Formula 1 will remain on free-to-air television in Germany for the next three seasons, after Formula One Management (FOM) and RTL signed a new contract.
Historically, RTL and pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland have shared television rights, with their existing deal expiring following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This evening, RTL have confirmed that Formula 1 will remain on their network for the next three years, until the end of the 2020 season at least.
As part of their announcement, RTL also confirmed that Nico Rosberg and Timo Glock will join the network as pundits, replacing Niki Lauda, who stepped down from his duties at the end of the 2017 season.
Speaking on Tuesday, RTL’s Manging Director of Programmes, Frank Hoffmann said “We have made Formula One great here, it has thrilled an audience of millions and has become an important component of our brand. The owners of Formula 1 have an economic interest in the fact that the sport is seen by many people and we stand here as a free-TV broadcaster in general and RTL in particular.”
Ian Holmes, Formula 1’s Director of Media Rights, said “Germany is one of the most important countries for Formula 1, where motors sport has deep roots, and RTL Television has been a fantastic and loyal partner for many years.”
“The extension of the agreement comes as a natural consequence of such a strong and mutually fruitful relationship and will guarantee that our fans in Germany will continue to watch Grands Prix on free TV. The agreement is part of our strategy that aims to increase and strengthen television coverage on a worldwide basis, whilst tailoring it to the characteristics of each TV market.”
The pay-TV rights that Sky Deutschland previously held now hang in the balance, and it appears that Sky could well end up losing the television rights in Germany altogether to Eurosport, a fascinating development if it comes to fruition. One reason for the delay may be the change in management recently at Sky, with Martin Turner, who oversaw Sky’s F1 operation globally, including in Germany, leaving Sky during the Summer.
This is the third key market where Liberty Media have signed a television deal. In France, it was agreed to bring F1 back to free-to-air and air key races live on TF1 (a free-to-air station) from 2018, whilst in America, rights switched from NBC to ESPN, in a move aimed to boost Formula 1’s digital presence from 2018 onwards.
You cannot talk about trends with such a small data set, but you get the impression that Liberty are not signing rash pay-TV deals like their predecessor did.