Channel 4 F1 versus Sky Sports F1: Your 2016 Verdict

The 2016 Formula One season has come to a climax in Abu Dhabi, with Nico Rosberg being crowned Drivers’ Champion! The season has also seen Max Verstappen continue to make an impression, whilst Ferrari have faltered on numerous occasions. On the broadcasting side, 2016 marked Channel 4’s first year covering Formula 1 after BBC TV’s shock exit at the end of 2015.

I’ve written countless words concerning both Channel 4’s and Sky’s coverage this season. Now, it is your opportunity to have a say. Have Channel 4 done Formula 1 justice? How can both they and Sky Sports improve in 2017? Has Steve Jones lived up to the billing as “F1 presenter”? Do you want Channel 4 to continue covering Formula 1 in some form from 2019 onwards?

Of course, the BBC did stay in the radio game, so for anyone listening via that form of communication, all thoughts are welcome on the BBC’s radio coverage and anything else on the broadcasting landscape, including Formula One Management’s (FOM) television coverage. Has the way you consume Formula 1 changed under the new rights deal?

The best thoughts and opinion will be collated into a new piece, which will be published in a few weeks’ time.

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32 thoughts on “Channel 4 F1 versus Sky Sports F1: Your 2016 Verdict

  1. I think Sky need to freshen up for next year although I suppose with the budget cuts this year they have done a decent effort to get some good features in such as Ted’s Notebook. I do think the Track Parade segment needs to go as most of the time it’s two interviews from a FOM Feed and that’s it. Enjoyed listening to Croft and Brundle on commentary again and quite liked that Sky have allowed Di Resta/Davidson to chip in at several points during the race to allow analyses, although they need to be allowed more time to speak as they get one sentence in and they go back to commentary. Think Hill and Hebert need to be replaced with fresher pundits, a bit dull and irritating hearing the same opinions.

    C4 have made a great effort on their first year, they really have grabbed a younger audience with their excellent graphics and good interaction with the #C4F1 hashtags and the fabulous break-bumpers which never gets me sleeping. Steve Jones has settled in as a very good presenter, just like Jake Humphrey did in 2009. Think the addition of Webber and the 3-man commentary at the British GP has been great but the rest of the pundits never excite me.. Still prefer Croft/Brundle to Edwards/Coulthard. Good first year though.

    • I agree almost 100 percent, however I think that Channel 4 have inherited a lot the original old BBC/ITV audience, who like me object to paying twice. (firstly for the license fee). I am 70 so Chanel 4 is just the latest incarnation.
      Though to be fair for the good “time zone friendly” races that are not on Channel 4 I use NowTV and pay for a week pass which allows me to see all the practice, qualy etc as well as the race, but wastes the other 4 days of the pass. If the race is in middle of the night, then it is not worth paying, but better waiting for the Channel 4 show with long periods of rain edited out.
      I agree that Crofty-Brundle are better than Ben-DC, but the Ch4 team are now favourite.

      • One bit Ch4 got wrong was the inclusion of Flav and the warm welcome he got from Karun and Lee. As far as I am concerned he should he banned for life but if there at all, then wearing a sign and ringing hand bell. However he did figure in the very good Aussie Grit interview in a different better light.

      • The problem is that if you treat Flavio like that then you will need to have a similar stand-off with Pat Symonds, as ultimately they both had the same length of ban following their involvement in Crashgate.

    • Thought I would add to my post but I also feel like some of C4’s team was wasted a bit. Alex Zanardi actually appeared on Sky F1 with Marc Priestley and not C4, Nick Hamilton I never saw as well despite him being listed as part of the team and Bruno Senna went from doing 4 races a year at Sky to introducing the opening race VT for C4 and that’s it… He might as well stayed at Sky. 😦

  2. I will be watching F1 on channel 4 next year, it was good coverage, hope they do more next year, I also use now tv on the races not fully covered, very bored with Sky coverage and the expense is not acceptable to me, so now tv when I have to, C4 should take the plunge and cover all the races fully next year!

