Posted on February 14, 2013
XPB.cc

[Updated] France has become the latest major European market for Formula 1 to switch to a Pay TV model, as Canal + snapped up the rights starting this season.

The 11th hour deal is exclusive, which means that long time free-to-air broadcaster TF1 is out of F1 after many years of association and it is another nail in the coffin for Free to Air broadcasters as purveyors of premium live sports.

It also means that three of Europe’s largest markets for F1 coverage are now under the control of Pay TV, following the UK which switched to Sky in 2012 and Italy which is following suit this year. French TV audiences for F1 have usually been at a similar level to the UK, perhaps slightly lower, at around 4-6 million per race. F1 in Holland has also switched to Pay TV only for this year.

This exclusive Canal+ French deal prioritises revenue over reach; it will have an inevitable effect on the viewing figures, particularly as there is no free to air dimension to the deal, so only the audience paying €35 per month will be able to see F1 in France. After many years without a French driver on the grid, the country now has Romain Grosjean, Jean Eric Vergne and Charles Pic. And Jules Bianchi (above left) may be confirmed at Force India in the next few days.

It is interesting to compare F1 to football, which went down this PAY TV route first and has since thrived in UK, Italy and many other markets. But football is a national sport for most countries, whereas these deals will test whether F1 is a ‘minority” sport or whether the fanbase is dedicated and committed. Research shows that in many European countries F1 is second only to football in terms of audience demand.

In the UK there is a half way house solution; the concept of Sky carrying every race live with BBC showing only half the races live and the rest on highlights led to a small decline in figures last year compared to 2011, according to BARB figures. It will be interesting to see which way the trend goes this year.

In Italy a similar effect is anticipated under the arrangement proposed with SKY carrying all races live and RAI showing selected rounds free to air.

Global TV audiences were up by around 12% last year on 2011 values, thanks to additional races in Bahrain and Austin and to a more sustained and exciting championship than 2011. Typical global audiences for races in European time zones were around the 45 million mark.

F1′s global popularity was built up over the last 30 years on mass market free to air TV. It is now entering a second phase where it looks to maintain its TV platform but the only place to turn to keep the revenues high is Pay TV.

Down the road one imagines that F1 may look at shifting to a different model, whereby users have a direct relationship with F1 via the F1.com website and can pay to live stream races as well as order other content.

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France follows UK and Italy to pay TV model for F1 coverage
245 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: theovog
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 12:28 pm 

    A similar situation is here in Greece. F1 was on a Free to air all those years both Qualifying and Race. Last year, Pay TV both the rights for all weekend with the exception of the race being on a free channel (both on Pay TV and Free to Air) and this year, it seems there will be no free to air channel to broadcast F1. Only Pay TV. So, it seems to be a global thing.

    [Reply]

    Doug Reply:

    If it follows the UK Sky viewing figures I can’t see it lasting that long…an average of 480,000 per race! Check out this article http://www.vivaf1.com/blog/?p=12627
    I think it makes pretty sober reading for Sky & any F1 sponsers!!
    You also have to keep in mind that many people only watched F1 on Sky in the UK as it came free with an HD subscription package.

    I’d love to read any thoughts James has on the Sky viewing figures and the possible effect the falling figures will have on F1 in the future (I appreciate you mention a 12% rise but Pay to view only countries will no doubt take a huge hit in the future if the Sky UK figures are anything to go by!)?

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    kowa Reply:

    With other European countries set to follow suit by losing full free-to-view coverage, that prompts the question of whether sponsors will start to take note of the falling ratings and respond accordingly?

    I hope they do, because here in spain we still can watch all the races live and free, but i think we are next in line. And i won’t pay money to watch the races. That’s for sure.

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    Darren Reply:

    The sky ratings will be drastically lower as you are comparing a subscription channel against a free-to-air channel, sky will be taking a long term strategy of attracting new viewers to their platform, or appealing to existing subscribers to upgrade to HD or Sports.

    I don’t think they care much about the future of F1, unless Murdoch is a major shareholder in F1

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    Garrett Bruce Reply:

    Can’t speak for the masses, but over here in the Colonies, pay TV would probably take a much bigger hit than described in the article referenced regarding 2012 viewership vs. 2011. Even though I’ve been a loyal fan of F-1 since the ’60′s when I started working SCCA races in the Northwest and continuing as a driver with a National License fom 1967 thru 2006 if it comes to the pay format here in the U.S. (and even this next year without Speed’s broadcasting of F-1) I’m guessing a significant fall-off in both viewership as well as the ability to expand the market. Much easier to go fishing, hiking, or traveling about the countryside and we’ll read about it in the magazines a month later. Oh well . . .

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    CaterhamElise Reply:

    We already are pay tv if you think about it. You have to have cable tv to watch Speed and now NBC Sports. I don’t think they would go to pay-per-view tv. It doesn’t make sense for them to do it here.

    6 Wheeled Tyrrell Reply:

    Speed TV and NBS Sports are pay channels, though they are usually included in the basic packages of cable, you still have to pay for them, they are not free to air. Im not aware if the F1 coverage will be included in the basic cable package in the different european countries or if it will require an upgrade, but the model they are moving towards is the one we’ve been operating here un the US for quite a while, Latin America as well.

    Garrett Bruce Reply:

    Understood, and thank you both for the clarification. That cable TV is a fact of life, especially out here in rural America, wasn’t clearly stated. What experience has provided is that what cable operators do (around here at least) is require an added fee/surcharge, whatever, where what I’ll call “premium” events are concerned and they require an “authorizing payment” in addition to their basic (or even higher “tier” programing) charges for viewing of that event. And they do that for some motion pictures as well, even if you have a subscription to movie channels. This is the potential situation which was of concern. If that turns out to be the situation, a point of diminishing returns has been reached for this fan, that was the intended comment. Thanks again for the clarification.

    Kevin Stone Reply:

    As an Ex Pat downunder, I can confirm that once (no longer if) we go pay to view, I amongst almost all fans I know will no longer watch and will be lost to F1 and the sponsors….massive own goal and probably the start of the end for the sport. F1 needs sponsors – sponsors need viewers/customers – exposure needs free TV….simple.

    [Reply]

    PetardHoister Reply:

    F1 needs money.

    It might look like the biggest problem F1 has is where they are going to stack the piles of cash next, but the sport is actually being shafted by the TV companies and by Bernie.

    The entire income from TV rights is around about the same as the Turkish premier league football.

    Recent reports on the BBC site suggest that accord to Whitmarsh half of the teams on the grid are broke. If F1 loses half of it’s competitors then what are we going to watch?

