Putting £5 billion into context – and what it means for F1

I find that it’s incredibly difficult trying to quantify how much £5 million really is. So, what happens when a figure of over £5 billion comes along? You’re left thinking “woah”. And quite rightly so. Over three seasons, from the 2016-17 season through to the 2018-19 season, BT Sport and Sky Sports will be paying the Premier League £5,136,000,000.00 (or £5.136 billion), a frankly ridiculous amount of money.

Across each season, that works out to £1.712 billion. It’s difficult to comprehend just how big that number is. But, eventually you can break it down.

– £5.136 billion across three seasons
– £1.712 billion across one season
– £10.19 million per game

In comparison, the Formula 1 numbers pale into comparison. Numbers have never been officially released into the public domain, but the best guesstimates for BBC and Sky combined put the number around £55 million.

£55.0 million approx across one season
– £2.75 million approx per race weekend

Formula 1 is pocket money compared to the Premier League, which may be seen as somewhat surprising considering the Premier League does not bring Sky Sports four times the audience of Formula 1. However, the reach for the Premier League is significantly greater than your typical Formula 1 season on Sky. Whether we like it or not, the Premier League is such a subscription driver for both BT and Sky that both parties are willing to break the bank to get what they want to ridiculous proportions. Sadly, that means that customers suffer as a result, with higher costs, and not necessarily better quality.

Comparing the Premier League live TV rights (2016-17 to 2018-19) to the current Formula 1 rights (2012-18).
Comparing the Premier League live TV rights (2016-17 to 2018-19) to the current Formula 1 rights (2012-18).

It will be another two years before either Sky and BT Sport even begin thinking about the Formula 1 rights. Given that they mention it in every press release, it is pretty clear to me that the BBC are going to fulfil their contract until the end of 2018. I do wonder how much have money Formula One Management have lost as a result of the seven year deal between BBC and Sky. We say that Bernie Ecclestone is good at making deals, but if you’re looking at it from a money perspective, then he lost a massive amount of money by giving in to BBC’s and Sky’s demands in 2011. Seven year contracts are very unusual, the Premier League rights run on three year cycles, for example. Since the middle of 2011, we’ve had BT Sport enter the scene.

I am convinced that, if the Formula 1 rights had been on the market on the past twelve months, then live coverage would have disappeared from free-to-air television, and the value of the rights would have soared. How high would the rights have gone, I don’t know, but you can guarantee that there would have been a tug of war between Sky and BT to get live Formula 1 rights. Assuming that there are no fundamental changes to Formula 1, as we know it before 2018, then I think the next set of Formula 1 rights will be north of £100 million per year.

The main thing though, beyond anything else, is that the money generated goes back into the sport. It cannot go to those outside the sport. If it does stay inside the sport, with a more equal prize structure, then the sport should flourish.

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9 thoughts on “Putting £5 billion into context – and what it means for F1

  1. Must admit, if F1 goes onto BT Sport I think I may end up being a ‘lost viewer’ in terms of live coverage in that I watch at my mum and dads house, they have Sky, not BT, and I doubt my dad would be overly keen on forking out another subscription for BT for what would in effect (for him) be purely for the F1. I can’t afford Sky Sports, and BT Sport isn’t of great interest to me as I rarely get to watch live sport anyway even if it was cheaper than Sky Sports.

  2. I think we’re going to see an increase in Sky subscriptions to pay for this deal. Now that Sky bundle F1 with the Football channels, that mean F1 fans will definitely pay towards it. What are your thoughts / predictions on this?

  3. Pob, overall (ie all international rights combined worldwide) I’m pretty certain the PL rights go for hundreds of millions of pounds, if not higher than £1b

  4. I’m convinced ITV will be sniffing around for F1 (and maybe Channel 4) when the rights for F1 are on the table again. ITV have a lot of motorsport and their sports portfolio will be significantly less when they lose Champions League Football. For a change it would be nice for Sky not to get rights that they want. I don’t want to see another sport disappear behind a paywall.

    • Latest rumour is that they ITV are trying to get some form of champions league football back…. But I cant see it happening somehow

  5. To me it means the £46 pound per month to have sky sports will go up at guess by £20 quid a month means even less chance of me getting sky sport f1.

    It just seems really expensive when you come down to the fact that is 1h 1/2 tv per month(the race on sunday) the other race per month being on the bbc.

    I have subscribe to euorpsort player for £40 the entire year which i dont mind at all. Last year i watched le man , wtcc and super bikes which makes it far better value for me than sky.

  6. Sky have 10m subscribers of which approx 30% have sports. Sky have paid an additional £1.95b for PL over three years which works out at £650m a season or approx £216 per subscriber per year or £18 additional a month. BT only paid a little more so I will be glad if Sky lose the rights to BT in 2018 as Sky sports alone will be £40-45/month while BT will be more like £20-25/month. I would agree the next F1 deal will be a lot bigger I’m guessing probably 4 years @ £500m to either Sky or BT with Terrestrial TV getting 1 hr Highlights plus probably the 3GP ( inc British GP) for around £20m season.

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