Predicting the 2016 calendar pick order (version 2)

When I wrote the original BBC and Sky Sports calendar predictions post for the 2016 Formula One season back in the Summer, no one could have anticipated what was going to unfold in the months that followed. Readers are probably now well aware that Channel 4 are the new terrestrial television rights holders, succeeding the BBC who have exited their contract with immediate effect.

So yes, Channel 4 will be broadcasting the 2016 Australian Grand Prix on Sunday 20th March. My post from the Summer is completely redundant now and serves no purpose. I thought it would be easier to create a new post rather than to completely rework that post. It is apt that the biggest calendar shake-up happens alongside the broadcasting shake-up, with the 2016 season containing 21 races, starting in March. It is tradition for The F1 Broadcasting Blog each year to predict the pick order, for the next three years that will be the Channel 4 and Sky pick order (if you’re not used to reading that yet, you will be soon!).

The finalised calendar is as follows:

The confirmed 2016 Formula One calendar.
The confirmed 2016 Formula One calendar.

I have done the calendar above as a table, given the amount of year-on-year changes, notably Russia and Malaysia swapping on the calendar. Furthermore, I have received confirmation from Channel 4 that the ‘pick’ process is identical to the previous BBC and Sky deal. The races that Channel 4 pick will be shown live on Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1, while the races that Sky pick will be shown exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, with highlights on Channel 4. The picks go as follows:

– Channel 4 pick three races (pick 1, 2 and 3)
– Sky pick three races (pick 4, 5 and 6)
– Channel 4 pick one race (pick 7)
– Sky pick one race (pick 8)

This continues until every race has been picked. There are 21 races on the calendar, so Channel 4 will screen ten races live with Sky screening eleven races exclusively live. If a race is dropped from the calendar, the picks do not change retrospectively. Germany was dropped from the 2015 calendar, but the picks stayed the same, meaning BBC were able to broadcast three races in a row live. Channel 4’s live sporting contracts consist of the Paralympics and horse racing, the latter of which occurs on the majority of Saturdays round the year. Avoiding every race that Channel 4 show is going to be incredibly difficult, however Channel 4 will be looking to avoid the major race days where possible. Bumping either a live major horse race or Formula 1 qualifying to E4 or More4 will do no one any favours.

Another factor that we need to consider is whether Channel 4 want the majority of their live races to be European based. Whilst it may not change the end result, it will influence the picking order in my view. There have already been questions about whether Channel 4’s current deal is commercially viable. David Elstein, a former executive of both Channel 5 and Sky, believes the deal is viable based on sponsorship alone, but notes that highlights will have adverts included, as we expected. Again, this post is only for discussion and a bit of fun with the pick orders. I am doing this a bit smarter though than previously, and applying all the rules that come along with the picking process as we go through the post. My tally for 2015 of getting 11 out of 19 correct was slightly better than usual though, which is good!

Channel 4 pick Britain, Abu Dhabi and Mexico (picks 1 to 3). Whether Britain and Abu Dhabi are compulsory picks I do not know, but given that one is the home race and the other is the final race, both of these are expected picks. Unfortunately, Britain will not rate well again in 2016 as it clashes with the first part of the Wimbledon final on BBC One. Channel 4’s third pick is between Canada, USA, Mexico and Brazil. Canada is not an option this early due to Euro 2016. USA starts at 20:00 and would mean interrupting Homeland mid-run (I know the F1 would rate higher, but let us not annoy Channel 4’s existing audience). Mexico therefore gets the nod over Brazil because it starts in primetime, but would still finish before 21:00. If anything, you could do something different and ‘wrap’ the F1 around Homeland, with studio based post-race analysis following Homeland at 22:00 (more on that line of thinking in a separate blog post in the next week or so).

The above means Sky automatically get Brazil (pick 21). Sky cannot have three exclusive races in a row, and Channel 4 cannot broadcast three live races in a row. Just to clarify, the above text says ‘pick 21’ as Sky would not waste a pick up front for Brazil when they know they are guaranteed the race regardless. Channel 4 will not be too fussed about losing Brazil given that it clashes with Sky’s second Ford Super Sunday game and the live viewing figures would be dented as a result. Therefore, Sky pick USA, Canada and Monaco (picks 4 to 6).  USA and Canada are primetime races, whilst Monaco is the blue ribbon race on the calendar. I do think there is a choice between Monaco and Bahrain. Bahrain is the better timeslot, but it overlaps with the Premier League season, so I think Sky will opt for Monaco.

