Ecclestone: F1 may abandon free-to-air TV in UK

F1 Fanatic round-up

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2012In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone indicates F1 coverage in the UK could leave the BBC entirely.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Bernie Ecclestone suggests free-to-air Formula One could end on BBC (The Guardian)

Bernie Ecclestone: “We will never move all countries to pay?per?view only though it wouldn’t make any difference here in the UK. Sky reaches over 10m. We don’t get 10m on the BBC, normally about 6m or 7m.”

Murdoch’s Italy TV arm buys F1 rights (Reuters)

Bernie Ecclestone: “We have worked with Sky Italia in the past and I have no doubts about their production standards. We have a similar agreement in Britain that is working very well.”

Sky to have exclusive F1 live broadcast rights? (F1 Kate Walker)

“I’ve been told that Sky’s commitment to broadcast the races free from commercial interruption is a one-year thing, and that fans can expect ad breaks from 2013 onwards. But I’ve not been told that by anyone from Sky, so make of it what you will…”

No hurry for Hamilton (Sky)

“The championship is more important than what I plan to do, what my next contract will be. My future at the moment is not important – I might not even see next year! What’s important is making sure I capitalise and maximise on this year.”

Jonathan Neale Q&A: McLaren can win in Montreal (F1)

“I wouldn?t put the last two or three races into a professional like Lewis?s mind in terms of where he?s going to be comfortable in the future. We would like Lewis to continue racing for us. We have plenty of time. We don?t need to make that decision until much later this year.”

Bahar dismissed as Group Lotus boss (Autocar)

“A statement issued today said the decision was made by the board of Group Lotus plc following the results of an investigation into a complaint made against Bahar by the company’s owner, DRB-Hicom.”

Grosjean downplays first lap accidents (Autosport)

“It doesn’t mean anything. In Australia I couldn’t do much [with Pastor Maldonado], in Malaysia it was my mistake [with Michael Schumacher], I spun in the wet. And in Monaco what can you do? Trying to put a scooter and a bus into Sainte Devote together is difficult, so four cars side by side is too tight.”

2012 Canadian GP – Conference 1 (FIA)

Sergio Perez: “The only weekend we didn?t have the speed was in Bahrain. We had a lot of degradation. All the other weekends, Barcelona I was in fourth place but then I had a puncture; Monaco in qualifying we had the speed to fight for a win, I think, but then we had a problem with the steering wheel and I just went straight. I think the speed is there and everything is there and it?s just a matter of luck. We have been very unlucky in the last few races.”

Villeneuve slams standards in Formula One, calling today’s drivers ‘babies’ (Daily Mail)

“There is no respect amongst them. I think, 20 or 30 years ago, the risk of dying was high and there was that extra respect. They weren?t little daddy?s boys like now. They are still babies.”

Montreal’s Grand Prix kicks off under protest threat (CBC News)

“Michel D’Avignon, who organizes the downtown Peel Paddock event, said he has quadrupled security in light of the potential protests.”

Montreal police make arrests ahead of Grand Prix (CTV News)

“One day before Montreal comes alive with the sound of revving engines and cheering fans during the Grand Prix, police carried out a series of raids targeting 11 key suspects believed to have been involved in vandalism.”

Paul Pietsch 1911-2012 (Adam Cooper)

“Paul Pietsch ?ǣ the last surviving driver of the pre-war Silver Arrows era ?ǣ has died just a few weeks short of his 101st birthday.”

Susie Wolff explains why there aren’t more women in F1 (BBC)

“Wolff, who races in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) and signed for Williams earlier this year, believes there will be a female F1 driver ‘within the next decade’.”

F1 Fanatic via Twitter

“F1 Fanatic should hit a major milestone tomorrow. Keep an eye out for a special article to mark it…”

Comment of the day

Mark Webber’s plain-spoken style appealed to several readers, including Timi:

I love how he?s so frank. I wish every driver would just tell it how they see things.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

No F1 Fanatic birthdays today.

