UK F1 television audience falls after BBC/Sky deal

Television

Lee McKenzie, Daniel Ricciardo, Melbourne, 2012The loss of live coverage of half of the F1 calendar from free-to-air television in the UK prompted furious debate 12 months ago.

A key concern was the potential damage it would do to television audiences in the UK with many people unable or unwilling to pay a minimum of ??381 to see the ten races not shown live on free-to-air television.

With one of the first season under the new arrangement behind us, how has the move away from live, free-to-air broadcasts affected F1 audiences in the UK? Here’s a look at the viewing figures for the BBC and Sky’s coverage.

2011 live vs 2012 live

With half of the races no longer live on free-to-air television, the total number of people watching the races has inevitably fallen.

Adding together the average live viewership for the first 11 races of 2011 shows they were watched by 45.7m people, an average of 4.15m per race.

Over the same races* in 2012 to date the corresponding totals are 24.15m viewers, averaging 2.2m per race. For the five races which were shown live on both the BBC and Sky, the average is 3.8m – much closer to 2011, but still a fall of 9.5%.

Here’s how many million live viewers each race received (the same unit is used for each graph):

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/stats.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain / Turkey* Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
2011 BBC Live 2.1 3.5 3.3 3.2 4.7 5 6.2 3.9 4.9 4.3 4.6
2012 Sky live + BBC live 0.714 0.906 3.404 0.819 4.023 3.665 0.924 4.331 3.655 0.989 0.718

The obvious drawback with these figures is they do not reflect viewers who do not have Sky’s F1 channel and instead watched the delayed highlights of the first six races which were not shown live on the BBC.

Attempting to account for these viewers is where the picture gets complicated, as we have no way of knowing how many repeat viewers there may have been.

2011 live vs 2012 live plus BBC highlights

Here are the viewing figures for the first highlights programme for each of the six races which were not shown live on the BBC have been included.

These figures will inevitably over-state the extent of F1 viewership this year as some people will have watched both the live broadcast and the repeat of some races – particularly those who wanted to compare Sky and BBC’s coverage.

Given that, it is significant that these figures for 2012 still fall short of what was achieved in 2011: the total number of viewers reaches 41.15m (down by 4.55m), an average of 3.74m per race (down by 0.41m).

Here’s the race-by-race figures:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/stats.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain / Turkey* Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
2011 BBC Live 2.1 3.5 3.3 3.2 4.7 5 6.2 3.9 4.9 4.3 4.6
2012 Sky live + BBC live + BBC highlights 3.414 3.606 3.404 4.419 4.023 3.665 3.224 4.331 3.655 3.089 4.318

Qualifying the data

Inevitably it is impossible to do a like-for-like comparison with these kinds of figures. The best we can do it to make the most of the numbers that are available to us and be wary of their limitations.

Coinciding programmes or exceptional events may have inflated or depressed viewing figures on occasions. The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix viewing figures were very high because a lengthy rain stoppage meant the race ended up being shown in prime-time.

Had that happened this year it would have made little differences as the race was not live on the BBC anyway. This year’s Malaysian Grand Prix did run late due to rain but, again, it was not live on free-to-air television.

This year’s races have faced competition from the likes of the Wimbledon men’s finals (British Grand Prix) and the Olympics (Hungarian Grand Prix). The BBC moved the British and German Grands Prix to BBC2 instead of BBC1, which usually delivers higher viewing figures.

Sky recorded their highest viewing figure for the German Grand Prix on a weekend when their F1 channel was provided at no extra cost to Sky subscribers who did not have the channel in their package, as part of a promotion.

Finally we should note this analysis covers 11 of the first 20 races, of which six were not live on free-to-air television, but five of the remaining nine will be.