    Free to air TV channels just can’t pay the same kind of money that payTV can. If F1 goes completely payTV then we’ll grumble but we’ll pay to watch, at least most of us. Either we’ll shuffle to a mates house and watch it there, or we’ll go to a pub and watch it there (the subscription for a pub to show SKY is north of £20k a year) or we’ll fork out the necessary to watch at home.

    F1 the business sells advertising, same as every other sport. Free to air TV kind of dents the revenues that advertising can attract.

    We can all moan at Bernie for swallowing up half the TV money for CVC, but that’s what CVC pay him to do and CVC is still getting half of not all that much money compared to a lot of other TV sport.

    For F1 to grow it needs to drag it’s sorry arse into the 21st century, stop using engines that were designed in the 1960′s (Bernie you’re an engine dinosaur, let the sport progress) implement some regulations that actually cap the money teams can spend to limit the arms race (Red Bull and Ferrari be damned) and sort out a better deal for everyone by securing more income.

    The next few years will be interesting times.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Stone Reply:

    I agree that the core problem is the CVC/Bernie effect. However, the precedent has been set to move to pay-to-view. PTV has inevitably resulted in reduced audience numbers = less sponsor exposure.

    A sponsor will undertake many checks including a cost benefit analyses to identify their bang per buck/euro/dollar and to support the required investment.

    The basic, unavoidable commercial law is less exposure to their customer base, the less value the advertising is worth, PAY LESS.

    Now we may see a change in the sponsorship demographic to a more targeted, nice sponsor that works with PTV, and this is possible and will alienate the traditional fans.

    I said I had asked other fans and this was a broad demographic in Australia, UK and Europe. Some, like me have been fans for almost 40 years. Some are well off. Some already have PTV, but overall the vast majority have stated they will not pay to watch F1. Indeed the statement has been made more than once “why pay to watch adverts on wheels”.

    Interestingly, all without exception will still pay to visit our local race in person (as long as we still have one!).

    PetardHoister Reply:

    @Kevin Stone

    Why pay to watch adverts on legs (football)
    If the races are interesting enough people will pay to watch them, if enough of the right people are watching (the advertisers target demogrpahic) then the advertisers will pay to advertise. the devil is in the details and while less eyes might see those ads, if more f the right eyes see them …

    I love watching F1 racing. I’ll pay to watch as long as what I have to pay is reasonable. If the subscription price at home is more than it’ll cost me for a round of beers then my local pub will get my patronage during races rather than SKY. Of course I’d rather not have to pay. I think that traditional TV media, especially free to air stuff is evolving and online streaming will swallow up broadcast TV entirely within a generation.

    Jordan Reply:

    If FOM broadcast direct to the public, they would make a killing. They would cut out the middle men like Sky and BBC. With the Internet, the technology is there.

    Can someone tell me why they aren’t going straight to this model?

    [Reply]

    Nico Reply:

    No they wouldn’t. It isn’t simply a case of pumping out the FOM feed to local markets. FOM would have to pay for all advertising, broadcasting licences, platform insertions and all the faff that goes into localisation such as commentators, ancillary programming etc.

    There is no way that they could do this through an Internet only service either because the costs of circa 45,000,000 people using a webservice would just result in a accidental DoS attack. Nobody would see anything and F1 would loose revenue and viewers

    [Reply]

    Jordan Reply:

    Thanks for clarifying

    Sebee Reply:

    Plus….what kind of an incentive would FOM give to Sky and others to pay for F1 rights if they know their efforts will be circumvented by FOM paid stream service? This is the reason why my hopes of this are tempered. It will just not happen unless the local rights holders put it in place. And any way you slice it, Sky would not price it to compete against the TV offer. They would price model to cost same or more to steer you to the tv package.

    [Reply]

    f1roborbob Reply:

    Be interesting to know the ratio of BBC to Sky viewers in UK. I presume BBC still makes up the lions share?

    [Reply]

    Rambo Reply:

    I and many of my friends have watched and followed closely F1 on TV for many many years here in the uk and so far I don’t know anyone that has suscribed to the Sky pay per view channel, I certainly will not. It’s a great shame and I think the power’s that be have got it wrong but only time will tell. For my self I will miss it when it is only available in Uk as pay per view….But I’ll get over it!

    [Reply]

    TJ Reply:

    Nearly 17% of the 2011 UK audiences took the same view in 2012 neither were they alone as worldwide audiences were also down, in some areas down by over a third.

    As has been pointed out, BE’s model ignores the link between exposure and teams advertising revenue. Any loss of which will certainly lead to calls from teams for a greater share of the profits from F1 as a matter of survival rather then simply equitable.

    But it’s a vicious circle and unsustainable….

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: Oisín Gregorian
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 12:33 pm 

    What did Jean-Eric Vergne do to get left out in this article? Pray tell…

    [Reply]

    AuraF1 Reply:

    Ouch – yeah James – he’s a bit of an oversight given he’s in a better team than Pic. And grosjean races under a Swiss license doesn’t he?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    He’s back in – thanks!

    [Reply]

    KGBVD Reply:

    He’s Swiss born, but he received no support in anti-racing Switzerland growing up (his Swiss rally-racing father was quite vocal on it). Since Grosjean got more support in France, he raced under a French license owing to his French mother.

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: Daniel
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 12:33 pm 

    Whilst I appreciate that it is a smaller market, the Netherlands have also lost FTA coverage for 2013 to Sport1, the premium sports channel. It is being reported as a split deal, however local reports indicate that as few as 2 or 3 races shall be available on Veronica FTA.

    Rather unfortunate timing considering the arrival of Guido van Garde to Caterham.

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: K2 Bruins
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 12:42 pm 

    And you can add The Netherlands as well for 2013 onwards …

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    It’s funny that while Europe is moving F1 to pay TV, in North America – the land of chocolate rivers and endless speciality channes – there is a clear push for big series to be on free to air network channels.
    Nascar, NFL, NBA, NHL, Baseball, MLS – all on Free to AIR, and certainly all of their play-offs and championships are FTA. Olympics – of course FTA.

    Which can only mean that F1 admits that it’s a niche sport with fixed fan base and they made a conscious decision that monetizing 25% of this base makes more sense at this time. However, once the team sponsors start to ask questions due to less eyeballs on screens, and once hosting countries see the value of big hosting fees decline as means to promote their countries we’ll see this F1 pay TV model perhpas come full circle.

    Personally, I have already made a decision not to pay for F1, instead opting to schedule my workouts at the gym during GPs. And with all this free sport coming my way, and with less and less households having cable/pay-tv due to the way we consume content FOM better think about future of the sport. It is becoming a sport families can’t enjoy together. Fathers can’t afford to take their kids to races. Add to that the fact that it’s a non-participation sport as there is no chance for you do play F1 in your back yard and what have you got? Crickets?

