Sky Sports to broadcast F1 exclusively from 2019

Sky are to broadcast F1 exclusively from 2019 in the United Kingdom, it has been confirmed. In a huge bombshell announcement on Wednesday evening, the broadcaster announced that they will show every race live from 2019 to 2024 after agreeing a new deal with Formula One Management. The announcement means that Channel 4 will only be showing their element of live Formula 1 from 2016 to 2018.

The British Grand Prix remains live and free-to-air, as will highlights of every race and qualifying session. Furthermore, at least two ‘prime time’ races will be shown live on Sky Sports Mix. Sky have also announced that from 2017, every race will be shown live in Ultra HD via SkyQ. Interestingly, there is no explicit reference of ‘Sky Sports F1’ as a channel beyond 2018.

Bernie Ecclestone said “I am delighted that we will continue to work together. Sky’s commitment to the Sport and standard of coverage is second to none.”

Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said “This is a brilliant deal that takes Sky’s partnership with F1 to the next level. Since 2012, we have demonstrated unrivalled commitment to F1, offering fans innovations including a dedicated channel and the very best broadcasting talent. We are delighted that we are strengthening our coverage for viewers even further, with live and exclusive F1 from 2019 and the chance to watch in Ultra High Definition for the first time from next season. We are pleased to support F1 and look forward to working with them to progress, develop and enhance coverage of the Championship during the agreement.”

Martin Brundle said “I joined Sky Sports because I wanted to be part of a dedicated F1 channel with a total and long term commitment to the sport. And we have certainly delivered on that. In a fast changing media landscape, our coverage will get even better for F1 fans.”

In response to the news this evening, a Channel 4 spokeswoman has told this blog: “This deal does not affect Channel 4’s three-year deal for 2016-2018. Channel 4 is still the terrestrial home of F1 for the next three years.”

Analysis – A huge bombshell
The idea that Formula 1 was going to move exclusively live to pay-TV at some point is not surprising. What is extremely surprising is the timing. One race into the 2016 season and the rights for 2019 onwards have been decided. In my opinion, this is Sky Sports covering themselves from a BT Sport onslaught where Formula 1 is concerned. There is no other reason for tying up the rights this early in the game when we are a long way away from 2019.

Of course, this is extremely sad and disappointing news to say the very least and means that, for the first time since its inception, Formula 1 will not be covered live (in some capacity) on BBC, ITV or Channel 4. For the latter, it is a huge blow, given that they would have been hoping to cover Formula 1 in some capacity beyond 2018. They still might: as we have seen with MotoGP, a highlights package may well be created for BBC, ITV or Channel 4 to bid on come 2019. That needs to happen if Formula 1 is going to reach the masses come 2019. There’s also the unfortunate question about whether Channel 4 will be committed to see out their current contract…

> Sky’s average F1 race day audiences (overnight viewing figures)
> 2012 > 0.71 million
> 2013 > 0.64 million
> 2014 > 0.79 million
> 2015 > 0.64 million

The sad thing is, time and time again, the price of subscription television services go up and up, above the rate of inflation. Yet, if you look at the quality of Sky’s Formula 1 programming (in totality as opposed to their race day show), that is dropping. For 2016, the scale of The F1 Show has been cut due to ‘cost cutting’ (which looks odd in the context of today’s statement). The lack of reference to Sky Sports F1 as an explicit channel implies to me that the channel will quietly disappear at the end of 2018. We will see.

Inevitably, unless a highlights package is created for 2019, viewing figures will plummet. Lewis Hamilton’s championship victory last October peaked with 1.7 million on Sky Sports F1. His second championship victory, thanks to live free-to-air television exposure, peaked with nearly eight million viewers one year earlier. Sky’s viewing figures for the Australian Grand Prix dropped 30 percent year-on-year. There is no evidence to suggest that Sky’s viewing figures are growing, and bringing in new viewers. Unless Sky’s viewing figures see a surge in the next few years, this new deal is extremely detrimental to Formula 1, in the same way Sky’s cricket deal was ten years ago. What FOM and other stakeholders do not realise is that fans are only going to pay so much. Fans, such as myself, only have limited expenditure.

Sky may have ten million customers, but their customer base is not growing fast. You can argue that the likes of Now TV have an effect, but as a combined entity, the numbers simply do not equal the pull that free-to-air television has. On a day when the GPDA released a statement concerning the future of Formula 1, the words below now take on extra meaning:

Formula 1 is currently challenged by a difficult global economic environment, a swift change in fan and consumer behaviour, and a decisive shift in the TV and media landscape. This makes it fundamental that the sport’s leaders make smart and well considered adjustments.

