Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014

Fans reveal state of F1 television coverage worldwide

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014It’s a measure of how desperate Bernie Ecclestone is to stem F1’s falling TV audiences that he brooked no contradiction while demanding knee-jerk changes to the rules over the winter.

His initiative to award double points for the last race of the season was pilloried by F1 fans, yet remains in the rule book for this year at least.

All manner of gimmicks have been tried over the years as F1 tried to woo TV audiences. But the gross unfairness of double points – which even Ecclestone cannot deny – represented a new low.

Absent from the panic-stricken quest for ratings has been any suggestion that Formula One Management’s approach to F1 broadcasting might also be to blame for the fact that fewer people are watching. For obvious reasons, it’s a subject which won’t get much coverage in F1 television broadcasts.

And yet audiences have inevitably suffered most in countries where F1 had historically enjoyed strong viewing figures until free-to-air F1 broadcasts were replaced by pay-per-view.

In the UK, where an annual F1 subscription now costs over £500 per year, even Lewis Hamilton’s romp to victory in China couldn’t stop viewership falling to its lowest level in seven years.

F1 Fanatic readers from around the world compiled information on the availability and cost of watching Formula One. The data reveals significant variation in the quality and extent of F1 coverage:

While countries like Australia, Brazil and India still enjoy free-to-air F1 broadcasts, full-year subscriptions in other countries can run to hundreds, even thousands of pounds.

Is this the shape of things to come or a failed experiment? That depends on whether those running F1 believe the money offered by pay-per-view broadcasters is worth the trade-off of smaller audiences, and accept F1’s global reach will never be quite what it was.

The other aspect of F1’s broadcasting future is the readiness with which it accepts new media. While some sports have taken advantage of the opportunities presented by the sport to sell its coverage directly to fans, FOM has largely avoided doing so.

However some bespoke video content has been created for the current version of the official F1 app, and a new offering has been promised in the near future.

In the meantime many broadcasters have been slow to embrace the opportunities offered by new media. However some offer the means to watch online and via apps.

In countries where pay-per-view subscriptions are the only alternative, some broadcasters permit access to these online services at a reduced price. In Mexico free online broadcasts of every race are available courtesy of Telmex, who backed drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez.

Other countries are still yet to catch up with past innovations. Formula One took until 2011 to offer high definition race coverage, but three years later it remains unavailable in some regions. In others standard definition broadcasts are offered as a cheaper alternative.

The quality and value-for-money of F1 coverage worldwide varies enormously. While that is the case, it is unwise for the sport to change its rules so hastily in an attempt to win greater audiences.

Merely making coverage of its races available at a reasonable price in the first race would be sufficient for many fans.