    [Reply]

    Craig Reply:

    Yes I can assure you being from the States that if F1 went to Pay TV here they will have no viewership whatsoever. It’s not much now but with literally ever major sporting event FTA there is no way to do otherwise. The only Pay TV events here are major prizefights.

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    Honestly, I would love to see F1 viewing figures for F1 in US. I bet you they are on par with infomercial ratings.

    It was on PayTV – but that’s becuase Speed TV was the only channel who wanted it. Now NBC stepped up. But truth is, there is no room on Network channels for F1. It is taken up by NBA, NFL, NASCAR, Golf, even Tennis. F1 is so far down the ladder, I’m wondering how NBC will fit a few races on their main network channel like Fox used to.

    SteveH Reply:

    You are absolutely right Sebee. F1 was on the Speed Channel, but to view Speed I would have had to purchase a pay TV package – as F1 was the only thing I was interested in I chose not to and watched all the races on the interwebs – either BBC or SKY. F1 coverage in America is a joke and Bernie’s claim that it is a huge market ripe to be tapped is BS. No one I know watches F1 or even knows what it is, except for a very small select group of friends. Good luck FOM with building the brand in America. What a joke.

    David Reply:

    In Canada F1 has only been on pay TV (TSN) for at least 10 years. The NHL is only on free over the air tv (CBC)on Saturday. All the other games are on pay tv. If you’re watching in French it’s only on pay tv. Same in the U.S. Free hockey on Saturday and Sunday (NBC), all the rest on pay. The same applies to the NBA – except on Sunday, all the games are only on pay tv. In the NFL, games not on Saturday or Sunday are only available on pay tv (ESPN or NFL Network). Modern times.

    [Reply]

    Sebee Reply:

    Bottom line, big games, big events are FTA, and you can easily catch a nice lineup of free “any sport” on FTA on the weekend.

    I won’t argue with you about specifics, but there are plenty of games FTA in big markets during the week, and you can pretty much watch all big games FTA over the weekend. Of course for the die hard fans each league has a PayTV model. But majority of games are FTA on the big networks, and all big games are FTA, all championships are FTA, and fans are not deprived of their sport.

    This is not the case with F1.

    Noltan Reply:

    Even though your coverage over there is going pay and not quite up to BBC standards, be glad you’re not at F1 fan in Canada.

    Not sure what the viewing numbers are here, but the coverage is absolutely terrible compared to BBC or Sky. Coverage is only on pay TV as previously stated (since 97 – when there was a Canadian in a competitive car!) with adverts and no pre-race and no post-race. Sometimes, after a long race, the post race interviews are skipped. One year, TSN tried giving us Speed commentary instead of ITV…luckily that only lasted 1 race. I have basically paid for TSN for 15+ years just for lousy F1 coverage. I, for one, would happily pay for decent coverage like BBC.

    On a side note, we get great coverage of cars going around in circles for 4 hours, if that’s your cup of tea.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    Actually TSN was carrying the ITV, then BBC feed until Sky took over. Now they have a video feed (not sure from where – Sky(?)or FOM(?) coupled with the BBC radio broadcast with DC. Much better quality than Speed. When they had the Speed broadcast I switched over to RDS to watch it in French as I felt that their coverage was better. RDS btw carries all the post race coverage and also have a pre-race show.

    Sebee Reply:

    Noltan,

    The difference between NASCAR and F1 coverage is two fold.

    First, ratings are a huge difference. Be it due to time of airing, or the sport being within reach – NASCAR just connects. Also, it’s not a bad specticle. Sure, there are boring NASCAR races, just like there are boring F1 races. But I find that NASCAR is regularly and easily dismissed by those who have never been to a race, or those who went to a race with dimissive attitude. I have seen some killer exciting NASCAR races. And they know how to put on a event with great view of track for all and extremely reasonable ticket prices.

    Second, the difference is not down to the station. It is down to the feed. Many of these stations don’t pump the budget to it because ratings are there to support it. Hence click into the feed, show the race, done. One thing is for certain, F1 cannot beat NASCAR on feed and cameras. NASCAR has cameras everywhere. When something happens it is amazing to watch them to CSI on it. Gopher cam, front bumper, rear bumper of car ahead, side view of car on the left, helmet cam, gear shift cam, tire cam…well maybe not that much, but it is amazing what NASCAR does with in-race video. Not to mention overlap video in real time showing lines and track position, GPS etc. When you look at some of the stuff they do in their feeds it makes F1 feed seem basic.

    Sebee Reply:

    By the way Noltan, I think it is important to point out that for the price of a single admission F1 ticket to Canadian GP, I could take my 2 boys and the three of us could knock out 12 laps each in a Nationwide NASCAR at MIS – an actual NASCAR speedway pushing 150mph if we dare.

    If that doesn’t illustrate the appeal and value of NASCAR, plus ease of participation vs. F1 – I don’t know what does!

    Anne Reply:

    No, for example if today they have 10 NBA games only 2 or 3 get free air T.V. Also if you are in New York and you want to watch the Lakers( They are in Los Angeles) you have buy the NBA package. The same can be said about all the other sports. In the USA they have satelite TV and one company Directv has the rights to most games. So if you have some other T.V. provider you can´t watch even if you´re willing to pay. However when they are in the playoff or it´s the final game for the championship that can be watched for free in some air channel like NBC or CBS

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: AuraF1
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 12:45 pm 

    I watched Sky last year simply because I already had HD and got the F1 channel free. If I’d had to pay a sky sports subscription I would have stuck with the BBC.

    I feel sorry for the French viewers though, having even a highlights option removed will presumably crush the viewing figures enormously.

    You’d have to hope that Canal + do a better job than Sky F1. An entire dedicated 24/7 channel and they showed 7 minutes of testing this year so far. With a about 23 minutes of Ted Kravitz. Then around races they sometimes stopped braodcasting before the BBC forum. Why have a dedicated channel that is basically off air 95% of the time with only old repeats.

    The BBC were starting to make F1 a nationally appreciated sport – it got mentions on the news, it had people talking about it. It seems F1, like Sky, want only a rich premium customer base and want to actively drive away any emerging fanbase.

    I’m the youngest F1 fan I know . Everyone else I work with who likes F1 is older and it sounds like it’s heading that way globally. That’s what’s known as an unsustainable model.

    [Reply]

    Cat Reply:

    AuraF1, I couldn’t agree with you more. The Beeb were really beginning to build a fantastic programme. It’s like they did the hard work so Sky could swoop in.

    I end up round my friends’ houses or in Haymarket Sports Bar to watch it. I guess it’s made me more social in a lot of ways, but when I can’t hear the commentary (or the Ferrari lot get a bit too boisterous!) I curse Sky for denying me this pleasure.