By Sky picking Monaco, it means Channel 4 automatically get Spain (pick 17) and Channel 4 automatically get Europe (pick 19). Europe does fall in the same weekend as the Royal Ascot, but the time difference means that the Grand Prix qualifying session in Baku should have wrapped up before the horse racing action gets underway. In fact, having the two back-to-back could lead to a bumper day for Channel 4 on June 18th. In turn, Sky automatically get Austria (pick 20), otherwise Channel 4 would be screening Europe, Austria and Britain live consecutively. Next up, Channel 4 pick Bahrain (pick 7). The logic here is that it is simply the best timeslot left to pick from. In response, Sky pick Hungary (pick 8). The other choice is Australia, but Hungary is the much better timeslot and tends to pick up good numbers with it being the last race before the Summer shutdown. Plus, Sky may want to try and force Channel 4 to pick Australia knowing that it will be their first race, but let’s see if that tactic works in our predictions.

We are left in this position:

March 20th – Australia (Melbourne)
April 3rd – Bahrain (Sakhir) – Channel 4 (pick 7)
April 17th – China (Shanghai)
May 1st – Russia (Sochi)
May 15th – Spain (Barcelona) – Channel 4 (pick 17 – automatic)
May 29th – Monaco (Monaco) – Sky (pick 6)
June 12th – Canada (Montreal) – Sky (pick 5)
June 19th – Europe (Baku) – Channel 4 (pick 19 – automatic)
July 3rd – Austria (Red Bull Ring) – Sky (pick 20 – automatic)
July 10th – Britain (Silverstone) – Channel 4 (pick 1)
July 24th – Hungary (Budapest) – Sky (pick 8)
July 31st – Germany (Hockenheim)
August 28th – Belgium (Spa)
September 4th – Italy (Monza)
September 18th – Singapore (Marina Bay)
October 2nd – Malaysia (Sepang)
October 9th – Japan (Suzuka)
October 23rd – USA (Circuit of the Americas) – Sky (pick 4)
October 30th – Mexico (Mexico City) – Channel 4 (pick 3)
November 13th – Brazil (Interlagos) – Sky (pick 21 – automatic)
November 27th – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) – Channel 4 (pick 2)

I think at this point; Channel 4 will be looking for live early morning races where they can screen highlights/replays at a later time with adverts to a higher audience. Personally, Channel 4 pick Malaysia (pick 9). Malaysia is the best choice because of its unique timeslot. At 08:00, it means Channel 4 can screen it live and then broadcast highlights with adverts at around 15:00, so it is a win-win race for them. In response, Sky pick Russia (pick 10). It is either Russia or Italy, Italy is more prestigious, but Russia has a longer runtime and is therefore likely to bring in higher ratings. It also means that Channel 4 can now kill three birds with one stone.  Channel 4 pick Italy (pick 11). Italy is the shortest race on the calendar, so there will only be around 90 minutes of air time without adverts which makes it more attractive to the commercial station.

Furthermore, Channel 4 picking Italy means that Sky automatically get Singapore (pick 18). This is good news for Channel 4 because Singapore clashes with the Paralympic Games, it is not in Channel 4’s interests to have two of their biggest events clashing with each other. Having Singapore as a highlights race means that Channel 4 can have a live race elsewhere.

The schedule therefore looks like this:

March 20th – Australia (Melbourne)
April 3rd – Bahrain (Sakhir) – Channel 4 (pick 7)
April 17th – China (Shanghai)
May 1st – Russia (Sochi) – Sky (pick 10)
May 15th – Spain (Barcelona) – Channel 4 (pick 17 – automatic)
May 29th – Monaco (Monaco) – Sky (pick 6)
June 12th – Canada (Montreal) – Sky (pick 5)
June 19th – Europe (Baku) – Channel 4 (pick 19 – automatic)
July 3rd – Austria (Red Bull Ring) – Sky (pick 20 – automatic)
July 10th – Britain (Silverstone) – Channel 4 (pick 1)
July 24th – Hungary (Budapest) – Sky (pick 8)
July 31st – Germany (Hockenheim)
August 28th – Belgium (Spa)
September 4th – Italy (Monza) – Channel 4 (pick 11)
September 18th – Singapore (Marina Bay) – Sky (pick 18 – automatic)
October 2nd – Malaysia (Sepang) – Channel 4 (pick 9)
October 9th – Japan (Suzuka)
October 23rd – USA (Circuit of the Americas) – Sky (pick 4)
October 30th – Mexico (Mexico City) – Channel 4 (pick 3)
November 13th – Brazil (Interlagos) – Sky (pick 21 – automatic)
November 27th – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) – Channel 4 (pick 2)

With not many races left, Sky have no exclusivity in the first part of 2016, until Sky pick China (pick 12). It is 50/50 between China and Australia, but the latter has lost a lot of its potential with the race starting at 05:00 UK time.

