Scheduling: The 2017 United States Grand Prix

For the first time in a decade, UK viewers will be able to watch the United States Grand Prix live on free-to-air television. The race is the sixth from the Circuit of the Americas and could see Lewis Hamilton clinch his fourth world title.

Channel 4’s live coverage will feature Mark Webber and Eddie Jordan on punditry alongside Steve Jones and David Coulthard. After missing Japan, Lee McKenzie will be back with the team, whilst Rachel Brookes is expected to return to Sky’s F1 team following injury.

On the scheduling front, there is an unusual four-hour gap between the end of practice three and the start of the qualifying. The explanation is that the organisers want to persuade fans to stay for the Justin Timberlake concert following qualifying (yes, really).

Qualifying does not start until 22:00 BST as a result, the latest I believe qualifying has started for viewers in Europe since the 1983 United States Grand Prix West from Long Beach!

On Sunday, to allow for drivers to be introduced individually by legendary announcer Michael Buffer, the pit lane will open 15 minutes earlier. Hopefully the UK broadcasters cover the festivities throughout their race day build-up.

Channel 4 F1
20/10 – 15:55 to 17:35 – Practice 1 (More4)
20/10 – 19:55 to 21:35 – Practice 2 (More4)
21/10 – 16:55 to 18:30 – Practice 3 (Channel 4)
21/10 – 21:00 to 23:35 – Qualifying (Channel 4)
22/10 – 19:00 to 23:15 – Race (Channel 4)
=> 19:00 – Build–Up
=> 19:35 – Race
=> 22:10 – Reaction

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
20/10 – 15:45 to 18:00 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
20/10 – 19:45 to 22:00 – Practice 2
21/10 – 16:45 to 18:15 – Practice 3
21/10 – 21:00 to 23:40 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Mix)
22/10 – 18:30 to 23:15 – Race
=> 18:30 – Track Parade
=> 19:00 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 19:30 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 22:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
18/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
19/10 – 17:00 to 18:00 – Driver Press Conference
19/10 – 20:30 to 20:45 – Paddock Uncut
20/10 – 22:00 to 22:50 – Team Press Conference
20/10 – 22:50 to 23:20 – The F1 Show
25/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
19/10 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
20/10 – 15:55 to 17:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
21/10 – 21:55 to 23:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
22/10 – 19:00 to 22:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

MotoGP – Australia (BT Sport 2)
20/10 – 00:00 to 07:00
=> 00:00 – Practice 1
=> 02:45 – Reaction and Build-Up
=> 04:00 – Practice 2
21/10 – 00:00 to 07:15
=> 00:00 – Practice 3
=> 03:00 – Qualifying
22/10 – 00:30 to 02:15 – Warm Up
22/10 – 02:30 to 07:15
=> 02:30 – Moto3 race
=> 04:15 – Moto2 race
=> 05:45 – MotoGP race

MotoGP – Australia (Channel 5)
23/10 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

European Le Mans Series – Portimao (Motorsport.tv)
22/10 – 12:45 to 17:20 – Race

World Superbikes – Jerez
21/10 – 09:15 to 14:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
22/10 – 10:00 to 15:00 – Support Races and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
24/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

As always, the schedule will be updated if anything changes.

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Higgs happy with current BSB UK TV deal

A leading figure in the British Superbikes series believes that the championship currently has the right balance in terms of television coverage in the United Kingdom. The comments came from Stuart Higgs, who is the series’ director for the MCE British Superbikes championship.

Currently, the series airs exclusively live on Eurosport, with highlights broadcast on ITV4. Higgs believes that Eurosport’s presentation of the championship has improved since they first started exclusive coverage in 2008. “We joined Eurosport at a time when they were not taken very seriously, this was before Discovery took them over.”Their presentation standards have massively improved, at the start, the EPG, and the pictures that you were watching would not always match up! Now, they have some serious rights, the US Open tennis, the Olympics, and we are a big part of their platform.”

