Channel 4 “open” to showing F1 highlights from 2019 – Chandhok

Channel 4 would be “open” to broadcasting Formula 1 highlights in the UK from 2019 onwards, if such a package became available to them. That is the view of their analyst Karun Chandhok, who has worked with Channel 4 since their coverage began in 2016.

The free-to-air broadcaster currently airs half of the championship live, with the remaining portion of the season aired in highlights form, a deal that will end following the 2018 season. From 2019, Sky Sports will air Formula 1 exclusively live, however live coverage of the British Grand Prix and highlights of all qualifying and race sessions will be available on a “free-to-air” basis, in a deal believed to be worth just shy of £1 billion across the six seasons.

As noted at the time of the announcement, it is unclear what free-to-air means in this context, whether Sky intend to air content on Pick TV (available to all Freeview viewers) or sub-let that element to another broadcaster, such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5.

Speaking to The F1 Broadcasting Blog, Chandhok said “If Channel 4 can do a highlights package, with a bit of pre and post-race analysis, then I think they would be open to at least a conversation. They’ve been very happy with the eyeballs they’ve had for F1. They really enjoy having F1 on their channel, from what the executives have been saying.”

Sky’s lead commentator David Croft believes that the new television deal is not “doom and gloom” for UK F1 fans. “You’re not going to get as many live races free-to-air, there will be one race live and free-to-air. But you’ll still be able to watch Formula 1 free-to-air without subscription in a highlights package.”

“It’s not doom and gloom. I find that if you pay for something, you tend to watch it more closely. For sponsors and teams, you may get fewer people watching, but more intently,” Croft continued.

Participation issue worrying for motor sport
One concern around the new UK TV contract that starts in 2019 is that it may result in less viewers watching Formula 1, and Chandhok is concerned that the true effects of the deal for motor racing may not appear until a generation into the future.

“The motor sport industry in the UK employs thousands of people, many of whom are fans of the sport, whether you’re a mechanic, engineer, designer, PR person, journalist, whatever you are, you started off watching F1 on TV as a fan,” Chandhok said. “And unless you’ve got the people being inspired to get involved in the sport, you could end up with a dangerous participation issue, ten to fifteen years down the line.”

Chandhok made the comparisons to test cricket, which has suffered since live coverage moved to pay-TV. The most recent Ashes series between Australia and England, which aired on BT Sport, did not bring in as many viewers as expected.

“Test cricket moved to satellite a few years ago, but now they’re starting to have a problem with participation of school kids, because the kids are not watching cricket on free-to-air, and nobody is inspired to be the next Joe Root or Nasser Hussain,” Chandhok added.

“The kid isn’t going to be the decision maker [to pay to watch live sport], their parents will be. If the parents decide they are not interested enough, or can’t afford to pay for it, then those kids are automatically excluded.”


12 thoughts on “Channel 4 “open” to showing F1 highlights from 2019 – Chandhok

  1. That comment from Croft though…basically saying “There’ll be nowhere near as many viewers and sponsorship may be affected, but hey, Sky pay my salary so it’s not all ‘doom and gloom'”…

    • Yeah, that really is quite some spin he’s putting on things. You can guarantee in his days as BBC Radio 5 live commentator he would never have said this. But then again, don’t bite the hand that feeds you…Lest they stop feeding.

  2. “Not all doom and gloom” ???? I’m sorry Mr Croft but I don’t agree with that statement. The deal that is in place for 2019 onwards will only make things much worse for F1’s viewing figures in the UK. Eyeballs are the key to a sports success ! I saw a recent interview with BTCC’s Alan Gow and he explained that back in the 1990’s, he had a deal on the table from Sky ! Thankfully, He refused the deal because he said “I would of Killed the championship by doing that” closed quote ! That’s why the deal with ITV4 has been so successful because its free and it’s offering the best possible coverage for the BTCC. As for F1, all races exclusively live on Sky will only lower the ratings even more ! I’m so thankful that Channel 4 have another season of coverage to come and it’s encouraging to hear Chandhok say that Channel 4 are interested in keeping F1 (if possible and allowed) as all races as extended highlights! On occasions, the extended highlights programmes in the past have been better than the live ones i.e. Brazil 2016, so if Channel 4 can continue with all races as extended highlights then that’ll suit be fine 👍

  3. Agree with respondents.
    Croft is myopic to the point of irrelevancy. Karun however is keenly aware of the public and the effect of exclusion.

  4. I just had a look at the list of countries which will be showing F1 exclusively on subscription TV. The list is quite extensive, it seems Bernie signed a lot of these deals before Liberty took over. This seems completely at odds with Liberty’s plans for opening up the sport and increasing the fanbase, yet presumably they know about this. I am really curious what their plans are as these contracts seem to go directly against Liberty’s strategy.

    • From what I have seen recently, Liberty Media have signed 3 exclusively live pay TV deals, Spain, Latin America (excl. Brazil) and Italy. I believe they include the need to only air the home race live FTA.

      I don’t understand why anyone thinks Liberty are going to move away from pay TV, they want to do the opposite by offering it OTT to increase their revenue. They don’t want to move away from pay TV because it means a drop in revenue, and it also needs there to be FTA broadcasters that want it.

  5. I’ll be quite happy with highlights now if it is the same format that Channel 4 do for their highlights when the races aren’t ‘live’.

    • Same here ! We still see everything we need to see except for just a few boring racing laps as well as skipping over long red flag periods which was very useful with Brazil 2016 ! Avoiding results ain’t that hard as most people seem to think it is ! When the season starts, I just unfollow and unlike any source of F1 media and most all, I don’t look at my phone, or listen to the radio and avoid news updates on tv ! I really really hope Channel can keep extended highlights for 2019 !

  6. A billion to show some highlights over 6 seasons? Bit of a joke really for the amount of viewers it would get. I would say its expensive at £5 million a season and im sure c4 , Itv and BBC would agree.
    Still struggle to figure out why bbc pay so much for match of the day which is like and advert for
    someone elses exclusive broadcasts.
    If nobody bids for it they would have to give it away.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s