Spain and Poland’s F1 reach continues to decrease

As anticipation ramps up towards the start of the 2016 Formula One season, if you live in either Spain or Poland, there is unfortunately some very bad news.

Starting with Spain, the website Mundo Deportivo is reporting that pay-TV station Movistar+ will be broadcasting Formula 1 exclusively, with neither Antenna 3 or TV3 renewing their contracts. Both Antenna 3 and TV3’s contracts expired at the end of 2015. At the last rights renewal in January 2014, it was reported that TV3’s rights contract decreased by 30 percent. I won’t be surprised if TV3 (and Antenna 3) tried to drop the contract value again, only for Formula One Management (FOM) to walk towards pay-TV. There’s only so far you can drop the value before the rights holder walks away.

Meanwhile in Poland, Eleven Sports Network have acquired the exclusive rights to every Formula 1 session across the whole season. The company acquired the rights from MP and Silva who, according to SportsPro Media, won the rights to distribute Formula 1 content in multiple territories in December 2013. The important piece of information here is that Polsat will no longer be showing Formula 1 having aired the championship from 2007 to 2015 – first on their free-to-air channel until the end of 2013 then on their pay-TV sports channel for the past two seasons. Polsat were partially responsible for the rise in viewing figures, alongside the surge of Robert Kubica until his accident at the beginning of 2011. As noted in the comments below, Eleven Sports Network is not available on the largest satellite network, meaning F1 will now have an even smaller audience base in Poland.

It means that the following rights deal have taken effect within the past four years:

– UK (from 2012 – shared)
=> BBC TV out, Channel 4 in from 2016
Netherlands (from 2013)
Italy (from 2013 – shared)
– Poland (from 2014 – full pay-TV)
Czech Republic (from 2015 – full pay-TV)
Slovakia (from 2015 – full pay-TV)
South America (from 2015)
Australia (from 2015)
– Spain (from 2016 – full pay-TV)

In my opinion, shared deals are the way forward. It allows Formula 1 to have a shop window and access to millions of viewers on free-to-air television, whilst also catering to the dedicated fan on pay-TV. Of course, in a perfect world every race would be live free-to-air, but the economics are against that at the moment. I really don’t think a full pay-TV deal achieves anything. It certainly does not get a new generation of fans invested in Formula 1, and I fear for Formula 1 in Spain going forward. Whilst the attendances at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya have been good historically, it will be interesting to monitor them going forward. I won’t be surprised if there is a knock on effect as a result of this deal.

Thanks to Karol296 on Twitter for the heads up regarding the Poland deal.

Update on March 2nd – It looks like there is more to the Spanish story. SportBusiness are reporting that TV3 has agreed a deal with Telelefonica Movistar+ to air the Spanish Grand Prix live, with the remaining 20 races airing on a one-hour tape delay. That does not sound too bad and could have been a lot, lot worse.

Update on March 16th – Sports Pro Media says that TV3’s package is actually for a one-hour highlights package as opposed to airing races on a one-hour tape delay.

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11 thoughts on “Spain and Poland’s F1 reach continues to decrease

  1. I’m from Argentina (South America) and let me tell you something about Formula 1 live coverage: in Argentina from 1990 to 1999 Formula 1 was live broadcasted by the local free-to-air TV channel Telefe. Then in the 2000 year a new cable channel was created “PSN” and they bought the TV rights of Formula 1 for the whole Latin American continent (except for Brazil). After PSN went bankruptcy, Fox Sports took over the Formula 1 live coverage for Latin American until 2015 when DirectV in association with Mediapro they created “Canal Formula 1 Latinamerica” (a 24 hours Formula 1 channel), Until now this channel tt’s exclusively for Directv customers or some small cable companies.

    So, you can argue that to see Formula 1 in Latin America since the year 2000 you have to pay cable TV or satellite (Directv). But, even with this new Directv-Mediapro deal, you don’t have to pay exclusively to watch Formula 1. There’s no such a thing like a “Formula 1 package”. If you are a Directv customer you get “Canal Formula 1 Latinamerica” as part of the regular channels. The same goes to Fox Sports when they had the rights for live coverage, now they can broadcast only 10 races live and the rest air taped.

    • How I miss Formula 1 on Fox. Tornello and Puente were the best broadcasters. I can’t stand the “panel” from f1 Latin america

  2. Formula 1 was broadcast in Poland on fta until 2013. Later in 2014 and 2015 year by the pay Polsat Sport (available in low-packages). The problem for viewers is that the Eleven Sports is not available in the largest digital platform in Poland (3.5 million subscribers Cyfrowy Polsat), where Polsat Sport is the main sports channel. People interested in F1 must purchase an additional package online, or subscription satellite platform NC + or cable TV.

    The average tv audience F1 in Poland:
    2009 – Polsat (free-to-air) – 2.1 million (best year with Kubica)
    2013 – Polsat (free-to-air) – 0.712 million
    2014 – Polsat Sport (pay tv) 0.383 million

    • Thanks again Karol, have amended the article – but which way you look at it, it doesn’t look like positive news.

      In some ways unsurprising, but sad that the full potential was never reached due to Kubica’s injury.

      • Before Kubica F1 was a little-known sport. It was a chance for a really great popularity, if he went to a better team and won races. Just as it was with Alonso in Spain.

  3. I really don’t understand the thinking behind F1 moving away from free to air TV. It strikes me as very short sighted. When a sport goes to pay TV, it’s audience figures plummet. Look at the difference between races that are on Sky only compared to those on the BBC.

    CVC’s big marketing claim is that F1 reaches a worldwide audience of hundreds of millions of people. Those numbers are what allows them to bring in big fees from other sponsors. Surely in the long term minimising the TV audience is only going to reduce their sponsorship and advertising revenues.

    • I don’t think CVC make big marketing claims of any kind. Part of the problem is that CVC does nothing at all, except sit back and let the money roll in.

      As a venture capital company, they have no long term interest in their investment. That business model is based on acquiring assets for fixed periods of time, then selling them on. In this respect CVC are doing their job well – ie maximizing revenues from the investment.

      The main problem is that the sport was partially sold to a company of this type. That move was for short term gains, whilst doing a disservice to the medium and long term interests of the sport.

      It’s easy to blame CVC for causing problems, but technically they are just behaving as expected. The blame should be squarely placed on the people who allowed such vultures into F1 in the first place!

  4. i thought Motor manufacturers and sponsors were trying to sell their product. I guess they only want to sell to a few.
    Next week Argos should try charging £50 for their catalog . They can sit back and watch the sales roll in.

  5. It seems that GREED is destroying everything that is good about F1. The viewing numbers are going to go down again this year, just wait and see! 😦

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