Here are all the race viewing figures for the first 11 races of 2011 and 2012, separated by broadcaster. For the BBC in 2012 the figures for their first highlights programme has been used where they did not show the race live:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/stats.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain / Turkey* Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
2011 BBC Live 2.1 3.5 3.3 3.2 4.7 5 6.2 3.9 4.9 4.3 4.6
2012 BBC Live or first highlights 2.7 2.7 2.9 3.6 3.5 3.1 2.3 3.8 3.2 2.1 3.6
2012 Sky Live 0.714 0.906 0.504 0.819 0.523 0.565 0.924 0.531 0.455 0.989 0.718

Average viewing figures for each programme have been used throughout. These were obtained from the BARB and the BBC.

Sky said they prefer to use peak rather than average figures, as their F1 programmes tend to be slightly longer and therefore the average viewerships are lower. When asked, the BBC provided peak viewing figures for their 2011 and 2012 race broadcasts but Sky declined to.

Here is how the BBC’s average and peak figures compared for the first 11 races of this year. Their peak figures are around 25% higher on average:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/stats.csv

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain / Turkey* Spain Monaco Canada Europe Britain Germany Hungary
2012 BBC average 2.7 2.7 2.9 3.6 3.5 3.1 2.3 3.8 3.2 2.1 3.6
2012 BBC peak 3.2 3.2 4.1 4.1 4.5 4.2 3.1 5 4.8 2.4 4

What the broadcasters say

Sky

Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle, Christian Horner, Damon Hill, Melbourne, 2012A Sky spokesperson highlighted the extended time they have been able to give to F1 programming through having their own channel: “We?ve given longer lead ups, analysis and stayed on air for longer post-race ?ǣ meaning we?ve brought viewers coverage of incidents like the Williams fire at the Spanish Grand Prix.”

Sky stated that the rise in the use of mobile devices and time-shifting digital video recorders means that television audience figures have become less useful as a means of measuring popularity.

“Given the extra hours and programming we dedicate to each race and the days and weeks in between, we don?t measure our success by viewing figures,” they added.

“We?re also giving more coverage than even before to the feeder series and the F1 stars of the future, with live GP2 and GP3 and live qualifying too where possible. We?re giving these drivers and teams the opportunity to offer extra value and ways to be seen to their sponsors and we?ve invited personalities from these series to appear on The F1 Show.”

BBC

A BBC spokesperson told F1 Fanatic: “There is no evidence to suggest that F1 fans are no longer watching. There are excellent peaks of up to 5m for live and around 4m for highlights.

“It is probably more of a case that in such a huge year of sport with Euro 2012, the Olympics and Paralympics on top of the usual sport offering that there is so much choice out there for sports fans – a large audience contingent engage with whatever is the main sport event on at the time.

“It is important to acknowledge that F1 fans can still access the entire season free-to-air on the BBC, through a mix of live and extended highlights which bring all the action from the race.”

The BBC said they were “very pleased with the figures” adding “overall F1 is doing well”.

Conclusions

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Monaco, 2012Even by the most optimistic assessment, F1 viewing figures in the UK have clearly fallen over the first 11 races of 2012 compared to last year. At three of the first five races which were shown live on both channels, combined audiences figures failed to match those of 2011.

The Monaco Grand Prix is considered one of the prized races for F1 broadcasters. When the BBC/Sky race share deal was first announced it was one of the three races BBC immediately confirmed it would screen live in 2012.

The race did not clash with any other major sporting events on free-to-air television. Yet between them, Sky and the BBC attracted less than three-quarters of the 2011 audience.

Even when the BBC’s delayed highlights are factored in – which creates the potential for double-counting viewers – the totals still fall short of last year.

Analysing this kind of data is never straightforward and there are mitigating factors to take into account, many of them noted above. But we should be sceptical of the view expressed by the likes of Martin Whitmarsh recently that the rise of new media means falling television viewing figures are not a concern.

F1 audiences in the UK were on a clear upward trajectory until this year, and it seems wishful thinking to blame new media for the sudden reversal of that trend. If anything, the growth of real-time media such as Twitter and the wealth of information available to fans during races makes following races live even more appealing than before.

