Fans reveal state of F1 television coverage worldwide

2014 F1 season

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.

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. Chaz (@chaz) said on 6th May 2014, 21:11

    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!

    • mrvco said on 7th May 2014, 15:34

      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.

  2. dutchtreat (@dutchtreat) said on 6th May 2014, 21:13

    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…

  3. coefficient said on 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.

  4. tmax (@tmax) said on 6th May 2014, 22:23

    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!!!

  5. RACERNORRISKI (@racernorriski) said on 6th May 2014, 22:37

    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.

  6. Kiefer Hopkins (@kieferh4) said on 7th May 2014, 3:03

    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

  7. Slackbladder said on 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.

    • Slackbladder said on 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!

  8. Mickrock (@mickrock) said on 7th May 2014, 5:24

    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.

  9. 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…..

  10. Darren B (@downwithdrs) said on 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 …… ;-)

  11. Darren B (@downwithdrs) said on 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?!

  12. Ron (@rcorporon) said on 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.

    • Ron (@rcorporon) said on 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.

  13. Kiran Sripathy (@kiransripathy) said on 8th May 2014, 1:31

    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.

  14. Adrian Taylor said on 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!

  15. Don Mateo (@don-mateo) said on 8th May 2014, 14:11

    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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