Live coverage of the British Touring Car Championship is set to remain on ITV4 in 2019, with no plans currently for live programming to move to ITV’s main channel, according to the man who heads up the series.
All the action currently airs live on ITV4, as it has done since 2007, with up to eight hours of programming on race day hosted by Steve Rider. A cut down 90-minute highlights show airs in a mid-week time slot late at night on ITV’s main channel.
With a gap in the market as a result of live Formula 1 predominately airing on pay television from 2019, it raises the question of whether the domestic touring car series can capitalise in any way on the television front.
Speaking exclusively to this site ahead of this weekend’s season finale at Brands Hatch, series director Alan Gow says that he is happy with the current television situation. “We have such a great relationship with ITV, and I’m very proud of that relationship.”
“We take a lot of air time on ITV4, and you can’t take seven or eight hours out of ITV,” Gow continued. “We want to make ITV4 the destination for touring car fans. ITV shows our highlights programme, and that gets good numbers. Of course, if ITV said to me ‘we’d like to do this,’ I wouldn’t say no, but there’s absolutely no plans at all to do it.”
The championship has a deal with ITV taking the series through to 2022, which offers all involved long-term security. “At the time they’d signed it, they had never signed a five-year sports deal, so it was a really ground-breaking thing for them,” Gow tells me. “They had faith in us, and were confident in dealing with us.”
“We never relax, but importantly it means the teams know what the championship looks like for the next five years. They have the comfort of knowing what the broadcast arrangements are so they can build their teams and build their business, and that’s really important.”
On the racing front, organisers may extend the third and final race at some meetings next year, following in the footsteps of Snetterton this season. “We have a meeting with the teams in October and that’s when we will discuss potential options. It’s certainly on the cards,” says Gow.
Keep an eye on this site in the next few days for further analysis on what lies in store for British Touring Cars next season.