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ESPN lands US Formula 1 TV rights for 2018

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The Formula One Group and ESPN have agreed to a multi-year partnership which will see every race broadcast live in the US from the 2018 season.

The package acquired by ESPN shall include 125 hours of F1 programming across its collection of channels represented by ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.

"ESPN has had a long commitment to motorsports, and Formula One is a crown jewel in the sport," said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming & scheduling.

"There are many passionate Formula One fans in the U.S. and we look forward to bringing the pageantry, spectacle and excitement of F1 to viewers across the ESPN platform."

"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.

"ABC's Wide World of Sports first started airing live grands prix in the early 1960's 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 a very important growth opportunity for Formula 1 and we are looking forward to working with ESPN to ignite the growing fan interest."

ESPN takes over from NBC Sports which held the rights to broadcasts F1 in America since 2013. Interestingly, the media company declined to renew its deal with sport for a very specific reason.

"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," read a statement from NBC Sports.

" 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."

As Formula 1 attempts to grow its own 'Over The Top' direct to consumer product, broadcasters - who pay big money for F1 rights - could start taking a stance against the sport's digital initiative.

Striking the right balance between OTT, pay TV and free-to-air broadcasts will likely prove a struggle for F1, but that's the challenge Liberty Media accepted.

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