    [Reply]

    AuraF1 Reply:

    I’d love to be more social with F1. In fact in 2010 and 2011 I actually had a few non-fans over to watch it and everyone really enjoyed it and said it was more fun once you knew the drivers, some of the engineering challenges etc.

    But sadly F1 is not a particularly a sport i can enjoy in a bar when it’s broadcast at 5am or people don’t want to watch the build up etc (I am somewhat of a geek about wanting to see practice, quali and races in full).

    But yes the adverts during practice and quali and immediately post race are annoying. Especially as half the adverts on sky F1HD are for sky F1HD or the sky package you already bought to view that channel!

    I was hoping for a bit of testing footage too. I mean the channel is basically off from December until march but they’re employing all that staff anyway – and they clearly have camera and edit crews there to do the 3-4 minute highlights. I mean why send Ted Kravitz et al if they only let them do a 5 minute piece to camera?

    I realize a lot of people might be bored watching testing but I always like to dip in and out and it’s not like the channel is showing anything else other than an advert for the channel.

    I’ve worked in tv – since sky is already sending their OB and edit crews to testing – that’s the general cost of broadcast spent – if they aren’t adding graphics and features etc – so it baffles me why they won’t show it. Surely pay tv should be for extremely nerdy hardcore fans like some of us who WANT all that extra stuff.

    Saddest sight on Sky F1 at Jerez – they cut to a camera shot of Gary Anderson and Some other BBC crew who were actually in the garages interviewing engineers and pointing out details on the cars. Then they just went to some fluff interview with Lewis the same as every other news outlet. I know from people involved that Sky’s outside broadcast team at races is almost double the BBC’s. money for nothing I guess.

    [Reply]

    Mark Reply:

    Couple of things, you do know that it was the BBC that sold us out by selling the viewing rights to Sky and blocking Channel 4. Sky didn’t swoop in. And where is the testing footage that you want to see, FOM supply all the camera footage and they don’t take cameras to the tests.
    If you’re gonna slag people off at least get your facts right.

    AuraF1 Reply:

    Also Mark – sky just announced they’ll show the final Barcelona test in 3D and HD. Suggests they have the cameras after all.

    Basil Reply:

    Aura I agree with you!!!!

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    Mark, it was Bernie who blocked Channel 4. The BBC might have been the ones to propose dropping F1, but Bernie would have been entitled under standard contract law to insist on full payment of the remainder of the contract, mitigated against any monies gained from selling the rights to any channels he chose.

    Several % of the UK can’t get Sky for geographical reasons, so it’s not even clear if he acted within the law by putting half the races on a channel some people will never be able to watch. I for one have no method of watching the Sky elements unless I do almost an hour’s travel each way, to reach somewhere that has Sky signal.

    FOM have no rights to testing footage. That is between the circuits, teams and television crews. It’s just that the editing costs for a full day’s coverage amount to a significant amount of money, and live broadcasting (such as booking space on satellites) amounts to even more. It simply isn’t cost-effective to cover tests, unless you have an ulterior motive. In the case of Sky and the final test, they’ll be testing how to apply 3D technology to F1 broadcasts so they can offer it as an option for watching races later. The pay-off for them will be when they can put an extra price tag on the 3D compared to the HD version.

    James Allen Reply:

    If there is more than 1 team running, FOM own the rights to the test. Only rights holding broadcasters can film at such a test

    madmax Reply:

    Agree, and also the “dedicated channel” shows advertisements in practice sessions, pre and post race and qualifying where as the free coverage doesn’t.

    [Reply]

    StackH Reply:

    Did you watch F1 when there were adverts during the race itself (the ITV days)? Adverts pre and post race don’t seem so bad by comparison. Perhaps we were spoilt by the BBC, but they were never going to be able to afford to keep it exclusively. Sky is a reasonable compromise in my opinion, as opposed to no TV coverage at all.

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    Basil Reply:

    No TV coverage should be FOM’s concern, not ours.

    madmax Reply:

    I watched in ITV days and hated the ads. The point I was making is people are already paying £360 which is £36 each exclusive live race and then being plagued by ads as well.

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    Also, anecdontal evidence suggests a lot of Sky’s viewers tune in to the race (ad-free), but then use the BBC’s coverage – or watch nothing at all – of the pre- and post-race coverage (which has ads). Sponsors can be expected to downsize the fee they are prepared to pay accordingly.

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    Clear View Reply:

    I agree that BBC started a real revolution after getting the rights back from ITV. They had a fantastic level of knowledge with DC, EJ and Garry Anderson is so clued up I could listen to his tech coverage all day long. I fetl let down by BBC selling out, it’s been a ritual for 30years to watch the Grandprix on a Sunday, I started watch with my dad at around 6 years old. I have forked out for sky this season but will watch the BBC live weekends as I like their team and format to the show. It has only cost an extra £10 a month as we have phone, braordband and tv off them anyway. I just can’t live with highlights, I wanna watch a driver hunt down the man in front at 0.1 of a second for 30laps not just the overtake. I want the lot and then pick it apart after too. Will see how I like sky this year and if it’s worth it as I have other things a could spend £120 a year on. I feel incredibly sorry for the fans that can’t afford a subscription, I know I’m lucky to be able to afford mine.

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    Patrick Reply:

    Clear View, I have to pay a lot more being with Virgin instead of Sky, sadly. TBH, £22 p month makes you feel a bit of an ass, even if you can afford it. I too feel let down by the s***s at the BBC and that is putting it v mildly.

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    Patrick Reply:

    QUESTION TO ANYONE WHO KNOWS
    CAN YOU GET F1 ON FREEVIEW VIA “TOP UP TV” FOR £10 PM?

    They never answer their premium rate enquiries number !!!
    Their customer service must be top notch !

    Just wondered if anyone has managed to get Sky F1 this way ??

    [Reply]

    Clear View Reply:

    Patrick I feel for ya buddy that is too much I don’t think I would stretch to £22 p/m, you defo can’t get it on a free view topup. I looked into it myself when the anouncment was 1st made by the BBC. If you just take broadband from sky tho you are eligible for sky go which works on phones and tablets any you can watch it for free on there. It sounds like your a little stuffed tho as I expect you are tied to virgin for a while with your contract. Have you any friends who have sky as you can have 2 devices registered for sky go for each customer. I found this put late last year and my sister let me register my phone to her account and was able to watch live via my phone (i do have a good phone tho) it was certainly better than highlights. Maybe you could find someone willing to do that for you, I paid her £5 a month to show my gratitude. Then signed up to sky phone, broadband and tv just before christmas and with the HD upgrade full price was only £14p/m more than the plane phone and broadband deal I had with talk talk plus got half price for 6months to start with. There is no fiberoptic in my are so Virgin was no option. I think finding a friend who will to let you use sky go would be ya best bet.

