports coming on board in two years.
NBC Sports Network has stated four of the F1 races will be on NBC with the remaining broadcast on NBC Sports. There will be live streaming available on NBCSports.com.
Fan's are probably perturbed, especially F1 fans who are some of the most picky people. Change is never looked upon favorably and when you have a long relationship that involves great announcers, well, it could get ugly.
I'm a fan too and for right now, I'm happy … until NBC screws up.
Sources - NBC, Formula One
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.
- Sports & Recreation
- Fox Sports Media Group
- NBC Sports Group