Christian Horner, Buddh International Circuit, 2012

Sky to raise F1 channel cost and offer cut-price stream

TelevisionPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Christian Horner, Buddh International Circuit, 2012The cost of watching F1 on Sky in the UK will rise to ??510 per season next month.

On April 9th the Sky F1 channel will become part of the Sky Sports package which costs ??21 per month on top of a ??21.50 per month Sky subscription (excluding offers), with a minimum 12-month contract.

The F1 channel is currently part of the HD pack which costs ??381 per year (discounted to ??349.50 at present). Existing Sky customers who receive the F1 channel through the HD pack will continue to do so after the move. According to Sky, 4.5 million subscribers have the HD pack.

Sky is also planning to offer on-demand access to Sky Sports via its Now TV streaming website. This service, which does not require a Sky contract, will offer 24 hours’ access to Sky Sports, including the F1 channel, for ??9.99.

Nine of this year’s nineteen races will be shown on free-to-air television in the UK. All the rounds are being shown on Sky.

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156 comments on “Sky to raise F1 channel cost and offer cut-price stream”

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  1. This is just great! Really feel like bursting with anger at the moment!

    1. Sky is also planning to offer on-demand access to Sky Sports via its Now TV streaming website. This service, which does not require a Sky contract, will offer 24 hours’ access to Sky Sports, including the F1 channel, for £9.99.

      Wonder if that’s UK only…

      1. It will be, since Sky have only got broadcast rights to show F1 in the UK.

    2. This has been happening in North America for over 10 years now.

      1. @paulocreed You are right and it just go worse due to the fact that NBC sports network is on a more expensive package than speed channel was. So that means FOM probably did their research saw that the bid would bring in more money due to the shift, but will end up costing people $20 more on average it would seem (depending on your cable provider) I did the math for my area and the different providers.

        1. Dan (@rcrider13)
          8th March 2013, 14:07

          Good in theory, but NBC Sports Network comes on my basic package whereas SPEED was in a different tier.

          1. Same for me, I was able to drop a sports package that had Speed and NBC Sports is in my base lineup. Saved me $10 per month.

        2. I’m waiting for F1 to get on Netflix! :P

    3. You get robbed you brits!
      Here in France, you pay 40€/month (or 20€/month if you took christmas offer) for 5 channels, including newer movies, series, all european football championships, hockey, handball, basketball, golf, tennis, rugby and F1 in HD, ad-free, every practice, qually and the race.
      So, I pay it 50/50 with my wife (who likes series and films), so 10€ monthly, 120 € annually.
      Go get a vipbox stream mates!

      1. What’s this awesome deal you’re talking about, who is it with?! I’m interested: I’m in France and struggling to find a decent feed… Is vipbox reliable enough? The HD streams haven’t impressed me so far, not what you can really call HD! :-/

        1. @froddd Canal+, vipbox is reliable if you open 2 window cause there’s always one shutting down at some point, but it’sb low definition.

          1. I live in France and have English TV. I just find online streams for Sky’s races :P

    4. I am a Sky subscriber anyway (because my dad watches the rugby) but I wonder do Virgin do a more competitive deal inclusive of Sky F1 with their sports package?

      1. Virgin only carry f1 in lo res

  2. “Existing Sky customers who receive the F1 channel through the HD pack will continue to do so after the move.”

    Without this point, they would lose a LOT of subscribers

    1. I was about to say, my heart skipped a beat then. What?! But thankfully I’ll keep my HD subscription and therefore access to Sky F1.

      Presumably it will only be a matter of time before they cut access for HD subscribers though? 2013 I’m guessing?

      1. @jacklenox Perhaps not – see here.

        1. Thanks Keith, and thanks for investigating this. It sounds good, although “indefinitely” can be taken to mean, until further notice. Fingers crossed we’ll be rewarded for being early adopters!

          1. It is common sense to think that Sky Sports F1 will only become available via the Sky Sports pack at some point. How long before this happens though is up to Sky.

      2. I really hope they do keep it in the HD pack – we’ll need to get the 4.5 million subscribers to complain if they do remove it form the HD pack!