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    You can’t get Sky F1 on Top Up TV. Or BT Vision, in case you’re wondering. Where I live, those are the only two options for pay TV.

    Grabyrdy Reply:

    As a petrol-head, I might find the money to pay for live coverage, but only when I can be 100% sure that not a cent will finish up in Uncle Rupe’s pocket.

    TF1′s F1 coverage last year was very half-hearted – no more qualy, duff commentators (except for Jacques Laffite), uninteresting buildup, adds everywhere. So I’m not surprised it’s gone. But I will need a fallback position for the races not live on the Beeb. Anyone know what I can find on my Astra 28 sat ? Germany perhaps ? And if I got a swiveller to get another sat ??

    At a time when F1 needs all the interest of sponsors it can muster, the whole trend is pure greed – and lunacy

    [Reply]

    Paul Reply:

    Sky showing testing or not has nothing to do with Sky. FOM film the sport, so if FOM aren’t filming testing then there’s no footage.

    Also they were on air an hour and a half before most races and around 2 after. How much more F1 can you take?

    [Reply]

    AuraF1 Reply:

    FOM are filming the testing – sky have highlights very briefly and several camera crews to film both sky sports news and sky sports F1 HD. The feeds are there. But hey if you don’t want it then I guess none of should…

    [Reply]

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    FOM have cameras (for recording things like the end-of-season review), but they don’t have rights to all testing footage the way they do for the races. Lack of test footage is down to sheer economics.

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: Qball
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 12:46 pm 

    To bad… here in the Netherlands its also pay-tv now… tc channel Sport1 has the rights for three years. We have to pay 15 euro’s each month to see Giedo van der Garde… really bad development :-(

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Rich
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 12:49 pm 

    The same has happened in the Netherlands this year too. Granted the market in Holland is smaller than the bigger countries of Europe, but I still think this is a bad development for F1 in Europe.

    F1 doesn’t have the appeal of football (in terms of number of fans), so I don’t think the sponsors will get the (European) exposure they’re after if the audience shrinks as a result of this.

    I don’t remember the arguments put forward when football went through the same transition back in the ’90s – perhaps they were the same as now – but I wouldn’t be surprised if F1 becomes less relevant in Europe from now on.

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: F1Fans
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 12:49 pm 

    Pay to drive and now pay to watch.

    [Reply]

    Mike from Colombia Reply:

    Superb !

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: James
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 12:56 pm 

    The best way to go

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: Paul Dunk
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 12:58 pm 

    It’s the way it’s going now, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go for the sport.

    It creates more revenue for FOM and I’m sure a slice of that flows down to the teams, but I seriously doubt anything flows down to the fans.

    Potentially it provides improved coverage for a proportion of fans that can afford it, but I know from social media that it is alienating a large section of a long term loyal F1 fanbase.

    Not sure not alienating fans can be good for any sport long term. Is Bernie even thinking long term now days? (Question)

    [Reply]

    Phil J Reply:

    While FOM gets more money I would have thought the teams would have problems unless they can survive on their slice FOM money. Their sponsors are not going to pay the same rates for a few pay to viewers as they would for 10 times the number of FTA viewers.

    Presumably F1 will move its focus to whichever market has FTA, not Europe clearly.

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: franed
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:00 pm 

    If France is to be on pay tv only then it most definitely breaks the terms of the EU commission ruling.

    This is another nail in the F1 coffin, another huge fall in audience figures. However Bernie has structured it so that he gets paid if no one at all either attends races or watches on tv. The owners who used to be CVC (who have been selling off shares quietly and are now only a minority shareholder, but still in control) will still get their tv and circuit money for several years yet.

    However Valencia, Nurburgring, Turkey, France should all be ringing alarm bells in Concorde House, maybe loud enough to waken some from their slumbers. Having recently got a substantial chunk more money from both Bernie and the teams they have fallen asleep again.

    Only far away dictatorships, monarchies or those with sovereign wealth funds to play with can afford a GP. The USA will compare their F1 deal with that from NASCAR and wonder why they signed.

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: Frank Oosterhuis
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:09 pm 

    Also in the Netherlands F1 is only available as pay tv.

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: goferet
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:11 pm 

    To be honest, I don’t blame these companies for going down this route, I believe I would have done the same.

    Look, F1 is a very popular sport and with those free to air channels, this meant, that the sport had a un-tapped in market that it wasn’t utilizing.

    Sure, deals like these would have landed dead on arrival during the Schumi era but with this current golden era, I guess Bernie and Co took a calculated risk that the fans will pay irrespective of the Euro crisis (and that’s why I don’t expect any drastic changes in viewing figures any time soon)

    Likewise the people at Canal + took a calculated risk in that with the inclusion of Jules, Charles and most especially the front runner Grosjean, the fans would dig deep to see their national heroes.

    As for Italy >>> Alonso’s drives for Ferrari these past couple of seasons sealed that deal pretty quick.

    [Reply]

    franed Reply:

    Yes but the point is that going to pay tv reduces the tv audience to a tiny fraction of that which FTA tv delivers. This means that team sponsors do not get the exposure for their brands that they paid for.
    That is why they will slowly drift away into other sports. OK it is different in countries where pay tv has the mass market, maybe the Americas.

    [Reply]

    goferet Reply:

    @ Franed

    This means that team sponsors do not get the exposure for their brands that they paid for.
    ————————————————–

    Come on man, are you forgetting what team sponsors we’re referring to here?

    These are multi-national brands that are already well known in fact am of the view that these brands’ primary goal to attach themselves to F1 with the aim of being visible to that very niche market i.e. the type that can afford and attend live races.

    So that mass audience that watches the races from the telly aren’t necessarily their target >>> they just think of that market as a bonus, if you will.

    [Reply]

    franed Reply:

    You may be right in fact you have just relegated me to a “C”.
    (Since soon only As and Bs will be able to afford to watch)

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    It looks like such deals are landing dead on arrival now, to judge from the viewing figures.

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Matthew Green
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:11 pm 

    i thought the only reason BBC still show some races live is that sky bought the rights off the BBC (as they still had contract ) , so that was part of the deal ?

    assume when the F1 tv rights are up for sale again , sky will buy it outright ?

    Matt

    [Reply]

    James Clayton Reply:

    And I guess that’s when it gets dropped from the HD package and you have to sign up for the sports pack!

    [Reply]

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    I seriously doubt Sky’s ability to break even on the deal due to low viewing figures. As a result, I fully expect F1 to no longer be on pay TV when the current shared contract ends.

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Michael
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:18 pm 

    Oh, bother. This sounds like it should basically kill F1 in France and, selfishly, I hope it does. We need to see this model fail hard so that it can die.