The most recently development has been with Eurosport’s over the top Player service, where exclusive BSB content has aired on the service since the Cadwell Park of the championship. “We’re very happy with the mix. The premium sports fan gets their fix on Eurosport with qualifying and the race. More of our races are now free-to-air on Quest, which is important for us, getting us back to the position that we were in 2007 [when ITV stopped covering the series live].”

“To have live free-to-air, live premium sport, and tight highlights on a premium-brand free-to-air channel on ITV4, it’s on balance stronger than just being on BT. BT’s presentation values are excellent, but we would be pigeon-holed below MotoGP.”

Higgs appreciates that there is a major challenge for the championship, and other series, when the next round of television rights begin in 2021, with the media landscape radically changing. “The new and emerging sports fans of 2021 are 13 to 15 years old at the moment. I’ve got a twelve-year-old daughter, and she doesn’t watch television, not interested. She’s busy watching things on YouTube or talking on social media. The critical thing for all sports is how to engage and make your product more engaging, more understanding.”

“Television is the most important visibility platform that we have and it will be for the foreseeable future. Integration between social media and other delivery platforms is the challenge. Some sports are massively advanced in that area, you’re seeing live sport appear in weird places like Twitter or Facebook. There is an expectation now from people that you click on something, and you see it, which conflicts with the pay-TV model where you pay to view it. The whole monetisation of sport, content, and broadcasting, I don’t believe anyone has the right answer. There’s a number of theories, and you’ve just got to see what works for your audience.”

> Behind the scenes in the BSB OB truck: the monitor wall
> Behind the scenes in the BSB OB truck: the key roles and responsibilities

According to overnight viewing figures supplied by overnights.tv, highlights of the British Superbikes series on ITV4 have averaged 155k (0.8%) in a Wednesday evening slot this season up until and including August, peaking with around 200,000 viewers. Live coverage of race day across Eurosport and Quest has averaged 98k (1.0%), peaking with 182,000 viewers.

Is BTCC’s live ITV4 programming in need of a refresh?
Higgs also commented on the British Touring Car Championship, which follows a similar schedule to the British Superbikes series. Higgs believes that the BTCC programming on ITV4 needs a refresh.

Since relinquishing Formula 1 at the end of 2008, the touring car series has aired live on Sundays on ITV4 for around seven hours from 11:00 to 18:00. The marathon broadcast contains live coverage of all three BTCC races, with live coverage of the support series’, including the Ginetta Juniors and the Porsche Carrera Cup.

But Higgs claims that this style of broadcast outdated. “It’s not a bad show when it comes to the racing, but their programme is like watching paint dry,” Higgs says. “You’ve got to inject some excitement and personality into it. Being live for seven hours on a free-to-air channel I don’t think works any more.” British Eurosport’s BSB programme is typically presented by Matt Roberts, James Whitham and James Haydon, whereas ITV4’s BTCC coverage is fronted by Steve Rider, Louise Goodman and Paul O’Neil.

An alternative approach suggested by Higgs is a short live programme, with both race one and two of the day airing on tape-delay. “They’d be better off by doing a tight edit of race one and race two, then coming live for race three, with a big build-up and big audience. In this day and age, people’s lifestyles have changed. Not many people have the luxury of staying in on a Sunday afternoon for seven hours, your wife will be nagging you, the kids will be bored,” claims Higgs.

Viewing figures for the British Touring Car Championship dipped to a low of 154k (1.7%) in 2016 live on ITV4. However, audiences have rebounded so far this year, bringing in an average of 200k (2.2%), peaking with 370,000 viewers per race.

Scheduling: The 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix

The 2017 Formula One season heads into its last third, with the final running of the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Sepang circuit has been a fixture on the calendar since 1999, initially in an October slot, before moving to March in 2001. Last year, the race returned to an October slot, but that was not enough to save Malaysia from the axe as attendances have dropped in recent years.

