By David G. Firestone
Just a short one this week. So the first Formula 1 race of the season was last weekend. The big news was that the United States Formula 1 television contract had shifted from NBC to ABC/ESPN. This came as kind of a surprise, since ESPN had pretty much alienated many racing fans over the last few years. So on Sunday Morning at 12 AM I tuned in to ESPN2 for the first race.
ESPN’s Formula 1 “strategy” and I’m being generous with that term, is to simply simulcast Sky Sports’ Formula 1 telecast. They are putting no time, money, or effort in to the telecasts. Factor in that after this season, IndyCar will be leaving ESPN for BC, and you have a really bad situation for ESPN.
I liked Sky Sports’ coverage of Formula 1, don’t misunderstand me. That being said, ESPN had a chance to impress racing fans, and they whiffed on it so badly. It should also be noted that not all of the problems in this disaster of a racing telecast were ESPN’s fault. However, considering that key moments of the race were missed due to a poorly placed commercial break, and ESPN has since apologized for this fiasco, it’s just another example of the total lack of respect for racing fans that ESPN has. I hope the next telecast is better, but I won’t bet the farm on it.