News round-up: Australia gets 50/50 split; F1 website roll-out coming

Before I get into the round-up, a quick update on the status of this blog. As regular readers may be aware, I am currently in the final year of my undergraduate degree. This means that, especially in the last few months, I have been spending less time maintaining the blog, which is why the news round-up’s have turned up sporadically, so I can bundle what would be three or four separate articles into one succinct post.

On some days, time is limited to just University work (or relaxing!), meaning that writing new content for the blog is an afterthought. The reduction in content will continue for at least the next month, but should pick back up as we head into April. In the mean time, this is what has been dominating the agenda during the past week.

Australia gets a BBC/Sky style deal
It was rumoured late last year that Australia would be heading towards a shared coverage deal from 2016. Critically, the structure of the deal would be different to that of BBC and Sky, with Network Ten and Fox Sports sharing coverage every race, but Fox Sports would broadcast every practice and qualifying session exclusively live.

The shared deal between Fox and cash-strapped Network Ten has now been confirmed. Unfortunately for Australian readers, there were two big surprises. The first is that the deal between Fox Sports and Network Ten will be structured in exactly the same way as the BBC and Sky deal in the United Kingdom. Secondly, the deal comes into effect from this season. Yes, that is the season that is less than a month away!

Reading around, it looks like Fox Sports will be taking Sky Sports F1’s UK commentary. Some people have interpreted this as meaning that Australian viewers will also have access to content such as Ted’s Notebook and Sky’s pre and post-race coverage. I don’t believe that is the case. Australian television has taken the UK commentary for years, going back to the late 1990’s, perhaps even earlier, and never was it accompanied by the extras that UK viewers get.

The new F1 website gets closer
A teaser banner promoting the new Formula 1 website has been posted on the current Formula 1 website, with the tag-line “All the action, anytime, anywhere.” The images in the banner clearly show that the new website is mobile ready and configured for different types of devices. It looks like the new website will arrive before Australia, although no date has been confirmed. Presumably it will be the same date as the new 2015 Formula One app, but nothing has been made official.

You would have to squint to decipher anything else from the four screens, but a member button is clearly visible in the top right of each screenshot, which supports previous comments made by Marissa Pace, Formula One Management’s Digital Media Manager. In an article (£) this week, Jonathan Noble, AUTOSPORT’s Group F1 Editor, said that Formula 1 needs YouTube, a thought I completely agree with, as it would help immensely in introducing F1 to the next generation. Pace mentioned that YouTube will happen with regards to F1, but when? Well, that’s the million dollar question. Beyond the membership area, there is nothing else to say about the screenshots, but good luck to anyone who wishes to try…

Changes elsewhere
Speaking of AUTOSPORT, there is a fair bit of movement happening over there, almost like the F1 media has its own transfer window! Pablo Elizalde left AUTOSPORT to join Motorsport.com as of February 1st. Elizalde was not the only journalist heading out of AUTOSPORT’s doors, earlier this week, it was announced that Jonathan Noble will be joining Motorsport.com from May. Both of them are huge gains to Motorsport.com’s portfolio, as it becomes increasingly clear that they are looking to become a major player in the digital world. With Charles Bradley leading the ship, it will be fascinating to see where things head from here.

With exits, there are arrivals. Lawrence Barretto jumps ship from BBC’s F1 online team to AUTOSPORT as their new F1 reporter. That in itself is a big move, not only do AUTOSPORT gain a talented writer, but BBC’s F1 online output is once again sliced. At this point, Andrew Benson must be the only permanent F1 writer that BBC have.

More pre-Australia scheduling news
The special Formula 1 edition of A Question of Sport will air next Friday (27th February) at 19:30 on BBC One, it has been confirmed. I’m a bit surprised that this wasn’t held back until the Friday before Melbourne if at all possible to help build-up to the new season. The edition features McLaren test driver Kevin Magnussen and Red Bull boss Christian Horner alongside BBC F1 team members Suzi Perry and David Coulthard.

Elsewhere, the Australian Grand Prix Qualifying programme will be broadcast live on Sky Sports F1 as usual, but also Sky Sports 1 and Sky1, which is an unusual occurrence! The benefit of it being on Sky1 is that Sky1 has a +1 service, for anyone who wishes to have an extra hour in bed. The race will still be exclusively live on Sky’s F1 channel.

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3 thoughts on “News round-up: Australia gets 50/50 split; F1 website roll-out coming

  1. I’m intrigued by your comment that the ‘BBC’s F1 online output is once again sliced’.

    The BBC has talent in depth (witness how they maintained their standards even after many key members of their F1 team jumped to Sky).

    If you look on the excellent BBC F1 website you will see that Jamie Strickland is now doing the live txt coverage of the Barcelona Test sessions. In my opinion he is actually doing a better job than Lawrence Barretto (more informative and much more entertaining) and Autosport’s ‘gain’ has proved to be the BBC’s opportunity to raise their game an extra notch.

    N.B. Please note that I have an ongoing Autosport subscription and I also subscribe to Sky F1 (via Virgin Media) so my praise for the BBC is based on an open minded and unbiased assessment of the alternatives.

    • Interesting comment about Jamie considering I’ve just read this fantastic article that he wrote about Honda’s revival as Brawn in 2009. According to his Twitter, he’s been an F1 fan for 23 years, so perhaps not surprising!

  2. Just to clarify from down here in Oz we do get the full Sky F1 coverage on Fox Sports 5 including full race build up, drivers parade, grid walk and then the post race show. At least we did last year – hoping for the same in 2016. For free to air yes they cut to the Sky commentators on the warm up lap and have a couple of talking heads in the studio to “Aussiefy” with inane comments during ad breaks. Yes Channel 10 I’m talking about you. You guys do realise Alan Jones hasn’t said anything relevant to contemporary F1 since 1991 and no one else has even read this week’s Autosport to have a basic clue of what is going on. Thank god for Sky F1 (even if it is Murdoch).

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