Formula 1’s move from NBC Sports in 2017 to ESPN in 2018 got off to a bumpy start last March when fans were treated a season-opening Australian Grand Prix packed full of awkwardly timed commercial breaks.
Instead of forming its own broadcast team, ESPN made the smart move to simulcast coverage from Sky Sports, which is presented commercial-free to fans in the UK. ESPN completely botched its first presentation of the year, however, often cutting to commercial in the middle of a commentator’s sentence. Many fans called out the network on social media, but ESPN quickly partnered with a presenting sponsor – Mother’s Polish – and broadcast the rest of the schedule commercial-free.
With less than two months until the start of the 2019 schedule, it wasn’t clear if American fans would be treated to commercial-free racing for the upcoming season, but SportsBusiness Journal‘s Adam Stern reported on Wednesday that ESPN is planning to go ad-free for another year.
This is a major win for fans, as Formula 1 doesn’t have many natural breaks in the action and it’s crucial to see how strategies and battles develop lap-by-lap.
ESPN will continue to broadcast the Sky Sports feed in 2019, and the Sky team is welcoming former World Champion Jenson Button to its coverage this season.
Formula 1 races will reportedly be commercial-free on ESPN again this season.