        1. Since there is only less than 1 million people watch the channel, I doubt that all 4.5 million HD customers will care. And of course not all the viewers watching will have the HD pack, they will have the Sky Sports pack.

    2. I almost had a small coronary mishap when I read that headline but at least it will stay on the HD pack for existing subscribers. I couldn’t justify the sports pack for F1 alone (I don’t watch any other sports apart from Wimbledon and the Australian Open).

      1. @robk23 – …and Wimbeldon is broadcast on the good ‘ol BBC still! I don’t watch any other sports apart from tennis and the six nations either, and they are usually on the Beeb so if it were me I would probably be rather peeved having to sign up to the Sky Sports pack!

  3. Nick.UK (@)
    7th March 2013, 16:18

    Still a rip off.

    Boo to the Murdoch empire!

    1. Or, you know, boo to the BBC for ditching their coverage early which is what gave Sky the opportunity to bid for the rights…

      1. Nick.UK (@)
        7th March 2013, 16:26

        I’m slating the criminal and evil no ethics media corportaion. I said nothing of the BBC/sky F1 situation… you know..

      2. I’m giving neither of them any of my month this coming season.

      3. The BBC didn’t ditch it early, and Sky didn’t bid either. The BBC approached Sky to share the coverage.
        The BBC have extended their contract which was due to end at the end of this year, but have reduced the amount they are showing to reduce costs, because of the cuts being made across the BBC budget, because of them having to find money to pay for things that they have not had to pay for before.

        1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          7th March 2013, 17:53

          “because of them having to find money to pay for” coverage of the olympics for 2 weeks every 4 years which was extended after they cut formula one coverage.

          Is that what you ment to say?

          1. No that is not what I “ment to say”.

            But of course that won’t have helped.

          2. They did ‘over-invest’ in the Olympics, but then it was in the UK, something that doesn’t happen often.

            Also, the BBC’s cover was nothing short of absolutely stunning. You only have to watch the hash NBC made of the US coverage and what C4 made of the Paralympics to understand how good the BBC’s coverage was.

          3. jimscreechy (@)
            8th March 2013, 11:38

            That may be so, but Sky coverage is head and shoulders above the BBC feed. The coverage the BBC gave was always lacking in content for the real enthusiast. Sky have really taken their coverage to heart. They are constantly evalutating it iimproving it and really getting stuck in with the coverage.

  4. Saw this coming a mile away! And next year it’ll be… “the F1 channel is no longer available to existing subscribers on the HD pack, it’s now only available as part of the Sky Sports subscription.” And what next after that?

    1. Well at least its not this…
      CNBC Joins Forces With Lotus F1 Team
      Looks like we here in the states are going to see alot of the Black and Gold

      1. Presumably the live feed will still be controlled by FOM, but that is an interesting item. Maybe Diffey and company will be wearing Lotus caps!

    2. After that PPV. Like boxing.

  5. I wish we had streaming in Canada :( I wonder if it will be possible to get around the geo-block with a low-cost proxy…

    1. There’s ways to find decent streaming : ) and I think this will be even more so with NBC joining the mix…

      1. I hadn’t thought about NBC, but that’s a good point. I miss proxying the BBC iPlayer, though.

    2. Tunnelbear. Look it up. Way simpler to use than a proxy server, reasonably priced.

  6. £10 for 24 hour access! So £20 to see qualifying and the race. A bit on the steep side if you’re only interested in f1 and none of the other sports available that weekend.

    1. Alex (@smallvizier)
      7th March 2013, 21:45

      I know the article says £10 for 24 hours. But the view from their website looks rather different.

      Month 1 free
      Months 2-4 for £9 each
      Months 5-12 for £15 each

      => £147 for the first year. That’s not too bad, really. It’s certainly better than £10 a day.

      1. @smallvizier I’d be wary of reading too much into that at this stage for the reasons I mentioned earlier.

        1. Alex (@smallvizier)
          7th March 2013, 22:09

          Hmm, good point. ‘Wary’ it is, then.

          But I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Sky make us an offer we can’t refuse.

