ITV Sport to broadcast in HD… but not F1?

David Coulthard, Alexander Wurz, Melbourne, 2007, 2Some time ago I started putting a bit of cash to one side so that when ITV finally arranged to broadcast F1 in high definition I could run out and buy a HD TV.

Predictably enough there’s been little sign of progress towards HD. I gave up hope of seeing a race in HD last season and spent the money on tickets to the Italian Grand Prix instead.

ITV eventually announced late last year that it will begin broadcasting in HD this spring. But it seems F1 is not top of their list of priorities.

ITV HD will broadcast on a new free satellite service called Freesat from spring 2008 (along with the BBC, former F1 rights-holders). According to ITV’s website the channel will feature:

The best of ITV sport and drama in stunning high definition quality. It will begin as a two-to three-hour peak time service that will extend its hours as HD audiences build.

“The best of ITV sport”? Well that’s got to include F1, surely? Perhaps not. Freesat’s website gives some more details:

Watch the Euro 2008 matches and the Beijing Olympics, and you’ll see every rippling muscle as the teams battle it out.

Well that sounds delightfully homo-erotic but what about Formula 1? More to the point, why on earth are they showing Euro 2008 in HD when none of the British teams have qualified for it, while ignoring F1 where a certain British driver has generated a considerable increase of interest in the sport?

Lewis Hamilton’s world championship bid is credited with boosting ITV’s F1 audience by an average of 40% last year. Over half the nation’s television sets were tuned into the Brazilian Grand Prix finale – that’s 10.6m viewers. Will that many people be watching Switzerland versus the Czech Republic play football?

At present the only way to see F1 in HD in Britain is in cinemas.

Are any of you outside of Britain getting F1 in HD this year?

Photo copyright: Red Bull / GEPA

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17 comments on ITV Sport to broadcast in HD… but not F1?

  1. Hi Keith,

    Here in Aus we are yet to find out what Channel ten is going to do but one suspects that they will do Albert Park in HD. They have just launched their dedicated HD channel.

  2. Here in the US, Speed Channel is going HD in Feb.
    I wish we had a race here, though.

  3. I am getting English Premier League in HD in Hong Kong :-) I unfortunatelly haven’t heard of any plans for F1 HD broadcast from ESPNStarSports

  4. DanielPT said on 28th January 2008, 9:32

    Hey Keith,

    In France (where i live now) i don’t know any HD plans of TF1 for Formula 1 but i read in some blogs that they will do it, but either way, i can’t afford such TV. In Portugal (my home country) i think it is expected to start HD transmissions later this year, but that shouldn’t apply to Formula 1.

  5. Fred B said on 28th January 2008, 12:45

    Slow down, we only just got F1 in widescreen last year!

  6. Scootin159 said on 28th January 2008, 15:52

    Does the FOM broadcast in HD? Without an HD feed, there’s no way they can provide HD coverage.

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th January 2008, 15:56

    Yes they do use HD cameras. FOM cover the majority of the races – all but about three I think.

  8. MrPippy said on 28th January 2008, 19:35

    The F1 in cinema is not in HD–at least, not HD as we understand it in America (720p or 1080i/p).
    The Cinema feed was the regular PAL 576p world feed, just upscaled to 720p–no improvement over what everyone watches at home. The overlay graphics were at a higher resolution though, and were framed for widescreen.

    Hopefully F1 will be in actual HD this season, and I’ll be able to see it for the 3 or 4 races that FOX carries this year (since SpeedHD will probably be DirecTV exclusive for a while)

  9. I work with a broadcaster who does carry hd as part of their sevices – at present I have not heard any confirmation on itv providing any hd services apart from the possibility of them co-operating with bbc for a shared service – itv currently are running with severe losses on their advertising revenue – bbc is meant to be a public? service provided for the licence payer.
    How they can go to bed with one another and fullfill both sets of customers/advertisers is one of those catch22 questions – if the bbc are seen to be acting with a commercial company – presumably to get profit? – should they loose their licence money?

  10. The BBC will never co-operate with ITV, it’s against their policies, surely? The problem with the licence fee is that the British public won’t put up with a higher fee, meaning that the BBC can’t splash out on expensive stuff like high-def F1, no matter how great the demand. As long as ITV keeps losing ad revenue then they will have to cut costs, and, according to F1 Racing (February), the costs of showing F1 in Britain are likely to soar due to the Lewis Hamilton effect. ITV may not pay for F1 at all in the near future, never mind shell out for HD F1. All this points to one bad thing – Sky or Setanta pay-per-view F1 by 2011.
    And that’s bad.

  11. “All this points to one bad thing – Sky or Setanta pay-per-view F1 by 2011.”

    personally i’d happily pay for ad-free coverage.

    i don’t care if it’s on sky, or online, or whatever. just let me see the whole race.

  12. I think you will find the 2 to 3 hours HD content is actual HD programming and still show SD upscaled. I think ITV will still show F1 but it will possibly just be upscaled to HD so should still look significantly better than what ITV currently show.

  13. Robert McKay said on 30th January 2008, 16:50

    “The BBC will never co-operate with ITV, it’s against their policies, surely?”

    I’m not entirely sure if it’s the same, but they seem to work well enough when it comes to sorting out the rights to the football World Cup and European Championship finals.

  14. Geoffrey Raymond said on 18th February 2008, 1:52

    I worry less about the HD question than I do about the announcers. General sports commentary is so “dumbed-down” in the US that I’m not sure whether it’s praise or faint praise to say that Speed TV’s Varsha/Matchett/Hobbs trio is one of the best booth teams on television, regardless of sport.

    I’m also kind of a whore for Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, but that’s a bit off subject.

  15. Daniel said on 26th February 2008, 5:04

    i cnt believe it, F1 is gonna be shown live in AUS in 2008, butt only on ten HD channel!

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