March is one of my favorite times of the year and for good reason, Formula 1 finally returns this weekend! The Australian Grand Prix is just days away and my excitement for the 2013 season opener is barely containable. For American fans of the sport, this year also marks the new broadcast home for Formula 1 on NBC Sports.[youtube http://youtu.be/1Ejrsaq2gTs]
The move to NBC was met with some initial questions. Who would make up the broadcast team? Would the races air live? Would NBC take the sport as seriously as its European counterparts? Luckily any negative speculation has been put to rest and Formula 1 is clearly in good hands in the US.
SPEED had its moments of brilliance, but that was mainly down to a solid broadcast team of Bob Varsha, Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Will Buxton. Fortunately, most of the team have moved over to NBC, so we can expect a similar level of entertainment and insight. SPEED consistently failed with its inability to produce a high quality product. Its almost comedic approach to event coverage and second rate production value left many fans (myself included) clamoring for the UK to extend special Sky Sports and BBC coverage across The Pond. The 5 races a year that aired on SPEED’s parent network FOX, only made matters worse. Bewildering race intros and ABC-level technical explanations were an unfortunate side effect of broadcasting to one of the sport’s smallest global audiences.
For decades Formula 1 has failed to capture a large audience in the US. How the sport has been presented to Americans is much to blame. NBC has obviously taken that into consideration and following the network’s first Countdown to F1 broadcast, it’s apparent that they’re taking things seriously. A new studio, formal attire for the presenters and a big-budget level of production is more suited to the sport’s elite presence.
With their first weekend of race coverage just days away, I’m very optimistic about what’s to come. With live practice, qualifying and race coverage, plus a post-race show and more in depth behind the scenes access to the sport, American fans are in good hands. It’s going to be another fantastic Formula 1 season and we can all be excited the sport has found the US broadcast home it so deserves.
Video courtesy of NBC Sports.