F1 teams “blocked” Sky UK exclusivity for 2016 to 2018

Formula 1’s teams are understood to have blocked a clause in Sky’s UK contract that would have resulted in them taking exclusive UK television rights from 2016 to 2018, this site has learnt.

The shared contract signed in July 2011 between them, the BBC and Formula One Management (FOM) for 2012 through to and including 2018 featured a clause that stated that, in the event the BBC (TV) were to exit their contract early, then Sky Sports would pick up the rights exclusively for the remainder of the contract.

When it became apparent in the run up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last November that the BBC were set to terminate their contract, Formula 1’s teams are understood to have requested that Formula 1 remains on free to air terrestrial television in the UK in some capacity until at least the end of 2018. The concern for teams was that they would have difficulty persuading sponsors to stay on board with F1 behind a pay wall in the UK. This led to the sequence of events that saw Channel 4 step in and take over BBC TV’s rights from 2016 to 2018 inclusive.

This has also been reported by James Allen, but this site has been able to confirm the information independently of that report. The UK is one of the biggest territories for Formula 1 and is home to the majority of the current eleven teams.

In separate news, it is interesting to note how Sky Sports appear to be so far operating a ‘black out’ with relation to the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) statement released yesterday. The statement has been covered extensively on digital media and elsewhere: BBC, Channel 4, AUTOSPORT, Motorsport and The Guardian to name a few. The statement was initially posted on Sky Sports F1’s website by writer William Esler, and quickly pulled. Google cache returns the article:

Journalism should be about reporting the good news and the bad news, not ignoring one element because it does not suit a particular agenda. Clearly a conscious decision was made to pull GPDA article, one reason in my opinion because Sky felt it would undermine their own statement given that the GPDA references an ever changing landscape. I’ve requested comment from Sky, but as of writing, I have not received an explanation as to the article’s disappearance.

Updated on March 24th at 16:55.

Update on March 30th at 20:45 – The GPDA letter was discussed on tonight’s F1 Report, which is good to see. Bear in mind that F1 Report tends to be treated separately compared to the main block of F1 programming, it will be interesting to see how much the letter is covered this week in Bahrain given the absence of coverage on the website since the removal of the original article.

Update on March 31st at 17:50 – The self imposed ‘black out’ of the statement on the website has ended it seems, with the letter now being referenced here. I suspect we will never know why the original article disappeared last week (and Sky clearly are not keen to explain why the article was removed either), or at least no explanation was forthcoming when this blog requested comment off Sky last Thursday.

15 thoughts on “F1 teams “blocked” Sky UK exclusivity for 2016 to 2018

  1. Sky did have some paragraphs on their website yesterday, from the GPDA statement. It disappeared following the announcement of their revised contract.

  2. oh dear, do not turn this blog into daily mail journalistic durge. Shame on you. Keep it about the race previews, general announcements that have worked so well.

      • The Sky F1 website did report the GPDA story, they then removed it which is their right to do. So there was no GPDA blackout. The GPDA press release is not as big a story as is being made out to be, they have finally had the gumption to say what most have been saying for months.

        Sky chose to give the GPDA statement limited coverage and that’s their choice. It’s no different to the way some journalists and media outlets have been reporting on Sky’s revised F1 contract, they are doing their best to not report the full story and/or report it inaccurately.

      • Agree completely polblagger. This blog is nowhere near as pathetic and sensationalist as the Daily Mail or the Sun; he can make the blog about anything in F1 that he wants, and the GPDA statement has a direct relevance to the broadcasting landscape in the context of the teams trying to block the Sky exclusive deal. If anything, I’d be disappointed if he hadn’t made a post about this.

      • I agree and bravo to the site for covering it. This type of thing happens in US with espn and outside the sports world in uk news print including with the telegraph/HSBC issue. All of that should be deplored and so should this. It’s a slippery slope in that where does it end-would they bury stories about driver safety and official culpability for commercial reasons.

  3. Clearly the teams understand the importance of audience figures.

    They also seemed to when the BBC/Sky deal was first announced but must have been bought off by Bernie.

  4. Looking at this, it shows the teams actually had some care about their sport, wanting to keep it FTA. Unfortunately, this was not said of the last contract. For a start, Sky and BT have been battling out – of course terrestrial doesn’t have the money, but it didn’t even get a chance to bid/give another solution. Hopefully, Sky Sports Mix will become FTA as that will mean at least 3 races live and FTA because Sky have said they will broadcast 2 Primetime races on this channel + British GP is secured under the contract. If the highlight shows become sub-licensed, I would like the BBC to get them for about £5million. Most likely, they will be short programmes on ITV. In my opinion, there must be a clause stating highlights shown on a Sunday, as if it becomes a Monday/Tuesday, viewership will be heavily affected – I know it already has but at least highlights shows on a Sunday gain about 2.5million viewers compared with about 0.5miliion for MotoGP on ITV4.

  5. I can’t say that I really care any more what they do. I used to be an avid viewer of F1, going to great lengths to avoid finding out the results until I had watched the recording.
    I can’t even be bothered to record it now. It’s just all so predictable, with no personalities in the sport. I have much more fun watching paint dry.

  6. Some of these websites you name, the motorsport specialised ones particularly, could do with a filter on what actually constitutes news sometimes.

    The desperation to report ‘anything’ sometimes dilutes the rest of the product. A shame.

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