The final Malaysian round will air live on both Channel 4 and Sky Sports. Mark Webber and Susie Wolff are alongside Channel 4’s usual line-up fronted by Steve Jones and David Coulthard. Over on Sky, Rachel Brookes remains on the sidelines due to knee injury, Brookes out of both the Malaysia and Japanese Grand Prix next weekend. Sky’s coverage is simulcast across both Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix at various points during the weekend.

Elsewhere, this weekend marks the end of the British Touring Car Championship season, its final round taking place at Brands Hatch.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
29/09 – 03:40 to 05:40 – Practice 1
29/09 – 07:55 to 09:35 – Practice 2
30/09 – 06:55 to 08:25 – Practice 3
30/09 – 08:55 to 11:45 – Qualifying
30/09 – 13:30 to 15:30 – Qualifying Replay
01/10 – 07:00 to 10:45 – Race
=> 07:00 – Build–Up
=> 07:35 – Race
=> 10:00 – Reaction
01/10 – 13:30 to 16:15 – Race Replay

Supplementary Programming
30/09 – 08:25 to 08:55 – F1 Meets… Nigel Mansell

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
29/09 – 03:45 to 05:45 – Practice 1
29/09 – 07:45 to 10:00 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
30/09 – 06:45 to 08:10 – Practice 3
30/09 – 09:00 to 11:40 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
01/10 – 06:30 to 11:15 – Race
=> 06:30 – Track Parade
=> 07:00 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 07:30 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event and Mix)
=> 10:30 – Paddock Live (also Sky Sports Mix)

Supplementary Programming
27/09 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
28/09 – 08:00 to 08:30 – Driver Press Conference
28/09 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
29/09 – 10:30 to 11:15 – Team Press Conference
29/09 – 11:15 to 11:45 – The F1 Show

BBC Radio F1
28/09 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
29/09 – 03:55 to 05:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
29/09 – 07:55 to 09:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
30/09 – 06:55 to 08:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
30/09 – 09:55 to 11:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
01/10 – 07:30 to 10:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

British Superbikes – Assen
30/09 – 14:30 to 17:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
01/10 – 11:15 to 12:00 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
01/10 – 13:00 to 18:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
04/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

British Touring Car Championship – Brands Hatch (ITV4)
01/10 – 10:30 to 18:35 – Races

Euroformula – Monza (BT Sport/ESPN)
30/09 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Race 1
01/10 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Race 2

International GT Open – Monza (BT Sport/ESPN)
30/09 – 15:00 to 16:30 – Race 1
01/10 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Race 2

World Superbikes – Magny Cours
30/09 – 09:15 to 14:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
01/10 – 10:00 to 11:15 – Support Races (Eurosport 2)
01/10 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
03/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

World Rallycross Championship – Germany (Motorsport.tv)
01/10 – 13:00 to 15:05 – Race

As always, the above schedule will be updated if anything changes.

Scheduling: The 2017 Singapore Grand Prix

The fly-away races begin for the Formula 1 paddock with the Singapore Grand Prix! It is Singapore’s tenth race since it returned to the calendar in 2008. The race will air live across Channel 4 and Sky, which is great news as Singapore is one of the longest races on the calendar, meaning it receives a brutal edit when not covered live on free-to-air television.

Channel 4 have two special programmes during the weekend. The first is their usual F1 Meets output, this time Lee McKenzie interviews Sir Jackie Stewart. The special edition of Speed with Guy Martin also airs this weekend as he becomes part of the Williams team for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. North One Television have turned the programme around quickly, with just a three-week gap between Belgium and transmission. I am slightly surprised that Channel 4 have not held this back until October and November, but at the same time it will have more of an impact airing closer to the filming date.

Singapore will play host to one of Channel 4’s stronger line-ups this year with Eddie Jordan and Mark Webber alongside Steve Jones and David Coulthard. Over on Sky, Rachel Brookes was due to return to their output for the fly-away races, except she has been ruled out through knee injury, so viewers will hear more of Craig Slater this weekend. Brookes joins NBC’s Jason Swales on the side lines, Swales having broken his ankle over the Summer break. Get well soon both!

