AUGUST 31, 2001
ABC to televise F1 coverage in the United States
Starting next season, the deal will see ABC showing up to five events including the US Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix covered on network television, while the remainder of the races will be shown live on cable television channels ESPN and ESPN2.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway president, Tony George, who has been given control by Bernie Ecclestone to broker the US TV rights said, "It's close, but it's not a done deal. I think it's going to happen. Hopefully, it will happen, we're trying to convince them that it's a good package."
George, who also has the television rights to IRL, said, "we'll give them 34 races, split equally on both networks. There are a lot of synergies and cross-promotional opportunities (having both F1 and Indy Racing League)."
The deal will fill the gap on ABC and ESPN created by CART's recent deal to switch to CBS and Fox/Speedvision for next season. The arrangement would be a significant boost for F1 to gain a foothold in the United States, as ESPN is in approximately twice the number of homes as Speedvision, and ABC network coverage would provide even more, as well as providing a much higher profile for the sport.
Tony George said, "Speedvision has done a reasonable job with what they have, but on ABC, more people would watch it by accident (than on purpose on Speedvision)."