Channel 4 are to follow in the footsteps of other commercial broadcasters by splitting their live Formula 1 race day programming into three separate chunks.
Starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix, Channel 4 will air a build-up programme, which will run until ten minutes prior to the race. On the other side, a reaction show will wrap up the race action, in the same way Sky currently do with Paddock Live. Steve Jones will continue to front their race day programming.
Channel 4’s race day schedule for Bahrain is as follows:
14:50 to 15:50 – Formula 1: Bahrain Grand Prix Live – Build-Up
15:50 to 18:15 – Formula 1: Bahrain Grand Prix Live
18:15 to 18:45 – Formula 1: Bahrain Grand Prix Live – Reaction
As noted above, this is now common place across the commercial sector both in the UK and abroad with Formula 1 and other sports, such as football. Sky have recently started to split their Super Sunday programme up into smaller bite sized piece.
In terms of Formula 1, Sky starting splitting their programme into three in late 2013, eventually moving to a four-way split in 2015. Splitting the programme into separate chunks means that viewers have the option to record only the main event, if they so desire. Inevitably, there is also a viewing figures drive behind it, in an attempt to boost the numbers for the race itself, although this can negatively impact figures for the build-up as a result.
A Channel 4 spokesperson said that the new format “makes it clearer to viewers when the live action starts. There will be those who only want to tune in for the live race so this will make it easy for them to see that on the electric programme guide.”