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FOX Sports Ends 24H Le Mans Coverage after 21-Year Run

FOX Sports elects not to renew 24 Hours of Le Mans, WEC TV deal, ending 21-year run…

Photo: Samuel Reiman/FOX Sports -2017

FOX Sports has elected not to renew its television contract for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and FIA World Endurance Championship, ending a 21-year run of live coverage of the French endurance classic across its networks.

The change will result in North American coverage shifting to a different network, which has yet to be announced.

A FOX Sports spokesperson confirmed to Sportscar365 that it will no longer broadcast the race or the WEC season, although declined to provide a statement on the decision to end its contract.

The network, then known as Speedvision, debuted live coverage from Le Mans in 1996 and provided extensive, around-the-clock coverage of the race for more than two decades, despite multiple name changes and ownership.

SPEED Channel, which debuted in 2002 following FOX’s purchase of the network, carried coverage until 2013 when it transformed into FOX Sports 1.

Last year’s broadcast team (pictured above) included anchors Bob Varsha and Brian Till along with Calvin Fish, Jamie Howe, Tommy Kendall and Brad Kettler.

Rumors have pointed towards the Discovery-owned Velocity network potentially picking up Le Mans and WEC coverage, although it has yet to be confirmed.

“Negotiations with several different broadcasters are ongoing at the moment,” a WEC spokesperson told Sportscar365. “The aim is to have them completed well in advance of the season but we don’t have a definite time frame.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

69 Comments

69 Comments

  1. Tobin Smith

    January 13, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Man, Bob Varsha can’t get a break.

    • Dan Sprague

      January 13, 2018 at 9:23 am

      Amen.

  2. Lol

    January 13, 2018 at 9:25 am

    I’m going to miss watching 40 minutes of commercials per hour

    • Parker

      January 13, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      Order the live stream from the WEC for $9.99 and AirPlay it to an Apple TV. No Commercials, no changing channels, no action missed.

      • Max

        January 13, 2018 at 1:19 pm

        Yup. This is is the only way to go. There’s always the yearly griping about coverage that I just don’t comprehend. Not happy with your $200/month cable plan with poor ROI? Dump it! Or at least augment it.

        • Davy

          January 13, 2018 at 5:51 pm

          I just can’t justify 10$ for WEC considering the sorry state it’s in. There are what, like 4 races in 2017?

          • Tim

            January 13, 2018 at 6:20 pm

            I’d say it’s in a sorry state.

            12hrs of Sebring.
            2 24hrs of lemans.
            +5/6 other races.
            More AM teams
            BMW joining GET Pro
            More Privateer lmp1 teams then years.
            Set for an oversubscribed not only in the full season but in lemans aswell. GTE Am teams hoping to get a spot.

            Just because 4 races fall in 2018 doesn’t mean it’s suffering at all. It’s moving to a winter calender so Lemans is the last race.

      • Ron Mills

        January 14, 2018 at 9:11 am

        except last year,the WEC live-stream was unable to handle the demand,leaving us all with no coverage and a hassle getting a refund.Youtube carried live LeMans coverage for free.

        • Harry Manback

          January 14, 2018 at 11:50 am

          Weeeeeeeellllllll…. Technically…. I mean, yes, YouTube “had” the coverage for “free”, but that was only because you had pirates -nay- HEROES out there who paid for the coverage (or were in an area that was able to get it for free) and then cast it onto their YouTube page. {God bless those heroes – if I ever find on of you, the beer’s on me.} My point, what I just described, and YouTube “carrying the race live” are two completely different things.

        • CM-12

          January 15, 2018 at 6:21 pm

          That is because few people like Jose Garcia paid for the subscription. If you’re kind enough you might want to donate him…

        • Bob turner

          April 21, 2018 at 8:10 pm

          What? You tube had it free?!?! No way! I was at Le Mans last year and I’m hoping to watch it this year, how did you find out about the coverage?

      • Alex

        January 15, 2018 at 12:33 pm

        Nah, order the Eurosport player for the same price and you get the option of English commentary, raw feed, and onboards (unless WEC also offers that?). While sad that Fox is leaving, It was crazy how many ads they showed during the race….

