ITV4 is to screen MotoGP highlights throughout the 2014 season, The F1 Broadcasting Blog can confirm.
The channel, beginning with Qatar, will be screening highlights shows from Monday 24th March at 20:00. This will continue throughout the remainder of the season, with the highlights shows also being uploaded to the ITV Player. The announcement bolsters ITV’s motor sport portfolio even further, from the Isle of Man TT, onto the British Touring Car Championship and now MotoGP. I assume this will be a package provided by Dorna, a bit like the World Rally Championship, rather than an ITV created package.
Last May, BT Sport were announced as the exclusive rights holders to screen the MotoGP World Championship from 2014 through to and including 2018, along with the feeder Moto2 and Moto3 series’. On several occasions, I pressed Dorna, asking why they were, in my opinion, “shrinking the audience by potentially 75 percent if not more” with no free to air coverage. Interestingly, the latest BT Sport announcements last month concerning MotoGP still contained this: “BT Sport has a five-year deal with Dorna Sports for exclusive rights to televise motorcycle racing’s premier contest.”
I have no idea what has prompted an almost 180 degree u-turn from Dorna on their stance. Whether this was always the plan, I do not know, however it looks suspect to me that the word ‘exclusive’ is mentioned in every BT Sport announcement, yet that won’t actually be the case. It is great news for the MotoGP fan that cannot afford BT Sport, as it means that there will be some form of free to air coverage available, almost a ‘shop window’ for the championship is the best way I could describe it. Yes, it is not live coverage, but it is better than nothing at all which is what the reality was going to look like.
A statement from ITV will be added to this post either today or on Monday, with hopefully more concrete details.
Update on March 10th – In a statement to The F1 Broadcasting Blog, ITV said “Although we can’t give out schedule information, I can confirm that we do have the rights to the [MotoGP] highlights.” For all MotoGP fans, this is fantastic news, and also welcome news. I would be surprised if we don’t get a press release in the next few days, but we shall see.
Update on March 21st – Press release from ITV can be found here. ITV’s Director of Sport Niall Sloane said: “I’m delighted we will be able to bring viewers live coverage of wheel-to-wheel racing in the world’s most famous cities in Formula E, and the high-octane action of the MotoGP circuit. These new deals, along with those for domestic events, highlight the importance of motorsport to ITV4 and add to the wealth of free to air coverage we’re able to bring motorsport fans throughout the year.”
Update on March 24th – ITV are taking BT’s commentary from Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder, with Gavin Emmett doing voice over. They’re also taking BT Sport’s interviews. The show structure appears to be extended MotoGP highlights for the first 40 minutes, with shorter Moto2 and Moto3 highlights. The programme was indeed a BT Sport production.