Australia, Germany, Belgium and Japan are the four races left to choose from. Inevitably, Channel 4 pick Belgium (pick 13). The shorter the race, the more adverts Channel 4 can cram in around the race, so Belgium is a great race for them in that respect. It also means that Sky automatically get Germany (pick 16). The weekend of Germany clashes with Glorious Goodwood, so Channel 4 will be happy that Sky get Germany exclusively live. Which leaves Australia and Japan. As they have done every year since 2012, Sky pick Australia (pick 14), meaning Channel 4 pick Japan (pick 15).

Which leaves us with this final calendar:

March 20th – Australia (Melbourne) – Sky (pick 14)
April 3rd – Bahrain (Sakhir) – Channel 4 (pick 7)
April 17th – China (Shanghai) – Sky (pick 12)
May 1st – Russia (Sochi) – Sky (pick 10)
May 15th – Spain (Barcelona) – Channel 4 (pick 17 – automatic)
May 29th – Monaco (Monaco) – Sky (pick 6)
June 12th – Canada (Montreal) – Sky (pick 5)
June 19th – Europe (Baku) – Channel 4 (pick 19 – automatic)
July 3rd – Austria (Red Bull Ring) – Sky (pick 20 – automatic)
July 10th – Britain (Silverstone) – Channel 4 (pick 1)
July 24th – Hungary (Budapest) – Sky (pick 8)
July 31st – Germany (Hockenheim) – Sky (pick 16 – automatic)
August 28th – Belgium (Spa) – Channel 4 (pick 13)
September 4th – Italy (Monza) – Channel 4 (pick 11)
September 18th – Singapore (Marina Bay) – Sky (pick 18 – automatic)
October 2nd – Malaysia (Sepang) – Channel 4 (pick 9)
October 9th – Japan (Suzuka) – Channel 4 (pick 15)
October 23rd – USA (Circuit of the Americas) – Sky (pick 4)
October 30th – Mexico (Mexico City) – Channel 4 (pick 3)
November 13th – Brazil (Interlagos) – Sky (pick 21 – automatic)
November 27th – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) – Channel 4 (pick 2)

We should know the final picks early into the New Year, definitely within the next few weeks I imagine. But that is how I imagine the picks turning out.

Updated on December 26th, 2015.

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12 thoughts on “Predicting the 2016 calendar pick order (version 2)

  1. My predictions are similar to my old picks with a few changes.

    Australia – Sky
    Bahrain – Channel 4
    China – Sky
    Russia – Channel 4
    Spain – Sky
    Monaco – Channel 4
    Canada – Channel 4
    Europe – Sky
    Austria – Sky
    Britain – Channel 4
    Hungary – Sky
    Germany – Sky
    Belgium – Channel 4
    Italy – Sky
    Singapore – Channel 4
    Malaysia – Channel 4
    Japan – Sky
    USA – Sky
    Mexico – Channel 4
    Brazil – Sky
    Abu Dhabi – Channel 4

  2. i don’t see how sporting clashes should effect things. in 2011 all races were shown live regardless of sporting events clashing. there are hundreds of tv,sports clashes every channel every day, if there were all spread out to avoid them 1 f1 season would take years to finish. its simple if f1 has good racing then more people will watch.

    I think c4 should pick australia live considering there is going to be ad free live races. If the 1st race(highlights) has adverts it might put new fans off,even if its early so what, the 1st race is important as we don’t know whats going to happen in the season(apart from merc winning). its a shame that c4 didn’t buy full live rights or at least pay a bit more to get full delyed coverage instead of highlights.

    • Mainly for ratings.

      A sport shown on C4 will rate higher than a sport on More4, where it’s harder to find. Putting a sport on More4 loses ratings. Also, it annoys followers of the sport that’s been shifted. Can you imagine the F1 reaction if F1 is put on More4? (What, F1 is so unimportant to C4 that they shove it away for bloody horses??? Who do they think they are???? Don’t they know that F1 is more important than horsepower competing to see who’s fastest???) And especially in the first year, Channel 4 is going to want to look like they’re cherishing F1 and its viewers, but without turning horse racing into a second-rate sport (because horse racing rights are up for renewal soon).

      When it comes to sports on other channels, there’s competition for “casual sports fans”. Not the ones that will get up at 5am to watch Australia, but the people sat at home just wanting to watch ‘something’ on a Sunday afternoon. If F1 is the only sport on a major channel, it captures nearly all the casual sports fans looking for some sport to watch. If it’s on at the same time as Wimbledon, it’s competing for those casual sports fans. It doesn’t matter if F1 ‘has good racing’ (however you want to define that) if Murray is in the Men’s Final.