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Juan Manuel Fangio was badly injured in a crash at Monza on this day in 1952.

The reigning world champion had driven to the track overnight from Lyon, having flown there from Northern Ireland where he had been racing the day before.

Exhausted, he started the race from the back of the grid having not participated in practice. Nonetheless he passed 15 of his rivals in the first two laps.

On lap three Fangio lost control of his car in the second Lesmo corner and hit a straw bale. He was thrown from the cockpit of his Maserati and suffered neck and spinal injuries that kept him out of racing for the rest of the season.

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

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169 comments on Ecclestone: F1 may abandon free-to-air TV in UK

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  1. matt90 (@matt90) said on 8th June 2012, 0:08

    God, I hate Ecclestone sometimes. Often. Every time he opens his mouth in fact.

  2. Alehud42 (@alehud42) said on 8th June 2012, 0:15

    He explained that of the 25m households in the UK, “Sky reaches over 10m. We don’t get 10m on the BBC, normally about 6m or 7m.”
    FFS Bernie, get it into your tiny head that only a small percentage of the 10m Sky users watch F1.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 8th June 2012, 0:19

      How dare you suggest that Bernie talk sense!

    • Adam1 (@adam1) said on 8th June 2012, 1:13

      Like he really cares about the viewing figures…the only figures he cares about are the millions HE can make from sky if they’re the exclusive broadcaster…

    • Claidheamh (@aseixas) said on 8th June 2012, 1:37

      And also, those numbers don’t overlap. People who watch on BBC aren’t watching on Sky. So, very basically, Bernie’s saying he’s ok with losing 40% of the (potential) viewers.

    • Abuelo Paul (@abuello-paul) said on 8th June 2012, 9:08

      And a little further down the actual article it even admits Sky have only averaged 1m viewers per race. What a load of dribble Bernie speaks.
      On the subject of Bernie: am I correct in my memeory that Bernie specifically stated that he and the commercial rights owners had nothing to do with the Sky deal? But then at the bottome of the article he says:
      “Sky have done a super job”, and added that the live rights slipped through the BBC’s grasp due to its complacency. “The Beeb were sure we wouldn’t be able to go anywhere else,” suggecsting that they actually did, go somewhere else, that BBC lost the rights, not bartered them. What is the truth? We will never know.

      • topdowntoedown (@topdowntoedown) said on 8th June 2012, 10:02

        To be fair – Sky getting 1m F1 viewers from their 10m subscribers is quite good going. Not quite as good as BBC getting 7m viewers from 25m households, but not bad at all.

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 8th June 2012, 11:06

          But a lot of those 1m must be paying specifically for the F1 channel. So of course they’re going to watch it having paid specifically for the privilege.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 8th June 2012, 11:39

      I don’t mind the coverage being on Sky, to be fair F1 is a minority sport in the UK and being exclusively on pay-tv will not affect the viewer ratings too much. I wonder if these figures take into account recordings and re-runs, since Sky replay the races and all the other sessions constantly.

      • Mike (@mike) said on 8th June 2012, 15:40

        Is it? F1 is at it’s most popular in places like Britain.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 8th June 2012, 18:12

        I certainly don’t think it’s a minority. It obviously doesn’t have the following here that football does, but it must be one of the top sports regardless- 6 million viewers regularly last year- that’s 10% of the population taking the time to watch a race.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 8th June 2012, 11:45

      He’s practically saying that 4 milions of people decided to watch F1 only when it came to Sky. That’s plain ridiculous, I think more people have quitted watching F1 rather than the opposite.

    • Jon Finn (@jon-finn) said on 8th June 2012, 19:20

      he quite confusingly compares number of Sky households (10m) to F1 viewers on the BBC (7m). “Sky reaches 10m households…”, yes Bernie but the BBC reaches all 25m.
      “it wouldn’t make any difference here in the UK…”, except of cours that the viewing figures for F1 would be slashed down to 1m.
      Bernie really doesn’t give a toss about anyone except his bosses. If his short term greed causes the collapse of F1 viewing in the UK who cares? he’ll still manage to milk the cash cow for all it’s worth for as long as he can. What disappoints me really is that every party involved at all levels of this debacle, from the BBC execs to the teams, can all be bought and Bernie is the right man for *that* job.

