Los Angeles, California - Building on the increasing worldwide popularity of motorsports, Grand Prix Entertainment, an entity formed by DIC Entertainment, and Wasserman Media Group, are partnering to support a full-scale Formula 1 brand launch in the United States. The announcement was made today by Andy Heyward, Chairman & CEO, DIC Entertainment and Casey Wasserman, CEO, WMG.
Grand Prix Entertainment purchased the exclusive, domestic broadcast television rights to Formula 1, and subsequently entered into an agreement with CBS Television to air a series of specials. Through the partnership, WMG's sales force will develop programs offering marketers access to and alignment with the world's most popular racing sport. Michael Heyward has been named Managing Partner, Grand Prix Entertainment.
Bernie Ecclestone stated, "Andy and I have been talking for a while about the possibility of working together, and I am delighted that we have finalized the deal. This is an important step forward in our strategy to promote Formula 1 in the U.S. and to reach a wider audience over the coming years." He added, "Formula 1 is the pinnacle of world motor sport, combining speed and cutting-edge technology with glamour and excitement. I am confident that with the expertise and credibility of DIC Entertainment and WMG combined with the wide audience reach on CBS, Formula 1 will build its popularity and a tremendous fan base in the U.S."
"Formula 1 is one of the most popular sports in the world. Bernie is a global sports icon, and it is an honor for us to join forces in business with him. Casey Wasserman and his gifted organization, run by Jeff Knapple, represent the cutting-edge of sports marketing, media and business. We have an all-star team assembled to bring F1 to broadcast television and to generate tremendous brand awareness in the U.S.," said Andy Heyward.
CBS has committed to broadcast four F1 races during prime weekend sports programming time-slots, scheduled to commence April 24, 2005 with coverage of the race in San Marino Grand Prix, Italy. Additional races to air include the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal and the Grand Prix of Europe staged at the famous Nürburgring in Germany. In addition CBS will air two hour-long specials based on lifestyle elements of Formula 1. These specials will be produced by Grand Prix Entertainment in association with WMG.
"CBS is pleased to present Formula One, the most popular racing series in the world, to the U.S. television audience," said Rob Correa, Senior Vice President, Programming, CBS Sports. "We look forward to introducing F1 racing to a new and broader audience."
"Formula 1 represents the ultimate lifestyle sports experience, and we are thrilled to support this major promotional effort," said Wasserman. "Given Andy's expertise in launching some of the world's most recognized television franchises, we are proud to partner with his team to leverage our sales capabilities and build on F1's valuable, global appeal," said Wasserman.
WMG's involvement with this project further signals a major utilization of its seasoned sales division. The WMG team will handle all broadcast sales responsibilities and is developing marketing partnerships targeted to the upscale F1 audience. Recently WMG represented the largest sponsorship in Europe when they closed the $180 million naming rights deal between Arsenal and Emirates Airlines. WMG was also recently selected to handle the high profile naming rights and shirt sponsorship sales for Italy's prominent Juventus football team.
Concurrently, Grand Prix Entertainment will develop strategies to expand the F1 television audience beyond its current domestic fan base specifically to engage a younger, more progressive audience. The program will be supported by PR initiatives, on-air promos, print, outdoor and broadcast advertising, as well as a major viral marketing campaign with Seth Berman serving as GPE's Director of Marketing.
The global popularity of the Formula One World Championship is unsurpassed by any other annual sports property and each Grand Prix race attracts 100s of millions of television viewers in over 150 countries. A typical event attracts more than 120,000 spectators to the grandstands. F1 generates annual revenues of up to $2 billion in TV rights and advertising time. Formula 1 racing team budgets can reach over $300 million per season and their drivers are an elite and exceptional group of athletes who are among the most highly paid sports stars in the world.