      And lower ratings = less money from advertisers = less return on investment = less inclination for C4 to rebid on rights once the contract’s up. (they couldn’t have outbid Sky for a contract that Sky won four years ago, but they might try and outbid everyone for full rights once this contract is up.)

  3. Makes sense, interesting to see the results. I think Channel 4 will avoid Australia to give them more time to get a live show up and running, they can have a practice at the first race.

    Seems odd to see Belgium being picked late- it’s a fan favourite but that’s not always how it works

  4. I think that Channel 4 will go for a minimum of 5 European GP’s. You’re right about them working around contracts but I am speculating that ITV will buy-out Channel 4’s Racing coverage. I also believe Canada will be wanted because they will attempt to fight against the Euro’s.

    Australian GP – Sky
    Bahrain GP – C4
    Chinese GP – Sky
    Russian GP – C4
    Spanish GP – Sky
    Monaco GP – C4
    Canadian GP – C4
    European GP – Sky
    Austrian GP – Sky
    British GP – C4
    Hungarian GP – C4
    German GP – Sky
    Belgian GP – C4
    Italian GP – Sky
    Singapore GP – Sky
    Malaysian GP – C4
    Japanese GP – Sky
    US GP – Sky
    Mexican GP – C4
    Brazilian GP – Sky
    Abu Dhabi GP – C4

    In terms of broadcasting, F1 should only lose out to Horse Racing if the meetings are major. However, if there is a big race, it won’t be broadcast until around 4pm. This means, European race Qualifying sessions would be finished by 2pm so there wouldn’t be a direct clash.

    F1: 12.00 – 14.30 on Channel 4
    HR: 13.15 – 14.30 on More4 then
    HR: 14.30 – 17.00 on Channel 4

    I think all F1 races will be broadcast on Channel 4 but (as shown above), Qualifying could be dependant on the type of Horse Racing meeting.

  5. My predictions for the picks are quite strange, but in some way seem quite realistic. I could see China being Channel 4’s first live race to give them enough preparation time. Also, nearer the end of the season, USA is the best race of the 3 US timezone races. Brazil has been quite boring since 2012 and Mexico is so high at altitude that overtaking is much harder; making 2015 a boring race in my opinion.

    I have taken into account big Horse Racing events, trying to avoid a direct clash.

    Australia – Sky
    Bahrain – Sky
    China – Channel 4
    Russia – Channel 4
    Spain – Sky
    Monaco – Channel 4
    Canada – Channel 4
    Azerbaijan – Sky
    Austria – Sky
    Britain – Channel 4
    Hungary – Channel 4
    Germany – Sky
    Belgium – Channel 4
    Italy – Sky
    Singapore – Sky
    Malaysia – Channel 4
    Japan – Sky
    USA – Channel 4
    Mexico – Sky
    Brazil – Sky
    UAE – Channel 4

  6. I’d say:
    Australian GP – C4 (10)
    Bahrain GP – C4 (7)
    Chinese GP – Sky (10)
    Russian GP – C4 (8)
    Spanish GP – Sky (8)
    Monaco GP – Sky (1)
    Canadian GP – C4 (4)
    European GP – C4 (9)
    Austrian GP – Sky (9)
    British GP – C4 (1)
    Hungarian GP – Sky (6)
    German GP – Sky (7)
    Belgian GP – C4 (6)
    Italian GP – Sky (5)
    Singapore GP – Sky (4)
    Malaysian GP – C4 (5)
    Japanese GP – Sky (11)
    United States GP – Sky (3)
    Mexican GP – C4 (3)
    Brazilian GP – Sky (2)
    Abu Dhabi GP – C4 (2)

    I’ll explain more when i do an article similar to yours on my website.

  7. My predictions are:
    Australia – Sky
    Bahrain – C4
    China – Sky
    Russia – Sky
    Spain – C4
    Monaco – C4
    Canada – Sky
    Europe – Sky
    Austria – C4
    Britain – C4
    Hungary – Sky
    Germany – Sky
    Belgium – C4
    Italy – C4
    Singapore – Sky
    Malaysia – C4
    Japan – Sky
    USA – C4
    Mexico – Sky
    Brazil – Sky
    UAE – C4

    I think the picks will finish in this vein because it avoids msjor dporting clashes (besides Wimbledon) and fits in welk with the Channel 4 schedule.

  8. I’d be happy with whatever as long as any races starting at 0800, 0900 & 1000 are shown on C4 as I can record them to watch in full after Church as I can’t record SkyF1

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