  3. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 8th June 2012, 0:18

    I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that having all the races on Sky is better than the current arrangement. Why? Because it makes Sky better value and easier to justify for many people who only want Sky for their F1 coverage. Of course, it’s a far from ideal situation, and having all the races on free-to-air, even with adverts, would be infinitely better.

    If, however, they have adverts in their coverage there WILL be violence — I will not be held responsible for my actions.

    • Alehud42 (@alehud42) said on 8th June 2012, 0:36

      However, BBC has higher quality F1 coverage. Sky have, in their usual way, tried to force it, rather than let it evolve, like the BBC has.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 8th June 2012, 7:59

        I would say they have different sort of coverage @alehud42 The BBC one is much more of an event, with some fun and lots of great action, while Sky provides great sports coverage, and plenty of it. Matter of style and preference.

      • Tango (@tango) said on 8th June 2012, 9:28

        It’s head and shoulder above what TF1 has to offer. I actually think the Belgium coverage is better than the French and always try to get it. I really need an english IP

      • Clive2012 said on 8th June 2012, 10:48

        Disagree, I think the Sky coverage is miles better than what the BBC have to offer.

    • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 8th June 2012, 9:31

      If I could get Sky where I live then I probably wouldn’t be too annoyed, because you only need to have the basic Sky HD package to get SkyF1, which isn’t too expensive (for me at least). As it is, I can only get Virgin Media cable television and to get SkyF1 I will have to subscribe to the Sky Sports package on top of what I pay Virgin – I can’t justify that level of expense (roughly £25 per month extra) just for one channel.

      If it all goes to Sky then I will make do with highlights on a terrestrial channel if they are available. If I can’t see them I will just make do with the BTCC on ITV4…

      • BBQ2 said on 8th June 2012, 11:48

        You still have the IPTV Dobin. I live outside of the UK and I get every channel on the net. BE manages to close some but more springs out after that basically by the same warriors on the net ;-) So all is not bad mate, as I guess you have an internet at home …..

        The Global war on Murdock and BE has started, both men are ageing and the young shall grow …

    • Jon Finn (@jon-finn) said on 8th June 2012, 19:30

      They assured the 2012 season would be ad free. There are no assurances beyond that so the outcome there doesn’t take a genius. The access to SkyF1 is relatively cheap for Sky premium channels but again – that is this season. If Sky rights became exclusive then naturally the cost to the viewer would rocket. That’s not even a doom and gloom prediction either, that’s just simple business sense for Sky.

  4. subsailorfl said on 8th June 2012, 0:18

    Milking it for all he’s worth to stay in charge.

  5. timi (@timi) said on 8th June 2012, 0:24

    Ahh sweet COTD! Cheers

  6. ibsoc3 said on 8th June 2012, 0:33

    Of course, it all makes sense! F1 is an exclusive sport for people with money. What was I thinking, getting seriously into F1 when I didn’t have the money to pay for a Sky subscription?! Silly me. Perhaps I should try rugby instead.

    • James Brickles (@brickles) said on 8th June 2012, 0:45

      I’ve found snooker.

    • paolo (@paolo) said on 8th June 2012, 8:11

      Have you ever tried getting a ticket for an England rugby match at Twickenham? Now that’s expensive and exclusive!

    • BBT (@bbt) said on 8th June 2012, 10:06

      Rugby sold out to Sky as well, and there figures dropped as a result. Same will happen with F1.

      BTW Bernie that’s 10 million ‘SKY reaches’ (your words) watching football etc and next to none watching F1. 1 million? 10%? Nice drop from the 7 million from the BBC.