Formula 1 has undoubtedly established itself as the pinnacle of motorsport and as such one of the most viewed and popular sports around the world. We drivers stand united, offer our help and support for F1 to keep it as such, and further to make it fit and exciting for many years and generations to come.

Overlooked in the statement is the news that every race will be broadcast in ultra HD from 2017. Considering FOM are usually behind the ball in these things, that is great news from that perspective. I assume other countries will be able to pick up the ultra HD feeds (and additional camera angles).

Tonight, FOM may be the winners. But the losers are the drivers, who will have less eye balls on them in the future. And most importantly, once again, the fans are the ones that will be picking up the pieces.

Update on March 24th at 17:00 – Yesterday, a report from The Telegraph claimed that the cost of Sky’s contract for 2019 to 2024 will be “in excess of £300 million”, a value that seemed far too low to me. In fact, the true value appears to be significantly higher. Robin Jellis, who is the editor of TV Sports Markets, says that he has spoken to a source close to the deal and that the value is “quite a lot more than [£600m] even”, noting that “Sky have paid big bucks for complete exclusivity.”

Although not explicitly stated, it is quite clear that Sky have splashed out close to £1 billion for six seasons of Formula 1. Assuming 20 races each season, that works out at around £150 million per season, and around £7.5 million per race. That is an astronomical increase on the current value. We should have probably seen it coming: the last big rights increase would have been 2009. Since then, we have seen sports rights rise massively, notably due to the emergence of BT Sport. I said in October 2014 that, on rights negotiation would “easily head skyward of £100 million per year, probably near £200 million.” And that is what has happened…

Update on March 25th at 10:00 – James Allen is reporting that, a bidding war has been taking place between BT Sport and Sky Sports in recent weeks, which is why the rights situation has been announced now. As noted above, the value is believed to close to, or around, £1 billion for the six seasons.

A source very close to the situation told me that Sky’s team believed a few weeks ago that BT Sport would be grabbing the rights exclusively from 2019 – which I think shows that things have moved very, very fast in the past few weeks. I’m not convinced that free-to-air highlights will be sublicensed to BBC, ITV or Channel 4, and in my opinion is where their new Sky Sports Mix channel will come into play.

Also, Allen is saying that any form of online streaming will now happen in collaboration with Sky Sports as opposed to against Sky Sports.

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64 thoughts on “Sky Sports to broadcast F1 exclusively from 2019

  1. Free to air: The FORMULA 1 BRITISH GRAND PRIX, together with highlights of all other races and qualifying sessions, will be shown on a ‘free-to-air’ basis. I`m guessing a bit like BT Showcase channel they have on Freeview?

  2. It’ll lead to complacency due to no competition. Clear tactic to stop BT taking the rights. Need to improve the quality of pundits. Nobody really recent as a permanent pundit at the min, too jokey, and of course viewing figures will plummet in the UK. It’s year 5 and it’s basically the same as it was in 2012 in more or less every respect in terms of pundits, commentators etc. It’s stale now and will get worse with no competition, no major line up changes etc.

  3. Terrific! Say goodbye to Formula 1 as a viable sport, everyone, as the audience shrinks to
    nothing & sponsors awake to the reality that their enormous ad budgets are not reaching
    beyond SKY’s limited subscriber pool.
    In France, where F1’s exclusively on PayTV (& without a French GP), F1 is already dead,
    despite having an excellent young French driver on the grid. There are no F1 mags on
    news agents’ shelves & no F1 models in the shops.
    F1 needed a caring Custodian to guide its development & assure its survival in a very
    competitive media environment.
    What F1 got is a coalition of dedicated asset strippers who are totally unconcerned about the sport’s welfare, other than its wealth to be plundered.

  4. That really will be it from me. I can’t be bothered any more with a sport that messes with the fans so much. BTCC is good, will have to put all my effort into that.

    And on the day the GPDA comes out with their letter too. I thought there may be some hope.

    • Now TV will definitely be a viable option for those just wanting Sky Sports on a daily/weekly basis, but I can’t imagine prices staying the same as they are now for the next three years.

  5. It is a very sad day for Formula 1. I have sky sports F1, But sometimes its nice to see what the other free to air channel, does and the features too. But they will keep the flaming football on free to air, like the world cup & euros!!! How is that fair. Football fans, always have it easy!!!!

