Sky Italia to screen 11 F1 races exclusively live next season

Italian pay TV station Sky Italia are to screen all twenty races of the Formula 1 season from 2013 live, it has been announced. Eleven of these races will be broadcast exclusively live on their channel, with the remaining nine races (including the Italian Grand Prix) broadcast by a free to air station yet to be announced. That broadcaster will also screen the eleven races that Sky have exclusively in highlights form. In summary:

– 11 races: Sky Italia exclusively, FTA broadcaster highlights
– 09 races: Sky Italia and FTA live

This announcement appears to signal a reduction, or even possibly the end of Formula 1 involvement, for free to air broadcaster RAI. It is the latest blow for them, who recently lost the rights to the UEFA Champions League and MotoGP. In a statement of intent that they intend to expand their motor sports portfolio, the MotoGP rights went to Sky Italia exclusively last month, with the broadcaster to screen the races from 2014 onwards.

Sky Italia’s coverage will feature across all platforms, “web, tablet Smartphones and IPTV”. In their press release, Bernie Ecclestone notes that “we have a similar arrangement [in the UK] that is working very well, increasing the quality and breadth of coverage”. While true, I cannot help but feel that this is another irreversible step towards Formula 1 being exclusively broadcast on a pay TV station, leading to a dip in ratings. The initial effects of the UK deal after the first four rounds showed a drop in ratings, although the amount that the ratings have dipped by was unclear taking everything into account.

The situation, though, in both countries is different. Before the new deal in the UK, BBC screened every Formula 1 session, from the first Friday practice session to the race on Sunday. Whereas, in comparison, RAI in Italy only screen Qualifying and the Race live with no coverage of practice sessions. So, from that perspective, the fans in Italy may well be happy – or more welcome – to the prospect of Formula 1 being on Sky Italia, compared to the reaction when the similar deal was announced in the UK. Looking at Sky Sport’s Facebook page, specifically this post, it looks like they are more receptive to the move, although there are a few negative comments in there, as you would probably expect.

I would be interested to hear from Italian Formula 1 fans, if any are reading this blog. How do you feel about this deal? Do you welcome it, or do you want all races to remain live on RAI?

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One thought on “Sky Italia to screen 11 F1 races exclusively live next season

  1. Hi, I’m a fan of the blog from Italy.
    I know it’s been a long time since this post, but I’d like to address the matter of PPV from the point of view of an Italian F1 enthusiastic.
    Ever since I started watching F1, it was broadcasted on RAI. And ever since I started watching F1 on RAI, the service was crap: avoiding any further comment on channel switiching due to clerical events (very often in the middle of qualifying session, F1 will move from RAI 1 to RAI 2 to show on the first channel the Pope, no joke!) and the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix brodcasted at late night to pay “tribute” to Pope John Paul II died earlier that week, the overall qualitiy of the TV service was absolutly bad.

    In 10 years, only 3 times free pratice were shown; HD service will start randomly, even moments before the green light, and never from the beginning of the live feed, even on the native HD channel. Very often the audio feed from the pit in the 15 minutes analysis post race and qualifying was muted at the beginning of the show, demostrating a poor direction of the event. Plus, one of the two pit lane reporters can’t speak english; Paul Hembery of Pirelli Motorsports tweeted about her that he will soon make a book about the silly question she were asking to him: and he talks Italian, so we’re talking about poor understating of the techincal matter of the subject and not only english-related issues.

    I’ll stop here, even if I could go on for hours on the poor graphic design of the RAI production, or the violent response to any criticism they received on Twitter and the overall bad commentating on live event, often way behind what I could see sitting at home.

    I work for TV, as a graphic editor and director for small and big tv events: I know what could be done and I understand every techincal matter that goes into the production of a big event like this, I really do. And that’s why it’s unecceptable what we got from RAI in all this years.

    SKY is expensive, but RAI is not cheap with the annual TV fee. SKY is already broadcasting Barcellona test in HD and 3d, will do all the season (with free practice) in HD on a dedicated channel and has already a team of way better commentators, one of witch (the 3d artist and techical expert Fabiano Vandone) coming from RAI where he was talking only for a couple of mintues per race, in the quick pre-qualifying show.

    RAI will broadcast 9 races live, the other 10 will be shown 3 hours after the event, making possible to follow the entire season on a FTA chanell. But, if you ask me, the presence of SKY will be the end of a nightmare.

    Sorry for the long post, I hope it was at least useful for understanding what’s going on here. Please keep this blog alive because it’s AWESOME.

    With love from Italy,
    Max

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