  3. It was a bit of a mixed year for me. Channel 4 started slowly but got better as they year went on. Sky just seemed to be going through the motions and added very little to their coverage until probably USA onwards. Being an F1 subscription channel I would have expected more features, new content & something to really grab the casual viewer but Sky gave very little. Channel 4 however seem to have been able to give a unique insight into F1 & not stick with the same old tired formula. The features have been good & the analysis (excluding Mexico) has been great. If both were live I would personally choose C4 & I hope they can build on their coverage next year & at least get an extended highlights deal from 2019. Steve Jones seems to be a marmite presenter. You either love him or hate him. I wasn’t sure after the 1st two rounds but he has learnt fast & now I believe he is better than the rather stagnant Simon Lazenby. If Jenson Button joins C4F1 next year I think their team will be far superior to Sky. Sky need to give the fans something different. Something unmissable. (Vettel’s Canada pigeons being a prime example) Brundle & Crofty work well together. Although I like Hill & Herbert some variation with more recent drivers would definitely give a fresher perspective & C4 nailed that this season. For 2016 if it’s a choice, C4 wins for me. Well done Nick Rosberg & Look forward to 2017!

  4. I am fan of channel 4.Presenting team are superior to sky. Enjoyed the extended coverage including Lee and Karuns paddock walk. Hopefully C4 can give us more live races and that Bernie recognises great job they are doing.

  5. For presenters and punditry I’d have to give the nod to C4. The revolving door of co-hosts has kept things fresh with different opinions and viewpoints, not just hearing the same debate over and over again, and the chemistry between Steve and DC is a rare thing. While Brundle is one of the best commentators in the game I’m more than happy with C4’s line up, would be nice to have that third voice more often, either with Webber or others rotated. Chandock or Button perhaps. Where C4 seems to lack sometimes is in depth analysis. Anthony Davidson does this brilliantly for Sky, but Alan Macnish is also great on radio. He’d make a great addition to C4 either in the pitlane or the commentary box.
    Have to say on the few weekends I evnot been able to watch I’ve tuned into 5live and their stuff is actually pretty good. As a group they actually seem to be having the most fun and have the most passion and aren’t afraid to argue their points with each other. Their post race review show/podcast is a staple of my Monday mornings providing a little more insight on the event and any fallout from long after C4 and Sky have packed up and gone.

  6. Generally, I’ve been pleased with the C4 coverage, but I do need to raise one point – missing presenters from the announcement.

    Where was Nic Hamilton?
    Where was Bruno Senna? (I only remember seeing him during the opening sequence of Brazil)
    Where was Alain Prost (I only remember seeing him during one race weekend, but I can’t remember which one)
    I’m not including Alex Zanardi since even before the first race, he basically denied any involvement, despite C4’s announcement.

    As they were part of the C4 announcement, I was expecting more from all of the above as part of the rotational basis, but I was disappointed that that never materialised.

    Given the relatively short amount of time C4 had to prepare, I think they have little to be disappointed about, which makes it all the more frustrating that from 2019, no live coverage. I’m sure that announcement, made before even their first live race, was a shock to those at C4 HQ, and makes me sad that we will never see what they could do with full live coverage like what could have happened 2012 onwards. Damn the BBC!

  7. Channel 4 from what I saw were ok ish for a first season.. From a presenting point of view… But… The on screen graphics were terrible (they would be considered cutting edge in 2006 but not 2016) and they didn’t air any of the extra feeds (pit lane and on board mix channels) on line anywhere.. But their features and pundits weren’t too bad at all…

    Sky were the same old same old but had their moments.. The best thing from them this year was the new for sky Q sky race control layout with the option to “press i to ride on board with Sebastian Vettel” caption popping up every now and then.. Although it does need work for next year (being able to listen to the commentary on the other feeds for example which you can do on the old sky race control but not the new one)

    Next year we go 4K… THAT will be interesting

    • The on screen graphics are widely celebrated. They are clear and give the information in a way that’s not the boring FIA provided graphics package.
      The graphics fit with the suite of the show.

  8. As I have a pretty unconventional work schedule I can never watch a race live from start to finish so I have to resort to some sort of recording. I did toy around with Channel 4 near the beginning of the season but I found it a bit amateurish and sometimes cringeworthy. Chandhok largely absent during proceedings. Also, their All 4 catch-up service is poor res and was full of adverts. So I have to admit that my main source of content for the bulk of the season was torrents of Sky coverage even though I couldn’t help finding it quite boring.

    For the last race I went back to All 4 again and – my oh my – did Channel 4 knock me off my feet! They have really matured. Enthralling build-up and analysis! I didn’t at any moment feel I was missing Sky. No adverts on the All 4 service either, apart from the Kayak bumpers! Such a shame C4 don’t have 100% live coverage; they have definitely matured over the course of the season – I don’t mind Steve Jones at all now. Will definitely watch Channel 4 more next season; I agree a lot with James Hurrell’s comment.