    If F1 really is giving up on telly though, they should enter the 21st century and embrace internet broadcasting. Sell me the video direct.

    [Reply]

    Clear View Reply:

    I agree, sell highlights to FTA and then pay per weekend to have it streamed live. They could even make say 3 levels, 1) full weekend from Thursday press confrence to post race round up, 2) qually and race only 3) race only. Then fans can pick and choose as when you work you sometimes have things that clash with the live race so then you watch highlights on FTA and only pay for the coverage YOU want. I would personally embrace this model wholeheartedly.

    [Reply]

    Rach Reply:

    This just shows the ignorance associated with the views about pay tv. The only thing slightly positive about the TF1 coverage was that it showed the race live. Apart from that the coverage is terrible. The race build was poor and there is no coverage of Quali or the practice sessions. It reminds me of the BBC in the 1980′s except it also has many advertisements!

    Hopefully Canal+ will give me a better viewing option when I am in the med and I will happily pay.

    [Reply]

    Michael Reply:

    I suspect the F1 authorities think very much as you do and I can appreciate your desire for better quality coverage but my point is that viewing figures will collapse with a switch to pay-to-view and F1 is mostly funded by sponsorship. Maybe Bernie thinks he can get away from this funding model he created. Personally, I can’t see formula one surviving without the support of the people. Both sponsorship and government money would dry up. The whole direction of the sport seems suicidal, driven by super rich men who have simply lost touch with reality. I feel like an idiot calling Bernie out for poor managerial strategy but from where I’m sitting, it doesn’t look good.

    [Reply]

    Rach Reply:

    Unfortunately I don’t agree. I believe the advertising model is based on the 1980/90′s. What company now wants to advertise and can afford to advertise on a racing car?

    The big question I would ask is why are you hearing not one F1 team complaining? The reason is they know that the money now in sport is to be made from selling television rights and not getting joe blogs ltd to sponsor their car for 3 years. The viewing figures theory is a red herring based on an old theory of advertising that in the 21st century recession where companies are struggling doesn’t work.

    If you don’t believe me then look at sports like Cricket and Darts. They have taken off like you would not believe and yet they are on Sky with limited viewers. I won’t talk about the EPL or Rugby Union!

    Finally, I would say the only people I think who don’t understand this tend to be the older generation who have been used to getting F1 for free. Obviously, in an ideal world everything would be free but the fact is in life you have to pay to get good things. I consider F1 good value and will therefore pay. If this changes I won’t!


  16.   16. Posted By: Sasquatsch
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:19 pm 

    In the Netherlands the Formula 1 is also on Pay TV. Sport 1 will broadcast all races live, while (commercial) TV station Veronica will broadcast only three races live and highlights of the other races free to air.

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: Sebee
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:27 pm 

    You want to watch our 2 hour long brand marketing show, pay up up fools!

    I have a strange feeling French are not going to be an easy to penetrate maket for paid F1.

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Mickey78
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:34 pm 

    James,

    After decades of free to air broadcast in The Netherlands ( Holland ) the same happened here.
    As of this year the F1 broadcast disappears to PAY TV as in Sport 1.
    I believe only 3 races will be shown free to air.

    As a hard core F1 fan I have to adjust, otherwise no F1 for me and that is not something I am willing to give up.

    Ps.
    Any chance you will be at Barcelona test this year? For the 3rd year in a row I will be attending a week of testing. Let’s hope we have some good weather:-)

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: McLaren78
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:37 pm 

    So so so sad. I might as well pick up knitting now.
    Football and F1 are my two favourite sports and I have to admit that I have “switched off” football over the past 5-10 years. I really hope this won’t happen to F1 as well.

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: Bjornar Simonsen
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:37 pm 

    F1 has been on pay TV for many years now here in Norway. You only get to see it if You pay for the largest package they provide. Really sad, but on the positive side, the coverage is now much better. The free to air channel only showed the race.

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: DB
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:44 pm 

    If it’s going to be paid, it should be through Internet streaming.

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Aaron Devaney
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:44 pm 

    What many people forget is that sky F1 is available to customer with HD. That’s £10/month + your get HD content. So it’s (currently) not pay TV like sky sports and what has been agreed in France.

    The UK has been viewed as a success for Pay TV in F1 but I wonder how many people would signup to Sky Sports just for F1 (I believe it’s only a matter of time before the model changes to exclude HD only subscribers). I for one wouldn’t even if there was no Free to Air.

    [Reply]

    AuraF1 Reply:

    Given the pretty appalling viewing figures on Sky F1 hd (I’m one of the few I know!) it wouldn’t surprise me in the least that as soon as the BBC get wholly out of any contractual link to F1 – it’s moving to a seperate subscriber only package amongst the normal pay per view sports channels.

    That’s about the time that the few hundred thousand (at best) of us who get the channel free with sky HD already will become more like tens of thousands. Even at a peak subscription charge that makes nothing for Sky really.

    [Reply]

    JR Reply:

    F1 in the UK lost 22% of viewers compared to 2011 (unique viewers), even the combined BBC/Sky viewers (which are non-unique) was over 16% down.

    [Reply]

    franed Reply:

    The figures I saw were:
    BBC down 33.92% on 2011 figures.
    Total of BBC and Sky down 17.89% on 2011.

    Still the BBC figures may pick up as Suzi appears in leather.

    JR Reply:

    @franed

    You’re correct, My figures are the ‘Unique Viewing’ figures, by that we mean individual viewers who are only counted once, even if they watch race both on Sky and then the BBC later.

    Some of the viewing figures quoted are a combination of BBC and Sky, and also omit the BBC highlights from 2011, to try ans skew the figures more favourably to the new broadcast model.

    Optimaximal Reply:

    I wish Sky apologists would stop pedalling the ‘It’s only £10 per month’ line.

    The HD package is £10 per month, but that’s on top of (at least) the basic entertainment package, which is £21.50 per month.

    [Reply]

    Aaron Devaney Reply:

    My point is for some people it’s no more expensive than what they were paying already, therefore the sky TV viewers aren’t all made up of people willing to pay extra for the F1 content.

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: Alonso fan
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:45 pm 

    I’ve watched the sport since I was 10 maybe before its difficult to remember, Senna, Prost and Mansell, however nobody else in my familiy was remotely interested in Motorsport let alone F1, so how would that 10 year old become a fan today if its all pay per view? very short sighted and may kill the sport in the long term.

    [Reply]

    Bill Herring Reply:

    Quite right, the budding fans will have less chance to see the light. Not a way to ensure a sustainable fan base.

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: Karol296
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:50 pm 

    The same model will be propably in Poland in 2014.

    [Reply]

    Jane Kay Reply:

    Sad to hear that. Hopefully 2013 is still free with Polsat?

