Start, Silverstone, 2011

Sky and BBC to share UK F1 coverage from 2012

2012 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, Silverstone, 2011
Start, Silverstone, 2011

The BBC will no longer show every round of the F1 season live, starting next year.

Under a new deal announced today the BBC will share coverage with Sky from 2012 to 2018.

Sky will show every race live. The BBC will only screen around half the season’s races including the British and Monaco Grands Prix, plus the season finale.

Sky will show all the practice and qualifying sessions live as well, while the BBC will only show practice and qualifying sessions for certain races.

BBC Sport director Barbara Slater said: “We are absolutely delighted that F1 will remain on the BBC.

“The sport has never been more popular with TV audiences at a ten-year high and the BBC has always stated its commitment to the big national sporting moments.

“With this new deal not only have we delivered significant savings but we have also ensured that through our live and extended highlights coverage all the action continues to be available to licence-fee payers.”

Barney Francis, the managing director of Sky Sports, said: “This is fantastic news for F1 fans and Sky Sports will be the only place to follow every race live and in HD.

“We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television.”

Sky passed a target of achieving ten million customers in the UK last November, however many of these will not have the Sky Sports package.

Are you happy with the new arrangement? Will this change how you watch F1 next year? Have your say in the comments.

F1 on television

Image ?? Pirelli/LAT

443 comments on “Sky and BBC to share UK F1 coverage from 2012”

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  1. Yeah, from 2 F1 fans who have watched every race together for many years, this decision sucks ROYALLY. Boycott F1 on Sky, anyone? (Not that they’d give a toss, mind you.)

  2. This is just unbelievable. I’m from Holland, but watch F1 on the BBC rather our own rightsholder. Quite some people I know have actually switched from one cable provider to another such that they would be able to watch F1 on the BBC!
    Also, look at the team at BBC. They are doing such an amazing job and now part of this gets taken away from them. Seriously, what else could they have done to make it any better?!

    1. Yep, somewhat the same here. Only a race or two ago did my digital subscription get the RTL 7 in HD, and it’s still in a hard to find, and unadvertised spot. Still. I’ll probably watch on the ad-in-a-box coverage from RTL 7, now finally in HD, with perhaps a 5live stream to augment it.

      For the practice sessions we already have to resort to 5live stream as they aren’t being show on tv.

      I wonder if a large part of the current BBC team might move to Sky, and the broadcast being shared for the races the BBC want?

      It does show that quality is worth nothing compared to politics.

      1. Adam cooper tweeted that James Allen for one is not going to do UK Tv, but possibly MB and DC might be doing Sky, or maybe Sky picks off D. Croft and Ant Davidson instead.

        1. Sky would be stupid to not try and get some of them, and Ted; MB, DC and whoever can, will likewise have little reason not to go there – I assume the BBC will just get the feed from Sky, with minimal work by themselves.

      2. By the way, just to give perspective on the costs; The basic digital tv package costs me ~EUR 17, which includes a mandatory tv-license fee; adding HD increases that by EUR 8 (I think, have tv-phone-inet package), and I pay some EUR extra for more channels.

        I anyway have to reconsider, since they chance the scheme in September: basic package has more but is bit more expensive, “plus” will have more, cost more, but drop exactly those channels I care about (they go to “extra”, costing, you guessed it: extra). Then, you won’t be able to pay for a few channels, it is all or nothing. Blah.

        If I have to prepare for BBC not being of much use, maybe I can even look for a different provider (via phone/satellite/etc.) as that was one of the reasons not to go for a cheaper deal.

  3. So you have a choice of the free package (half the races live, no online content, all still live on Radio), or the premium (£20 a month if Sky keep all F1 content on one channel, £40 if not) getting the proper, full content F1 that you need to really keep a grip on the season.

    Bernie still gets his sponsors the major airtime for the glamour races from the occasional viewers, sly.

    Want to know where this leaves F1 in the UK? Look at English Cricket tournaments, even Twenty20 Cricket has seen a year-on-year decline in attendance figures and in nationwide TV audience since Sky took exclusive hold on the rights, England’s Ashes victory in 2009 on Sky was seen by a fraction of those who saw it in 2005 on Channel 4.

    If this format works, what’s stopping half becoming half a dozen after 2018? Sky will milk this fan base out of every penny possible if given the chance, it’s a sad day for British F1.

    Yet another Sky event I’ll just have to find an online stream of from next season then, I refuse to let Sky hold me to ransom.

    1. If I have to choose between Sky and no F1… I’ll be looking for feeds. I suspect alot of people will.

      But what about people who don’t want sky? And don’t have the internet service or know how to access it?

      This really is a black day for F1 fans.

  4. How will this impact the international feed as they currently use BBC commentary? I can see tough times ahead for manufacturers coming bow due to less sponsor coverage.