    I would say it boils down to how much of a petrolhead one is … Sky definitely trumps C4 when it comes to blow-by-blow analysis of the driving (Brundle talking though all the driving nuances live is music to the ears), but overall C4 comes out the winner. Sky also don’t have full races available online, unlike C4, which is quite ironic. The latter’s availability on +1 was also a boon.

    Commentary-wise I think Edwards/Brundle would be a dreamteam, but I really like how C4 utilises so many different people during the race.

  9. Channel 4’s coverage has been excellent, I would love them to continue after 2019. For 2017 I would love Jenson Button to join the C4 team. Regarding the way I consume F1, although C4’s coverage is excellent it does sometimes lack detail, to overcome this, throughout the weekend I listen to bbc radio pre-race podcast on Friday, then teds notebook (Sky) online after C4’s qualifying/race race program then bbc radio’s post-race podcasts. This way I get a mix of opinion and analysis.
    #keepF1onFTA

    • P.s. I would like to see C4 do some kind of F1 fourm after live races even if it is broadcast on more4 or even online only.

  10. Here is where you would expect me to post my usual “I hate Simon Lazenby” rant. But not this year. He hasn’t annoyed me as much throughout 2016.

    I’ve said this many times before but I pay for Sky, so I’m going to watch it on there. I only saw the Australian GP coverage from 4 and, from what people have said, it seems that things changed through the year, so I won’t judge on that.

    No, the one part of Sky’s team that has been incredibly grating is Paul di Resta. My issue being that the man doesn’t know how to speak. I can’t fault his technical knowledge, although his analysis never seems to match Antony Davison’s, but I can’t get past the fact that every sentence he utters make little or no sense. “He gone done that,” is one memorable example.

    The rest of the team are their usual high quality, even if it does feel a bit stale now, 5 (?) seasons in. Some of the Sky features have been decent, with plenty of scope for plucking them and using them over the break – although whether that happens or not remains to be seen. Adding something new next year would be nice.

  11. As the poster above, I pay for sky so I watch it on there. Only race I watched on C4 was yesterday as I had to record it (watched every other one live on Sky except for Monaco as I was in Finland for it so watched the Finnish coverage) because I was out and I watch sky on sky go, so can’t record (actual sky box doesn’t get reception for any of the non free view channels).

    I enjoy the sky coverage a lot, especially the extended shows such as the F1 report with various journalists as guests, and the F1 show as well. I also massively prefer the Brundle/Croft commentary team,and the analysis with Anthony Davidson or Paul Diresta, and having GP2 coverage is also a good bonus.

    I was impressed with C4 yesterday though. Nice mix of experienced (Eddie) and younger presenters (Susie Wolff and Mark Webber). Very slick and miles better than what I was expecting tbh. Will happily watch on c4 more occasionally next year for the pre and post show to mix it up – will always gravitate to sky for the race itself though.

    Never used any of the red button extra coverage stuff though (as not available on Sky go) but tbh I don’t think I would anyway, the race coverage does fine for me.

  12. Steve Jones started off a bit wooden but he has improved as he did look nervous during the early races. Where was Nic Hamilton and Bruno Senna. I think Alain Prost was a pundit for Europe. Channel 4 did a good job in their first year of coverage. In 2019, I think they should try and get full highlights similar to the amount of time the non-live races get now.

  13. I’ve been a hardcore viewer of Sky’s F1 coverage since the very beginning and have to say on the whole I’ve been very impressed with their coverage this season. I would agree that Sky’s lineup is becoming stale, but without a doubt Ted Kravitz, Martin Brundle and Anthony Davidson are the gems. I think Simon Lazenby has really grown on me – he’s the modern day Jim Rosenthal – very solid, and most often asking the right questions. The much improved chemistry between Lazenby, Herbert and Hill has really helped. Sky have really refined their pre and post race analysis – the tension really builds during the slick 30 mins to lights out, and the Skypad stuff is far superior to anything ITV, BBC and C4 have ever been able to offer. Jenson Button would really perfect the lineup in my eyes. Crofty may have his critics, but for me he does the job – clearly explaining what is going on. I think he is much less grating than Ben Edwards.

    A few minor things that annoy me about their coverage:
    – Lack of an outro / montage at the end of the F1 channel’s coverage (why hide it in the middle?)
    – Sky + Programme recordings screw up when a session is extended (their race show always overruns)
    – Paul di Resta (having met him twice, I can confirm he is as dull in real life as he is on the TV)

    In terms of supplementary programming, this seems to have been hit hard by the decreasing budget. I don’t think viewers are worse off with no weekly F1 Show, but it would have been nice to have a few more Legends programmes, and more crucially a few ‘new’ Classic Races (It seems they’ve been playing on a loop this season – I even noticed they repeated one within two weeks of previously showing it).