Following the announcement of the Sky/BBC deal last year, Bernie Ecclestone indicated viewing figures on subscription television could be sufficient to justify moving F1 off free-to air television entirely:

“We will never move all countries to pay?per?view only though it wouldn’t make any difference here in the UK,” said Ecclestone. “Sky reaches over 10m [households]. We don’t get 10m on the BBC, normally about 6m or 7m.” Clearly the figures at present do not come close to that. It remains to be seen how they will change over the rest of the season.

In the second half of last year the championship was a foregone conclusion and Red Bull were seldom threatened in the races – a potential turn-off for casual viewers.

This year’s championship and races are far closer. It will be a very poor sign if the UK’s viewing figures for the second half of the season are not better than last year’s.

Meanwhile Formula One Management has already used the UK set-up as a model for similar deals elsewhere, including Italy, where only nine F1 races will be broadcast live on free-to-air television next year.

Over to you

What’s your view on how the F1 television audience in the UK has been affected by the BBC/Sky deal? Has the new arrangement changed how you watch F1?

Have your say in the comments.

*The Bahrain Grand Prix appeared in place of the Turkish Grand Prix on the 2012 calendar.

F1 on television

Images ?? Red Bull/Getty images, Red Bull/Getty images, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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128 comments on UK F1 television audience falls after BBC/Sky deal

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  1. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 6th September 2012, 18:26

    We experienced the same with football more than a decade ago. And it’ll never be the same as free to air TV.

    With illegal streams getting better and better, I don’t see why someone would want to pay 381 quid to watch F1. I watch it online and it’s okay.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th September 2012, 18:30

      @fer-no65

      With illegal streams getting better and better, I don’t see why someone would want to pay 381 quid to watch F1.

      I’d be surprised if that doesn’t account for a big portion of the gap between the 2011 and 2012 figures.

    • iAbuser (@iabuser) said on 6th September 2012, 19:37

      In Denmark, where i live we have “decent” coverage, its NOT free to air, and it has adverts! The commentary is done watching the same tv signal everyone else watches. That blows!
      Personally, i would love to be able to watch the Sky F1 HD channel, i did watch it online, but the streams are just not stable enough. The UK coverage is the worlds best, there is no better.

      I would happily pay what i pay for all the channels i have, just to have the F1 channel ONLY! I only watch tv to watch F1, and i wish i could have uk commentary everytime. Even my girlfriend, whos only just started watching this season, agrees that the uk coverage is top dollar compared.

      In Spain its free to air, but they dont get the practice on tv. Also with ads ofcourse.

      • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 6th September 2012, 20:36

        @iabuser @tango You’re right, the latin coverage for example is beyond hideous. It’s unwatchable. It’s ridiculously misleading. They say nothing right. It’s ****.

        I’d also pay for Sky, if I had the chance. But they had the BBC for free, which was the best coverage ever. So to suddenly start paying for something that’s not THAT good, it’s annoying and I understand that.

      • Kimi4WDC said on 6th September 2012, 23:53

        From Australia and I’ll second that. I watch the streams cause it is not possible to get Sky F1 outside UK. Other wise I would have purchased it.

      • McGregski (@mcgregski) said on 7th September 2012, 11:02

        I’m split on this, I had Sky HD before the switch from FTA so got the F1 channel anyway.
        I loved the BBC coverage, it blew ITV’s previous coverage out of the water and the combination of JH/DC/EJ commentating was fun, they had a good time and made it more enjoyable to watch.

        Now that’s it’s on Sky I think I prefer it, there is a lot more exposure for the F1 fan including things like the Sky Sports iPad app where you can see everything live, flick between all the viewing options that you get on the Red Button and so on. next to the TV streaming, you get live Twitter updates from F1 teams/drivers and news sites.
        I appreciate there is a cost which is a shock to a lot of people who were used to getting it for free but Sky has and is continuing to boost the ways in which you can watch the sport, they’ve brought it into 2012 and increased the social media elements of the sport.
        Free will always be better but it doesn’t have to cost the earth, there are options to get to see it for less:

        Find a friend with Sky F1 and offer them £5 a month to use one of their Sky Go accounts (they can set you up with a restricted login so you can’t access their account) but it means that you can watch Practice/Quali/Race on your iDevice or online. I use my 2 Sky Go passes because I watch on my iPad at work or wherever I am but there are millions of people out there that don’t need to use theirs. Find a friend and chat them up

        Get the Online Sky Sports pass – £18 a month I think. 9 months of racing £162 for the year. Still a cost but much less than a full blown year contract. Or just pay for the odd month here and there to watch the races you want to. We have 8 races in the next 3 months so for less than £60 you can watch the end of the season which is going to be immense!

