Oct 22, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez (11) leads Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen (1) during qualifying for the U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, Disney announced the company’s new rights deal with Formula 1, which was reported this summer. The company will reportedly be paying between $75 million and $90 million per year in the new contract, up from its current rights fee of just $5 million per year.

There were some rumblings that after agreeing to the new deal, ESPN might start running ads during races to offset the increased rights fee. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

In the release announcing the new deal, ESPN made sure to note all race broadcasts would remain commercial-free, with at least 16 races each season airing on ABC and ESPN.

Under the renewal, at least 16 races will air on ABC and ESPN each season, more than in the previous five years since F1 returned to ESPN networks in 2018. Also, all race telecasts on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will continue the commercial-free presentation used over the past five seasons, a format that has set ESPN’s coverage apart and proved very popular with viewers.

But what piqued our interest was this note about a potential direct-to-consumer offering for Formula 1 on ESPN+.

The new agreement also includes expanded direct-to-consumer rights, giving ESPN flexibility to roll out additional ways for fans in the U.S. to consume F1 content over the next three years, including on ESPN+, with details to be announced later.

Additionally, more qualifying sessions will air on ESPN and ESPN2.

All race weekends will continue to include live telecasts of all three practice sessions and qualifying (including the F1 Sprint) as well as pre-race and post-race coverage. The new agreement includes an increased focus on qualifying, with more sessions airing on ESPN or ESPN2.

The deal contains more content on cable and broadcast, races will remain commercial-free, and it seems like there will be an opportunity for cord cutters to also access some content. Overall, this seems like a win for viewers.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.