      • Cue review

        June 21, 2018 at 8:51 pm

        Can’t believe that this option has been taken away. And you can’t even pay to watch the replay. Absolutely terrible.

  3. Steven

    January 13, 2018 at 9:29 am

    I’ll stick to finding the Eurosport stream here in the USA. Much better commentary and actual coverage of the race instead of commercials.

    • DEJ

      January 14, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      where does one find the eurosport coverage here in the US ????

      • Brian

        January 15, 2018 at 12:37 pm

        Best option is to use a VPN in Chrome to sign up for it on their site (5-10 bucks for Zenmate UK option). Use Paypal to check out as it doesn’t require a UK address like the Credit Card options. Best $10 i spend every year. Plus the quality is insane and reliability is perfect. You can turn off the vpn once the stream starts, to ensure the quality is best.

  4. Jeff Wagner

    January 13, 2018 at 9:48 am

    They probably aren’t renewing knowing they are walking the plank! ANY passionate Sportscar Racing fan knows Le Mans HAS NOT realistically been covered since 2013 anyways!!! I STILL had and have the utmost respect for the good people from SPEED that went with F*# needing a job and I am sorry if they suffer job loss. “It” being the polar opposite of what SPEED was is NOT their doing. F*#… don’t let the door hit you on the way out, “WE” the FANS will be closing it VERY HARD!

  5. Mark

    January 13, 2018 at 9:54 am

    I was planning to buy the streaming service thru the WEC app just to avoid the fox coverage anyway. Loved the announcers, but hated all half coverages and all the commercials. I think last year the live streaming with the ability to watch later was like $20.

    • LMP

      January 15, 2018 at 8:47 am

      You can buy the entire season or a single race. Le Mans was about $10 to stream.

  6. Joe

    January 13, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Who cares. As soon as I could get it on WEC live stream I never looked back.

    • NaBUru38

      January 13, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      Manufacturers and sponsors care about the poor TV coverage.

  7. Steve

    January 13, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Haven’t watched Fox cover Lemans in years. Worth every penny to stream it from the WEC. I do not like staying up for a 24 hour race to watch the same commercials come on every 10 minutes. Fox can now use this time to cheer on their choice of elected officials.

    • Make Racing Great Again

      January 15, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Thanks to the tax cuts, it is now possible to travel to the race instead of stream it.

  8. Pierre

    January 13, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Fox was awful. Literally terrible commentary for the most part, completely uninformed narratives. And a string of commercials with little race content.

  9. juneracer

    January 13, 2018 at 10:24 am

    likely a $$ thing. ACO/FIA don’t give away broadcast rights i’m sure. i would guess Fox wasn’t getting a return in advertising and viewership to offset the broadcast rights fee…i’m speculating of course…

    • The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

      January 13, 2018 at 10:45 am

      Yes, you most definitely are. All FIA/WEC broadcasts on Fox Sports were time buys, they were paying fox, not the other way around.

      • Buckshot is an idiot

        January 13, 2018 at 10:58 am

        No, the ALMS was. The ACO def waa not paying for coverage in a place they couldn’t care any less about

  10. Old Trombone

    January 13, 2018 at 10:40 am

    It’s very clear now, fans don’t watch motor sport on tv anymore. WE HATE AD INTERRUPTIONS. A goal or touchdown can be replayed in full. A pass takes long set up time, we watch as the chaser closes, get excited as he gets off the corner better, and then… ADs for 20 minutes!!! The replay shows the last second as the chaser is already passed, then they show the last crumbs of five other passes we missed completely. Even though IMSA YT replays are only 720P it’s still better than watching random ‘highlights’ in between epic hours of home shopping network.

    New media world – apps and streaming. Just look at the comments above mine. WEC and IMSA could easily charge WRC app prices ($50/year) and use the tv-budget on ads, ads on the Today Show, on Fox and Friends, on Meet The Press, on SNL, ads where the eyeballs are, to point them towards the app.

