By Simon Ward
Discovery, the US media giant, has extended and expanded its deal for broadcasting rights to motor racing’s FIA World Endurance Championship, including the showpiece 24 Hours of Le Mans held in France, in a new five-year agreement.
Under the deal announced on Thursday, Discovery will show the WEC in more than 100 markets around the world, including on its Eurosport, MotorTrend TV, Velocity and Discovery+ platforms in Europe, North America and Asia.
Le Mans itself will be available via Eurosport, either on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis, in more than 50 European markets, on MotorTrend TV in the US, on Velocity in Canada and on recently launched global streaming service Discovery+, through Eurosport and MotorTrend TV, where accessible.
The deal was signed with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the organiser of the WEC and Le Mans, and Le Mans Endurance Management, with the help of Infront, the international sports marketing agency which is the media rights partner of the full series.
Eurosport has televised Le Mans every year since 2008, and its new deal covers exclusive rights in most of Europe, including Italy, Spain and the UK, and non-exclusive rights in territories including France where L’Equipe, the free-to-air digital terrestrial channel recently signed an agreement to 2023.
Discovery also has non-exclusive rights to the WEC across Europe and non-exclusive rights to the series and Le Mans in Asia-Pacific.
The company will offer the WEC and Le Mans on an exclusive basis in the USA and Canada although the deal there does not come into effect until 2022, with coverage this year to be provided as part of the existing deal. There is an exception to the exclusivity for the WEC for French-language rights in Canada.
The WEC and Le Mans form part of an extensive Discovery motorsport portfolio that also includes various series promoted by Eurosport Events such as the European Rally Championship (ERC), the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), motor cycling’s Endurance World Championship (EWC) and Pure ETCR, the new international electric touring car series.
Hailing the new deal, Trojan Paillot, vice president rights acquisitions and syndication at Eurosport, said: “24 Hours of Le Mans is steeped in history as one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events and is a race that forms a key part of our live motorsport offering for fans.
“Combining our deep sports expertise and storytelling ability with Discovery’s global scale, we’re pleased our renewed agreement with Infront will see us continue to screen the best motorsport events to millions, further expanding the reach of Le Mans and the WEC to the widest possible audience.”
Infront has been responsible for the distribution of international media rights to the WEC since 2015, and is expected to retain the contract beyond this year.
Two of the six rounds of the 2021 WEC have been completed, with the series to continue with the 6 Hours of Monza in Italy on 18 July, followed by Le Mans on 21 and 22 August.