Sky and BBC to share UK F1 coverage from 2012

2012 F1 season

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

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

  1. I am actually quite suprised and shocked. I thought Bernie and FOTA wanted F1 to stay on Free-to-Air TV? I guess we was all wrong. I know that BBC will get half of the races but what are the odds of us seeing Bahrain and Spain. I’m sure you all know what I mean by this. I agree with Journeyer, viewing figures will be down a hell of a lot. Also the fact that we won’t be able to see qualifying and practices unless we pay for the privelege is just wrong. Petition anybody?

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 29th July 2011, 8:19

      We can, but if the contract has already been signed, will anyone bother backing down? This isn’t like getting rid of a radio station, which was purely an internal BBC decision. When there are contracts involved, it’s much harder to undo that.

      • Michael Counsell said on 29th July 2011, 13:38

        Don’t just petition. Boycott all F1 sponsors and all F1 merchandise. Force the teams hand to ensure that F1 stays 100% on free to air TV.

  2. BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th July 2011, 7:50

    Better start investing in server capacity for the live Blog Keith. And put up a big “streams here” button for everyone looking for them!

    I guess Sky will do a fine job of the coverage, even if only a minority of viewers will actually see it.

    Is this another move by Bernie to put pressure on the teams (hurting their sponsorships, making them more dependant on his payments)? I guess it did play a role as well as guaranteeing TV contracts for a longer term.

    • Lord Stig (@lord-stig) said on 29th July 2011, 8:01

      I would be careful with the streams! I don’t think Keith want’s and cease-and-desist letters from Murdoch’s lawyers!

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th July 2011, 8:13

        True enough!

        I guess listening to radio 5 live will be fine to get through the ad brakes and endure polish or czech commentary!

      • SparkyJ23 (@sparkyj23) said on 29th July 2011, 8:16

        I somehow think linking to streams won’t be illegal anytime soon or do you think Google is being sued as we speak?
        Murdoch and his lawyers are going to be busy keeping the law of their backs.

        • Given this High Court ruling only yesterday, any serious website would be extremely foolish to publish such links. What it means for Google is an interesting point, and ultimately highlights judges lack of IT comprehension in not designating the ISP as a common carrier.

          Back on topic, I think this is extremely poor for the future of F1, providing only short-term gain for FOM and probably medium-term gain for Sky, though they won’t be getting my money. It also makes Freesat less attractive.

  3. Michael Counsell said on 29th July 2011, 7:50

    Time to start a petition? I have sky now but one day i might not so important not happy about this either.

  4. Leon said on 29th July 2011, 7:51

    Disastrous for F1 in every sense.

    Ecclestone’s staggering gate prices mean many of us simply
    cannot afford to go to many F1 races and the BBC’s coverage, totally free of advertising intrusions has been superb. Murdoch’s outfit will destroy it.

    What a terrible day this is.

  5. Paul Campbell said on 29th July 2011, 7:51

    Nightmare. The Troll grabeth the gold again.

    I have Sky, but not Sky Sports, and don;t want to be forced to buy it just for F1. I thought F1 was one of the protected sports that needed to remain ‘free to air’ – I guess have they gotten around this by keeping the British GP live on BBC?

    Adverts. Groan. Maybe the Troll will bring in a new rule that lets Sky ‘Pause’ the cars every 10 mins to let us see what type of chocolate we should be buying.

    Utter rubbish.

    • Sadly F1 isn’t on the free-to-air list. Everyone thought that the teams would fight a move away from free-to-air, but apparently not.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th July 2011, 8:20

        I guess they did not get much of a chance to do so.
        To suit the Concorde agreement the race highlights will probably officially do enough of free coverage, so this means Bernie’s got them covered and tight around the throat.

  6. 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.)

  7. 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?!

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 29th July 2011, 8:15

      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.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th July 2011, 8:25

        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.

        • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 29th July 2011, 8:33

          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.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 29th July 2011, 8:40

        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.

  8. Aidan said on 29th July 2011, 7:56

    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.

    • Mike said on 29th July 2011, 8:00

      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.

  9. Dougy_D (@dougy_d) said on 29th July 2011, 7:56

    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.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 29th July 2011, 8:17

      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.

  10. Mike said on 29th July 2011, 7:56

    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.

    • F1fan55 said on 29th July 2011, 8:27

      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!

  11. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 29th July 2011, 7:58

    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.

  12. Lord Stig (@lord-stig) said on 29th July 2011, 7:58

    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.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 29th July 2011, 8:23

      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.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th July 2011, 9:25

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

        • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 29th July 2011, 14:02

          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.

  13. JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 29th July 2011, 7:58

    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.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 29th July 2011, 8:02

      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.

    • Dougy_D (@dougy_d) said on 29th July 2011, 8:03

      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.

      • 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.

        • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 29th July 2011, 8:27

          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.

          • 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.

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 29th July 2011, 14:06

            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.

  14. SamS said on 29th July 2011, 7:58

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

  15. Disgruntled F1 fan said on 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

    • Lee said on 29th July 2011, 9:28

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

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