Country Channel Races Qualifying Practice Annual cost Online coverage Notes Contributors
Australia Ten All All Australia only Nil Ten Play Qualifying is shown live on One in high definition, races on Ten in standard definition. @Mwyndo7, @Pezlo2013, @Plushpile, @Fitzroyalty
Belgium La Une/La Deux All All Belgium only Nil Non-live catch-up internet coverage @Force-Maikel, @Ardenflo, @Backwards
Belgium Telenet All All No €197.40 24-hour channel access available for €9.95 @Force-Maikel, @Ardenflo, @Backwards
Brazil TV Globo All All No Nil n/a @Pandanet
Brazil Sport1/2/3 Delayed Delayed Yes £157.81 n/a @Pandanet
Chile Fox Sports All All All £84 Fox Play Same package is available for free in neighbouring countries. @Alonsomanso
Czech Republic Nova All All Most Bahrain, Canada, USA and Brazil on Fanda; qualifying and practice on Nova Sport @Thaischumi
Denmark TV3+ All All All £356.00 Cinemas screen some races live for £10. @Palle
Finland MTV Max All All All €239.40 MTV F1 Online-only F1 package available for €89.95. @RetardedF1sh
France Canal+ All All All €478.80 My Canal Cheaper €298.80 option omits some sessions @Gonde
Germany RTL All All No @Klon
Germany Sky Deutschland All All Yes €562.80 Additional charges for HD subscription @Klon
Germany Sport 1 Delayed Delayed Delayed @Klon
Greece OTE TV All All All €20 n/a @Sigman1998
Greece Alpha TV Some live, rest delayed No No Nil n/a @Sigman1998
Hungary M1 All All Hungary only Nil Telesport @Hunocsi
India Star Sports 4 All All All Nil Star Sports Year’s subscription for online coverage costs £5.01. Standard definition only. @FabF1, @Akshay
Italy Sky All All All €358.80 Additional charges for HD subscription and on-demand viewing. @Fixy
Italy RAI Nine live, rest delayed As races As races RAI TV World @Fixy
Latvia Viasat Sport Baltic All All All €178 n/a @Girts
Lithuania Viasat Sport Baltic All All All £150 n/a @Osvaldas31
Lithuania TV6 Delayed No No Nil @Osvaldas31
Mexico Fox Sports Latin America All All All €120 n/a @Mantresx
Mexico Foro TV (Televisa) All (delayed) No No Nil (some regions) n/a @Mantresx
Mexico Telmex All All All Nil Escuderia Telmex Online only, low resolution. @Mantresx
Netherlands Sport 1 All All All €300 Sport 1 @Npf1
Netherlands Veronica Canada and USA live No No @Npf1
New Zealand Sky Sport Yes Yes Yes NZ$1,000-1,200 Sky NZ account required @Jarred-Walmsley
Peru Fox Sports All All All $360 Additional charge for channel which carries practice sessions. @OmarR-Pepper
Poland Polsat Sport All All All €180 n/a @ArtAnonim
Portugal SportTv All All All €636 @Mcangueiro
Russia Russia2 All, some delayed All No Nil Russia2 @Olegryzhikov
Russia Sport1 All, some delayed All All £360 @Olegryzhikov
Slovakia TV Dajto/TV Markiza All All No Nil n/a @Milansson
Slovenia TV SLO 2 All Most live No Nil @Enigma
Spain Antena 3 All All All Nil Atres Player Also TV3 (Catalonia only) @Karmen
Spain Movistar TV All All All €600 @Karmen
Switzerland SRF2 All All No Nil @Rigi
Tunisia BeIn Sport All All All €250 BeIn Sport @Tifoso1989
United Arab Emirates BeIn Sports All All All £1,512 n/a @GeeMac
United Kingdom BBC Nine live, rest delayed As races As races Nil iPlayer A TV licence is required to view live all television programming in the UK. @Keithcollantine
United Kingdom Sky All All All £522 Sky Go A TV licence is required to view live all television programming in the UK. 24-hour channel access available via Now TV for £9.99 (http://www.nowtv.com/sports). @Keithcollantine
United States NBC Sports Network All Most live FP2 only Varies, c. $720 NBC Sports Live Extra @Lord-Stig, @US_Peter, @Grosjean0817

Notes on the data

Channel data compiled with the assistance of @Mwyndo7, @Pezlo2013, @Plushpile, @Fitzroyalty, @Force-Maikel, @Ardenflo, @Backwards, @Pandanet, @Alonsomanso, @Thaischumi, @Palle, @RetardedF1sh, @Gonde, @Klon, @Sigman1998, @Hunocsi, @FabF1, @Akshay, @Fixy, @Girts, @Osvaldas31, @Mantresx, @Npf1, @Jarred-Walmsley, @OmarR-Pepper, @ArtAnonim, @Mcangueiro, @Olegryzhikov, @Milansson, @Enigma, @Karmen, @Rigi, @Tifoso1989, @GeeMac, @Lord-Stig, @US_Peter and @Grosjean0817.

To contribute, amend or correct the data please post a response via the link.

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150 comments on “Fans reveal state of F1 television coverage worldwide”

  1. Metro DC, USA. We pay about 188/month for the FIOS package with phone, high speed internet, and TV with a high enough channels package to get NBCSports. Also we rent DVRs from Verizon at a ridiculous rate (essential for scooping up the practices and 2am races where I just can’t stay up.). It’s hard to disaggregate the costs so it’s hard to say what the F1 access is really costing me. I once tried to see what I could chuck, while paying less and still getting F1, and ended up with a migraine and only paying a bit less for jetissoning HBO. I could probably shave maybe $50 by going to a lower channel package, but then I maybe lose some college football and basketball games, so it’s hard to price F1 here.