  6. Sadly predictable since the BBC split the rights.

    Announcing it now seems like a way to damage C4 before they’ve even shown one live event.

    It might be a few years away but it will not encourage viewers to stick with the sport. How do the sponsors feel about this? Will they stick with it?

    Sky will no doubt gain a few subscribers as a result but F1 will lose so many more.

  7. I would rather not have to pay for any sport on TV, but it’s a fact of life.
    There’s a lot of talk about free to air, so will someone explain why C4’s figures were 30% lower than the BBC’s? Both are free to air so why is the finger being pointed at Sky?
    The BBC brokered the initial Sky deal even though C4 were interested, and ITV I believe, so the BBC preferred Sky and then twice ducked out of a contract. I can’t see FOM wanting to rush into another deal with the BBC.

    What has surprised me is Sky extending their contract. I thought they would just see out their contract in 2018, particularly as they’ve made no visible attempt to increase their motorsport portfolio.
    Does this include Sky Italia and Sky Germany? If it does maybe it gave Sky more bargaining power, and there’s also the question of how much FOM wants to push UHD coverage.

    • Same reason why figures were lower on BBC2 than BBC1. People are basically too lazy/incapable to press a different channel number other than 1. It’s why Any Murray gets put on BBC1 even if coverage is at that moment scheduled for BBC2.

  8. When it was announced that the BBC were retaking Formula 1 coverage from 2009 onwards, there was much fanfare but I personally couldn’t shake off a sense of foreboding for some reason, in part because ITV’s build-up and analysis was far superior to their predecessor’s. Whilst the main reason for my pessimism turned out to be inconsequential, it has become increasingly clear that, if the BBC were not to get involved, we would have likely been in a much better situation today.

    ITV F1 got a lot flak for the in-race ads, but as the saying goes, “You don’t realise what you’ve got till it’s gone.” But, to be fair, it’s unknown who else would have bidded for the contract when ITV relinquished it. My impression is that Bernie simply approached the BBC without any tender process.

    • Awful news, I thought C4 did a brilliant job last weekend they need time, this is crap. There surely will need a lot more to come for this, surely C4 will at least try to bid something otherwise what would be the point them doing it in the first place. Sad day for F1

  9. I’m not surprised by this I have had a feeling this would eventually happen it means a lot of fans will loose out which is very unfair all Bernie thinks about is money & his greed he doesn’t care about the fans what so ever!!

  10. This was always bound to happen once Sky got in on F1 in 2012. However, I think that to gain subscribers they need to drop the Sky sports subscription package as it is now. I think I can safely say that a lot people, like myself, who are interesting in motorsport, aren’t so fussed about other sports. The problem is that I have to subscribe to the full Sky sports package just to watch F1. I have never seen anything I’ve wanted to watch on the other Sky Sports channels, so £30 for one channel (which is not even in HD!) just isn’t worth it.

    If they want to phase out Sky Sport F1, then I think they should keep a dedicated Sky Motorsports channel, for £5-7 a month, and show GP3 and GP2 alongside the F1, and get some more contracts for other motorsport, like TCR, World RX, and so on and show them live or delayed as live if they clash with an F1 race.

  11. Its been quite a rollercoaster watching F1 in the UK. I loved the BBC F1 era of 09-11, and then the disappointment of the split coverage in 2012, which in time I started to enjoy and appreciate having some good free-to-air coverage at least. Then last December to hear about BBC ditching F1 altogether and the uncertainty of Channel 4. But over the past few weeks, all the news coming out of Channel 4 about the coverage was positive and aimed at the fans. Last weekend was the evidence of it, the coverage was excellent and I was really looking forward to the Channel 4 era. Now, we return to bleak times for Formula 1 in the UK.

    I don’t quite understand Bernie’s thinking. I would like to know how much knowledge did Channel 4 have of this deal? Did they always know their F1 contract would go no further than 2018 when they signed on?

    When did Sky start talking to Bernie about extending beyond 2018? – This one interests me most. If Bernie was already speaking to Sky late last year, why did he bother getting Channel 4 involved, surely he could have cut his loses with the BBC and gone all in with Sky from 2016. Or was these negotiations a quick one with no other parties involved. Behind closed doors with Bernie & Sky.