    • TailsLeMans722

      January 13, 2018 at 11:15 am

      Totally agree. Last year I downloaded the WEC app on my iPad and bought the Le Mans 24 steaming package the evening before the race… Worth every penny. Good commentary, high quality video and audio and live timing screens to boot. And best of all… No commercial breaks!

      And with the IMSA TV streaming on my computer (Since I live outside the USA) I may never watch sportscar racing on TV again!

      • Sham_Poser

        January 13, 2018 at 12:16 pm

        Why wouldn’t you want to use your TV? You should easily be able to watch anything on your TV screen, by connecting your computer or iPad to it with an HDMI cable (along with an adapter for the iPad or other mobile device).

    • Andy Flinn

      January 13, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      Old Trombone, you really DON’T watch FOX IMSA broadcasts, do you?

      The commercials are for WeatherTech, GM, Continental, Michelin, Porsche, etc. You know, the people and companies that provide financial support and marketing for the series, and the money to broadcast the races to begin with. For that, they deserve an opportunity to advertise their products.

      The commercials are not for the Home Shopping Network.

      • Old Trombone

        January 13, 2018 at 2:42 pm

        Those exact OEMs you mention are doing much better advertising on the race cars themselves, not on the moments we are blocked from seeing those cars.

        How is a produced ad somehow more convincing than a race win and race reliability? Why is fake better than real?

        • Old trombone just likes to be wrong

          January 13, 2018 at 4:59 pm

          Because what does Weathertech have to do with winning on the track? Continental and Michelin next year will win, it’s a spec tire. So none of the in track matters for either marketing group. They’re selling off track product.

          You can believe the in track performance matters but case study after study shows that NOT to be true.

          • Old Trombone

            January 13, 2018 at 5:50 pm

            Weathertech uses laser measuring tools, rapid prototyping, machine tools of all kinds. Of course, associating with race teams and personnel teaches them nothing, so they need fake productions by NY Madison Ave PR companies instead. I’m wrong, yup. You, however, are super-intelligent, super-successful, and super-beautiful. You were born correct.

          • Old trombone still a moron

            January 14, 2018 at 1:53 pm

            Yet none of that matters to the viewer at home, you know the target of tv advertising, a multi BILLION dollar business. But hey old trombone must be 100 percent accurate. moron

          • Old Trombone

            January 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

            You just keep watching those ads you are told to watch, and buy the products you are told to buy regardless of their performance or reliability on track, and then just keep sitting back in your dressing gown with your super intelligence and super beauty.

            This is the first time I have ever seen an anonymous commenter anonymize their anonymous name. Such a super-powerful super-secret super-controller super-gownfapper! YEAH!

    • Teamlotus13

      January 13, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      Why is it important to know if LeMans is closer to Paris or Marseille? Does the answer impact the coverage.

    • Teamlotus13

      January 13, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      So sorry you get networks with 20 minute commercials interrupting a single pass. Whew! Personally in over 40 years of watching i’ve not yet had one that long. As to LeMans in particular, last year FoxSportsGo which i watched on my tv had zero commercials. Not a sign of the home shopping network either.

      • Old Trombone

        January 13, 2018 at 5:52 pm

        CTSC – watch the YT replays and check the times in the scrolls.

        • Old Trombone

          January 13, 2018 at 5:55 pm

          Replays of 2014-2015. Later in 2016 they started using the Hindaugh/Shaw no-ads replays, and they are perfect!

    • Davy

      January 13, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      Disagree. Sportscar racing is very niche, if given the chance of paying extra for it or not watching, most people will go with the latter. It has to be easy to watch, not having to jump through hoops to get obscure apps that cost extra.

  11. Parker

    January 13, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    I wish that the WEC would have a dedicated app on the Apple TV to stream races instead of having to rely on using AirPlay from an iPad or iPhone. It would be nice to have the full picture and then something like swipe down brings the standings up.

  12. Jason

    January 13, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Using imsa radio, live timing, and the streaming on boards is a good free way to follow the r@ce love, then you can watch the YT replay two days later.

