Sky Sports unveil 2016 pre-season trailer

Sky Sports have unveiled their 2016 pre-season trailer for the new Formula One season, which for the second year running will air across their UK, Germany and Italian outlets. The trailer, called the Constant Fight, in my opinion is a marked improvement on last year’s effort.

The 90 second film may remind readers of Sky UK’s promotion heading into their inaugural 2012 season. The 2016 version features drivers preparing for a Formula One weekend and was filmed during the last two race weekends of the 2015 season in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

The music in the campaign was created by Dave Connolly, with creative and direction led by Jacques Salmon. The trailer aims to “bring to life all of the fights fought out at every level of this intense competition, demonstrating that F1 really is a constant fight.” Whilst last year’s trailer, #TheChasingPack also aired in Germany and Italy, Salmon notes that this year’s trailer marks “first truly pan-European 360* campaign for SKY.”

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Channel 4 begins Formula 1 advertising campaign

Channel 4 has begun its Formula 1 promotion in earnest with teaser trailers airing across their portfolio of channels.

The trailers started airing on the 24th February and will no doubt continue through the next couple of weeks as we head towards the Australian Grand Prix. I’ll adjust this post when clean versions of the trailers are released. Alongside this, @C4F1 is the official Channel 4 Twitter account for Formula 1 going forward.

The promotional work surrounding Channel 4’s coverage is being handled by Pitch PR, who won “a competitive pitch process at the start of the year.” To quote from Pitch’s press release, they have “been tasked with helping launch Channel 4’s 2016 coverage and promoting the broadcast of their live and highlight coverage throughout the season.”

Update on February 26th – Here we go! Channel 4’s F1 Twitter (and Vine) feeds are alive. A host of tweets came through on the Twitter account promoting their coverage. Their first tweet, embedded above, is the famous riff of The Chain which is remaining with Formula 1 in 2016. On television, more teaser trailers aired during shows such as Gogglebox. The car in the teasers appears to be the Red Bull RB7 from 2011.

The broadcaster has also launched their Formula 1 website. Clearly it is a slim line version at the moment, but Channel 4 promise that their in-depth website will be ready “soon”.

Update on March 8th – Coinciding with the formal launch of their coverage, Channel 4’s promotion is about to ramp up significantly with the launch of their 30 second trailer. As well as being broadcast on Channel 4, the trailer will be “broadcast in key spots on BT Sport and ITV1 including the England vs. Wales Six Nations rugby match on Saturday 12th March” in order to reach a wider audience.

Notably, the campaign will continue beyond the Australian Grand Prix, including radio trailers leading up to the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is Channel 4’s first live Grand Prix. Channel 4 notes that the trailer was shot at Silverstone and was conceived and created by their in-house creative agency 4Creative.

Update on March 15th – A high resolution version of the 30 second trailer has been uploaded to Vimeo here.

Motors TV removed from Sky platform (and reinstated)

Motors TV has today (Thursday 25th February) been removed from the Sky platform.

The reason, as of writing, is unknown but the channel disappeared from its channel 447 slot on the EPG at some point late this morning. Their Twitter has not yet commented on the situation, but Sky’s Help Team on the social networking website said that Motors TV are “no longer broadcasting on Sky”.

The removal from Sky follows the removal of the channel from Freeview via an aerial and YouView earlier this year, having been added in late 2014. Obviously it is concerning that the channel has been removed from two platforms in the space of two months. The main casualty of this, if contracts do not change, would be the World Endurance Championship who currently have some races broadcast exclusively live on the channel.

If we hear anything more about this, I will update this post…

Update on February 26th – Thanks to those of you on Twitter and elsewhere who have linked to this piece on the Endurance Info website. The article, written on February 15th, contains quotes from Jean-Luc Roy who is the president of Motors TV. Reading the article, it appears Roy is deeply unhappy with Motors TV’s treatment on French platforms on beyond. The crux of the argument is that Motors TV has found itself sliding down the EPG, meaning they get a smaller audience.

My suspicion, although as far as I can see Roy does not confirm this, is that Motors TV has to pay a flat rate fee to the likes of Sky, irrespective of whether it is channel 413 or 447 on their EPG. For Sky, it would have been “we want X” to extend the carriage agreement, Motors TV would have said no and walked away. And, at the end of the day, no one is really going to defect from Sky to Virgin Media to watch Motors TV, maybe a handful, if that. Similar situations have happened before, and successfully resolved. Back in 2007, Sky’s basic channels were taken off Virgin for nearly two years because of a carriage dispute, at the time it was a high-profile dispute between the two parties.

With the above in mind, Motors TV could return to Sky. Don’t know when, but never say never. We just don’t know. But this is a desperately sad situation that is driven by finances. Is Motors TV closer to the brink than any of us realise?