        I would love to sit here and moan about the F1/Sky deal but bottom line it isn’t going to change anything, if profits start to drop for the teams and FOM etc then maybe they will have a re-think but as it stands it isn’t going to change. If I didn’t have Sky I would seriously consider getting it, purely due to the withdrawl symptoms I experience if I don’t watch it

        • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 7th September 2012, 14:41

          Get the Online Sky Sports pass – £18 a month I think.

          Nope: £35/month for Entertainment+Sports.

          The option of using a friend’s Sky go is about the only (legal) way to get it for less than £30/mo, but even then it requires that
          a) you have a friend willing to let you use their Sky Go, and
          b) you have a decent broadband connection, as quality drops off rapidly. It will never be anywhere near as good as the broadcast, either, mainly due to sky over-compressing the stream. I believe they (partly) do this to discourage people from using Go instead of full sky, the same way as they have over-compressed SD broadcast to make HD look better.

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 6th September 2012, 22:25

      I’m illegal too, another digit uncounted. Nonetheless they could be killing the tradition, Football is expensive and tv coverage is solely on cable but you can always buy an really expensive ticket and watch the show, you have 30 home games per season, combining competitions but you only have one British GP, another thing that might help in reducing F1 viewership in the future is the fact that you can keep the buzz by simply playing football with your friends, the only other option is too play F1 on a console, and even that may have the competition of football videogames, especially cause buying 2 videogames may set you back £120.

    • Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 6th September 2012, 22:47

      After all that, I feel like Belgium is F1 paradise … BBC stays as the best to watch for me when available.
      In Belgium you have it 3 times on free to air TV, on a belgian french chanel, on a belgian dutch chanel and the french TF1 (worst than any other thing I’ve seen)
      And we have only quali and race with very few adds (only 2-3 times 1min) and comments aren’t great but we can’t complain as we have it for our small country

    • Booteh (@booteh) said on 6th September 2012, 23:03

      Did you know – Viewing streams is not illegal, just them being there is (Just saying not endorsing)

      • Mike (@mike) said on 7th September 2012, 3:14

        If streaming was cutting into their profits, you can expect Sky to make a big furore over it. And, they’d probably get what they want.

        I’d be hesitant to believe that in a court they’d agree with you, just on the back of it being similar to pirating. Not to say that there is anything wrong with watching a stream. There isn’t.

        • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 7th September 2012, 11:09

          “If streaming was cutting into their profits, you can expect Sky to make a big furore over it. And, they’d probably get what they want.”

          just like they have with football and boxing and all other ptv sports? oh wait….

          fact is they can’t do anything yet… they can remove streams but people put them back up the internet is largely unpoliceable for the time being. Yes hosting a stream is against copyright/terms of use etc but watching is not there is nothing wrong with watching internet streams apart from the occasional google advert virus.

      • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 7th September 2012, 3:35

        @booteh that’s what I meant, the stream is illegal :P. But as @mike points out, it’s like downloading music and movies, you’re contributing to piratery after all. There would not be any stream if no one wanted to watch the races for free online.

    • Andy (@turbof1) said on 8th September 2012, 10:18

      Although we have free coverage here in Belgium, I actually prefer watching such a stream. You can mock with Sky all you want, their coverage is much more professional, contrary to the coverage at vt4; if I hear Chris Wauters one more time telling, with a tone like he is telling something completely new, “DRS is het systeem waarbij ze het vleugeltje platleggen” I’ll give him a visit at his commentary box and stick a wing up his … .

