Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2018

Fans in the United Kingdom have a variety of options to watch Sky’s coverage of Formula 1, however the cheapest options are experiencing a price rise for 2018, the latest analysis shows.

With pay TV growth heading towards saturation point, Sky are trying to try to prevent fans from illegal methods of viewing the sport, something that has been ongoing for several years, but are now attempting more aggressively.

Since the start of the 2017 season, two major developments have happened. The first, in July last year, saw Sky unveil a new look for their Sports offering, getting rid of the previous 1, 2, 3 system and introducing channels branded around specific content, such as Sky Sports Football, Cricket and Golf, offering customers the opportunity to subscribe to just one of these, including F1.

The second is the yet to be launched (and now delayed) over-the-top service, which will not be available in the UK. Why is this of importance? Although Formula One Management (FOM) will do everything possible to prevent fans in the UK from accessing the service, some may still slip through the net, hurting Sky’s audience figures marginally in the process.

The below information is primarily aimed at new customers on both Sky and Virgin Media. As regular readers for these services will be aware, if you threaten to leave (otherwise known as ‘haggling’), expect Sky or Virgin to offer a cost reduction to secure your custom. This is not a guarantee, but likely if the pay TV company values your services, and if you have been a long-term customer. Note that all the comparisons exclude double and triple play choices, such as phone and broadband deals.

Sky
For the second year running, you can view Formula 1 in standard definition (SD), high definition (HD) and ultra-high definition (UHD) with Sky. The price increases with each tier. As in 2017, the UHD option splits into two sub-categories, depending on whether you want the remainder of your content available in high or standard definition.

There are two tables below. One, if you wish to view Sky Sports F1 only within the Sky Sports portfolio, and a second option if you wish to access all of Sky Sports’ portfolio of channels.

Option – Sky F1 only SD
Sky Q 1TB Box
HD
Sky Q 1TB Box
UHD + SD all
Sky Q 2TB Box
UHD + HD all
Sky Q 2TB Box
Entertainment £20.00 £20.00 £20.00 £20.00
Sky Sports F1 only £18.00 £18.00 £18.00 £18.00
Sky HD £6.00 £6.00
Sky Q Multiscreen £12.00 £12.00
Monthly Cost £38.00 £44.00 £50.00 £56.00
Yearly Cost £456.00 £528.00 £600.00 £672.00
One-Off Installation Cost £20.00 £20.00 £65.00 £65.00
Yearly Cost £476.00 £548.00 £665.00 £737.00

For Sky, it is all change since the start of 2017. The Original and Box Set Bundles, priced at £22.00 and £38.00 respectively (the latter you needed to watch sport in high definition), have gone. In its place is Sky’s entry level Entertainment offering, priced at £20.00 for the first 18 months, increasing to £25.00. Simplification is the name of the game, to try and hook customers into their offering.

As alluded to above, sports fans can now purchase individual channels. Sky Sports F1 on top of the basic package is £18.00 more, one might argue that is too expensive for a specific channel, nevertheless it is an improvement over other Sky TV options if you are only interested in Formula 1. If you are into a range of sports, the complete Sky Sports Pack is more appropriate.

Option – Sky Sports all SD
Sky Q 1TB Box
HD
Sky Q 1TB Box
UHD + SD all
Sky Q 2TB Box
UHD + HD all
Sky Q 2TB Box
Entertainment £20.00 £20.00 £20.00 £20.00
Sky Sports £27.50 £27.50 £27.50 £27.50
Sky Sports HD £6.00 £6.00
Sky Q Multiscreen £12.00 £12.00
Monthly Cost £47.50 £53.50 £59.50 £65.50
Yearly Cost £570.00 £642.00 £714.00 £786.00
One-Off Installation Cost £20.00 £20.00 £65.00 £65.00
Yearly Cost £590.00 £662.00 £779.00 £851.00

I should note that there are significant offers currently related to the above. Firstly, if you purchase Sky Sports F1 only, you get Sports free in high definition. Secondly, there is currently an offer getting you Sky Sports for £20.00 instead of £27.50, almost rendering the Sky F1 only option redundant.

In addition, the Entertainment entry-level price of £20.00 only applies for the first 18 months, following which the pack is £25.00. Why have I not included the Sky Sports offers in the two tables? Because it is unclear how long these offers will last for, the Sky website does not specify an expiry date.

Virgin Media
Compared with 2017, Virgin Media’s pricing structure is largely unchanged with a £2.00 rise for Mix TV, and then a £5.01 rise for installation the only two things of note.

Option SD
TiVo 500GB Box
HD
TiVo 500GB Box
Mix TV £22.00 £22.00
Sky Sports Collection £31.75 £31.75
Sky Sports HD £7.00
Monthly Cost £53.75 £60.75
Yearly Cost £645.00 £729.00
One-Off Installation Cost £20.00 £20.00
Yearly Cost £665.00 £749.00

I have triple checked their website, and most of Virgin Media’s existing offers relate to their Broadband offering meaning that, at this moment in time, Sky is the more viable option for new customers entering the pay TV market.

Now TV
For those of you unwilling to pay a large pay TV subscription, Now TV is an attractive option, and their most appetising offer expires at 23:59 on March 25th. The F1 Season Pass gives you access to all Sky Sports channels for the equivalent of £16.67 a month, or £150.00 across the nine months.

Beyond that, there are three Now TV tiers for Sky Sports. The bad news is that the day pass and the weekly pass have increased compared to twelve months ago. The day pass costs £7.99 (up £1.00), whilst the weekly pass is £12.99 (up £2.00). The monthly pass remains £33.99.

