'Liberty Media lost $40m with NBC-ESPN switch'

Wednesday, 10 october 2018, 08:56 , by Matthew Scott

Liberty Media lost out on a $40million deal to continue broadcasting Formula 1 in the United States over its insistence to introduce F1 TV Pro to North American fans. Autoweek reports that not only did Liberty skip on a huge agreement with NBC, but the subsequent launch of the streaming service has only landed an estimated $1million.

F1 has been aired on ESPN in the United States this year, with coverage pulled in from Sky Sports in the UK.

The switch has angered fans Stateside, with NBC having previously put together its own broadcasts from grands prix.

Not only have fans been upset by Liberty's decision for this season, but the bank balance has also been hit as NBC had reportedly previously agreed a new deal that could have run until 2025 and netted F1 $40m.


However, NBC were not willing to enter an agreement that would see F1 also air races to American fans on its streaming service.

F1 TV Pro is not available to fans in the UK, for example, where Sky hold exclusive rights.

"We are a television network and a television channel that relies on advertising,” Autoweek quotes an unnamed NBC source.

"We would have been able to stream it as well, but they would have been able to sell it and what that meant is they could have gone to people who don't get our channel.

"They would have been able to go to people who don't get NBC or NBCSN and sell them the race. It would be a direct competitor, and we don't do that with anybody, from NASCAR to golf to hockey to the Olympics. Nobody.

"And you can't do that in the U.K. with Formula 1. So we said no."

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Comments (48)

  • Scott Martino
    The Sky coverage is leaps and bounds better than the NBC coverage. Everything from the graphics overlays, to the depth of insight is so much better. And NBC did not really "produce" their own broadcasts, they took the world feed and just overlaid their voices onto it. Add to it that there is no advertising on the ESPN broadcast (as opposed to every 10 minutes on the NBC one) there really isnt anything to dislike about the switch (unless you decided for the streaming service which had an inauspicious launch).
  • Deb Johnson
    ESPN/Sky coverage is the worst. The pre race coverage is lacking and the basically non existent post race coverage is a joke. If they actually do a couple of post race interviews they abruptly end the broadcast. David Hobbs and Steve Matchet were a knowledgeable team with great chemistry. Sorry but Paul Di Resta didnt race that long and never for a top team. Don’t even get me started on “Crofty” he is so biased towards Lewis Hamilton it is ridiculous. Please move F1 to any other network
  • William Rockwood
    Sky coverage (and before that, BBC and ITV) is superior in every way. Mostly thanks to Brundle and Kravitz. I just wish the ESPN feed would include the full pre- and post-race shows. I could listen to Ted talk about nerdy F1 technical details all day. I despised the SPEED/FOX->NBC commentators, and appreciate broadcasters who actually send their teams to each race instead of sitting in a lame studio in North Carolina interrupting each other constantly during every race.
  • Christopher Thiesen
    ESPN is doing a terrible job. They should have their own commentators next year. Bring back the NBCSN team. They were much better. And at least stay with practice, qualifying and the races longer after completion. They just cut away from the SKYSPORTS broadcast in the middle of the show. I bet ESPN regrets taking over the broadcasts. They didn't know what they were getting into. We F1 fans are very demanding !!!
  • Debby Ingoldsby-Baillargeon
    Canadians have the SKY coverage as well as Americans. Liberty needs to understand fans will not pay to watch a race (ie., streaming). Leave it to be broadcast on t.v. stations as it has always been. NASCAR isn't going elite and only streaming, neither should F1. Unfortunately for Canadian viewers, who are stuck with TSN, we get endless commercials throughout the race. Wish we could get that banned like you Americans have!!
  • Jeremy Dyer
    Aside from Sky having no commercials, I think NBC was alot better. I just don't like how excited Crofty gets at certain things, like the first lap of the race. NBC also seemed to have built up amazing chemistry between them which made it enjoyable as well. Also, I'm not sure if i'm the only one, but does anyone else get triggered by their mispronunciation of Haas?
  • Don Garner
    Sorry, the fans have spoken, WITH THEIR WALLETS! I'd much rather listen to intelligent comments from Steve Machett and David Hobbs than soprano screaming for 2 hours from Babbling Brundle......the Sky commentators are more in love with the sound of their own voices than the F1 engines.......
  • Lemay Fisk
    At first it was rough....the first race I thought it was a mistake. Now, I have to say, love it. Love the race insights, love the driver insights. I miss the other NBC crew. But the Sky announcers have grown and really improved and make the race enjoyable with their patter and insights.
  • Bernie Brennan
    I don’t have an issue with the Sky team coverage, although I preferred NBC. My biggest problem with the current coverage is missing out on much of the pre and post race activities. Not sure why ESPN needs to break off when the Sky feed is still in progress....
  • Christian Iannotta
    Well maybe if you add back the pre and post race coverage where you can jam in more commercials you’d get that money back seems pretty obvious... also I hated this and glad it’s gone but they did in race ads as well... those had to be pricey ads
  • Wayde Bryan
    ESPN has no commercials and the sky commentary is way better. NBC broadcasters dumbed it down a lot for American audiences. Yes Leigh, we know there are different tires. We know what DRS is. You don’t have to re-explain that every race.
  • Paul Albin
    The NBC coverage was so much better! The pre and post race coverage was exceptional by comparison. Not to mention mention how much better the commentators were. I'd love to have Hobbs, Matchett, Diffey, and Buxton back again!
  • Greg Valdez
    The NBC commentators were trash and the Sky crew is a much much better combo. Real insight from real drivers. Miles more knowledge than most the NBC crew about what is going on in today's F1.
  • Adam Glass
    ESPN sucks in every way. It's never on when it says it is, they don't play the race during commercials, and the coverage isn't as good as NBCs. I don't watch anymore, I just look up the results online.
  • Christine Muise
    American here....HATE the switch, HATE ESPN, HATE Sky Sports....I would rather turn the volume off.... If we were given more choices to watch, I would never choose these idiots!!!
  • Mike Urban
    BBC and Sky Coverage has always been better than Speed TV / NBC. It was awful, with nonstop commercial breaks. I don’t need commentators, I need uninterrupted coverage. Thanks, ESPN! :)
  • Ward De Witt
    The NBC coverage sucked; all they talked about was tire degradation. In addition, there were too many commercials. The ESPN/Sky coverage is so much better.
  • Kevin Broderick
    Martin Bumbles is terrible. NOBODY will talk to him on the grid, not even his loverboy Hamilton! So glad he has been "away" the past 2 races.
  • Larry Gurthet
    The chatty gossipy commentators are horrible sometimes I mute it just to give my ears a break ESPN is a cheap outfit
  • Richard Golen
    Hey Liberty Media....if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! NBC’s coverage was hands down ESPN’s simulcast of Sky Sports coverage!

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