AP sources: Speed won't air F1 after this season
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Speed cable channel will end its 17-year relationship with Formula One after this season, The Associated Press has learned.
Two people familiar with the negotiations said F1 was in talks with NBC for U.S. broadcast rights and the contract would not be renewed with Speed. The people spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.
NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did a spokesman for Speed.
The series' governing body, FIA, declined comment, noting that TV deals are handled by Formula One Management. The series is in South Korea this week for the Korean Grand Prix.
Speed partnered with F1 in 1996 in the network's first full season on the air. Speed moved to live coverage in 1997, and has expanded to live coverage of qualifying and practice sessions of the most popular motorsports series in the world.
Broadcasting from a studio in Charlotte, the booth of Bob Varsha, Steve Matchett and David Hobbs is considered by many fans to be the best in motorsports. The excitable trio breathes excitement into often single-file racing, and closely follows storylines and strategy despite being halfway around the world from most of the tracks.
The departure of F1 comes as Speed parent company Fox moves closer to rebranding the motorsports network into a broad-based national sports network. Fox has not commented on the rebranded channel, expected to be called Fox Sports 1, but it is expected to be heavily utilized in the eight-year television contract announced earlier this month with Major League Baseball.
It's not clear what NBC would do with F1.
NBC Sports currently broadcasts the bulk of the U.S-based IndyCar Series, and announced last month a deal with Robby Gordon to televise the inaugural season of his Stadium Super Trucks. Gordon inked a deal that gets 12 races televised - seven of them on NBC. The television contract for IndyCar is split between ABC, which owns the network broadcast rights, and NBC Sports, which airs races on cable.
AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire contributed to this report.