Other than the F1 Season Pass, you can watch every race live by purchasing six monthly passes this year:

– pass 1 can be used from March 24th to April 24th (Australia and China)
– pass 2 can be used from May 11th to June 11th (Spain and Canada)
– pass 3 can be used from June 23rd to July 23rd (France and Germany)
– pass 4 can be used from July 28th to August 28th (Hungary)
– pass 5 can be used from September 1st to October 1st (Italy and Russia)
– pass 6 can be used from October 25th to November 25th (Mexico and Brazil)

The six Now TV monthly passes work out at a cost of £186.94 across the year. A cheaper option would be to buy eleven weekly passes, at a cost of £142.89 across the year, but this option is more expensive than 2017 with one additional race, combined with the rise in price for the weekly pass. If you are only interested in the race, eleven different day passes will cost you £87.89 across the year. Is Now TV slowly losing its value for money status? It will be fascinating to track Now TV’s prices this year to see if further rises follow, or whether the status quo returns.

Sky Sports Mobile TV
The cheapest option for fans remains Sky Sports Mobile TV for iPhone and Android. Although the premium tier has risen in price by £1.00 compared with last year to £10.99 per calendar month, it remains value for money, costing fans £65.94 for six calendar months.

In summary, here are the key numbers for Formula 1 fans, including installation. I have compared to the equivalent prices from 2017 to give a sense of the change for each year-on-year.

– £851.00 a year – Sky (All – UHD + HD other content) – down £211.00
– £779.00 a year – Sky (All – UHD + SD other content) – down £19.00
– £749.00 a year – Virgin Media (HD) – up £29.01
– £737.00 a year – Sky (F1 – UHD + HD other content) – new
– £665.00 a year – Virgin Media (SD) – up £29.01
– £665.00 a year – Sky (F1 – UHD + SD other content) – new
– £662.00 a year – Sky (All – HD) – down £211.00
– £590.00 a year – Sky (All – SD) – down £19.00
– £548.00 a year – Sky (F1 – HD) – new
– £476.00 a year – Sky (F1 – SD) – new
– £186.94 – Now TV (Monthly Pass x 6)
– £150.00 – Now TV (F1 Season Pass) – expires on March 25th
– £142.89 – Now TV (Weekly Pass x 11) – up £32.99
– £87.89 – Now TV (Day Pass x 11) – up £17.99
– £59.95 – Sky Sports Mobile TV

Remember that Sky owns Now TV, which may explain why their highest-tier packages have dropped in price, with Sky instead passing some of the cost back onto entry-level Now TV subscribers. It feels like Sky Sports Mobile TV goes under the radar but is an increasingly viable option with Now TV prices on the rise.

With Sky’s premium tier prices decreasing, you must ask the question: what happens to existing customers who are on packages that no longer exist? The answer: you stay on that tier. See also, the pockets of customers who remain on the legacy Sky F1 HD pack that was created at the start of 2012.

There is a very good chance that you might be paying more than what you should be and may be able to get your package reduced onto one of the tiers outlined above. Many customers may not notice, but it is worth checking your bill to make sure the pricing reflects the information above.

Have you spotted anything worth adding? Is Sky F1 available via any other legal avenues not mentioned in this piece? Drop a line in the comments section below.

Pricing and information correct as of March 24th, 2018. Pricing is subject to change.

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9 thoughts on “Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2018

  1. Too much for me. I had a NowTv box as you see the day and week passes have gone up. They still don’t offer an F1 option for Friday Sat and Sun.
    The now Tv box is a cut down Roku box which crashes every half hour and reverts to its animated football logo.
    No after this season its the end of F1 for pensioners on fixed incomes like myself.
    The OTT service would have been just about affordable and would have been just what we have been waiting for for years.

    Ok the deal was done by Bernie so we must blame him, but it doesn’t help. Liberty will loose 80% of UK viewers next year.
    Instead of using promotion to get people to the track, which is always sold out anyway (and which is only 6% of the total current UK audience) they need to make viewing possible for the majority of UK viewers.
    Don’t forget we pay around £12.25 a month for a tv licence in the UK, nothing is free!

  2. It’s worth mentioning that the basic Sky entertainment package goes up by £1.50 very soon, to £21.50 a month.

    Now TV sent me an email offerering all Sky Sports channels for a month at half price. £16.60 , seeing as the first 3 races are highlights only on C4, and there’s a couple of football matches I want to watch too, this is a pretty good deal I think.

  3. If you are on the hd pack you will pay more if you change package, best thing to do is get a deal on your existing package

  4. These prices are going to effectively kill mass legal F1 viewership in the UK from 2019.

    I’d love to hear what the teams think of the potential reduction in the number of eyes available, in terms of impacting sponsorship deals?

    For now, I think we should give credit for the good work done by fans to allow easy and non-geo restricted access to live and archived streams, with choices that accommodate varying internet speeds and different viewing platforms. That’s a lot of unrewarded hard work!

    I hope Liberty continue their forward looking approach. Their next step should be to expand their OTT product to accommodate the many fans who travel, who often cannot afford to pay to watch F1 in each individual territory.

    Sky’s price gouging becomes even more egregious, when considering the absurd amount of adverts inserted into a supposed premium service.

    It was notable that ad breaks in the middle of the night were dominated by Sky’s own promotional material. The other commercials were dominated by only 3 or 4 individual campaigns.

    I’d be interested to know more about the demand for ad space on the F1 channel, if there’s enough information available to write an interesting article on the subject?

    I’d expect it to be a potentially valuable demographic, separate from more typical Sky consumers, who appear to be interested in online betting and dubious, badly regulated sub-prime financial services products. However that’s probably a gross generalisation, which is why I’m curious to learn more around this area.

  5. It was £150 for a full 9 months of Sky sports F1 via the now tv box. The pass, I think is still available and the cheapest option for linear viewing.

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