BT Sport will continue to show MotoGP until the end of 2021, after signing a new rights deal with Dorna.
The sport has aired on BT Sport since 2014, after leaving the BBC at the end of the 2013 season, heralding a new era for MotoGP live on pay television. BT’s extension covers the 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons, their original contract was due to expire at the end of this season. The agreement ends speculation from media outlets about the future of MotoGP’s UK live television rights.
Andy Haworth, BT managing director of content and strategy, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to continue as the home of MotoGP in the UK and Ireland. Over the past four seasons we have given MotoGP fans the very best race coverage ever seen on TV in the UK. The team will bring every single minute of the action from this fantastic sport to our viewers for another four seasons.”
Manel Arroyo, Managing Director at Dorna Sports, commented: “We are delighted to have extended our agreement with BT Sport for another three years. During our current agreement with BT Sport, MotoGP fans in the UK and Ireland have been treated to live coverage of all sessions of all Grands Prix on the BT Sport channels, with a fantastic team of presenters onsite to bring all the behind the scenes news and action from the paddock.”
“We look forward to BT Sport continuing to provide fans in the British Isles with such high-quality coverage of the Championship during the 2019 – 2021 seasons, as well as their promotion of the MotoGP World Championship to a wider audience.”
“We also look forward to cooperating with BT Sport around the newly launched British Talent Cup, which will debut in 2018. This is an example of BT Sport and Dorna working together to support and develop young riders from the British Isles in the first step on their journey towards the MotoGP World Championship.”
Changes ahead of the 2018 season for BT
Ahead of the 2019 season, the 2018 championship will be one of change for BT.
Following Julian Ryder’s retirement from his full-time MotoGP position at the end of last season, Neil Hodgson succeeds Ryder in the commentary box for the premier MotoGP class at all 19 rounds this season. Beyond that, the colour commentator role will rotate around the rest of BT Sport’s team for practice and qualifying. During BT’s announcement on Facebook Live, presenter Suzi Perry emphasised that there is “no direct replacement” for Ryder.
Perry will continue to present BT’s coverage. This year she fronts 14 races, with Craig Doyle presenting the remaining five rounds. Ex-MotoGP rider Michael Laverty joins the team during six race weekends. Laverty is new to the team for 2018, as Laverty juggles both MotoGP off the track, and British Superbike activities on the track.
The Facebook Live stream also revealed that BT’s offering will expand for the 2018 season, with enhanced coverage of Friday practice. The practice sessions will now feature a full presentation team, instead of just the World Feed, with a new bite-sized 15-minute catch-up show beginning on Friday evenings. From Jerez onwards, BT are bringing their version of the Sky Pad to MotoGP this season, with a new touch screen device in the paddock, giving Neil Hodgson and the rest of the team the ability to conduct in-depth analysis.
The start of the British Talent Cup means more coverage of motorcycling on BT Sport, with MCN’s Simon Patterson reporting that BT will air the Silverstone and Valencian rounds of the series live, whilst the other rounds will be covered as part of their MotoGP programming.
Good news continues for BT Sport
The past two weeks have been positive for BT Sport, and have helped cement the broadcasters’ future heading into 2021, with two significant rights agreements now in place. Whilst MotoGP is much smaller than the Premier League, it is important for BT to have good, solid ‘tier two’ content, and the championship clearly fits into that category with 20 hours of coverage for each of the 19 rounds.
Speaking to this site last August, Dorna said that they were “very happy” with BT’s MotoGP coverage, so it is no surprise that the two sides agreed to renew. I think, had the Premier League rights gone in a different direction then we might have seen the trajectory change for MotoGP, but as soon as the Premier League announcement, it felt natural that MotoGP would soon follow on from that.
The increase in Friday coverage is natural progression for BT, whilst the touch screen analysis is long overdue. Bringing in Michael Laverty feels like a wise move considering the hole that Ryder’s departure has left in BT Sport’s line-up. Elsewhere, BT seem to be playing down the fact that Neil Hodgson is alongside Keith Huewen for every MotoGP race this season, given that no one mentioned it in their Facebook Live stream.