Update on February 27th – Per Daily Sports Car, a source close to the situation is hopeful that the channel will be reinstated in the next week, which is good news for everyone concerned.

Update on March 4th – Motors TV has returned to the Sky platform in the same EPG slot as previously. On their Twitter page, they did not explain the reason for the disappearance.

Expansive on-air team expected for Channel 4 F1?

A very interesting piece over at SVG Europe has dropped online today. The SVG Europe article confirms that Whisper Films will use Presteigne Broadcast equipment for their coverage of Formula 1 on Channel 4. Presteigne’s presence is a continuation of their BBC F1 contract which began in 2014.

The piece talks about the facilities that are built to cater for the Formula 1 coverage, all of the facilities fitting into two lightweight pods. It is well worth a read for those of you into the intrinsic technical details that is required to getting a Formula 1 broadcast on the air. There’s a few points I want to focus on from the piece.

Notably, Whisper Films will have four radio cameras instead of three radio cameras as in previous years. SVG Europe says that this is “to accommodate an expanded number of on-air talent upped from four to seven.” Given that the photo shoot for Channel 4’s F1 team is understood to have already taken place, you would not accommodate something that is not going to happen. I would assume this applies for the live races only given that you would not use four radio cameras for a highlights programme.

David O’Carroll, Presteigne’s Head of Technology said that this “enables Whisper to move around much more freely, for example, placing a couple of cameras at either end of the paddock or pit lane and throwing presentation between them or wherever the story is.” The above can be interpreted many ways. Does the increase from four to seven include the guests that they have throughout the show? The wording suggests we are strictly talking about the Channel 4 ‘on-air talent’.

In essence, it looks like Whisper could have two presentation teams on the go at the same time. My best guess is that four on-air talents would be in pit lane with a further three in the paddock. That does not necessarily mean that Channel 4 will be announcing two presenters for their Formula 1 coverage. The ‘paddock presenter’ would combine that with the pit lane reporter role. Until we see the full line-up, it is difficult to know how things will break down. An increase in cameras could also imply more build-up and post-race coverage on Channel 4 compared to the BBC for their live races.

Further down the piece, there’s a few bits that regular readers may already be aware of, but not actually seen in writing – i.e. the fact that broadcasters (in Channel 4’s case Whisper Films) are required to supply FOM with all footage filmed within the race circuit during a race weekend, even if said footage did not make the air. Presteigne will be picking up “about 24 main programme feeds” including on-board feeds, the post does not mention if Channel 4 plan on using said feeds online, so we will have to wait for that piece of news.

A fascinating point is that the idea in the future is to have the programme edited in London as opposed to on-location, although O’Carroll did not give a timeline for this being implemented. O’Carroll said that “remotely editing from London would save sending a number of editors around the world.” And, for those wondering, no plans for FOM to look into 4K or virtual reality, “at least for this season.”

Channel 4’s F1 team unlikely to feature technical expert

Channel 4’s brand new Formula 1 team is unlikely to feature a dedicated technical analyst role, this site has learnt.

The full line-up had a photo shoot together during the week commencing 8th February, whilst Jake Humphrey spoke to Channel 4’s new Formula 1 presenter last Tuesday (16th February). Sources have indicated to this blog that the channel have opted not feature a technical analyst, which is the same view that BBC’s respective radio and television production teams have held in recent years.

As I mentioned in my pieces over Christmas, I said it was “critical that there is a technical view point represented in Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage.” Since then, we have learnt that Whisper Films will be producing the channel’s coverage, with former BBC F1 programme editor Mark Wilkin jumping ship to join Whisper. With other higher-up faces in the BBC F1 operation also joining Whisper Films, should we be too surprised by this news? Probably not.

One of the major stories that came out of Gary Anderson leaving BBC F1 in early 2014 was his opinion that the BBC (i.e. those now leading the Channel 4 operation) were “not interested” in technical analysis. More recently, Anderson speaking to AUTOSPORT last October said that “The casual viewers is where the big viewing numbers are and many of them don’t give a damn about what’s under the bonnet of an F1 car. They want action and they want a hero to worship.”

With Craig Scarborough, Mike Gascoyne and Mark Priestley all appearing on Sky Sports F1 in forthcoming weeks (the latter permanently from now on), you get the impression that Sky could become a centre of technical excellence on television if Channel 4’s coverage does indeed not feature a technical expert. How Channel 4 will choose to cover technical analysis during their coverage is unknown.

I would assume that, instead of bringing in someone dedicated to technical (like Ted Kravitz is on Sky), they will have a face such as Tom Clarkson duelling between technical where necessary and pit lane interviews. As I have said before on these pages, whilst I think Clarkson is a great reporter, I do not think he can be classed as a technical expert in the same way that Kravitz, Scarborough and Priestley are.