  12. There will be more people watching me play F1 on my Playstation than on TV now, They have clearly done this to stop BT Sport getting the rights, and are probably worried about Channel 4 now as they have more clout then the BBC ever had with finances.

    So Bernie would rather about 600K people watched F1 instead of 2.5m+ , clearly money talks and yet again the fans lose out, I wouldn’t be surprised if Channel4 lose interest now either.

    The only way to stop this is to stop paying Sky money and just watch free to air coverage, OK it’s not all live but if Sky have hardly any viewers then they won’t bother, if nobody had subscribed to Sky F1 it would of been off air by the end of the first season.

    Start boycotting Sky now and hit them where it hurts, stop paying them money, and watch F1 elsewhere.

  13. Another question here is what other FTA channels were interested. The BBC don’t want it, were ITV or C5 interested and why did C4 only sign a 3 year deal? I would have thought that C4 would have had some bargaining power.
    The most likely answer is simply CVC overpricing the product for short term gain.

    Then you have the likes of Autosport reporting that there will be no FTA coverage from 2019 (excl. the British GP), which is incorrect. They complain about what’s happened yet they are in fact running the sport down themselves.

  14. That is a bloody poor way for F1 to treat C4 – shows absolutely zero respect from Bernie to the broadcaster that rescued their FTA coverage and the viewer.

    If you’re truly a fan of F1 I’d let Sky know how you feel by cancelling your subscription.

  15. Terrible day for motorsport, especially F1. Hopefully, Sky Sports Mix will become free-to-air as a few extra races will be broadcast on that. If not I hope this contract costs around £5million per year and that the BBC can bid for it (unlikely though). The only thing I am interested in is that the highlights are similar to the current standard.

    Prediction: I think the highlights will turn up on ITV4, following a similar timing system to the current model.

    Saturday:
    Morning: 12.30 – 14.00
    European: 17.00 – 18.30
    Evening: 21.30 – 23.00

    Sunday:
    Morning: 12.00 – 14.30
    European: 17.00 – 19.30
    Evening: 21.30 – 00.00

  16. I suspect Sky may either use Sky 1 to show highlights (in the same format as BBC/C4, i.e. 4/5 hours after the race) or sublet some rights in the same way Eurosport are doing with the Olympics to the BBC.

    I’d like to know what the situation is going to be regarding the legacy HD pack and whether Sky intend to launch an F1 only pricing structure or whether they are going to continue to force new subscribers (i.e. non legacy HD) to subscribe to the full Sky Sports package?

  17. Look at the Champions League on BT, it’s plummeted in interest since becoming pay tv only. Sadly the same will happen with F1. This season I’ve noticed that the CL is in the backseat in my football watching habits. F1 will suffer the same type of downward spiral unless Bernie wakes up and realises that major free to air exposure will gain F1 new fans, sky sports f1 has been an embarrassment on sky’s part. Repeat after respeat and this season on the race that don’t clash with sky’s football package will be aired on sky sports 1. The F1 channel has done anything to really engage F1 fans and even if your paying for sky and your not an F1 fan the likelihood is the way your gonna become a new fan of the sport is by finding it on channel 4 which is where 90% of new fans will come from. Another thing sky has become stale and an awful product in all honesty. Outside of Martin Brundle ( who is magnificent at his job) ted and at times crofty when he’s not trying to be a pundit the rest of sky is dreadful and the channel 4 team betters them in every department outside of Martin and Ted. Rant over just one more thing I’d love to see as a trial. Get rid of croft for when sky f1 becomes exclusive, try 3 commentaters in the box. Edwards Brundle and Couldhard now that is innovative something sky have hopelessly failed at.

  18. Look at the Champions League on BT, it’s plummeted in interest since becoming pay tv only. Sadly the same will happen with F1. This season I’ve noticed that the CL is in the backseat in my football watching habits. F1 will suffer the same type of downward spiral unless Bernie wakes up and realises that major free to air exposure will gain F1 new fans, sky sports f1 has been an embarrassment on sky’s part. Repeat after respeat and this season on the races that don’t clash with sky’s football package will be aired on sky sports 1. The F1 channel has done nothing to really engage F1 fans and even if your paying for sky and your not an F1 fan the likelihood is the way your gonna become a new fan of the sport is by finding it on channel 4 which is where 90% of new fans will come from. Another thing sky has become stale and an awful product in all honesty. Outside of Martin Brundle ( who is magnificent at his job) ted and at times crofty when he’s not trying to be a pundit the rest of sky is dreadful and the channel 4 team betters them in every department outside of Martin and Ted. Rant over just one more thing I’d love to see as a trial. Get rid of croft for when sky f1 becomes exclusive, try 3 commentaters in the box. Edwards Brundle and Couldhard now that is innovative something sky have hopelessly failed at.