  2. Elliot Smith said on 6th September 2012, 18:28

    I was suprised to see that qualifying was so low on sky especially at the British gp. Also it is surprising to see that the British gp race but Andy Murray was playing Wimbledon final the same day and on BBC it was on BBC 2.

  3. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 6th September 2012, 18:31

    Weird that the figures have decreased even if this season has been a lot more exciting than 2011.

  4. James (@jamesf1) said on 6th September 2012, 18:31

    The BBC suggest that other supporting events have impacted on the viewing figures, but I would disagree the credibility of this. The European GP, for example, is one of the better performing events and that has an excellent viewing success.

    I suspect that the Paralympics and Olympics may have influenced viewing figures for Belgium and Hungary respectively, we’ll have to wait and see waht the rest of the season brings us. Singapore might show a slight recovery, as well as Abu Dhabi and the season finale in Brazil later. The Korean and Japanese GPs will impact on figures because of the time they start.

    Also, these figures dont really incorporate the F1 in Pubs movement, how successful has that been?

    All in all, the figures are down, but I dont think BBC/BskyB deal has anything to do with the fall in figures. Tightening budgets and other sports events have impacted more.

    For those that havent been watching this year, they’ve missed out on one heck of a ride…!

    • As for F1 in pubs, tho i dont watch f1 in pubs my bro tends to be in the pub round about that time and he went there with the hope of seeing the belgium gp.

      it got to 30mins in the race and it was switched over to the football. which i think was liverpool vs arsenal, and with so many pubs struggling for business as it is they are always going to cater for bigger market which is football fans. Sad but true.

  5. BasCB (@bascb) said on 6th September 2012, 18:37

    It certainly changed how people are now watching. Some watch live, some don’t. But the confusion caused by sometimes having just Sky, sometimes having it on BBC1, at times on BBC2, and the bad taste the whole deal leaves with many fans feeling the BBC and the sports insiders left them out for grabs to the moneymachine of Sky together contribute to lower viewing.
    To state that suddenly new media took over that share (when they do all they can to block most of it!) is just wishfull thinking in the best case, purposely misleading more likely.

  6. Ben Williams said on 6th September 2012, 18:42

    How does Bernie just not get it? Even though 10 million people subscribe to Sky, it obviously does not mean 10 million people will sit down to watch an F1 race!! Its like saying 60 million households have a tv aerial so 60 million people will watch EastEnders!! Oh, Bernie – move along and hand over to someone (younger) and more in tune with todays tech, culture, society!

    • Also, there are maye 10 million people with SKY, however, how many people with have the correct subscription, which are sky sports package or sky HD? I have SKY, but not the correct subscription, and I’m not willing to pay up.

      On another matter, what the SKY spokeperson said,
      “We’ve given longer lead ups, analysis and stayed on air for longer post-race – meaning we’ve brought viewers coverage of incidents like the Williams fire at the Spanish Grand Prix.” Yes, SKY are on earlie, but they do not finish later than BBC. The BBC F1 Forum, showed us everything that happened at the Spanish Grand Prix, about the fire. Also, I prefer to have more analysis after the race than before, for it’s by far more interesting to hear the thoughts of the race afterwards, than before the race.

      • Nick.UK (@) said on 6th September 2012, 19:36

        The amount of adverts that the Sky preview show burns through is sickening. It detracts from the whole atmosphere of the build up. I doubt they actually fit in more preview show than the BBC, they just HAVE to start earlier so they can accomodate the advert quota.

        • Jake (@jleigh) said on 6th September 2012, 21:08

          do you watch sky? I only ask as they tend to have no adverts at all while the bbc is live, and I think only had a few minutes before that.

          • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 7th September 2012, 14:49

            They don’t have ad’s during the race but before and after they have plenty, although probably about as many as any other programme, about one every 15-20mins (I think, I’ve not really counted)

      • Roger_E said on 6th September 2012, 21:18

        The BBC F1 Forum, showed us everything that happened at the Spanish Grand Prix, about the fire.

        Sky were on air an extra half hour after the bbc forum ended at that race & sky’s coverage of the williams pit fire was more extensive as they had cameras right outside the williams garage, bbc did not.

        • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 7th September 2012, 14:53

          sky’s coverage of the williams pit fire was more extensive as they had cameras right outside the williams garage

          I think that was more luck than anything else, they happenned to be there when it started. I doubt they would have let all the press suddenly pile down there when the garage is on fire, and it would not have been appropriate for them to, but Sky were already there and probably got overlooked.

          Only a guess, but that’s how I see it.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 6th September 2012, 19:03

      move along and hand over to someone (younger) and more in tune with todays tech, culture, society!

      That younger one would do the same, I’m afraid. It’s business after all. Unless the goverment really wants to keep it on free-to-air, the deal will always be better this way (for the companies, not the people).

      • F1 relies on sponsorship money and sponsors want viewers. Less viewers means less sponsorship value and less money for F1. Sky relies on subscription money and ad money. Less viewers leads to less value for advertisers and less money for sky. How long would sky want to subsidise their F1 coverage?

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 6th September 2012, 23:01

          @Lee1, Yes, the teams rely on sponsorship but FOM get the fee from Sky which more than compensates them from any loss of revenue from trackside advertising ( which reminds me, I can’t think of any trackside advertisers since “Fosters”) . So Bernie and FOM are OK but the teams will lose out ( how much value does a sponsor get from i-phone viewers ) resulting in the teams becoming even more reliant on FOM for money, just how Bernie likes it.

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 6th September 2012, 22:28

      yes those subscribers may not watch the F1 but they are already paying for it, so if there are 10m on SKY F1 that means that they are already giving profit even if they don’t watch it, if they do even better for Bernie, what happens is those 6,7m on BBC weren’t really paying for the feed like Mr. Bernie intended.

    • roadie said on 7th September 2012, 9:22

      He doesn’t care as long as he gets paid!

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 7th September 2012, 10:32

        Uh, Bernie tried to get Formula 1 onto Channel 4 – but the contract between FOM and the BBC meant that he couldn’t do anything about it unless the BBC gave up the broadcast rights entirely. And until such time as they did, he was powerless to prevent it.

  7. Nick.UK (@) said on 6th September 2012, 18:43

    The Sky spokesperson – “We don’t measure our success by viewing figures.” – Ha, this made me laugh! I bet they would if the figures were higher!

    I thought Sky didn’t release info on viewing figures, as the article says, they declined to give peak figures. I’m curious, how did you come by the data for these graphs?

    Those comments of Bernie’s really irritated me earlier in the year. I can’t fathom why he would say something so obviously incorrect.

    Personally, I am over my discontent about the Sky deal. I do not have Sky nor do I plan on getting it; but I have seen the Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain and Canadian coverage of Sky’s. It was ok, but I much prefer the BBC. I do like David Croft as a commentator but I think he was much better suited to the slower paced Practice sessions, with Anthony Davidson. In the end I prefer the BBC covergae.

    • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 6th September 2012, 19:42

      with you 100% sky is nothing compared to the bbc coverage if only they had every race.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th September 2012, 21:56

      @nick-uk

      I’m curious, how did you come by the data for these graphs?

      It’s from the BARB and the BBC – it does say in the article.

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 6th September 2012, 22:32

      During the action i prefer SKY before the gridwalk and after i prefer BBC, as i do not intend to watch the extras apart from the gridwalk BBC only helps me when my father prefers to watch BBC when races are shared, just my opinion after the horrible race and qualli commentary by the wondering David Coulthard and Ben Edwards.

      • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 6th September 2012, 22:54

        Edwards is epic!!

        • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 6th September 2012, 23:01

          Him and dc are a great commentary team. Brundle kept me watching what sky was up to at the start of the year but now i couldn’t give a monkeys.

          • Nick.UK (@) said on 6th September 2012, 23:06

            Brundle and Crofty’s commentary at Valencia was pretty dire… talking about pension day during those two laps that Schumacher was holding everyone up and Alonso was scything through the pack. The BBC pair for that race got me much more excited about it that Sky pair did.