There is no Formula Two or GP3 action in Singapore, both championships return in three weeks’ time from Jerez. This weekend does mark the end of the IndyCar Series season, with four drivers in contention for the crown, as always, the action is live on BT Sport.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
15/09 – 09:25 to 11:05 – Practice 1
15/09 – 13:25 to 15:05 – Practice 2
16/09 – 10:55 to 12:25 – Practice 3
16/09 – 12:55 to 15:45 – Qualifying
17/09 – 12:00 to 16:15 – Race
=> 12:00 – Build–Up
=> 12:35 – Race
=> 15:10 – Reaction

Supplementary Programming
16/09 – 12:25 to 12:55 – F1 Meets… Jackie Stewart
17/09 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Speed with Guy Martin: F1 Challenge

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
15/09 – 09:15 to 11:25 – Practice 1
15/09 – 13:15 to 15:10 – Practice 2
16/09 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
16/09 – 13:00 to 15:40 – Qualifying
17/09 – 11:30 to 16:10 – Race (also Sky Sports Mix)
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
13/09 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
14/09 – 11:00 to 12:00 – Driver Press Conference
14/09 – 23:45 to 00:00 – Paddock Uncut
15/09 – 15:15 to 16:00 – Team Press Conference
15/09 – 16:00 to 16:30 – The F1 Show
20/09 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
14/09 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
15/09 – 09:25 to 11:05 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15/09 – 13:25 to 15:05 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
16/09 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
16/09 – 13:55 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
17/09 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Blancpain Sprint Series – Nurburgring
16/09 – 12:45 to 14:15 – Qualifying Race (BT Sport 3)
17/09 – 13:45 to 16:00 – Championship Race (BT Sport/ESPN)

British Superbikes – Oulton Park
16/09 – 16:00 to 18:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
17/09 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
17/09 – 16:00 to 18:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
20/09 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

British Touring Car Championship – Silverstone (ITV4)
17/09 – 11:00 to 18:30 – Races

FIM CEV Repsol – Jerez
17/09 – Races
=> 09:45 to 13:45 (BT Sport/ESPN)
=> 13:45 to 15:00 (BT Sport X3)

Formula V8 3.5 – Austin (BT Sport 3)
16/09 – 14:45 to 15:45 – Race 1
17/09 – 15:45 to 17:00 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Sonoma (BT Sport/ESPN)
17/09 – 23:30 to 02:30 – Race

World Endurance Championship – Austin
16/09 – Race
=> 17:30 to 00:45 (BT Sport X3)
=> 17:45 to 00:20 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 17:50 to 21:55 (Eurosport)
=> 22:30 to 00:15 (Eurosport)

World Superbikes – Portimao
16/09 – 10:45 to 16:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
17/09 – 10:45 to 13:00 – Support Races (Eurosport 2)
17/09 – 15:00 to 16:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
19/09 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.

Scheduling: The 2017 Belgian Grand Prix / British MotoGP

After a four-week Summer break, the Formula One season roars back into life at the classic Spa Francorchamps circuit for the Belgian Grand Prix! The race will air live on Channel 4 and Sky Sports, both channels with their usual offering throughout.

Mark Webber and Susie Wolff will be part of Channel 4’s team for the weekend, whilst Martin Brundle is expected to be back with Sky following his recent illness, although this has yet to be confirmed. The schedule for Spa remains at three days in length (no more four-day experiments, yet), although GP3 qualifying moves to a Friday evening time slot, and the weekend sees an extra dosage of Porsche Supercup action.

For the second year in a row, the British round of the MotoGP championship finds itself clashing with a Formula 1 race. Last year the race clashed with the Italian Grand Prix, this year the clash is with Belgium, partially because the race has moved forward to the Bank Holiday weekend. Again, I will be reporting for this site from Silverstone, so keep an eye over the weekend and afterwards for interviews and news from the MotoGP paddock.