  19. I have watched F1 for 40+ years,i think that if Sky does become the only way to watch it,then i for 1 will be saying good bye to it,i cannot afford to pay to watch it as i have had to take early retirement due to ill health and have to live on no income from the workplace!! With money so tight,then frivolous things like F1 have to go!! BERNIE please do something to let the average person watch F1,you depend on the likes of me and others to make your fortune,please dont be like other big companys and fleece the “little man”for every penny they have!!!!

  20. Going down the same path as the Champions League with the amount of interest there will be. I’m guessing that the statement from GPDA tells us that they knew that the deal had been done with Sky and Bernie.

    It’ll be interesting to see what Channel 4 do with their coverage.

  21. Bear in mind that this is not necessarily the only way to watch TV. If, as the pundits predict, a wave of streaming options is prominent by 2019, then SkyF1 may not be the only ones broadcasting from the pit lane. You could have F1 themselves producing the coverage, or potentially a new broadcaster online only. Additionally if you look at (say) the trend of the big broadcasters in the US, the approach is one of fragmented products. So now you have something like HBO Go which gives viewers the chance to only subscribe to a small amount of popular channels. 3 years is a long time, and things will be different by the time the 2018 season is over.

  22. A sport that is losing fans cannot afford to restrict its access to new fans.

    I expect CVC to sell within 2-3 years (if they’re smart), and within the same sort of time-frame, a split and alternative, break-away motorsport organisation to create a new F1.

    An alternative formula with big-hitter engine manufacturers and a couple of the current major teams (especially if Ferrari were in), covered by terrestrial TV, would instantly do well.

    And we can get rid of all this Ecclestone-driven nonsense. Seems many long-time fans are very close to giving up the sport already; I know from my point of view, in 2019, I won’t be counting myself amongst them.

  23. Awful news, new it would happen. Hopefully Bernie Ecclestone drops dead and Ferrari have another mad veto to stop it. Hope to see highlights return to the BBC in 2019 but Sky Sports Mix is looking the likely candidate. However, if this happens, the British GP will be live but a further 2 Prime time races will be broadcats live, plus highlights of Qualifying and every Race. I think this format could work, if Sky used this Channel, it could be used like BT Showcase, with a select number of events live and FTA. Maybe, Britain, Season Opener, Season Finale and 2 Prime time Races Live and Highlights of the rest.

    On a different route, wonder if FOM could create their own TV Channel, showing all races live across all TV platforms, basic SD on Freeview/Freesat and Ultra HD across Pay TV. This would carry FOM coverage only, 5mins before Practices and Qualifying and 15mins before GP (short build-up).

    Finally, going way into the future, when Bernie pops his clogs, a new owner needs to get F1 back on FTA TV and improve the show. Go 80’s style: No Downforce, V12 engines, Fat Rear Tyres for Mechanical Grip which last a race distance and bring back refuelling. I could run F1 and make a spectacle, poor Sponsors and Teams, money is now lacking in F1, but not in Bernie’s back Pocket. I won’t be saying goodbye to F1 but will be cancelling my Sky subscription. All true fans must do this in protest. Sky no viewers, F1 dies.

  24. So we currently have FTA 10 live races and the remainder are highlights…

    From 2019 it will be FTA 3+ live races and the remainder will be highlights.

    the “at least” suggests this 3+ could be higher if Sky think it will be of benefit.

    So not quite the no more F1 on FTA that is being said by so many.

    Also someone made the great point that how we consume TV in 2019 will look VERY different to how we consume it now. Sky’s current model will likely have to adapt and we may see an evolved now tv type offering that would provide a cheaper way to watch the non FTA live races than taking a full sports package.

    I think if we look at this announcement a different way… what we have is actually is guaranteed FTA highlights & live F1 until 2024. Which is pretty good given how other countries have zero FTA coverage this year!

    Also for what it’s worth I think sky’s coverage is great (but bbc & c4 is also great too dont get me wrong).

    I think im just optimistic as I remember all too well the days of bbc showing some races highlights only with no build up or post race. And back then if you missed it then tough luck as there was no repeats or catch up services other than a poor quality VHS recorder with a timer that *might* work assuming it didn’t reset or bbc didn’t move it’s slot.

