The World Rally Championship will broadcast every stage live this season online, organisers of the series have confirmed, in the biggest revolution of coverage the series has seen in years.
Speaking at the Autosport Show, WRC’s commercial rights holder, led by Oliver Ciesla, said “From 2018 onwards, starting with the Rallye Monte Carlo, we will offer to the fans all the stages, of all the rallies live. This means approximately 25 hours of live content from every rally starting with the opening ceremony, covering the stages, in between the stages, going into the studio for analysis and interviews. As a fan, you can go in and out whenever your time allows.”
“The service will be available on WRC+. It is a revolution in how this sport is broadcast, you can imagine that covering rally on television is a tremendous effort, as we have to cover more than 300 stage kilometers, so we have helicopters, drones, a lot of exciting onboard footage,” Ciesla continued.
“The positive thing is the flexibility that the fan has. You can still watch the transmissions with the broadcast partners, and whenever time allows on this digital service. You take your mobile phone, you use the app, you take your computer, you come in, maybe you’re on the train or bus and want to watch. You can follow the rally whenever you want, wherever you are, live.”
“This is an absolute game changer in how rallying is covered.” Pricing for the new WRC All Live package is €8.99 a month, or €89.99 across the whole year. For UK fans, based on the current exchange rate, this works out at £7.97 a month, or £79.81 across the year, a very reasonable price considering the amount of content on offer.
Channel 5 and BT Sport retain UK TV rights
Speaking exclusively to The F1 Broadcasting Blog, Ciesla also confirmed that Channel 5 and BT Sport would remain holders of WRC’s UK rights.
“For 2018, the TV situation will be unchanged, and Channel 5 and BT are the broadcast partners in the UK,” Ciesla said. Ciesla noted BT Sport have the “option” to show every stage live as part of their contract, as do all pay-TV providers worldwide.
Channel 5’s highlights programming in 2017 averaged 283k (1.54%) according to overnight figures supplied by Overnights.tv, down on their 2016 audience of 343k (1.78%).