Channel 4 will be the terrestrial home for Formula One from 2016 until 2018, taking over from the BBC.
The BBC has terminated its contract with Formula One in order to help meet the £35 million in savings BBC Sport was asked to make by BBC Director-General Tony Hall.
In a first for a UK terrestrial commercial broadcaster, Channel 4 says no advertising breaks will take place through the duration of live races.
The channel will broadcast ten races per season live, with high definition highlights from all 21 races, including those shows live on Sky Sports F1.
Bernie Ecclestone, Chief Executive Officer of the Formula One group said he was sorry that the BBC was unable to continue broadcasting the sport, but was pleased that Channel 4 has committed to showing the races without ad breaks.
He added: “I am confident that Channel 4 will achieve not only how the BBC carried out the broadcast in the past but also with a new approach as the World and Formula One have moved on.”
Speaking about the deal, Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham said: “Formula One is one of the world’s biggest sporting events with huge appeal to British audiences. I’m delighted to have agreed this exciting new partnership with Bernie Ecclestone to keep the sport on free-to-air television.”
The BBC has already made cuts to its sports coverage this year, sharing coverage of the 6 Nations Championship with ITV and switching from live coverage of Open Golf to extended highlights.
In a blog post, the BBC’s Director of Sport Barbara Slater said: “No Director of Sport wants to be responsible for reducing the amount of sport on BBC TV. But the current financial position of the BBC means some tough and unwanted choices have to be made. There are no easy solutions; all of the options available would be unpopular with audiences.”
Slater added that despite Formula One’s move to Channel 4, the BBC still has a rich slate of sporting coverage, including Wimbledon, the Football World Cup, the World Athletics Championships and the Boat Race.
The arrival of Formula One on Channel 4 will complement its award-winning coverage, including horse racing and the Paralympic Games.
The channel will announce details of the presentation and production teams in due course.
Photo credit: Morio via Creative Commons