    • Sky Sports Mix is not FTA. It’s limited to sky subscribers only.

      And the implication is that Sky controls how the FTA parts of the contract are satisfied. If they copy BT’s model with CL then that means unpromoted low quality SD on a freeview signal not available to all, then stuffed with ads, potentially bad editing and promotion for the paid product, with limited/no analysis and no alternate team to Sky.

  25. Shocking news and i certainly won’t be going anywhere near sky. Formula 1 is going downhill fast! Still confused about why channel 4 even bothered if they knew this news and if they didn’t surely bernie has broken some sort of trading competition law if he went behind their back?

  26. I do enjoy the alleged % figures that get bandied around by so many informed people. If Sky are prepared to pay for exclusive rights then so be it. These self righteous comments from so called ‘die hard fans of 30+ years’ who suggest they will go elsewhere and not watch F1 at all are not of interest to the media companies who pay for the rights in the back of subscriptions. Not sure if anyone has noticed but FTA is not free, its licence fee paid and unless such fee can increase broadcasters can’t compete. The world in 2016 (and will still be in 2019) is such that you have to pay to watch sports in TV unless Olympics / World Cup etc. No one is entitled to watch F1 for free as much as they are football / golf / rugby / cricket. It is not a special sport although I love it and therefore will watch it on Sky along with other sports I pay for as a sports fan and not a whinging F1 moaner as the world seems to be when it comes to commenting on the perceived injustice of it all!

  27. Sadly this was envitable. All Sport is gradually moving on to subscription with only highlights FTA. The problem is while I can currently afford to pay for Sky (not that one would choose too) it will be unavailable to the vast majority. I started watching 25yrs ago when I was a child and hoped to watch for the rest of my life but have to accept that one day I wont be able to afford it anymore. Also new fans will gradually decrease and once my generation is gone there will be so few supporters that it will become unviable. This combined with the drop in Sponsors who will be unwilling to pay anything for tiny TV audiences will lead to the death or at very least relegation to a niche, minority sport that no-one notices of the Formula 1 that I have loved for nearly all my life.

  28. Have watched sky f1 since start and its been good, not sure why all these people are getting out of their prams. Sport and pay tv is big bucks for sports these days and its the future and many are planning to have more of a paid for online presence, its money they need in a much more competitive entertainment world.
    Noone was happy with the idea to keep it on beeb with a much bigger licensee fee or sponsored sports channel, you just cant have these things for free.
    Not sure why people think c4 would continue, never read that anywhere it was just take a deal to carry on the current beeb contract failout.
    You will still be able to see the highlights on fta somewhere.
    Still, fun to read all the comments of those that come out of the woodwork when these sort of things happen.

    • The way some people are talking you would think that F1 is only watched in the UK! It wasn’t that long ago that if you wanted to watch all sessions,Qualy and the Race live, you could only do that via a paywall, which was FOM’s F1 Channel. I don’t remember anyone screaming and shouting about that, or why terrestrial TV wasn’t offering the same service. Now it’s too easy to voice an opinion to the world.

  29. I’m strangely less bothered by this than I was when the Sky/BBC deal was announced.

    Ultimately we have 3 seasons of the current deal left and as has been mentioned anything can happen with regards to streaming deals (like Moto GP) and with Now TV it is not essential to have SKY TV anymore.

    Now TV does give the flexibility that you only have to pay for the races you need to pay for (No need to buy a Now TV pass when you are going to be away for a weekend and going to miss the race anyway).

    However I can see the disappointment this will cause fans who do not have the spare disposable income to spend on Now TV or a SKY sub and those that cannot have SKY even if they wanted due to living in a flat etc.

  30. As a previous commentator said: ‘The only way to stop this is to stop paying Sky money and just watch free to air coverage, OK it’s not all live but if Sky have hardly any viewers then they won’t bother, if nobody had subscribed to Sky F1 it would of been off air by the end of the first season.
    Start boycotting Sky now and hit them where it hurts, stop paying them money, and watch F1 elsewhere’.

  31. There are many reasons, both commercial and sporting that make this terrible.

    Those aside the impact this will have on Sky’s output will be horrific.

    After 5 years Sky’s coverage is still lackluster, inappropriate and badly produced.

    Removing their only competition will result in an acceleration of the arrogant, red top, footballesque coverage that has made them pariahs to most drivers, teams and fans.