    1. Especially the smaller UK team Williams; McLaren might be big enough, but for the smaller outfits losing a big chunk of coverage is pretty bad.

      Might be something in it that Bernie is using it to pressure those teams into doing special, non-FOTA, deals with him.

      1. Lets hope this triggers a proper breakaway series at last!

  5. This is also bad for everyone who relies on the BBC coverage for commentary overseas (Aus here).

    I’m going to be honest, ONE HD will look good compared to the rubbish Murdock will put in place.

    1. Yeah, but as long as it stays free to air in Australia I’ll be happy, but really I have no idea what this means for us Aussies.
      Right now though, I feel so sorry for all you British F1 fans! This is terrible news!

  6. The only silver lining here is that Ben Edwards may commentate on Sky (assuming that they indeed don’t get Brundle). And that we get to keep Croft and 5Live.

    That’s it.

    And I agree – Jake is all but gone after this year now.

    And yes, a big failure for FOTA and FOM. This will have big repercussions on the renewal of the Concorde Agreement next year.

  7. Potentially a significant hit to viewership in the UK. I don’t know much about the television environment in the UK. If some one could enlighten me, do most people subscribe to pay channels such as Sky? Also what are the approximate costs?

    In the U.S. to get the full array of channels in SD and HD you will easily pay $100 for only TV. There are only a few OTA channels (FOX, NBC, etc). For providers what makes it worse is that usually most areas have one IP-Based (AT&T and Verizon), one cable provider (Comcast, etc), and the Satellite providers (Dish and Direct), and that is a best case senario! To bring it back to F1, SPEED is the only network that shows it and is a pay channel, I have to pay $8/month for the one channel as it is not a part of my bundle.

    1. As far as I can see, they have the BBC for which everyone has to pay a license fee, and which provides a lot of content; one can debate about how much everyone likes all of it, but since it is mandatory, most will stick with that. According to, “In 2010 there were 17.9 million families in the UK

      Sky would be extra, and it now has about 10 million subscriptions, unsure how many have the sport package.

      1. I saw some tweets about how they have about 1.7 million users on the SkySports package.

        1. So that’s about 10% of UK families – I suppose it will increase a bit, and of course the BBC hopes to get the millions extra to watch Monaco,Silverstone and the end of season races, but I can’t see it regularly getting 1.5 million a race.

  8. I’m personally disappointed as I don’t currently subscribe to Sky and would prefer it to stay on the BBC. However, all the complaints about how terrible a decision this is are largely sour grapes just because we’re F1 fanatics. It is the way the world works, nothing is free. The BBC isn’t free, it’s just that we are forced to pay for it. To be fair to Sky we at least have the choice whether to pay or not.

    I don’t think that we would judge Sky’s coverage until we see it. Personally I’d happily pay just so I didn’t have to put up with listening to Eddie Jordan every second weekend of the summer.

    1. But that’s the thing – even if F1 isn’t on the BBC, you guys would have to pay for it anyway. And now, you have pay even more to get Sky to see it.

      The issue here isn’t the quality of the coverage – it’s the mere fact people have to pay extra to see it. Not everyone can afford that.

    2. Think about it from a sponsors perspective. Would you sponsor a team with the same amount if coverage on free to air IS cut in half? Part of this is sour grapes at having to see adverts but I’m more concerned for the sport in general In the UK.

      1. The sport will be fine – look at premier league football. Sky will eventually get the exclusive rights and I imagine they’ll pour money in.

        But, like Premier League football and cricket, the teams and venues will become ever more dependant on TV revenue rather than satisafying their customers coming through the gate or the ordinary man in the street without the Sky coverage.

        TV audiences will collapse but the sport will carry on.

        1. And do you think the sport has gotten better for it? I don’t know the answer, but maybe you have some better view of it?

          I do see a difference between PL and F1: F1 track prices are so high that for a lot of races attendance is an issue, the travel costs make it even more so; for PL, that seems to be not a big problem – overseas Champion Leage games have a two team fan base to go. F1 doesn’t have that in the same way.

          1. I meant the sport will survive – some of the teams may even appreciate the stable cash flow relying on TV revenues from Sky will mean.

            It will be awaful for the fans and grass roots motorsport.

          2. So the sport will not be fine, it will become more of a bloated corporate hype with overpaid actors and overblown announcements and commentary, like I now get the picture of what PL has become in he UK (from twits and posts here)?

            It might almost as well die, if that’s its future. LeMans, Indycar, even NASCAR will likely be better to watch. And they provide some amount of live streaming.

  9. What a joke, so we get half of the season unless you pay £55 a month

  10. Disgruntled F1 fan
    29th July 2011, 7:58

    Absolutely Ludicrus!!
    Don’t have Sky sport on my package, so now to follow the whole F1 season have to put my hand in my pocket Again!!
    Bernie has got the £££ signs in his eyes again.
    The BBC have done a fantastic job so far of coverage, even to get my wife interested.
    Disgruntled former F1 fan

    1. yep, you would think with record viewing figures the bbc would have had leverage to reduce the fees? Not with bernie though….

