Report: ITV to take over BBC’s F1 TV coverage from 2016

Posted on December 17th, 2015 – Broadcast are reporting this evening that the BBC are to exit broadcasting Formula 1 on television with immediate effect, with ITV taking over their coverage from 2016.

This has yet to be confirmed. As soon as we have any news, I will update this blog. My gut instinct though is that the report is true, and that ITV will confirm this officially tomorrow (Friday 18th December). That is my opinion, I’m not privvy to anything that is not currently in the public domain. If the news is true, it marks the end of BBC’s return to covering Formula 1 on television, which started back in 2009. Alongside the various news stories that have been covered recently, the news earlier this week that BBC’s Euro 2016 picks run right through the Canadian Grand Prix window mean that the BBC were not planning to pick the race live. Of course, that is the usual pick process – but now we have a clearer reason why that was probably the case.

Regarding the source: Broadcast is a reputable industry magazine, and not a website that would pluck stories out the air for ‘hits’. The fact they have published it means that it is more likely to be true than false. Tomorrow is likely to be the last day that any deal would be announced (it being the last business day before Christmas, early next week being slow down days), leads me to believe that ITV’s return will be announced tomorrow. If that happens, questions inevitably turn to the personnel. ITV should swoop in for the majority of BBC’s team… but that is a question for later rather than now (although we are only four months away from Melbourne). Another question surrounds the return of adverts during F1 races, and lastly if ITV taking Formula 1 affects their Formula E rights.

Either way, there’s little point speculating until we have official confirmation from BBC or ITV. So, for the moment, we wait patiently, but it looks like The Chain is going to be broken….

Update on December 18th at 18:05 – To my surprise, we have heard no news today. A request for comment from this blog to the BBC resulted in no comment, which is to be expected in the middle of rights negotiations. The BBC Sports Personality of the Year is being held on Sunday, so both parties may have mutually decided to hold off an announcement until Monday. Realistically, if we hear nothing either Monday or Tuesday, then it will be a wait until the New Year. Other media and motor sport outlets have since covered the story, mostly repeating Broadcast’s original story, including Motorsport.com, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. Neither AUTOSPORT or The Guardian have yet covered the story.

In an interview with the Press Association via Motorsport.com in response to the latest story, Bernie Ecclestone said “The bottom line is that they [BBC] are cutting back on all types of sport and if we really, really, really had to, we’d say ‘you have got a contract and you better get on with it.’ They can’t leave the contract early. The Beeb have always done a very, very good job. I have no problem at all with them. It is just they can’t afford to continue with what they have done in the past.” Ecclestone concludes by saying that he does not know what will happen in 2016, which sounds worrying.

Ecclestone’s lines are again expected, he said very similar last month. The situation we are in is bizarre. Party 1 wants to exit contract and Party 2 is interested. Sport 1 wants to stay with Party 1 and appears to be distancing himself from Party 2. The more Ecclestone tries and persuades BBC to stay, the less interested ITV will become. Does Ecclestone really want an uninterested BBC to stay on-board, and potentially limit resources as much as possible? I’m not entirely sure that is the best option. In my opinion: If BBC want to get out of the contract, and ITV want to take over, then let that happen. Don’t hold it up. Yes, ITV may give you fewer viewers, but they are still free to air. They will still bring in between two and three million viewers a weekend. Annoying ITV and prolonging any negotiations will not do F1 any good in the long run.

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17 thoughts on “Report: ITV to take over BBC’s F1 TV coverage from 2016

  1. Well, after a fun ride with the BBC it looks like we’ll be back with ITV; really things didn’t change much between now and 2008 did they? (Except of course for Sky Sports F1 coming into being and ITV sport adding FE to it’s portfolio) Somehow I think they’d continue covering FE simply because FE will pay for it: They need FTA coverage otherwise no-one will watch it. (And let’s face it ITV’s figures are not much to shout home about given how poorly it’s been advertised)

  2. It was inevitable, I have been expecting this for a few years. Hopefully they don’t advertise, have a show similar to Sky coverage.

    To improve the coverage, they should have Practice on ITV4, rather than online. Also cut down the build up shows for Qualifying and the Race and provide more indepth analysis afterwards. Of course, I hate adverts but if it means ITV can claim all of the coverage from 2019, I could cope with them. Adverts shouldn’t be broadcast in Live races but will be more acceptable in the Highlights shows. Maybe, these could be MotoGP style, the whole race delayed but with adverts every 30 minutes (only 3 or 4 ad-breaks) in a 2 hour programme.

    Looking at the coverage, they may poach Jennie Gow to present the coverage as 5Live will still need presenters. I would like Lee McKenzie to move, along with Coulthard and Clarkson. Ben Edwards is a good commentator but I could see them sub-licensing Sky Sports commentary. If not they should use both DC and Ben Edwards in commentary and it could provide Gary Anderson a new job as Technical Analyst. I would bin off Suzi Perry, Eddie Jordan and Alan McNish as they’re noy needed.

    Personnel:
    Presenter: Jennie Gow
    Pundits: David Coulthard & Mark Webber
    Reporters: Tom Clarkson & Lee McKenzie
    Analyst: Gary Anderson
    Commentators: Ben Edwards & David Coulthard or Martin Brundle & David Croft

  3. so now we have awful engines , awful tires , butchered race tracks , cant watch half unless we pay and what we can watch we have advert rammed down our throat every 15minutes.

    I just care less and less everyday.

    Just for your information i remember watching san marino grand prix, alonso chasing the ferrari down in last laps. ITV put an advert in last few laps. The title sponsor of itv coverage was texco petrol station. Even now i don’t go in texco petrol station because of that. I use to walk out room was adverts where on. I dare any company to put advert in live race because if you do i wont buy anything from you.

  4. I would prefer the BBC to stay with F1. I would even settle for less Live races if we got 2 hours higjlights of every race. Maybe 5 live races and the rest with 2 hours highlights.

  5. Regarding your update on Ecclestone’s comments from today, could it just be that he is trying to get more money out of ITV? I have no idea how TV rights negotiations are conducted, but one suspects this is what is happening.

    How do you think this is going to end up?

    Keep up the good work.

    • The problem I have is that ITV in recent years are not known to splash the cash around where sports rights are concerned.

      If Ecclestone increases the price to ITV, they could easily say no. The amount of money Sky currently pay FOM is small in the current environment compared to their other contracts.

      If Ecclestone told BBC that they have to continue, they would slash production costs, for example studio coverage for the flyaway races to give one example.

      • But do you – as somebody who seems to have a pretty good understanding of these things – think ITV will come in, or do you believe the BBC will be forced to continue with, as you say, slashed production costs?

        Personally, I believe the best thing to happen would be for ITV to come back into Formula One.

        We need free-to-air coverage of the sport. It would be as near a disaster as it is possible to get if we didn’t. If ITV want to make a commitment to the sport, let them. Bite their hand off!

  6. Personally I wouldn’t mind if there was studio coverage of the flyaway races on BBC, whether live or highlights. Coverage of the actual races is the bit I’m most interested in. ITV didn’t do too a bad job last time round (James Allen and unfortunately timed adverts notwithstanding), though sports broadcasting in general has probably moved on somewhat since then.

    I remember writing my own blog post about coverage moving to Sky a few years ago. This time round I’m not really bothered what happens either way, which is a sad indictment of my current interest in F1 after over 20 years of watching it. I imagine I’m not the only one…

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