      • timi (@timi) said on 8th June 2012, 11:19

        @bbt The thing is, Bernie doesn’t care how many people view it. And why should he? He’s getting old and will be moving on soon enough. He’s proven himself to be a money-grabber, rather than someome who truly does their best for the sport.
        So, as long as Sky are paying him more, for less viewers, he doesn’t really care. And that’s the worst part of all this. Get Bernie out, and put in a board of advisors or something.

  7. manatcna (@manatcna) said on 8th June 2012, 0:50

    Well, this was so obvious – didn’t you notice the “sky will have no advert breaks (in 2012)” in all the press releases when this whole BBC/Sky thing started?

  8. disgruntled said on 8th June 2012, 0:55

    Cant be worse than here in Australia. F1 coverage hase gone back to Channel 10 & we get a commercial break every 7 laps. Its more watching commercial breaks with some Formula 1 in between

    • Julian (@julian) said on 8th June 2012, 2:05

      Its still on onehd and while ad breaks are a nuisance it’s not the end of the world. I’d take f1 with ad breaks over no f1 at all.

      • Kelly (@kelly) said on 8th June 2012, 3:16

        I would gladly have it on Foxtel if it meant no adverts.

      • MattW said on 8th June 2012, 3:35

        Maybe you’re in WA Julian? Eastern states its on Channel 10, so not only is half the time ads, but its also in blurry SD. I’ll stop before I rant about the 3 knob hosts

        • AdsyW said on 8th June 2012, 3:52

          A-men to that. The three Channel 10 hosts are about as useful as a chocolate teapot and as knowledgable about the sport as my son.

          p.s. I don’t have a son

        • Julian (@julian) said on 8th June 2012, 3:56

          I’m in crappy ol’ SA
          Wow I didn’t realise it was different on the east coast, that is a bummer indeed.
          But yeah the hosts are terrible. I cringe every time we lose the sky feed and have to put up with them.

        • Pinball (@pinball) said on 8th June 2012, 4:00

          Yeap that’s true.

          At the start of the year they were delaying the broadcast of the European races in Western Australia, in order make it fit into their Sunday Night Line of Masterchef, then whatever show is after that.

          For eastern states though Qualifying is on One HD, that’s the only high definition F1 we get though.

          I just shake my head at the decisions made to programming on Ten / One HD. With the MotoGP, Qualifying is shown in HD, Moto3 and Moto2 races shown in HD, but then the main event, the MotoGP race is shown in SD. Also anyone noticed the difference in number of ad breaks between the MotoGP and F1 on Ten? Seems to be a lot less ads in the MotoGP for some reason.

          My girlfriend and I agree that we would rather pay to watch F1 in HD definition, live and without ad breaks if that was an option either through Foxtel or web streaming through the F1 website (like how the MotoGP does).

          p.s. I generally don’t have a problem with Greg Rust, Craig Baird, and Darryl Beattie you can tell they are trying hard to put on good show, but have been severely hamstrung budget wise, and airtime wise by executives. My only two complaints regarding the hosts is 1) I wish they wouldn’t cut away from the Sky commentary going to and returning from ad breaks, and 2) I don’t understand why they include Darryl Beattie in the F1, they don’t include Craig Baird in the MotoGP; you can tell that Darryl Beattie is much more excited about the MotoGP than the F1, and they should just let him focus on that.

          • yenjaiken (@yenjaiken) said on 8th June 2012, 7:52

            I would pay for a dedicated F1 subscription service here in Australia if it were available.

            I am tired of how Channel Ten/OneHD are managing the F1 coverage over a weekend. It seems as if it has taken a step backwards.

            For instance, where have all the pre-race segments gone? ‘Ask TC’ was one of the better things on offer last year.

            I would also like to see more post-race segments. The BBC post-race stuff keeps you informed with the current ins and outs of F1.

            And finally. Get rid of Daryl Beattie and bring back Neil Crompton. At least that guy has a clue and knows what he’s talking about.

        • DVC (@dvc) said on 8th June 2012, 4:32

          Still a better job than 9 did of it!