      2. The prices you’re quoting are for the existing NOW TV movies package. The Sports Package is separate, and is indeed quoted at £10 for 24 hours of access.

        1. @tvpauld Have Now TV started advertising the Sky Sports deal now?

          1. “Advertising” is a strong word. The most they’ve said publicly to date is this on their official Forum. Their transparency is not especially penetrating, however they do state there and in a few other places on the community that Sports will be available “Pay-as-you-go” at the £9.99/24Hours rate – ie, without subscription. They’re still yet to confirm the public launch date, and it’s still not listed on the main website – not even in a “Coming Soon” capacity. I’d be surprised if it suddenly became available before Sunday, but Sky have shocked me before.

          2. @tvpauld Thanks for the info!

      3. @tvpauld @smallvizier Official details of Sky Sports on Now TV were released today, see here.

  7. Urgh. But I have to say it was always going to happen wasn’t it?

    I just wish we had a choice. But we’re pretty much held to randsom.

    1. I do not envy the Brits right now :/

  8. Okay I’ve read this over and over but I’m going to ask just to make 100% sure because this still worries me. As a Sky customer with the HD pack already, I will continue to get the F1 channel indefinitely after the move?

    1. @hydrouk continue: yes. indefinitely? hah… let’s give it a year and see…

    2. As far as I’m aware, yes you will.

    3. Not indefinitely, until they decide to change it so you have to be a sky sports subscriber.

      1. That is what INdefinitely means, “until we decide otherwise”, might be next year, might be after the next board meeting or might be tommorow .

        1. Actually, it can mean both. Either without limit or with no end defined

          1. Well said

    4. Thank you guys, I guess I’ll have to wait until they decide they want more money from me before cancelling my subscription.

    5. Yes for now, unless there’s some catch I haven’t seen. How long for though? There’s the question.

    6. @hydrouk @ajokay I asked Sky whether existing customers with the HD pack would continue to receive the F1 channel indefinitely and was told they would.

      I was surprised by that so I asked again later whether there would be a cut-off point after which existing HD subscribers would have to get the sports pack and was told there wasn’t one.

      I’ve spoken to three different people at Sky about this today.

      1. @keithcollantine That is surprising! Were they customer service advisers or people higher up, may I ask?

        Mind you, I would not be surprised if they changed their minds at some point.

        1. @iamjamm No, not customer service, this was all through their press people.

      2. Thanks Keith, good diligence…I suspect you probably knew you would be asked!

      3. Hi Keith,

        I am in the process of buying a new house and as a previous Virgin Media customer was planning on moving to the SkyHD package so that I would get the F1 Channel. Does this mean I will still get it as long as I order the installation before 9th April (I complete on the Easter Weekend at the end of March)?

        1. @asanator Not sure, I’d get on the phone to Sky about that.

        2. @asanator
          I was a Virgin Media customer and I have just had Sky installed myself last week and I have the channel. So as long as you sign up before April you should get it.
          If you sign up before the end of March you also get the HD pack at a reduced price of £5 per month too.

        3. Sign up now, you can choose your install date.

    7. Yes, I have had this confirmed to me by a number of Sky employees myself.

  9. Before everyone starts whinging about SKY/Bernie, just remember it was the BBC who decided to cut their rights deal early, which is what allowed Sky to bid for the rights in the first place. Sky’s business model is based on subscriptions and they’re entitled to charge you how they see fit.

    Also, if the BBC hadn’t overbid for the rights from the 2009 season in the first place, then you/the sport wouldn’t be in this situation.

    1. That BBC were fools doesn’t make Sky’s move any less *******.

    2. The BBC have had to make cuts to costs on all of their budgets. The F1 rights cost a lot. They have chosen to reduce the coverage to save money, they could have seen their contract out till it ran out at the end of this year and just dumped it completely, but they have not done this so it is not that they don’t want to show F1, just that with the budgets at the moment they cannot afford it all.