Channel 5’s MotoGP highlights time have been shunted out of primetime and onto a different day, thanks to cricket highlights of the second test between England and the Windies. I understand why cricket takes priority in this instance, but if Channel 5’s agreement with Dorna does not allow highlights to air on Spike, then that is a major flaw in the contract, meaning that the viewing figures for the series suffer as a result.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
25/08 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1
25/08 – 12:55 to 14:35 – Practice 2
26/08 – 09:55 to 11:25 – Practice 3
26/08 – 11:55 to 14:30 – Qualifying
27/08 – 12:00 to 16:00 – Race
=> 12:00 – Build–Up
=> 12:35 – Race
=> 15:10 – Reaction

Supplementary Programming
26/08 – 11:25 to 11:55 – F1 Meets… David Coulthard

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
25/08 – 08:45 to 10:55 – Practice 1
25/08 – 12:45 to 15:00 – Practice 2
26/08 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Practice 3
26/08 – 12:00 to 14:40 – Qualifying
27/08 – 11:30 to 16:15 – Race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race (also Sky Sports Mix)
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
23/08 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
24/08 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Driver Press Conference
24/08 – 19:45 to 20:00 – Paddock Uncut
25/08 – 16:40 to 17:30 – Team Press Conference
25/08 – 17:30 to 18:00 – The F1 Show
26/08 – 14:40 to 14:55 – Lewis Hamilton Quiz
30/08 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
24/08 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
27/08 – 13:00 to 15:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

MotoGP – Britain (BT Sport 2)
25/08 – 09:00 to 16:00
=> 09:00 – Practice 1
=> 11:45 – Reaction and Build-Up
=> 13:00 – Practice 2
26/08 – 09:00 to 16:15
=> 09:00 – Practice 3
=> 12:00 – Qualifying
27/08 – 09:45 to 17:30
=> 09:45 – Warm-Up
=> 11:30 – Moto3 race
=> 13:30 – Moto2 race
=> 15:15 – MotoGP race
=> 16:30 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Britain (Channel 5)
29/08 – 00:00 to 01:00 – Highlights

Blancpain Sprint Series – Budapest
26/08 – 14:30 to 16:15 – Qualifying Race (BT Sport 3)
27/08 – 12:30 to 14:45 – Championship Race (BT Sport/ESPN)

British Touring Car Championship – Rockingham (ITV4)
27/08 – 10:45 to 17:45 – Races

European Le Mans Series – Paul Ricard (Motorsport.tv)
27/08  10:45 to 15:20  Race

Formula Renault Eurocup – Paul Ricard
26/08 – 11:00 to 12:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 1)
27/08 – 11:00 to 12:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)

Formula Two – Belgium (Sky Sports F1)
25/08 – 10:55 to 11:40 – Practice
25/08 – 15:20 to 15:50 – Qualifying
26/08 – 14:55 to 16:05 – Race 1
27/08 – 09:10 to 10:25 – Race 2

GP3 Series – Belgium (Sky Sports F1)
25/08 – 16:10 to 16:40 – Qualifying
26/08 – 16:30 to 17:30 – Race 1
27/08 – 07:55 to 08:50 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Gateway 500 (BT Sport/ESPN)
27/08 (Saturday night) – 02:00 to 05:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Belgium
26/08 – Race 1
=> 17:30 to 18:30 (Eurosport)
=> 17:30 to 18:25 (Sky Sports F1)
27/08 – Race 2
=> 10:15 to 11:15 (Eurosport)
=> 10:25 to 11:20 (Sky Sports F1)

Speedway Grand Prix – Poland (BT Sport 1)
26/08 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.

Update on August 24th – A new show has appeared in Sky’s F1 schedule, called Lewis Hamilton Quiz. Presumably based off this feature that is airing during their coverage this weekend. With all due respect, I am pretty glad I am missing that.