        • Dave (@davea86) said on 8th June 2012, 5:19

          I usually watch the races at my cousin’s place since he’s a big F1 fan and has a pretty good home theatre set up. The first thing I noticed when it went back to Ten was that instead of being transmitted in 5.1 surround it went back to stereo sound. The picture isn’t too bad but it sounds so disappointing after hearing it in surround sound, especially when they’re showing netball on One (love to know what kind of ratings that pulls…) when they could be showing F1 on Ten and One concurrently.

          • BradFerrari (@brad-ferrari) said on 8th June 2012, 8:31

            I’m sick of Channel ten’s F1 coverage. It’s complete rubbish, especially when the commentary feed drops out and we have to listen to the three clueless hosts!

            Not to mention the amount of commercials during the race is just ridiculous.

            BTW their broadcasting the Canadian GP race on channel ten in blurry SD in all states this weekend!

          • Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 8th June 2012, 13:11

            I have the F1 Timing App, so during the ads i can see what’s happening.

            Its not perfect but it keeps my nerves intact ;)

  9. Andy Redden (@andyredden-on-f1) said on 8th June 2012, 0:56

    I doubt SKY will have advert breaks in their races. Especially as they make it one of their main selling points and they would lose all their viewers when they shared with the BBC, making no sense what so ever. However if this sharing deal ended then it is likely ads will come into play. But finally SKY have a reputation of fitting breaks in around the action. Football, Cricket, Rugby, Tennis only have breaks during stoppages in play etc.

    • cduk_mugello (@cduk_mugello) said on 8th June 2012, 1:09


      Very good point. If Sky don’t have adverts with Cricket, which goes on far longer than F1, then surely they won’t tarnish their flagship sport (as they are marketing it).

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 8th June 2012, 7:50


        their flagship sport(as they are marketing it)

        I would say Sky’s “flagship sport” is football, not F1.

      • bpacman (@bpacman) said on 8th June 2012, 9:36

        Sky do show adverts during the cricket – however, they’re in between overs, or after a wicket or during a drinks break.

        I’d be surprised if Sky introduced adverts during F1 races at all given all the negative publicity that would attract – but if they were to do so, perhaps they’d only show them during a safety car period/red flag or instead of the formation lap or slowing down lap?

    • Tango (@tango) said on 8th June 2012, 9:32

      I’ll bet you that within two years, Bernie will come with a great idea : why shouldn’t the race be stopped every 30 minutes for a 5 to 10 minutes break ? It’s for the good of the sport ! (add justification to cover the fact that you want stoppage time to put adds without missing in on the action).

      • hey (@hey) said on 8th June 2012, 9:53

        The problem is that with Bernie, unlike every other 81 year old, he’s got a very small chance of dying at any given moment. Otherwise we’d all just sit around waiting for him to shuffle off the coil. As it is, he’s immortal and therefore needs to be challenged before his slip into dementia is complete.

  10. James Brickles (@brickles) said on 8th June 2012, 1:07

    HA! Bernie still talks like he’s the only person in the world that matters and yet I’m still watching F1 after everything that has tried to put me off it in the past 3 or 4 years. He keeps launching his stupidity but I keep on watching.

    Anyway, moving on from a little weirdness on my part… I find it hard to see Hamilton leaving McLaren at the end of this season, but Mercedes could be the best team if he were to leave McLaren and if Schumacher were to retire. Lewis has a good friendship with Rosberg and would probably settle in quicker than at Red Bull or Ferrari.

  11. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 8th June 2012, 1:07

    <blockquote.“There is no respect amongst them. I think, 20 or 30 years ago, the risk of dying was high and there was that extra respect. They weren’t little daddy’s boys like now. They are still babies.”
    Am I the only one who thinks that this is the most dim-witted, inappropriate and unintentionally-hilarious thing JV has ever said?

  12. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 8th June 2012, 1:17

    I hate to disappoint you, but my argument will centre on the way Bernie never actually says that the sport will move entirely to pay-per-view. Everybody is just assuming that he plans to do it.

    • Julian (@julian) said on 8th June 2012, 8:56

      Everybody is just assuming that he plans to do it.

