The World Rally Championship will be broadcast in the United Kingdom on ESPN this year, it has been confirmed.

It follows an agreement reached between the subscription-only channel and North One Sport, the promoter of the WRC. Under the deal rally fans will get 4.5 hours of programming per rally - the most extensive season-long coverage of the WRC to date - with even more content appearing on ESPN's multiple media platforms, such as ESPN Classic and ESPN.co.uk.

"This is a pioneering TV agreement, not only in the UK but globally. It brings the exciting prospect of more coverage, fresh programming and more promotion than ever before," said Simon Long, CEO of North One Sport.

"The combination of the innovative content, production and digital promotion that ESPN offers combined with our revamped sport is extremely good news as we seek to reach out to new fans in the UK."

ESPN's coverage will begin on 2 February with an hour-long documentary 'Road car to rally car' which follows the development of the new MINI World Rally Car and includes exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.

Each of the 13 WRC events will then be previewed in a one hour programme, 'Rally World', starting on 2 February with a look ahead to the season opener, Rally Sweden, which begins on 10 February. Thirty minute highlights programmes will be screened in the evenings of all three days of a rally, and the following week rally fans can watch 'Access All Areas' - a one hour look at the event showcasing the best of the action, in depth features and analysis.

ESPN also plans to bring new elements to WRC broadcasting, including live studio-hosted coverage of the new 'Power Stages' for up to 13 rallies.

Jeroen Oerlemans, ESPN vice president and channel manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, added: "The WRC is a superb, dynamic product with a fervent following and a growing legion of enthusiasts. It also fits extremely well as a key part of ESPN's growing portfolio of motorsports from across the UK and Europe."

The deal with ESPN follows the end of the three-year deal with Freeview channel Dave. Coverage of the World Rally Championship in the UK on Motors TV remains unaffected.