NBC Sports Group is a week away from bringing Formula One viewers in the United States its first F1 broadcasts of the 2013 season. The discriminating U.S. F1 audience will be scrutinizing more than the on-track action as NBC takes over broadcast duties from SPEED Channel, the media outlet that had been the purveyor of U.S. F1 television coverage for the previous 17 years.
A glance of the NBC Sports Group website suggests that the transition could be relatively seamless.
Over 100 hours of F1 programming (including studio shows and rebroadcasts) are scheduled in covering all 19 F1 races and 39 practice and qualifying sessions.
Of the 19 races, 14 will be aired on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) while four will be seen on NBC and the remaining race (the British Grand Prix) is to be televised on CNBC. NBCSN will show the scheduled practice and qualifying sessions live each race weekend with rebroadcasts (including the races screened on NBC and CNBC) later in the day.
As U.S. F1 viewers have come to expect, all second practice sessions (P2) on Fridays will be covered. The only exception will be Monaco’s P2 session which is run on Thursday. NBCSN will also air both Friday sessions of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The SPEED F1 broadcast team (sans Bob Varsha), which fans have come to know and appreciate, will remain intact. Leigh Diffey will do race play-by-play (as he did on a fill-in basis at SPEED), David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will reprise their roles as race analysts, and Will Buxton will again be reporting from the pits.
The first race on the 2013 schedule, the Rolex Australian Grand Prix staged at the temporary Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, will air on Sunday, March 17 at 1:30 a.m. EDT with Friday’s two practice sessions (P1 and P2) to be shown live at midnight (exact time to be determined) and 1:30 a.m. EDT. Saturday’s qualifying is set to air at 2 a.m. EDT.
For the complete broadcast schedule, visit NBC Sports.