US sports broadcaster ESPN is to continue to host advert-free live coverage of Formula One races in the 2019 season, according to a report from Sports Business Daily.
The decision to cut breaks from the broadcasts initially came after a heavily criticised start to its 2018 coverage. The network had chosen to use Sky Sports’ feed, complete with its UK commentary, rather than putting together its own production team.
As a result, ESPN’s debut broadcast of the Australian Grand Prix, which came after claiming the rights from NBC Sports, would cut to breaks without warning from the commentators, regardless of the race situation.
Sky’s coverage was already commercial-free, meaning that there was no natural transition away from the coverage.
The change to an uninterrupted broadcast was enabled because car-care cleaning company Mothers Polish, which had signed up as a major commercial partner of ESPN’s coverage, agreed to alter the terms of its agreement.
Instead, the car wax firm will return for the 2019 season as a principal partner of the non-stop coverage.