    [Reply]

    Karol296 Reply:

    Unfortunately, no. Polsat still has TV right to the end of 2013 seeson. But in this year F1 will be broadcast in TV4 or Polsat Sport News – both are free to air, and own by Polsat. In HD only in pay Polsat SPort Extra HD. Without Robert Kubica F1 viewership has dropped by more than 50%

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: Alexyoong
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:50 pm 

    I don’t get how a casual F1 fan is expected to watch F1 under that model.

    FOM (?) may generate larger income in the short term, but surely at the expense of long term viewing figures and interest in F1.

    [Reply]

    franed Reply:

    FOM’s income is fixed and safe for the duration of the latest lot of tv and circuit contracts Bernie has negotiated. It makes no difference if nobody watches a single race.

    However it makes a huge difference to sponsors, if the audiences fall, they do not reach their target opportunities to view, hence need to put their promotional money elsewhere. I give it three years before teams start to disappear though lack of sponsors. (a boon for Bernie who has to pay out less)

    [Reply]

    Bill Herring Reply:

    I wonder the same thing. FOM will take the money from current fans, but who will be interested enough to pay 15+ years from now?

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Julien
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 1:54 pm 

    Canada has been pay TV for some time now. Sadly.

    [Reply]

    Kieren Reply:

    Yes, and it gets worse when sometimes races are bumped to tsn2 because something totally unimportant and not even live is going on on tsn. At least we get the beeb commentary, shame there’s absolutely no pre/post race show. It’s also clear that tsn aren’t actually watching their feed since they put ad breaks in the most idiotic places…

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: Quentin
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 2:02 pm 

    Suppose it stands to reason that it’ll be Germany next – Good number of people in the UK use RTL with R5Live to get all races free-to-air, but I’d guess this could be the last year. Unless of course there’s an even later 2013 announcement coming over there – I don’t know if RTL have officially confirmed they’ll show F1 this year yet. Any word on that to your knowledge, James?

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    I think Spain will be next. Canal+ is really big there. And they already have the rights for football matches.

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: paul jaworski
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 2:03 pm 

    James, Over here in the States, I’ve paid extra for the sports channels on the cable bill to get F1. Since the early 1990ies. I only wish I could pay a bit more and not have all the commercials.

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    Didn´t NBC made a deal to broadcast F1 races?

    [Reply]

    paul jaworski Reply:

    Yes, NBC got the rights. But they will be on the NBC sports channel. A premium cable channel. It used to be on Speed, which was owned by Fox. For you across the pond, Fox is owned by Murdoch. Speed/Fox used to do 4 races in the summer on free tv. But 3 of the 4 were tape delay.

    [Reply]

    knoxploration Reply:

    And heavily edited for time, to boot.

    Robert in San Diego Reply:

    Yes NBC did do a TV deal this year but the majority of the racing will be shown on their pay per view NBCSports channel.

    [Reply]

    Brian Reply:

    The majority of the races will be on the NBC Sports channel which is part of a pay TV bundle for most markets. A few races will be on the FTA NBC channel. It’s not clear if the FTA races were conditional on getting the rights,or NBC is making a feeble attempt to grow the market. Either way the coverage is interrupted by commercials. I’d prefer to pay for uninterrupted streamed coverage as long as it was available anytime, not just live. Live coverage doesn’t work here…I never watch the races live.

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    Oh! I didn´t know that NBC had an all sports channel. I thought that only ESPN was the one.And HBO for pay per view boxing. I should go to the U.S. more often. With the excuse of visiting friends there I would be checking sport channels.

    [Reply]

    Curt Reply:

    NBC will be broadcasting it on their cable sports network which means there’s no real difference from how it was on Speed. I think they’re showing 3-4 races on their free-to-air broadcast during the season.

    [Reply]

    Bobby Reply:

    The Comcast contract mandates four FTA races, although it is likely to be the Montreal, Austin, and probably Brazil that will be live on the Big Peacock (FTA). A fourth race will likely be determined later and is expected to be same-day delay (in previous years, Canada was live while Silverstone, Germany, and either Valencia or Hungary would air on same-day delayed coverage FTA with the former deal), but the worry is NBC’s long-running Sunday morning affairs programme “Meet the Press” will be affected. Sunday mornings also affect an affiliate’s public affairs programming.

    NASCAR’s big ratings drop in the ten-race playoff that inspired British Superbike’s change came after the switch from FTA to Pay TV in 2010, which was caused by Disney’s want of protecting a popular female-oriented drama and transferring FTA affiliates to airing reruns or burning off unwanted shows in the time slots used by race broadcasts (the first half of the main season on Fox is exclusively FTA for championship races, and affiliates must air races rescheduled because of weather live). After the switch in 2010, reruns of “Total Wipeout” (which has been commissioned for a few more seasons), “Strictly Come Dancing” highlights, and burning off an entire summer series that Disney did not green light into primetime, and the Vernon Kay hosted “What? Where? When?” (a Russian game show produced by Merv Griffin Entertainment in the US) have been used in that slot, much to affiliates’ dismay. NASCAR is reportedly angry at the results and looking at dumping ESPN as sponsors are preferring the first half of the season because of FTA exposure as negotiations for 2015 begin. The FTA networks have independently owned affiliates, and they need sport revenue to help because entertainment shows will not cut it.

    This is while English football has gained FTA exposure in the States. The current contract (which was not renewed) added selected FTA games (mostly on same-day delay because of public affairs programming), and a few select games aired live. It’s expected with the new Comcast deal selected Premiership matches are Free to Air on the big Peacock (not NBC Sports Network), while the FA Cup is making FTA inroads and the UEFA Champions League Final has gone FTA the past few years, both on Fox.

    Pay-TV will hurt sponsors.

    The Pay TV push first started with boxing, and advanced after HBO won a lawsuit with authorities after US authorities attempted to pass an anti-siphoning regulation.


  29.   29. Posted By: vicnsi
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 2:18 pm 

    Having been an F1 fan nearly All of my adult life, I may seriously now have to consider joining McLaren78 (#19) in taking up knitting!!! :-)

    UK, Italy, France, Greece, Holland….

    At this rate, we can only hope the model will eventually collapse in on itself, as AuraF1 (#5) suggests… that viewing figures will drop so drastically that Bernie’s expectant high-revenue from a full migration to PayTV will no longer actually be able to sustain the greedy, money-hungry ‘Circus’!

    [Reply]

    franed Reply:

    Unfortunately the money is safe and fixed for at least 5 years, so will probably be the deal that gets F1 sold the next time. Though the actual ownership of F1 may still be in court by then.

