BT Sport is to remain home of MotoGP until the end of the 2024 season, after agreeing a new three-year deal with the series, the two parties announced today.
The pay-TV broadcaster has held exclusive live rights to the championship, including the feeder series Moto2 and Moto3 since the 2014 season, taking over from the BBC and Eurosport.
Their latest deal with MotoGP’s commercial rights holder Dorna was set to expire following the 2021 season.
Now, both parties have confirmed that their relationship will stretch an additional three seasons, taking their partnership through year nine to eleven.
BT will continue to screen live and exclusive coverage of MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3, as well as the electric MotoE series.
Fans unwilling to pay for BT can purchase a Video Pass directly from MotoGP, at a cost of €199.99 (£176.58) covering the whole season.
BT’s MotoGP viewing figures rise
The news of a new three-year deal comes off the back of a positive year for BT.
Analysis conducted by Motorsport Broadcasting on consolidated audience data released by BARB shows that an average audience of 186,000 viewers watched MotoGP action on BT Sport during 2020, an increase of 15 percent on the equivalent 2019 figure of 161,000 viewers.
The good news for BT spreads to all three categories, with Moto2 and Moto3’s audiences rising by 49 percent and 80 percent respectively, mirroring similar increases to that of Formula Two and Formula Three.
An average of 111,000 viewers watched Moto2 action in 2020, compared with 74,000 viewers in 2019, while Moto3’s average rose from 53,000 viewers in 2019 to 96,000 viewers last season.
The Styrian Grand Prix was BT’s high point during 2020, as an average of 254,000 viewers watched their MotoGP race broadcast on August 23rd. The feeder races that day averaged 107,000 viewers and 128,000 viewers respectively.
Not only did MotoGP benefit from viewers staying at home during the pandemic, the rise comes in the face of many clashes with Formula 1: 9 of the 14 races clashed with F1 in some way last season.
The news of BT’s renewed commitment to MotoGP will be great for those that enjoy BT’s offering, but disappointing for those that were hoping that MotoGP would return to free-to-air television.
Whilst BT does offer excellent coverage, their figures are lower than those achieved when the championship aired on the BBC, when an average of around one million viewers watched each MotoGP race.
As The Race outlines, pay television broadcasters have considerable sway in the paddock due to the money they invest in the championship, and without that money, some teams or riders would simply be unable to race.
If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic means that pay-TV money becomes even more important for championships such as MotoGP.
What they say
In a statement, Simon Green, Managing Director at BT Sport, said “We are extremely proud to continue as the home of MotoGP in the UK and Ireland.”
“BT Sport has the best presentation team delivering the most comprehensive MotoGP coverage that UK fans have ever enjoyed, with every single practice, qualifying and race broadcast in full.”
“I would also like to congratulate Dorna on safely and successfully completing the 2020 season, one of the most exciting we have seen, and thank them for collaborating with us to bring some great new programming to our audiences during last year’s lockdown,” Green added.
Manel Arroyo, Managing Director at Dorna Sports, said “BT Sport are one of our most important partners and we are delighted to see MotoGP remain with them until at least 2024, securing top quality coverage for the sport in one of our most important markets. Fans in the UK and Ireland couldn’t ask for more.”
“After a thrilling but challenging 2020 season, we are proud to see this partnership confirmed to continue and mark a decade of collaboration.”
“We would also like to thank BT Sport for their support in 2020 and look forward to at least another four seasons working together,” Arroyo concluded.
The 2021 season is currently set to begin with a double header in Qatar on March 28th and April 4th.
BT will begin the new season with a new lead commentator following Keith Huewen’s decision to step down from his role. The identity of the new lead is currently unconfirmed.