    For me the Ultra HD is all a bit pointless (as I don’t have a compatible TV), but Sky need to find a few new revolutionary ideas before they get the coverage exclusively.

    I’ve seen a little bit of Channel 4’s coverage, but for me it is far too dumbed down for the hardcore fan. Karun Chandok is not qualified to stand in a pitlane and talk about developments and strategy. Webber and DC are excellent and hope they move across when the time comes, but I don’t think anyone else at C4 is better than their Sky counterparts.

    I think it’s just a shame that programmes are judged on the number of viewers, because in my eyes Sky’s F1 output is horribly underrated.

  14. It seems to me from the comments above that most people think Ch4’s coverage is better. Did Bernie listen to the fans at all when he made this deal? I don’t really want to compare the BT Sport Champions League deal to the F1 deal, but since the CL disappeared live off terrestrial, it’s only getting a very very small fraction of the viewers it had when ITV did it. I know he is going to go for the highest bid, but there are such things as fans you know Bernie!

  15. Channel 4’s coverage has been strong, but won’t deny that it is effectively the BBC with ad-breaks and a slightly fresher feel. Sky have shown their coverage and content to be pretty stagnant – not looking good for 2019.

    I feel that if Channel 4 can stick it out between 2019 & 2024, then they coyld claim exclusive coverage as it is unlikely Bernie will be with us by then. I have always followed F1 from the early-50s and will until the day I die, but will not pay for rubbish TV, as will be by Sky.

    FOM have tried things that have back-fired (as always). Overall, directorship has been strong but will never be perfect.

  16. Just thought, thermal imaging stuff that used to be used hasn’t been seen much, if at all this year. That did add some interesting talking points to the commentary back in the day.

  17. As they both show the same feed any preferences are just down to individual prejudices. At the end of the day you have to wonder what c4 year would have been like if it wasn’t for the slap in the face exclusive sky announcement before the started. F1 itself is stuffed as can be seen by German and Malaysia n indifference.

  18. Channel 4 wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
    Steve is a passable host and I think he’s trying to build a ‘bantery’ relationship that he might have got away with on T4 but washes over some drivers.
    DC and Mark need to be central to the coverage next year. They are really good together and both knowledgeable. I liked it when Mark was in the comms box.
    Ben no complaints about him whatsoever his race talking is great and DC’s analysis fits well. It was really important to get those two together.
    Karun while not Gary Anderson brought something new to the role. He brought us analysis from the drivers perspective but also made it understandable.
    Lee is really good. I’d like to see her take the reigns if Steve leaves. Holly also did well when she stepped in.
    The rotating analysts
    Susie Wolff – good and offers more diversity
    Eddie Jordan – I like him but can see why others don’t
    Alain Prost – yes he’s a legend but I didn’t feel he added much.

    Next year
    Getting Jenson is a must for C4. A triumviate of Mark, DC and Jenson would be good.
    The race picks are not too big with ratings being in the toilet. Have to make sure the races C4 have are all in sync with other rights (don’t want it all over the place).
    If Steve stays getting him a crash course in Formula 1 might be good for each race (explain the rules to a useful idiot).
    A debate show was good on Red Button and gave the chance for on screen relationships to develop. Use More4 as the home for practice and this after each race and make it live. It doesn’t need to be long.

  19. Generally C4 have got better with their coverage as the season has gone on, although there are still some issues. Most significant of these is the scheduling – both coming off air too quickly (the end of Sunday’s race was refreshing for having room to breathe) and the timing of highlights (the recent highlights of American timezone races have been disappointingly late). I think that Karun Chandock has been the stand-out presenter for C4 – has really developed the Tom Clarkson role from BBC and adds value both in the pit lane and the comm box. Still not sure about Steve Jones, but he doesn’t grate as much as he did at first. Am glad the C4 changed their mind on some of the other advertised pundits – those they have used have tended to be high quality, with Susie Wolff being an interesting addition particularly with the Mercedes insight.

    Five Live coverage has been god (although hidden away from the radio itself too often) – the dynamic between Tom Clarkson and Jack Nicholls is good in the absence of Allan McNish and it makes for an entertaining listen.