    A sad day for F1 and especially broadcasting.

    I predict a CART style collapse at the start of the 2020 season.

  32. To take my earlier comment about the fragmentation of media a step further, I think it pays to take a look at the big picture. Nearly 50% of households in the UK are now subscribed to a pay TV package of some sort, from small add on packs to Freeview or BT Sport, to big expensive packages from the likes of Sky and Virgin. This is by far the biggest revenue driver in the TV industry at the moment. So really trying to make the most of that is just common business sense.

    I am a sports fan, and I’ve followed my football team throughout the era in which most of football has been behind a paywall the entire time. Does that diminish my support of the club? No. Does that make me follow the game less? No. It’s just part of the way the commercial world works. If I had the money to watch on TV, and go to every game I would. But I don’t, so I do what I can. But the idea that I might stop being interested in something I like because it is not either free or cheap seems ludicrous to me. Besides, in the FTA world, there are very few major sporting events not behind a paywall now. There’s only really Wimbledon, the Olympics and major football tournaments left.

    And this is where the argument about less sponsors or lower viewing figures falls down (partly.) Now that Sky Sports F1 is part of the Sky Sports package, the viewing figures are less relevant. The money generated by the Sky deal is already paid down whether they show the program to 1 person or 1 million. If you look at football, the revenues in TV now dwarf any other aspect of sponsorship. So much so, that the Premier League itself is running without a sponsor later in 2016.

    Now, F1 may not have the clout of football, and probably never will. But the point remains that if 3 million people subscribe to Sky Sports, a chunk of that money goes to F1. But 3 million subscribers is a bit optimistic, so let’s be skeptical about this. If the average rating for Sky is 638,000 x by the cost of Sky Sports for the year (£562 minimum) then you get £358 million per year. That assumes no-one takes HD which I assume some will which increases that number. You can see how the money generated from sponsorship and other means is simply being replaced with the TV money.

      • No one is denying this is a great deal for Sky. It’s a bad deal for everyone else, including FOM who appear to have made a major strategic error.

        Ultimately F1 fans are now to subsidise the wages of Premier League footballers.

  33. Let’s start with some statistics, only 18% of UK households have some sort of Sky Sports package.

    Most of those viewers are C2DE, exactly the sort of viewers that don’t have the disposable income of a Rolex, Boss or Chandon customer.

    You cannot compare football fans with current F1 fans.

    Would you still be as enthusiastic about football of they introduced a playing mascot, 3 way pitches and corners from horseback, because that’s how ridiculous F1 is right now.

  34. My comment doesn’t try to compare football fans with F1 fans. What I’m saying is that there are clear similarities between the directions both sports are following commercially. That applies to both the way money is generated, and the different ways people can watch. I think it gives a good analogy of the change that F1 fans are about to experience.

    There are a handful (and I do stress a handful) of “fans” suggesting that the only way they will follow F1 is if it is live on Free to Air TV. My view is that (under the surface) these fans are not really interested in paying any amount to watch F1. This is not dissimilar to the way that some people don’t watch the Champions League because it isn’t on ITV anymore. It’s probably fair to assume they just watch something else or go to the pub. In my view, these folks are not really “fans”. Instead, they are instead mildly interested in the free thing on the telly.

    But the main point of my post was to highlight how underneath the surface, the move makes complete financial sense. That is because the number of subscribers (and viewers) is less important than it used to be. Understandably this is a cause for concern as people are focusing on the lower viewing figures. But as my other post suggested, if the sport generates more revenue per viewer than ever before, lower viewing figures don’t matter less.

    If TV revenue is the main generator of income, where are you most likely to get more subscribers from? Sky Sports customers are a highly specific group of people who enjoy sport enough to pay for it. It makes far more sense to convince an existing sports fan to watch F1, than to convince a Strictly viewer to get a Sky subscription and then watch the F1 from the huge range of options available. What really matters in this case is not the number of people watching, but their level of interest. When the sport becomes Sky only, I think they will surpass 1 million viewers per race. The fact that it is still on FTA means some stragglers won’t pay yet because they don’t have to.

    So with all that said, we can conservatively estimate that in addition to the £50-60 million per year from Sky for the rights, the sport will share the spoils of around £358 million per year. On FTA TV, that amount is £0. It’s not hard to see how that couldn’t continue forever. So in the future, the F1 fan with a genuine interest will still follow the sport depending on what they can afford. And for me, for you and everyone else, that is something that we’ll just have to get used to.

