There have been two pieces of news concerning Formula 1 broadcasting rights in Australia and South America, and sadly for the paying consumer, both pieces of news will leave their pockets lighter.
Beginning down under in Australia, it looks like Network Ten will be sharing their rights with pay TV group Foxtel from the 2016 season. That is according to Speedcafe and AFR. The deal, however, will not be the same as BBC’s deal with Sky in the UK. Instead, Foxtel will broadcast every practice and qualifying session exclusively live, but crucially Foxtel will share live coverage of the race with Network Ten. So, every race in Australia will still be available live for free to air viewers.
At the end of the day, the race is the main event, and in countries where qualifying does not appear on the radar too much, the above is definitely a more viable option in my opinion compared with the current UK deal. If you like to watch every session and do not currently have Foxtel, you’re going to be pretty annoyed though, so its a two way street. There’s positives and negatives depending on how often you watch practice and qualifying.
Over in Latin America (excluding Brazil), a new Formula 1 channel is being launched by Mediapro. The channel, which is being distributed by Direct TV, will broadcast every session live, with ten of the weekends shared with Fox Sports. Slowly but surely, it looks like the shared model pioneered in the UK is taking over where Formula 1 is concerned. I don’t claim this list to be exhaustive, but the following countries/continents have recently switched to either a exclusive pay TV model or half free-to-air and half pay:
– UK (from 2012 – shared)
– Netherlands (from 2013)
– Italy (from 2013 – shared)
– Czech Republic (from 2015 – full pay TV)
– Slovakia (from 2015 – full pay TV)
– South America (from 2015)
– Australia (from 2016 – shared tbc)
Whilst you can point figures and blame certain things on track that have changed this year, the fact of the matter is that, as soon as you enter these deals, you limit your audience immediately. It depends of course on the pay TV penetration, but it is not good from a viewer perspective seeing Formula 1 behind a pay wall.