    3. The UK Government put the squeeze on the BBC in a number of ways, not least that the BBC has to pay for the installation of rural high-speed broadband out of licence fee income, to the tune of at least £300m. Labour and the Lib Dems had proposed a “levy” to pay for it, but the Conservative government rejected that. This is is the same government whose leader was (is?) close friends with Rebekah Brooks, CEO of New International and protegee of Rupert Murdoch (who owns BSkyB).

      I’m sure that the people who read and post here are aware of the many challenges facing the BBC (see, and the relationship the current government has with BSkyB, so I don’t really understand the vilification of the BBC or the defence of Sky. The gradual move from public to paid content is a result of a plan to weaken public broadcasting in the UK, and to strengthen companies like News Corporation, and empires like the Murdoch’s. And, sadly, as more and more people give Sky their hard-earned money, more programmes will be lost to the average viewer and will only be available to those who can afford it. Eventually we’ll all be over Sky’s barrel, and they’ll charge whatever they want.

      It’s like watching frogs being slowly boiled alive. At some point in the future all the people here breathing a sigh of relief that they’re not the ones being screwed this time around, will realise it’s their turn. And they’ll have funded it.

      1. Nick.UK (@)
        8th March 2013, 0:30

        @f1antics Well deserved comment of the day.

      2. Whilst there are indeed a number of challenges facing the BBC, they haven’t helped themselves, be it biased news coverage, social engineering or the high-handed manner in which their empire is run. Still, the thing that is most deserving of F1 fans’ ire is the manner in which they colluded with Sky during their original 3-year contract, to prevent rival free broadcasters getting in on the act, all the while telling us what a great deal it was for F1 fans in the UK. It still grates with me that they regularly claim live coverage of every race (yes, it’s true, but it’s deliberately misleading, and they know it).

    4. Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      8th March 2013, 14:09

      Why do the F1 rights cost so much? Who’s getting all the money?

      Bernie Ecclestone has ruined the sport I once loved. I’m so sad.

  10. Say you’re a diehard F1 fan with no interest in other sport and want to watch all sessions of all Grand Prix with Now TV; you have to expend £29.97 a weekend or £569.43 for the entire season…. What a rip off!

    1. I believe Now TV is only for people who occasionally watch sport and don’t wish to subscribe for 12 months, besides I believe you still can watch all other sports channels like ss1 with one access which includes footie as well, therefore you could enjoy lots of contents. P.s I’ll stick with BBC highlight for now. :-)

  11. So £20 for a race weekend plus the £15 monthly subscription….gonna be expensive with the back to back races.

  12. So for those of us who have the HD but not Sky Sports, we will still get it? Unless there’s some other catch I’ve missed. Sky is already a rip off. If I don’t get the F1 with my HD pack I’m going to cancel the lot. And as for £9.99 for 24 hours of sport!!!!??

    1. Yes Debs. Existing HD customers who have the channel will still continue to get it.

      I agree, £9.99 for 2 hours is just nuts.

  13. This is not annoying for me yet, as I am a current Sky HD customer (only have Sky for the F1, mind).

    But if we’re forced to go for the full Sky Sports package I’m not sure I could justify the cost. As it’s Sky, it’s likely they’ll offer some kind of reduced rate if and when the day comes that I threaten to leave, but I can see this potentially getting messy.

    Based on a sample of my friends that like F1, there aren’t many among us who are fans of ‘sport.’ For most of us, we like F1, some like motorsport as a whole, but… that’s pretty much it. There would be little benefit of having a whole bunch of channels dedicated to all that other sporty goodness as, frankly, we don’t care for it! I’d be interested as to whether this is the case across the board for other ‘hardcore’ F1 fans.

    1. Kinda the same for me, F1 attracts a different type of person. I like sports but F1 and other motorsports are the only “must see” events.

    2. Almost same here: I’m into F1 and NFL.

      I am really no fan most other sports (even motorsports, except 24 Heures du Mans).

      – Especially European football, which is pretty annoying here in Denmark where everyone keeps blabbering about this most boring of subjects.