      I dont really have an opinion on the matter, but the cynic in me wouldn’t be surprised if everybody was right. But I think this will happen long after Bernie bites the dust.

      But I do agree that everyone is overreacting due to an overzealous headline

  13. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 8th June 2012, 1:23

    super-high prices AND tons of commercials…welcome to the club! i’ll point out that the sky f1 package price is comparable to what americans pay to get speed (and its minimum coverage for minimum time, maximum ads and standard def only)

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 8th June 2012, 7:06

      Standard def? My speed f1 coverage is all hi def… But yes, it is indeed overpriced for the amount of coverage we get. If we had even half the pre & post race coverage UK viewers get I’d be happy.

  14. Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 8th June 2012, 1:28

    Other then maybe 3 races a year that are shown “FTA” on FOX (with them usually being tape delayed except for the North American ones) all our F1 races here have been on SPEED for years which depending on the cable provider is either on the Basic (as in like 70 channels) tier or in a separate Sports tier that you have to pay more for. I believe that Canada & Mexico also have it on Pay channels as well so yeah y’all in the UK aren’t gonna get any sympathy from anybody over here l0l.

    • Sammy said on 8th June 2012, 1:46

      Well think of it like this….F1 is a mostly British watched, British backed sport, and for them BBC is like our FOX over here, which we get without having to pay any sort of fee except the basic cable package which everyone has to anyway.

      The NFL is our flagship sport and we get it on FOX for free…the Brits just lost their NFL(F1) if you will from a basic cable station to a pay-per-view outfit. I can understand the anger.

    • Pelican (@pelican) said on 8th June 2012, 18:37

      Sure, the coverage is worse here in the US, but i’m not going to wish the same on the UK and Italy. If F1 loses popularity in its home countries, the sponsors keeping the teams afloat will switch to sports viewers can actually watch, the money will go elsewhere, and the series as a whole will suffer.
      Selling F1 to Asia hasn’t been a huge success, there aren’t that many people in the Middle East, and North America’s never taken to it (besides showing up at the few races we get), so I can’t imagine why Ecclestone is trying so hard to shut out Europe.

  15. VettelS (@vettels) said on 8th June 2012, 2:10

    “Sky have done a super job”. No. No they have not.

    • Clive2012 said on 8th June 2012, 10:51

      I think they have done a superb job.

      Great interactive coverage, every session in HD, Better commentators than what the BBC have, Better analysis, Live GP2/GP3 & better pre/post race analysis.

      I’ve been watching both Sky & BBC coverage this year & think Sky’s is miles better than BBC’s.

      • PJA (@pja) said on 8th June 2012, 11:18

        I only have access to BBC and the only Sky F1 output I have seen was when they repeated their season preview show on Freeview.

        However I would be surprised if Sky didn’t do a good job considering the resources they have thrown at F1, giving the sport its own channel, it allows them to do things that the BBC could never have done even if they wanted to.

        As for which commentators and pre/post race analysis is better, obviously I can’t comment on which is best, but it is really just a matter of personal taste for example Brundle is highly regarded as a commentator but you still find people who don’t like him.

        I have read quite a few people say that when the BBC are showing the race live they watch the actual race on Sky but watch the pre/post race coverage on BBC.

        • Dizzy said on 8th June 2012, 14:47

          I have read quite a few people say that when the BBC are showing the race live they watch the actual race on Sky but watch the pre/post race coverage on BBC.

          The first few races the BBC post race was better, However Sky really upped there games for Spain/Monaco & there pre-post race stuff was significantly better than the BBC’s.

          • CeeVee (@ceevee) said on 9th June 2012, 0:21

            I only watch the race itself, I don’t bother with the pre or post race waffle. I also watch the ‘Sky-only’ races over the web via whichever broadcast I can get from around the world. So I’m still getting all the races with the benefit of a smorgasbord of international broadcasters thrown in.

    • Slr (@slr) said on 8th June 2012, 11:13

      I have to say that they have done a great job too. They are getting better each race.

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