      • Zubair (@zubair380) said on 7th September 2012, 0:10

        The BBC’s commentary team is epic. I’ve directly compared commentary for about 4 races on both BBC and Sky, and I’ve got to say: Ben Edwards and DC really are something special. Their live analysis is almost all the time spot-on,and usually called well before the Sky; and with recent-driver like DC, he spots minor details on the behavior of the car or strategy-wise well before others can. And Ben Edwards really can get you fired up and excited, dare I say, a bit Murray-esque.
        With superb technical analysis from Gary Anderson in the pitlane, I honestly think BBC totally out-class Sky.
        But perhaps thing that Crofty is strong at, is his FP coverage.

  8. I live in Australia and am very sick of all the commercials/One HD commentators you have to put up with during the free to air broadcast. I run an illegal stream on a laptop next to me so I can keep watching through the ads. If I had the option to buy Sky F1 HD, I would… but I can’t find ANY information regarding whether or not this is possible in Australia…?
    Can anyone shed any light on this?

  9. MuzzleFlash (@muzzleflash) said on 6th September 2012, 18:55

    Personally, if a race is on Sky I start watching as soon as Martin Brundle begins his gridwalk and get all my news snippets (á la Williams fire) from this website . I find their pre and post race coverage a bit unwatchable at times.

  10. robk23 (@robk23) said on 6th September 2012, 19:09

    At first I watched the BBC build up for their live races and then switched over to Sky for their commentary. However since around the British Grand Prix, I’ve found myself watching all of Sky’s coverage. I can’t say they get everything right but they get some good pundits although JV in Canada was a blip. That said, I don’t watch more than an hour of their coverage before the race, two hours of build up is just too much.

    • Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 6th September 2012, 22:04

      Agreed. One strange thing when watching Sky’s pre-race buildup ( If I choose to), I would normally start watching around the time BBC normally begin their pre-race buildup.

      Not implying that the split TV coverage has provided me advantages nor disadvantages but it’s given me an opportunity to experiment with buildups, post-race analysis as well as the selection of commentary. Especially when BBC are showing races live, flexible to say the least & should be for everyone. I mean when both broadcasters are screening races live along with their usual extras, you don’t have to choose ONE broadcaster to tune into, go with how you really feel (that is for those who also have Sky)

  11. Jayfreese (@) said on 6th September 2012, 19:13

    French F1 holding rights battle finishes this weekend and I really hope that a pay-per-view channel will give fans a better and more coverage than now. For 20 years, TF1 puts 4 commercials and SMS games during the race, plus you almost can’t see the podium ceremony as there are off-air as soon as the race finishes!
    So I do like Fer no.65 and tcf1 on Sky.

  12. F1antics (@f1antics) said on 6th September 2012, 19:17

    Last year I watched every practice, quali and race, and followed a lot of F1 media, often paying for content. I paid to visit one of the factories and travelled to watch some team testing. My interest in the sport prompted me to buy tickets for this year’s Canadian GP (where I spent money attending F1-related events), and I renewed my team membership.
    I didn’t want to buy a Sky contract this year; it’s a lot of money to pay when I hardly watch TV, and wouldn’t want to watch any of the other channels. I did try a Sky monthly ticket at the start of the season, to watch on my laptop. I found it was a poor quality service with long timelags, and Sky’s customer support was abysmal. So then I tried watching the BBC highlights, but I find the racing doesn’t interest me at all if I can’t watch it in full, with simultaneous live timing, and with other live commentaries/forums/team telemetries. I still tune in to catch a bit of the Jake/EJ/DC show, and BBC’s live race coverage has been great – I think it’s better than last year. But, to cut a long story short, my interest in F1 has waned. I doubt I’ll attend any races in 2013, I haven’t renewed my media subscriptions, and I doubt I’ll renew my team subscription when it expires. It’s a shame to have lost my passion, but I need to see live races to sustain it.
    So I’m slowly beginning to find other things to do with my time and money. I don’t feel I’ve lost out, but I do think that F1 has. I’m just one person who was contributing to F1 salaries, but what if there’s more like me who’ve decided to spend their money on something more rewarding? The big players in F1 probably earn enough not to be affected, but the smaller players are surely going to suffer if there’s fewer people following the sport.