      1. Here in Denmark, You can watch F1 on German RTL if You have Yousee basic TV package (Cable TV). But everyone can get a German IP adress via a VPN solution and stream both the qualifying and the race from RTL. Drawback is of course if You don’t understand German and if You do, You have to put up with a very German-driver biased commentary. With all the hooliganism and the european football only being transmitted on pay-TV channels I lost interest in it 20 years ago. I still appreciate a good technical detail in football, but I don’t want to pay money to be able to watch it. Then rather NFL, but it destroys my nights sleep certain sundays especially early in the year so I revert from it – i.e. I don’t want to be “hooked” on it, like I am with F1.

    3. I’m afraid I don’t fit your profile. I’m a Man United season ticket holder and follow not only football but cricket too. I’ll also watch most major sports events (Tour de France, Le Mans, Indy500, Olympics etc).

      As such, having Sky Sports is a must for me! However I can completely understand how those fans who aren’t into other sports must find it hugely frustrating to be faced with the prospect of having to pay a very expensive subscription for less than two live events per month.

      1. I’m in the same boat as you on that one – theres very few sports I won’t watch, so when I re-do my sky sports subscription it works out quite well for me.

  14. vuelve kowalsky
    7th March 2013, 16:38

    here in spain is still free, but they are talking about being may be the last year free. I have been a fan for more than 30 years, but i won’t pay to watch f1 races, i would go for moto gp and world superbikes, and get the info later about f1 on the internet. Sorry bernie, you won’t get this fan.

  15. Got my hopes up for a minute there. I’d definitely pay a tenner a month for F1 but 30 per race weekend to make sure I see all the action is ridiculous. Yes I can and I will blame Bernie. He needs to pull his wrinkly finger out and set up a streaming service. I’ve got money, he wants it. Why won’t he let me give it to him?

    1. I concur, since sky already offers all the Sky Sport and F1 channels on their Sky Sports TV app for £4.98/month. However the quality and reliability of the stream is woeful!

    2. @spawinte, Bernie tried the subscription-direct route back in the 90’s with the option to choose to view whichever camera you wanted or all cameras at once etc. but being Bernie (who apparently uses his daughters as a guide to peoples spending habits ) it was hugely expensive and failed to attract enough viewers.

      1. vuelve kowalsky
        7th March 2013, 18:09

        but he never stops trying. Now he is going this way, and it looks to me that he is succeding?!!! unless a big group of fans get together and make sponsors think about it, bernie is not going to stop. He believes has a god given right to get everybody’s cash.
        But i don’t see a united front in the blogs against it. I guess people in the uk have the means and the will to pay.

  16. To be honest, if you watch other sports (especially football) then Sky Sports isn’t a particularly bad deal, but I sypathise with those who have no such interest. The new streaming option is an interesting one — I wonder what take-up will be like…

    Football, rugby, cricket, and now F1 are on pay TV, at least to some extent. I’m not going to say whether it’s right or wrong, but I think we have to accept that this is the future.

  17. Wonder if this is going to have any effect with SkyGo. I use that mainly with the HD pack. I know last season it was funny about letting me use it on the Xbox at times (especially the on demand stuff) and this season I will purely be using that for watching live races too.
    Hope they dont try and mess things up more with that as really wont be happy.

  18. Over here in Canada I gradually got rid of my cable coverage. I now have no television service at all. Purely Netflix and, yes, downloading or streaming from sites. I watched all the races last year including some SKY coverage via various streaming sites. Sometimes live, sometimes later in the day. More often than not the video was clear and easy to see. I certainly would not pay $1000 per year subscribe to SKY to watch the coverage. If the streaming sites disappeared I just wouldn’t watch at all.

  19. thank god i don’t live in the uk.

    here in switzerland i could watch it on swiss, german and austrian tv, haha :)
    (for free)

    1. here in switzerland i could watch it on swiss, german and austrian tv, haha :)
      (for free)

      – for now you can @rigi

  20. sidecar_jon
    7th March 2013, 17:16

    Shame fully i applaud this move, the more unreasonable the price gets the less subscribers sky will get and the more the f1 sponsors will get shirty about falling numbers of eyes on their hard paid for moving adverts, sooner it might come back to the BBC fully.

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