  20. In terms of Sky, I’m bored of Lazenby, Herbert and Hill. Too stale and far too matey in the way they interact. Herbert has been a complete donkey (being polite there by not swearing) at times, notably I think it was saying Alonso should retire before Alonso rather amusingly put him in his place, and then I’m sure it was the track parade in Monaco where he blabbered on to Hamilton about him seeing either low or annoyed (can’t remember what exactly). Would get rid of him right now to be honest.

    Very impressed with Davidson as usual. His analysis on the 2 Mercs crashing in Spain and noticing the red light coming on and changing engine settings etc was the sort of insight I pay to get. Di Resta……not terrible but not spectacular either.

    Sky bugged me with their constant “here’s what’s coming up” and you see different bits of a feature 2 or 3 times across various ad breaks, meaning by the time they show the actual feature, you’ve seen the majority of it anyway! I think their coverage is stale though, and they need some new blood, however I fear come 2019 they’ll become even worse as they’ll have everything exclusively live.

    Personally I’ve found myself watching less and less of the Sky pre and post race stuff because it’s all just a bit dull generally, plus I don’t really want to hear from the top 3 on the podium, then in the pen, then at least the winner or possibly even the top 3 again with Lazenby etc. It’s pointless hearing the same stuff 3 times post race. I’d rather hear from other drivers/team members more often.

    In terms of C4, not seen much of their coverage, though I did watch their Australia coverage as it was the first race, and that was obviously awkward for them as they’d not long got the deal and so had to all gel very quickly. They weren’t helped by the utter abomination that was elimination qualifying in the first 2 races, Australia especially (worse because EVERYONE said what’d happen in quali, and what they said would happen, did happen). Seen Webber doing his stuff a few times and been very impressed with him. Maybe he’ll do more races next year now he’s had a year of it and is also now not racing any more.

    Overall, not seen enough of C4 to judge fully but I hope they keep improving. Sky is becoming stale (as I keep saying, sorry!) and I don’t see it getting much better any time soon. Maybe I’ll be wrong. Who knows.

  21. I gave up on Sky last season and cancelled my subscription – it just wasn’t worth paying for. There also seemed to be a lot of padding with their features and drawn out interviews and debates. From a lot of the above comments it doesn’t seem to have got any better.

    Channel 4’s coverage on the other hand has been like a breath of fresh air, with Steve Jones’s role and his banter with DC, key to the whole tone of their presentation. They don’t give Karun Chandhok enough airtime, but he still manages to always fill it with key points and predictions and his knowledge is incredible. I like the changing pundit line up, particularly when EJ is on, because, love him or loath him, he’s always asking the questions everyone else seems afraid to ask.

    Whisper have done a great job with their overall production, winning a broadcasting award along the way. Their opening sequence summary for the final round was just brilliant and very clever.

  22. I speak as an F1 fan in his 70s, who has followed the sport since the mid 60s; there has certainly been a lot of changes since then. I do not take Sky, and have no intention of donating to the Murdoch empire, whatever the future of F1 broadcasting. I did, however, watch the Malaysian and Japanese Grand Prix on Fox (aka Sky) TV when staying with my son in Melbourne and using his subscription! I was not over impressed with the broadcasts, except it was a delight to experience Martin Brundle again; I’d forgotten just how good he is.
    Now for the C4 coverage of the season, best judged on its analysis at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix programme. Having half a dozen pundits lined up seemed initially rather clumsy, but it turned out remarkably well. I am more than happy with DC as the driver rep, and it could’ve been a bit too much having Mark Webber with him, but they complemented each other. Eddie Jordan was his usual irritating self, but he does get the exclusives. Susie Wolff is easy on the eye, and her Toto connection and Williams past are useful. It was nice to see Lee Mackenzie appear in the lineup, as she does a really good job backstage – witness her excellent interview with Mark Webber in the separate C4 programme aired before the Grand Prix. Karen Chanduk missed out on the lineup and I do think he deserves recognition for his effort during the season; he is no Gary Anderson but did a steady job. That analysis was a really enjoyable end to the program and to the 2016 season.
    Now for the elephant in the room in more ways than one – Steve Jones. I cannot believe how kind viewers have been to him in this blog. He was clearly nervous at the beginning of the season and trying too hard; in my book the situation is unchanged. His insecurity makes him blokey and given to heavy banter; I still cringe for Susie Wolff being described as “having a baby in her belly”; how crass! He is partial to addressing men as ‘Sir”, but when Jackie Stewart appears, he fails to do so and then tries to recover the situation, only to make it worse! But what to do? I can’t see Suzy Perry coming back, Jake Humphrey is long gone, but there must be somebody more knowledgeable, relaxed and suited to the task.

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