Canal Plus F1 extension marks first major deal in Liberty Media era

French pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus has agreed a three-year extension to its rights deal with the Formula One motor-racing championship.

The agreement, which will run from 2018 to 2020, is the first major broadcast contract struck by the sport’s new owners, US media company Liberty Media. The new deal includes the Formula 2 and GP3 series. 

Canal Plus has covered F1 in France since 2013. It picked up F1 rights from commercial broadcaster TF1, which had previously covered the sport from 1992 to 2012.

Beyond Canal Plus, the two parties said the broadcaster’s parent company, Vivendi Group, will strive to develop transverse partnerships with Formula One in digital, gaming, music and entertainment.

Ian Holmes, global director of media rights at Formula One, said the championship is also set to agree a free-to-air deal in France.

Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations at Formula One, said: “Formula One fans are the big winners with the planned marketing and brand-building integration opportunities, utilising Vivendi’s far-reaching leadership in music, film, long and short-form TV, digital and gaming.”

Maxime Saada, chief executive of the Canal Plus group, added: “The deal will reach a whole new dimension within the Vivendi Group, which will strive to extend the partnership with FOM (Formula One Management) on digital with Dailymotion, gaming and music.”

The deal follows the recent announcement that the French grand prix will return to the Formula One calendar for the 2018 season after an absence of 10 years. A race will be held each year at Le Castellet’s Circuit Paul Ricard, near Marseille. A five-year race deal from 2018 onward was unveiled in Paris in December.