  11. Half the issue lies with the budget constraints the BBC now faces, and with the freezing of the license fee, that gives them even less headroom for live sport. Why the hell couldn’t they get rid of BBC Three for one, eh?

    Anyway, the way I see it is that most of the faraway races, which unfortunately include Japan, Canada and Brazil, will not be live on the BBC. They will most likely do live in Europe, where it’s more ‘value for money’

    1. Adam Cooper said they’ll show the final race of the season in Brazil. I’m guessing they will actually show the Americas races (Canada, US) because they will fit nicely in UK primetime. The Asia races (except Singapore) will be badly affected, though.

    2. I do have to wonder how this will influence the contracts they have with channels in other countries – part of those are just “show UK public channel”, others have bought specifically F1, and for some the lack of F1 will degrade the value of getting BBC.

      I lobbied my cable operator to get BBC HD, but I can now tell them thanks but don’t bother after this year, it’s not worth the high price.

      This will reduce costs, but I think it is more that no one in BBC management cares about, not nearly enough as they do about those old grumps who complained the Canada GP went too long and delayed a non-live show.

  12. I will now be pirating every race that is not covered by BBC. It makes no sense for half the races to be free to watch, and the other half to be paid to watch. Makes utterly no sense. BBC have been doing an outstanding job. Surprised they needed to make such a drastic budget cut with record breaking viewers.

    1. Not wanting to bring party politics to this, but it seems that ever since the Tories came to power, the BBC has been increasingly put under pressure to deliver more for less.

      Meaning keeping the Archers for core voters ;)

      1. You do know the money that the Govt needs to save was spent by the previous government right?

        The deficiet didn’t suddenly happen the day the Tories came into power.

        So all those complaints about low viewing figures are irrelevant now it seems

  13. I assume that the teams (and their sponsors) have been involved in this. And I sort of expect that they looked at it as “Loose four or five million viewers in the UK, gain 40 or 50 million in India and China . . .”
    I think it’s a poor argument as consumer affluence and spending power is much higher in the UK, but maybe that’s not their point.
    Even though I have Sky Sports (mainly because I live in a ‘difficult’ area with virtually no aerial reception), I will object to paying to watch races and having to pay to watch the blasted advertising at the same time. This is going to damage the UK market enormously. And if News Corp manages to buy the F1 rights from CVC, it’ll be game over.

    1. I can’t imagine the major team sponsors would be too happy about it all, too. They’d want maximum exposure, and teams are struggling to find sponsors as it is!

  14. micahel counsell
    29th July 2011, 8:08

    Why not boycott all team merchandise and all sponsors associated with Formula 1.

    Force the teams to put pressure to get F1 back on free to air TV.

  15. Unbelievable, One of the worlds biggest sports gets a bits and pieces TV deal like this???
    This is the kind of deal the IndyCar series made because they’re struggling for cash and viewers.
    Not Formula One please!

    I dread to think how this will affect our already minimal Aussie TV coverage…
    Thanks for completely spoiling my weekend to whoever is responsible for this terrible idea..

  16. It gets worse the more I read about this….

    ‘The BBC and Sky Sports will broadcast Formula 1 in the UK between 2012 and 2018 under a new rights deal. The BBC has been the exclusive broadcaster of F1 in the UK since 2009 but its contract with Formula One Management was due to expire after the 2013 season. ‘
    – translation = ‘BBC have given up their exclusive right to 2012 coverage – and fans lose a year of free to air, but at least we can pay lip service to a small number of our licence fee payers. The majority don;t care and want us to focus on utter drivel sit-coms with tin-pot British thesps.

    and Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: “We are absolutely delighted that F1 will remain on the BBC.
    – translation = ‘we’re off the hook for the production costs and can stop slashing wages back at the office’

    Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “This is fantastic news for F1 fans and Sky Sports will be the only place to follow every race live and in HD.
    – Translation = ‘if I say this with enough conviction and a bit of a smile, maybe they’ll believe me.’

    “We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television.”
    – Translation = ‘screw the fans for everything they’ve got’

  17. This is most stupid idea EVER, im going to have no way of watching half of the races now, so i feel like i may as well not bother! I fear that this is the start of the end for F1!!

  18. In two words – Not Happy!

  19. NickTheGeek
    29th July 2011, 8:09

    I am tempted to stop watching right now, absolutly furious that they have sold us out like this. I will not be held to random by Murdoch to watch my sport. Forget it Bernie you greedy****

    absolutely gutted.

  20. Accidental side effect: European audiences decline, Asian audiences get a bigger share of the pie. Voila, Bernie now has a justification to move more races away from Europe to Asia.

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