    As far as the content and quality, Varsha, Hobbs, and Matchett and Buxton do OK. Buxton is getting at little bit full of himself but he only pipes up every so often. NBCSports also does a “debrief,” which is boring, as it’s really 3 old dudes sitting around reviewing race clips. NBCSports shows FP1, FP2, Q, and the races. All usually live, but occaisionally not.

  2. I’ll never understand why FOM don’t do something similar to what WWE have created recently. WWE Universe allows subscribers to not only watch pay-per-views, but also to watch any past event online, and all it costs if £5 a month.

    If F1 were to do that as well, then it would be far cheaper than having to pay the extortionate fees to be able to watch SKY F1, and would allow new fans across the world to re-visit old, classic F1 races. This alone would help new F1 fans get into the sport better, by being able to witness some of the greatest F1 races of all time.

    I, for one, would definitely be more than willing to pay £5 a month for a service like that, and a few of my friends who aren’t as into the sport as I am said they would too.

  3. Just goes to show how much of a dinosaur Bernie really is, completely out-of-touch with what’s economically sustainable and attractive for the sport.

    I don’t know why people still call him the best at his job, take a look:

    – viewing figures have been declining for years
    – attendance figures at circuits have been declining for years
    – European circuits have been abandoned and are always in a struggle
    – Internet content is not efficiently made use of
    – Archived content is not exploited at all
    – Teams are unfairly treated at the end of the season
    – Stupid rule proposals (I’m talking about sprinklers, medals, double points gimmicks, not the new engine rules)

    The sport is losing viewers because of the way it’s being managed, run and made available, not because of the technical rules.

    I really hope once the court case is closed, that Bernie will be replaced by a new, much younger and way more competent manager, who can undo his mistakes and run the sport properly, so that it actually grows and no longer diminishes.
    Bernie doesn’t care about growth, he cares about short-term profits. That’s who he is and as long as he’s ruling FOM, it won’t change – people don’t change their views at his age.

    1. @andrewf1, Here,here, Bernie manages F1 terribly, but he manages the profit for himself and the investors he sold to very well, that is what Bernie cares about.

    2. Well, actually Bernie was well ahead of his time when FOM launched the digital F1 coverage in 1996/1997. But it didn’t take off, so it is somewhat understandable that he does not want to get burned twice.

  4. May not be the popular view but I love F1 been on Sky because they are doing so much more with it than ITV/BBC ever did.

    We get everything live & interactive across multiple platforms (TV, Online & ipad), We get an archive race every day at 9pm, A dedicated F1 show every Friday & we just ended Senna week which featured some brilliant programs & classic races.

    I love been able to select from several different on-car cameras each session, I like been able to listen to the team radio & other bits of data on the pit channel. And having access to the official timing & driver tracker systems are also brilliant.

    The sky f1 coverage of f1 is so much better & far more in-depth than what we had on the bbc & itv over the past 20 years & I am loving it & would be dissapointed if f1 moved away from sky & we lost all this wonderful coverage.

    1. @peterG, have you worked out what the subscription cost would be worth if you invested it into superannuation.

  5. Cipriano Mauricio
    6th May 2014, 20:27

    I do not have a television nor cable. I am able to see most of the sports I want over the web.
    I really enjoy BBC’s (iPlayer) non-commercial coverage for replaying races for I am not able to see the them live. Because I live in America, I have to go through the hoops of “pirating” BBC’s coverage by using UK IP proxies. It would be great to not have to go through this mess when I want to watch the races.

  6. May I add that I loath rather deeply and intensely watching the Grand Prix in the USA on NBC. The reporters are okay at best. One needs to be replaced most definitely. I wish they would show the race absolutely live. I have noticed up to a near 30 second delay! They insist on peppering the screen with their obtuse awful graphics. They have race highlight or updates through the actual race itself which are annoying at best and if they insist on it at least should be on a split screen so we can continue to watch the “live” action. The same applies to the inserts about the host country during the actual race. You think all of this could be dealt with pre or post race but NOT during the race! As a result of this and more the viewing experience is terrible and I feel abused by the end of it. I feel the need to offload with so much more but will spare you all lol…

    To end, I now watch the F1 without any incessant commercials on the Spanish station Univision with a radio commentary. I will also shortly be taking Spanish lessons as they rock!

