Formula One have announced that ORF and ServusTV will share joint free-to-air broadcasting rights in Austria from 2021.
This new three year deal will cover 2021-23 seasons with races split across both broadcasters with full details released ahead of each new season.
ServusTV Director General – Dr. Ferdinand Wegscheider described the announcement of split free-to-air rights as one that “makes sense economically and guarantees that Formula One fans have access to all races live on free-TV.”
ORF Director General, Dr. Alexander Wrabetz highlighted the “novelty” of this deal in Austria, although he was keen to state that this deal ensures that F1 remains an “integral part of ORF’s TV program in the coming years whilst at the same time complying with economic requirements.”
ORF and ServusTV however will both broadcast the Austrian Grand Prix live and jointly hold rights to detailed highlight summaries alongside online and mobile.
The acquisition of F1 for the first time ever means that ServusTV now hold rights for various top flight competitions across various sports, having also snapped up rights for all UEFA competitions from 2021-24.
Speaking of his ‘pride’ at the decision to acquire F1, Wegscheider said; “The new agreement with the Formula 1 fills us with pride and we will do our utmost to write another success story in Austrian motorsport coverage, parallel to MotoGP.
Wegscheider also acknowledged that ServusTV now holds rights to F1, MotoGP and World Superbikes, meaning that “ServusTV will offer the best live motorsport program to viewers from 2021 onwards.”
F1 Director of Media Rights, Ian Holmes was “delighted” with the contract agreement between ORF and ServusTV, which he sees as beneficial, saying; “I am sure Formula 1 will benefit from ServusTV’s extraordinary energy style and enthusiasm which will perfectly complement ORF’s hugely popular, knowledgeable, and respected production.
‘… acknowledge importance of free-to- air broadcasters’
This new TV agreement in Austria surely is a sign that F1 is beginning to acknowledge the importance of free-to-air broadcasters, following the rise in Pay-TV clinching of rights, as demonstrated by Sky Deutschland securing German rights recently from RTL.
UK live rights with exception of British Grand Prix however remain with Sky Sports until 2024 due to a contract which was agreed under former F1 boss – Bernie Ecclestone, which resulted in a 8.6m drop in viewership between 2018 and 2019.
Austria therefore are definitely getting a great new deal in that F1 will remain free-to-air unlike in many other European countries, in turn providing higher exposure for sponsors, teams and drivers than would be provided on Pay-TV.