Over in Spain, it was reported by SportBusiness on Monday that Antena 3 and TV3 have extended their respective rights to screen the Formula 1 World Championship until the end of the 2015 season.
The previous deal was over five years from 2009 to 2013, whilst the new deal is only two years in comparison running for 2014 and 2015. Unlike the UK, Spain’s rights system for F1 is slightly different, Antena 3 are a commercial broadcaster, whilst TV3 are free-to-air, but only based in Barcelona. TV3’s rights are dropping by 30 percent. I would be lying if I said that I’ve been keeping an extensive track on the Spanish ratings picture, but I could not imagine Spain’s Formula 1 ratings dropping by 30 percent.
I can imagine a drop, because of Sebastian Vettel’s dominance, but a 30 percent drop seems extreme to say the least. The ratings that I have reported from Spain (for Canada and Belgian) have appeared healthy. Of course, the reason I’m mentioning ratings is because the ratings influence the rights deal logically, the higher the ratings, the higher the fees.
This is the first case I’ve seen of free-to-air rights fees drop significantly, and it will be interesting to see if this is an anomaly or whether it is repeated in other parts of Europe. The BBC are understood to be paying between £15 million and £20 million. A 30 percent fee drop would send that to between £11 million and £14 million, although the UK deal does not expire until the end of 2018.