  13. Jerome Higgins

    January 13, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    At least now we may be able to watch the races on one channel and know were to find them

  14. Uwe Kupietz

    January 13, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Thank god fox is not covering lemans anymore. I have no problem with commercials. I’ve dealt with them all my live. But jumping between 2 to 3 channels to watch the race, not fun. I guess that’s fox’s way of keeping you up to watch the whole race. Thank god for the wec app. Watched the entire season in one place……that was nice. Fox good bye and good riddance. Mr. Varsha, I hope you find a channel that knows your talent. I well regret not hearing you commenting a race.

  15. KW

    January 13, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Being from Europe, I must say that I am very content with the Eurosport coverage of the 24h Le Mans both on free TV and on the PC livestream. So if you have the chance to join via eurosport.tv you should do so. Yes, there are also commercials, but only with short interrupts, and focusing on the companies supporting the FIA WEC. And there is a lot of behind-the-scene information, last year with Tom Kristensen and in 2016 with Allan McNish. Highly recommendable. Forget about all the American TV stations, nobody there knows if Le Mans is closer to Paris than to Marseille…

    • Jo

      January 14, 2018 at 9:45 am

      As someone from the US, I absolutely agree KW. I think the support coverage is great.

  16. Larry

    January 13, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Can you record any of these streaming feeds to your own DVR?

    • N8

      January 15, 2018 at 10:42 am

      You don’t need to. They’re uploaded as hour-by-hour on-demand replays as soon as the hour concludes.

  17. Roy ruddy

    January 13, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    What does fox sports have now. The truck series is crap. Basically a lameass network that tries to pass it off as a racing channel. They dump the wec maybe bring select events on the outlaws calender. They used to do Knoxville but no more. Nothing to get me to watch anymore.

    • SpeedTV has been gone for YEARS

      January 13, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      Except they DON’T pass themselves off as a racing channel. They are a sports channel, hence the name change, but I know that’s hard to understand

      • TF110

        January 13, 2018 at 5:48 pm

        Right. It’s mostly college sports, ufc crap and nascar sub-series races.

      • Roy ruddy

        January 14, 2018 at 6:36 pm

        It is called fox sports racing.

        • RobertB

          January 15, 2018 at 12:43 pm

          No Fox Sports Racing in the USA. They are referring to Fox Sports 1 and 2.

        • Rus'L

          January 15, 2018 at 1:10 pm

          Say what?!

          There’s has never been anything named Fox Sports Racing.

          It’s called Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.

          {rolls eyes}

  18. Jo

    January 14, 2018 at 9:40 am

    It is so sad what has happened to WEC, but I won’t miss FOX one bit. Having to change between 3 different channels was absolutely annoying and unnecessary, so that they could run replays of women’s club soccer highlights, on all three channels, every hour. And Varsha has always sucked, and hasn’t gotten any better in 30 years.

  19. db

    January 14, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    I haven’t paid for cable or watched anything on Fox in 3 seasons, for LeMans I streamed the WEC feed and airplay’d it to my TV, I was just fine with that. For other WEC races, I watched the replays. I will not follow the WEC as closely this season (Porsche fan here) but the GTE category is becoming mega, as it should be. I have little hope LMP1 will be anything than teams fighting for Toyota’s scraps anyway, I do not believe LMP1 will be competitive unless you’re in a Toyota, and if they win LeMans finally, congrats for continuing to try, but without Porsche, Audi, Peugeot, it’s empty. I was about to say with Formula E being a contrived ‘FanBoost’ series, it would be a perfect fit for the bozos at Fox, but I don’t see them doing that either. Good riddance Fox, but I feel bad for the folks like Varsha that are true fans.

    • Rus'L

      January 15, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      FOX already shows Formula E…

  20. GTLMFan

    January 14, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Now that Fox quit the contract, WEC can put their IOS app on AppleTV in 4K so we don’t have to mirror from our phone. I’ll still pay the $40 whatever bucks for the season.

    I will miss Varsha, Till, Fish & the gang. They are strait up guys in person and on the screen.

    IMSA needs their IOS app live on Apple TV ASAP!!!