    1. Lee Diffey is a cancer to the US broadcast and has killed any chemistry that the Varsha / Hobbs / Matchett trio once had.. at least that team was tolerable in spite of the “F1 for Dummies” vapidity of the broadcast script.

      1. I am pleased that Varsha is gone, he was just blowing hot air

  7. I am very pleased with the F1 coverage in the US. NBC Sports has a great team. David Hobbs, Steve Mattchet, Lee Diffey etc…
    It is part of a package that cost about $600 a year. More for the HD version. Since I don’t like to get up early to watch the race, I DVR it and watch it at my leasure…

  8. coefficient
    6th May 2014, 21:29

    Cancelled sky just before oz gp. Haven’t watched a single race live this year yet. Happy to follow it on this site as. F1 is slipping off my radar after being a 21 year obsession.

  9. Formula 1 is the ONLY (i stress ONLY reason) that I still have a cable connection on. I have eliminated most of the dependencies of the Cable. On Top of that, my Cable TV provides the option of NBCSports only in the Top Most and 1 level below Top Most tiers. Which means I am spending $100 every month just to watch F1. Then there are the 3 months of Dec, Jan & Feb without F1.

    I am seriously looking at alternate avenues to watch F1 specially if there is something that can live stream the Races legally on my computer / ipad et all. In the past 20 years I never had to live in a place which does not carry Live F1 telecast.

    F1 and Bernie needs to keep pace with technology. Currently that does not seem to be the case. Twitter, Live blogs and and lot of live timings mechanisms are slowly (not fully) eliminating the needs of the Live telecast.

    I must admit this I love the NBCSports Live Coverage Team (Steve Matchett, David Hobs ,Leigh Diffy & Will Buxton) They are really good and knowledgeable. Well I do always miss the great Murray Walker!!!

  10. Several thoughts as I read some of the comments … 500 pounds (no symbol) I assume that is not a sole charge for F1 … receive other channels as well??? Anyway about F1, I still love it and have been a fan for decades (as previously mentioned way back when it was called various things like F5000 etc) and they raced against what was called Indy cars in a mixed field. Both were fairly equal at that time, early to middle 1970s …. the F1 folks have always been way to aloof compared to the Indy car garages … for a few extra bucks one could get access to the various garages/pit areas and on practice and qualifying days it was rarely crowded. Prior to NBC taking over televising the F1 races we had another channel called SPEED and NBC picked up the same reporters/commentators save one. They only annoying thing about seeing F1 on NBC (and its predecessors) is if there is a weather glitch you never know when or where the qualifying or race is going to show up. It seems that F1 has the lowest priority for viewers, any sport seems to have a higher priority and will displace the F1 race. I usually record the entire series on a race weekend: second practice, qualifying, pre race show, RACE, and post show. I only watch nascar twice a year, when they race on a nonoval track. The rest of the races just get me dizzy for the most part and the end is pretty predictable with a crash or two in the last laps. The new end of race interview with who ever shows up, are more about theatrics than interesting observations from the drivers and perhaps something in the race that was not noticed as a TV watcher. Mr. E like our elected officials here in the US are more like dinosaurs and very out of touch with reality. F1 fans are F1 fans, first and last, I do not care to have a race interrupted with a tennis score, a golf score, or who is doing what to whom in HOLLYWOOD!! Thanks Ray and Remy, my very faithful pooch and a diehard F1 fan as well. PS the V6 turbo engine sound is what turbo engines sound like … for those that do not like it I think Keith could produce a CD full of old V12 cars from past and one could play that while watching the race and Keith could make a quid or so and help buy some new equipment or what ever he likes/needs.

  11. yeah, living is Australia and TRYING to watch the livestream is hopeless. Watching it on the internet and knowing it won’t cut out is probably a better idea

  12. Slackbladder
    7th May 2014, 3:39

    I am not watching any F1 this year.
    I am boycotting F1 for the first time since the 1960s when I first woke up to my fathers passion for Formula One racing.
    I am Not going to purchase any product or merchandise associated with F1 in any way shape or form, I will not watch listen or support F1 until they repeal these bloody stupid rules and stop trying to americanize a European sport!
    I want F1 mate! NOT Nascar Buddy.

