BT Sport and the BBC are to broadcast Sir Ben Ainslie’s challenge to win the 35th America’s Cup, with BT’s channels the only place for sailing fans to watch full live coverage of the contest.
The subscription service is believed to have beaten rivals Sky to the exclusive UK and Irish rights to all America’s Cup racing through to the finals in 2017, including the America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth on July 25th and 26th.
Meanwhile the BBC will offer fans highlights programming, including coverage of the Portsmouth events, the 2017 America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs and America’s Cup Finals, after acquiring free-to-air broadcast rights.
Sir Ben’s involvement in the British team’s trophy attempt has seen UK interest in the contest rise to its highest levels ever, promising good audience figures for both broadcasters.
Harvey Schiller, Commercial Commissioner of the America’s Cup, said: “Our partnership with BT Sport as our live coverage broadcaster and the BBC for highlights programming, means we have an opportunity to reach millions of sailing fans in the UK and Ireland and engage them in the new America’s Cup, which is more dynamic, athletic and spectacular than ever before.
“Fans have a choice of watching the live programming or they can catch highlight shows on the BBC. It’s a powerful combination.”
“The America’s Cup World Series event taking place in Portsmouth this July will be the first time a British team will compete in an official America’s Cup event in British waters since 1851,” said Sir Keith Mills, Chairman of Teamorigin Events and Founding Shareholder and Director of Ben Ainslie Racing
“This is going to be an historic occasion where we expect up to 500,000 people attending the event and with BT Sport’s support as the exclusively live broadcaster, and the BBC showing highlight programming, many millions more will be engaged on TV and online.“
In 2017, the focus will shift to Bermuda, for coverage of the America’s Cup Qualifiers, Challenger Playoffs, and America’s Cup Finals.
“We’re thrilled to be able to bring the story of Sir Ben Ainslie’s quest for the America’s Cup to millions of fans in the UK and Ireland,” said Simon Green, head of BT Sport.
“The essence of the America’s Cup is the racing on the water and with exclusively live coverage of all the live stages across all of the BT Sport platforms, viewers will share in the full story from the first races in Portsmouth this summer through to the America’s Cup finals in Bermuda in June 2017.”
Barbara Slater, Director BBC Sport says “The BBC is delighted to be able to offer viewers highlights programming for the next two and a half years of America’s Cup racing.
“We’ve followed Sir Ben Ainslie throughout his brilliant Olympic career and covered his remarkable contribution to the dramatic America’s Cup climax two years ago, so we’re delighted to bring the latest chapter in his career to a wide audience of existing fans and newcomers.