    • “So with all that said, we can conservatively estimate that in addition to the £50-60 million per year from Sky for the rights, the sport will share the spoils of around £358 million per year. On FTA TV, that amount is £0. It’s not hard to see how that couldn’t continue forever.”

      Huh?

      The £358m/year quoted above is a guess at the money Sky will take from subscribers to watch the coverage. That money pays for the rights and goes into Sky’s pocket (to pay for football mostly). Sky also make money from advertisers. F1 won’t see any of that.

      The BBC and C4 had to pay for the rights as well. C4 gets to cover at least some of it with advertising revenue which the BBC couldn’t.

      The thing that couldn’t continue was the BBC paying Bernie’s extortionate rates. The circuits are also under the same cosh and unless something changes they too will be priced out of the market.

    • Respectfully you are confusing your view of the business merits of this deal, with plain old reality. In your previous post you said “You can see how the money generated from sponsorship and other means is simply being replaced with the TV money.” Whether it ends up with the teams or in the pocket of CVC is not a hard guess. But the more important aspect, is that without individual teams negotiating their own sponsorship deals, their financial future is almost entirely in the hands of Bernie/CVC. When the new commercial agreement comes up for discussion in a few years, Bernie has the dominant negotiating position.

      Lesmo “But the main point of my post was to highlight how underneath the surface, the move makes complete financial sense. That is because the number of subscribers (and viewers) is less important than it used to be.” This is incorrect, have a look at the SKY Annual report . SKY needs mainly viewers/subscribers, who then attract advertisers. SKY’s reported income at 2015/5 shows UK subscriber income of £6,596M and Advertiser revenue of just £510M. From the sports viewpoint your comment is also incorrect. F1 needs to create interest from a new generation of viewers. Sports that have gone behind a paywall, have all reported a fall in interest form the younger generation. Couple this with a lack of interest in, and the financial cost of learning to drive, and a bigger problem is just ‘down the road’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35242514

      Enough for now!

  35. As said above this was probably inevitable when the BBC “sold out”. Considering that the current Champion is British, as is much of the engineering and design work, this was disgraceful in the first place. As for appealing to Bernie- all he is interested in is MONEY!
    Unfortunately, as with most so called “sport”, money, gambling and business interests have taken over. Why don’t we just have a bit more honesty and call it “entertainment”?
    (Then we might not mind paying for it so much!)

  36. All it takes is one or two key sponsors to pull out and create a domino effect and the whole sport could collapse from within.

    This is exactly what happened to CART.

  37. I think Sky Sports Mix will become the free-to-air service for F1, allowing Sky to use it as a promotional channel, including live football and cricket, covers a large fan base. The good news behind this, is that 2 extra races (minimum) would be broadcast live, probably, Canada and America (good for ratings). I would then imagine that there will be extended highlights of all the rest (3 Live, 18 Highlights).

    I think the highlights times will look like this:

    Saturday (Qualifying):
    12.00 – 13.30: Morning Races
    17.30 – 19.00: European Races
    22.00 – 23.30: Evening Races

    Sunday (Race Day):
    09.00 – 10.30: Qualifying Highlights
    12.00 – 14.00: Morning Races
    17.00 – 19.00: European Races
    22.00 – 00.00: Evening Races

    • Although I’m not disagreeing with you, there is still the issue that Sky’s coverage is mediocre at best, without competition I fear it will slide into unwatchable.

  38. Bernie’s So mean, We can stop it by not paying sky and lets pay freeview once. Free TV for the win!
    I may not be British but I support the haters of Bernie’s Bernie-Vision by Sky! If this continues to spread to the world, we’ll be poor! And so will my home country and the world! Look, Pay TV makes us unhappy when it comes to F1, and Bernie feels happy when we pay so what,start watching channel 4, BBC and any other free tv f1 channels in your area! Sky Sports Mix, I think, Can’t let us watch every GP live. Anyone ruling a country (like The Queen) could disapprove of this. Not even an uncorrupt president in my home country would approve since this Pay-to-watch-F1 scheme is a fail! The fans would end up poor by 2021and turn rebellious upon sky and start hacking their boxes! That’s euros and pounds of waste thanks to evil Ecclestone!

  39. Even as a hardcore F1 fan I find the sport as a whole almost untenable since I discovered it will cost me £3 per race just to see the driver splits on the online live timing, WTF!

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