    • Change it up

      January 15, 2018 at 7:53 am

      /Google Chromecast

  21. JeffB

    January 14, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    I hope Le Mans finds a place on traditional cable TV so I am still able to DVR the coverage. As a parent of a young teenager, I am often obligated to be at a baseball game or subjected to Father’s Day activities during Le Mans. I also find live streaming less than reliable quite often as well.

    It seems many of the sports I like find a home on NBC Sports, so I’m hoping that will be the new home for Le Mans.

  22. Ben B.

    January 14, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Am I the only one who loved the Fox coverage? Yeah, I had to program my DVR across a few channels and sit through some commercials, but Varsha, Till, Fish, Kendall, Justin Bell, Jamie Howe, Andrew Marriott is a pretty incredible line-up in sportscar world and got some incredible access. Brad Kettler was an excellent addition last year, and they always have great people who call in and swap stories. I always enjoyed every minute of their coverage and would have gladly listened to the same team cover the WEC instead of the shouty world feed announcers. I always felt like the Fox team (a lot like the NBCSports F1 team) was like watching the race with a bunch of old friends, which is a nice thing when you’re sitting through 20 hours of coverage.

  23. Haskellb

    January 14, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    ESPN 8 The Ocho, welcomes the WEC to our stellar lineup. Up next the Purple Cobras talk about their upcoming season.

  24. LarryHorse

    January 14, 2018 at 11:45 pm

    Velocity would be good if it was 24 straight, but I say that as I have access to the channel, unlike FS2, and the you tube pirates were heroes in 2017

  25. Barton Workman

    January 15, 2018 at 7:09 am

    My analogy is thus…

    Imagine if you will, FOX (whatever network) had the rights to broadcast the Super Bowl, World Series or Daytonner 516.

    Now, imagine if you will, FOX (whatever network) all of a sudden, without warning or reason, suddenly moved the broadcasts of those events to another
    FOX (whatever network).

    What would happen?

    The answer is pretty simple really, there would be a revolution and FOX (whatever network) would be chastised by every stick & ball sport fan in the country and cable subscriptions would tumble as a result.

    So, why was it that FOX (whatever network) took upon itself to create a game of musical chairs out of every live broadcast of sports car racing, notably the long distance races such as Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona and Petite Le Mans?

    This complete lack of respect for sports car fans was unacceptable and has led to the advent of live streaming which is really the only way to watch these events any more.

    The most stunning insult came in the early 00’s when either Speed Channel or FOX owned entity cut away from live Le Mans coverage to show a NASCAR Truck practice session from Michigan. Not a NASCAR Truck race or qualifying session mind you, a NASCAR Truck practice session for crying out loud.

    So long FOX Sports, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Wankers.

    BHW

  26. Change it up

    January 15, 2018 at 7:58 am

    idk about everyone in here, but when I streamed the 24h of Le Mans on the Fox Sports Go app in 2017 they did not show commercials! I remember when the team cut to commercial break they kept the race on with only car audio and no one talking. It was fucking awesome having those breaks! The Fox Sports Go app was the way to go to watch the race.

  27. Change it up

    January 15, 2018 at 8:03 am

    These sports car races that stream on YouTube or through apps definitely need an on/off button on commentary. I enjoy listening to the best commentators but there are periods where I just want to hear the cars with my surround sound turned up and not have the commentator blaring in my ears

  28. N8

    January 15, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Who cares. No one is watching it anyway.

    The announcement we need is that they’re going to stop holding IMSA broadcast rights hostage in this country so that I don’t need a UK IP address to watch the races.

    • Degner

      January 15, 2018 at 4:25 pm

      This is the real crux of the matter. You can like or wail about Fox all you wish. The WEC broadcasts are NOT generating attention or money. That’s why they were dropped from FS1/FS2.

      This says FAR more about the state of the WEC than anything else. In relative terms, taking into consideration broadcasting/streaming internationally, NO ONE watches the WEC. Anyone who deludes themselves with the notion that this series is a “valuable property” is just that – deluded.

      The LM24 is the only WEC race which any statistically significant audience watches. And even that is a comparatively tiny audience.

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