The network thought that if they packaged it properly and promoted it aggressively, then the world’s most popular racing series might be a hit in the U.S.
All 19 races will get max coverage. NBC Sports Network will air 13 races, two races go to CNBC and NBC will broadcast four races, highlighted by the Grand Prix of Monaco and the U.S. Grand Prix.
The network will debut F1 36, which is a great behind the scene profile show and part of the series that includes NHL 36, Fight Night 36, IndyCar 36 and MLS 36. They all air on the NBCSN.
Finally, F1 Extra, the post race show will air live after every event to help round out the coverage
NBC Sports Network starts their coverage Sunday morning at 2 a.m. with the Aussie Grand Prix
Here is the quick info for following the Aussie Grand Prix action (all times listed are ET):
TV: Friday, March 15 on NBC Sports Network—Practice one gets underway at midnight with practice two starting at 1:30 a.m.
Broadband: Formula1.com broadcasts at the same times as above.
TV: Saturday, March 16 on NBC Sports Network—Broadcasting the live qualifying at 2:00 a.m. with a tape delay set for 1:30 p.m.
Broadband: Formula1.com live coverage only.
TV: Sunday, March 17 on NBC Sports Network—1:30 a.m. Live from the Australian Grand Prix with a replay set for 1:00 p.m.
Broadband: Formula1.com the race live coverage.
Radio: Sirius-XM has the race action live at 2:00 a.m..
I spoke via conference call this week with NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood about networks coverage.
Will you be sending the broadcast team on the road for the Formula One season?
"We will be working out of Stanford, Connecticut, in our studios for 16 of the 19 races, and we have very special trip planed for the broadcast team.
We decided to send the F1 broadcast team to the Grand Prix of Monaco because we’re going to take that race live on NBC 7:30 a.m. on the Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend. We thought sending them all to Monaco to handle that race there was important.
We think it’s as big a day as there is in racing. It kicks off a day that includes the Indy 500 and the Coke 600, but it all starts in Monaco. And we thought it was critical to be there, to be a part of it and to celebrate what is an amazing place and how important it is to the sport of F1.
And we’ll take advantage of that at the NBC platform and showcase it and make it bigger and better than ever. And we’re very excited about taking a show and taking the talent team on the road with the production team from Monaco for that race."
Who will handle the race production and will you have an in race reporter for the 16 races you won't be sending the team to cover?
"Will Buxton will be on site. He’ll have his own camera, he’ll have his own access and he’ll be integrated throughout the show. As you know with F1, you’ve got to take their race feed once the race begins. So no matter what the network is worldwide, F1 handles the race production.
There are very specific rules about what you can and cannot do. So we think we’re better served to play the game the way we plan to. In addition, we’ve got the group going to the race in Montreal and Monaco and down to Austin for the United States Grand Prix.
So we’ll be on site for the ones that make sense. And as I said earlier, we’re going to really celebrate Monaco and take advantage of that opportunity.
But we’ll have the onsite presence that we need with Will, and he’ll be taking advantage of all his connections and all his ability to mix and mingle and tell those stories that make this sport and this form of racing so special."
Lastly, NBCU has become the home for open wheel racing in the United States. Were there any problems with the Formula One or IndyCar people about your plans?
"First of all, I don’t think they’re concerned. I think it’s exciting for everyone because more attention for open-wheel racing to be working off of one platform. So, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for IndyCar and for F1.
Both sides win because people are going to be paying attention to open wheel. We’ll be able to drive audience back and forth and promote to people that are passionate about this form of racing. So there couldn’t be a better situation. There couldn’t be a better time for this, and there couldn’t be a better group to execute it."
So in all, if anyone sees a negative in this, then they’re a glass half-empty person. This is a glass full, brimming full. There could be no better situation for open wheel racing.
And there could be no better situation for IndyCar racing.
And there could be no better situation for F1.
So if someone has got that empty glass, they can throw it away. There’s no need for it. We’ll fill it up.
All quotes were obtained first hand via conference call held this week by NBC Sports.