LONDON: The Middle East media group MBC has won the regional broadcast rights for the FIA Formula One World Championship, it was announced on Friday.
The region’s largest media company will air the championship across the Middle East and North Africa, starting this season until 2023.
The deal will see the return of the world’s biggest motorsport event to a free-to-air network in the region, following years of being available on subscription-only networks.
The rights were previously held by the Qatar-owned beIN Sports, which charges its subscribers. This is the second to the Doha based broadcaster only a few days after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) ended the Qatari broadcaster’s monopoly of broadcasting competition matches in Saudi Arabia. The decision, which ended BeIN’s sole control of AFC’s Champions League matches in Saudi Arabia, was hinged on communications and legal grounds, including the Qatari company’s “systemic violations it committed against the Kingdom’s regulations.”
The F1 championship will now be free to watch on MBC Action, with the channel covering all stages of each event, including training sessions, qualifiers, and Grand Prix day.
“The FIA Formula One World Championship is the most prestigious and popular year-long motor- sport event par excellence” said Mazen Hayek, MBC’s spokesman.
“MBC Action is thrilled to broad- cast it free-to-air to millions of fans in Saudi Arabia and across MENA, after having been encrypted and subscription-based, for years.
“This falls in line with MBC Group’s long-established commitment to offer the best premium content of all genres, free-to-air, to audiences across MENA, with the region’s vibrant youth mind.”
The deal is through an agreement between MBC Group and the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile).
The 2019 season commenced on Friday, with the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 in Melbourne.