    • here here

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 6th September 2012, 23:18

      Exactly, I have large gaps in my history of following F1 due to being located where it was difficult to follow and I developed other interests.

    • I’m with you on this one. I’ve grown up watching F1 and I’ve always loved it, I even started writing a blog about it last year! I was unhappy when Sky was announced last year and I thought my interest in F1 would pretty much fade. Looking back on the first half of the season, to me I couldn’t care less about the sport any more. I never have and never will pay for Sky, it’s too expensive! The live races were important to me in writing the blog, but the BBC miss out some parts of the race, so I can’t write a full race report.

      Bernie really has made an **** of himself. He said last year that he would never take the sport to pay TV, but now has put every live race behind a very expensive pay-wall. The televisual economics are simple; pay TV and free TV F1 coverage won’t work, especially in Britain! For example, in Germany, RTL’s audience’s are down year on year with races there being shown free TV (RTL) and pay TV (Sky Deutschland). Sadly, I have a feeling that F1′s popularity in the UK may be on its way down.

  13. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 6th September 2012, 19:19

    I heard a very interesting rumour this afternoon that Sky are attempting to lure Jake Humphrey away from the BBC. He quickly denied it on Twitter, but I can’t help but feel there’s at least some truth behind it. Simon Lazenby feels ill-suited to his current role, and Humphrey would be a natural replacement (with the added benefit from Sky’s perspective that it would remove a major staple from the BBC coverage).

    Still, I feel Sky’s coverage is worth paying for if you can/are willing to do so, as it’s mostly good despite Lazenby’s best attempts. I suspect in the future most live sport will be on pay TV channels, though whether that’s a good or bad thing is open to much debate.

    • Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 6th September 2012, 19:24

      I suppose I’m helped in justifying the cost of Sky because I am interested in their other sports. Specifically, their GP2, GP3 and IndyCar coverage is pretty decent, and I’ll watch the odd football match or two.

    • jh1806 (@jh1806) said on 6th September 2012, 21:19

      Lazenby is one of the worst frontmen for a show I’ve ever seen, truely awful. I’d welcome Jake to Sky, but I think his ties to the BBC are too strong.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 7th September 2012, 1:46

      Jake is the future – not only of BBC F1, but of BBC Sport as a whole – at the very least. They’d be crazy to let him go to Sky.

      As for Simon… he is awful beyond belief. Heck, I’d prefer Steve Rider back rather than sticking with Simon. That said, their race coverage team (with Crofty, Martin and Ted) edges the BBC (despite the strengths of Ben, DC and Lee).

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 7th September 2012, 8:38

      I suspect in the future most live sport will be on pay TV channels

      It already is. You probably don’t even need to take your socks off to count the number of live sporting events that are broadcast exclusively on free-to-air TV in the UK (English & Scottish FA Cup finals, Six Nations rugby, the Grand National, Wimbledon, the Olympics, the London Marathon and a handful of others).

      I enjoy watching all sport, but the only ones I follow religiously are F1 and cricket. So that’s Sky Sports for me, then – and as long as there are enough people like me, the trend of more sports going onto subscription-only TV channels is not going to be reversed.

  14. i think the veiwing figures were always going to drop no matter what so its not a big surprise to me. also iv watched every race of the season on sky and i think they do a fantastic job so if people were to give them a chance giving the fact that people do have to pay then people will realise what a good job they do.

  15. Nick.UK (@) said on 6th September 2012, 19:41

    One thing that really has annoyed me about the BBC/SKY deal, is Eddie Jordan! He has not turned up to any of the races where they are not live. He was in Australia for the opener but that’s the only one. If he bothered to show up to those that are not live and still included himself in the Forum and limited preview discussions etc I would be happier. I find it extremely noticeable when he is not there and it makes it so I can really tell that it is a highlights race.

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