ESPN lands WRC broadcast deal

ESPN will screen this year's World Rally Championship in what the sport's commercial boss Simon Long has described as a 'pioneering' agreement

ESPN lands WRC broadcast deal

It had been hoped the WRC would return to terrestrial television in the UK in 2011 - with a deal with the Five station said to have come close to delivering that - but the sport remains on satellite, albeit with more coverage than ever.

The ESPN channel will screen 30-minute nightly bulletins at the end of every WRC day, with on-event coverage bookended by an hour long preview and review show. Between events, ESPN is committing 30 hour-long shows with archive material from the sport, as well as two new documentary programmes.

Coverage begins with a behind the scenes show telling the story of Mini's return to the sport and the development of the Countryman WRC. The 'Road Car to Rally Car' show goes out on February 2.

In addition to coverage on ESPN, WRC footage will also be seen on ESPN Classic.

ESPN's coverage of the Rally of Sweden will include the first 'power stage', the season's first live television stage, which closes the opening round of the 2011 WRC on Sunday afternoon.

CEO of North One Sport, Long said: "This is a pioneering television agreement, not only in the UK but globally. It brings the exciting prospect of more coverage, fresh programming and more promotion than ever before.

"The combination of the innovative content, production and digital promotion that ESPN offers combined with our revamped sport is extremely good news as we seek to reach out to new fans in the UK."

ESPN's Jeroen Oerlemans added: "[The] WRC is a superb, dynamic product with a fervent following among a growing legion of enthusiasts, and the return of Mini to [the] WRC further enhances the local relevance in the UK as we grow ESPN's portfolio of motorsports."

The WRC had been shown on Dave for the last three years.

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