LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Channel 4 said on Monday it would broadcast 10 live Formula One races a season from 2016 to 2018, taking over the rights from the BBC to show a sport that commands loyal audiences following title holder Lewis Hamilton.
The Formula One World Championship had been previously carried by the BBC and pay-TV group Sky in a joint deal but media reports suggested last week that the BBC was looking to pull out of the contract due to cuts to its budget.
That had sparked speculation that ITV, the country’s biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, would scoop the rights, but instead they went to Channel 4, a network that is publicly owned and funded by advertising.
It will broadcast 10 live races, including practice and qualifying sessions, plus highlights of all 21 Grands Prix. It will not show commercial intervals during the race.
Details of the deal were not disclosed.
“Formula One is one of the world’s biggest sporting events with huge appeal to British audiences,” Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham said.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Stephen Addison)