    1. Slackbladder
      7th May 2014, 3:52

      Sorry I meant to say, I have been brought up with a passion for F1 and this is the first year I will not watch it, I cannot watch this contrived farce!

  13. In Canada, all we get is the race. No build-up and no post race coverage. And we get commercials.
    So, in order to find out what’s going on with drivers, teams, etc., I have to more resort to more nefarious means of getting my F1.
    I’d pay for an web feed of the broadcast with pre-and post race coverage (at a reasonable fee) , but Bernies’ brain lives somewhere between in 1961 and 1984 and won’t let this happen. Pity.

  14. We in India get coverage of Live Practice sessions too….

    The commentators also do a splendid Job … (Sometimes Alox Yoong joins them)..

    All in all, F1 ratings would be in High in India according to me…..

  15. Darren B (@downwithdrs)
    7th May 2014, 8:57

    I live in the UK, and I have an extra satellite dish pointing at Astra 19.2E. This allows me to watch a lot of German channels such as RTL, who just happen to cover my favourite sport, free-to-air. Since installing the dish in 2012 it has saved me nearly £1000 on subscriptions …… ;-)

  16. Darren B (@downwithdrs)
    7th May 2014, 8:59

    FOM needs to offer the fans DIRECT streaming F1 coverage for less than £10 per race …. I am not paying for a satellite subscription when I rarely watch TV … why should I?!

  17. Ron (@rcorporon)
    7th May 2014, 13:04

    In Canada we get F1 on TSN (The Sports Network) which I have to pay extra $$ for each month.

    On top of that they only show the qualifying (with commercial breaks) and the race (again, with tons of commercials). The feed is from England though so at least I have decent commentary.

    1. Ron (@rcorporon)
      7th May 2014, 13:06

      I started watching DTM this season and wish F1 would follow their model of having a Youtube channel that puts all of last years stuff up as well as live streams the races / qualifying / practice sessions.

  18. Here in India the dish package costs Rs 570 (6.83 euros) (200+ channels) per month. It includes all SD and HD Sports channels. Star Sports HD2 offers good broadcast with less ads and sky f1 commentary. Only annoying issue is when BPL or La Liga matches clash with F1 schedule (most of the European leg), broadcast available on SD channel only. Many instances i have watched Free practice sessions in HD and race in SD. Time zone wise India is in a very advantageous position save for Montreal and COTA. All European leg races commence at 17:30.

  19. Adrian Taylor
    8th May 2014, 9:27

    Honestly, I think the coverage F1 provides is pathetic. Sure some television providers do better than others, but let’s be honest in terms of the interaction F1 provides its fans, they are several years behind the times. I love F1, and I want to be immersed in it. I want an app for my phone that doesn’t cost the world, I want to watch archived races, highlights, tech features, interviews. I want live timing (that works) and to see onboard shots, footage from the helmets of pit crew workers. Above all, I’m willing and able to pay.

    Am I asking too much? I don’t think so, especially not from a business that prides itself in being at the forefront on technology, and is worth billions of dollars

    As a viewer from New Zealand, the only way I can come close to all this is to wait until a day after the race, download (illeagally) the skyf1 feed with all the pre and post race analysis, and then binge on all the F1fanatic banter a day later!

  20. I accept the fact that no-one has the right to watch anything for free, but I really don’t understand the current trend of making F1 pay per view, especially as they’re clinging onto an outdated distribution model and refusing to embrace new technology.

    As Keith says, it costs something like £500 to get the Sky F1 channel here in the UK, and that is a price that I will not pay. Yes it may come with a load of other channels, but I would never watch them. The BBC coverage is still good but is becoming increasingly patchy and I wonder how long until it disappears completely.

    The thing is that if FOM offered the opportunity to stream races live via the internet for a sensible price (say £5-£10 per race) then that is something I and many other people would be interested in. But if Bernie doesn’t want my money then I guess I’ll just have to watch something else, there’s plenty of other motorsport out there, and a lot of it is more entertaining than F1.

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