The absolute worst part of being a motorsport fan in the United States is the constant interruption of racing action for commercial breaks. When will the beast that is capitalism be satisfied? Yet ESPN heard our complaints about how their treatment of Formula One this year, though, and will now air F1 for the rest of the 2018 season commercial-free.
It’s bad enough when U.S. broadcasters plan around commercial breaks and have to catch viewers up on action, but ESPN is reairing the Sky Sports feed, which doesn’t compensate for ESPN’s commercial breaks. This led to fans missing key parts of the race during the first race of the season, prompting ESPN to show qualifying and the race for the Bahrain Grand Prix without commercial interruptions.
Good news. ESPN announced today that the commercial-free format is sticking around for every race and qualifying session they’ll air for the rest of 2018. ESPN executive vice president Burke Magnus said in today’s announcement:
We intend to present the F1 races in this way for the balance of the 2018 season. F1 fans are passionate and we listened to a lot of feedback from them — the fans are very informed and the feedback we received was both polite and constructive. It helped us.
We don’t have a completely finished product but we’re very happy with the way the changes after Australia were received. We’ll continue to keep working to make it better for the fans.
In lieu of commercials, Mothers Polish has signed on as a sponsor for each of the commercial-free broadcasts, as they did for Bahrain. Hey, ESPN’s got to make money somehow.
As a person who enjoys seeing all the action, one main sponsor in lieu of a ton of commercials is a model I wish more broadcasters would use for live sports.
If we can’t have F1's own streaming service just yet, this is the next best thing.
[Full disclosure: Jalopnik is owned by Univision, which has the Spanish-language broadcast rights for F1 in the United States.]