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: Gary Naylor
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 2:39 pm 

    It is a sad state of affairs when the consumer is stripped of choice and only those that are willing /able to pay can view content that they previously enjoyed as part of a Free to Air deal from an in-country provider.

    From a UK perspective, I believe that the BBC managed to retain a good quality of output last year and, even on the non-live races, the quality was relatively good.

    Comments relating to the Sky output is interesting. I did wonder what the monthly payment actually brought as extra.

    Ultimately, the race is the race – and any difference is around the quality of the commentary and online content post-race.

    It is sad to see that F1 seems to be going increasingly to a private, members only club – available only to those willing to pay the membership fees.

    [Reply]

    Stephen Taylor Reply:

    And sky is superior in that department.

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: franed
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 2:40 pm 

    In my comment above I may be wrong in that it may not the be the EU commission ruling, but instead the terms of the 100year agreement for the rental of the commercial rights to Bernie that specifies that it must be broadcast FTA.

    The sale of the lease of those rights to CVC is of course currently in question in several courtrooms. A get out of jail free document has miraculously been found.

    [Reply]

    Optimaximal Reply:

    Bernie is negotiating these deals to make sure that ‘a portion’ of the season is shown FTA.

    The wording more than likely said that it couldn’t be 100% PPV in any territory, ergo he’s making sure the PPV channels do at least one free weekend (like Sky UK did for the German GP) so he’s not breaking his contract.

    The letter of the law allows wonderful curveballs like this.

    [Reply]

    franed Reply:

    Indeed yes the same argument he used to justify the UK situation. But in France is it not to be 100% PPV.

    To be fair the UK situation is currently the BBC’s fault not Bernie’s. But when the original BBC contract (now shared with Sky) expires I have little doubt that I and many others will be forced to give up F1.

    Of course it all depends upon the wording in the original documents, I am willing to bet that it can be interpreted in a number of ways. Just one FTA race in the world may satisfy the terms of the tv rights.

    [Reply]

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    Ultimately, the UK situation is the UK government’s fault, for drastically reducing funding for the BBC at no notice. The BBC was forced to find a way of reducing the cost of pricey contracts, and F1 happened to be one of the easiest ones to negotiate down.


  32.   32. Posted By: ArmchairFan
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 2:52 pm 

    F1 is proving that it is a prima-donna sport for the rich, interested in only those with money. In time, without free-to-air viewing, the sport will diminish in the UK, France and other Pay TV countries. As I understand it, Sky only gets less than a million watching the sport and if coverage disappears off the the BBC, then many like me will simply lose interest.

    F1 may be getting its money now, but when only a fraction of people are watching it in ten years time, will the likes of Sky be offering big money to purchase the rights? I doubt it.

    And what about sponsors? With less and less eyeballs actually seeing the F1 spectacle, are they still going sponsor F1 or spend there money elsewhere.

    I have enjoyed F1 for over 30 years, but I cannot bring myself to get Sky just to watch F1 (I wouldn’t want it for anything else). I admire how Bernie has built up F1 to what it is today, but lately I think he’s lost it and should retire. F1 has become ‘entertainment’ and is much less of a sport than it used to be. It‘s run by money men who care nothing for the fans and if F1 runs into financial trouble, they won’t be able to wash their hands of it fast enough.

    Leave it free-to-air, let the next generation of fans get into it and support it in the future. If not, a few fat cats are going to get rich in the meantime at the expense of the future of the ‘sport’ I enjoy most. It’s a sad state of affairs.

    [Reply]

    JR Reply:

    Sky average 620k per race, 347k for qualifying and 58k for the flagship F1 show.

    Interestingly a third of Sky viewers still watch on the BBC when that option is available.

    Not really a home for dedicated F1 fans, half can’t even be bothered to watch qualifying.

    [Reply]

    KGBVD Reply:

    UFC has become a global sport with an very young fan-base entirely on a pay TV model. Viewing figures keep going up and up.

    They have now started to provide limited content on free TV, some lesser events, clip shows and analysis, which has stoked interest and increased exposure.

    The parallels don’t end there as both sports are constantly cracking new markets with their traveling circuses.

    Pay-TV will works for the F1 model.

    [Reply]

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    UFC had to do a lot of off-TV work (especially DVDs – the second-hand media shop in my hometown has three shelves devoted to it) to grow that audience. WWE uses the same strategy (pay TV plus heavy use of pay non-TV resources) and also makes it work (the shop I previously mention has two shelves devoted to WWE’s products). F1′s paltry “season review + 1-2 computer games per year” strategy will not net UFC’s results, especially given how much money Bernie charges companies to broadcast his shows.

    [Reply]

    KGBVD Reply:

    Yes but in very few markets does F1 have to ‘grow’ anything. UFC did the grind when it was new and when it had to, now it doesn’t have to, and neither does F1.

    F1 doesn’t need UFC’s results in terms of growing an audience, the point was that the model continues to work as a business generator.

    When was the last time you saw any boxing content on TV or a gaming system? And yet everyone knows who Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather are. You don’t need free to air TV for anything these days.

    Yes it sucks that, one day, I’ll have to pay beyond my cable subscription to get access to F1 races. But that’s the reality of the situation. And when it happens, I’ll get better coverage then the crap available in N. America now.

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    I’ve never seen a boxing match, even back when it was free, and aside from the second-hand media shop, my knowledge of UFC dates back to before pay TV, when it got advertised on free-to-air. (Parenthetically, I didn’t know who Manny Pacquiao was before I saw your post, though I’d certainly heard of Floyd).

    My point is that for the UFC system to work, the producer of the series has to put in some significant effort, not just a token offering. F1 doesn’t seem to have noticed, which is why its audience is falling and the income falling alongside it.


  33.   33. Posted By: franed
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 3:11 pm 

    We should be aware that the global viewing figures Bernie quotes include the thee second clips shown in most national news broadcasts.

    [Reply]

    SteveH Reply:

    Believe me, there are no clips of F1 shown on US national news broadcasts. F1 has and is being marginalized in the US; one will have to subscribe to a cable TV service to watch F1 here. Good luck with increasing viewer interest in F1 in the US; nobody here even knows what it is. I watch the BBC/SKY broadcasts on the interwebs.

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: Elie
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 3:15 pm 

    Formula one is a very statistical sport people will turn away from watching it and just look for the results afterwards or read about it on sites like this. It’s not a personal sport so new fans won’t “connect” so easily if paying for it. It will lose me as soon as it happens in Aus.

    It won’t be long before we start watching it on our hand held devices via subscribed sites or even apps. Then it becomes convenient, flexible and personal . The pay TV model will lead into this and then fade away just as quickly as it came into being.

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: Rein
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 3:28 pm 

    F1 served BE’s purpose but now it is time for change. The daily growing number of posts on this site confirms the deep concerns.
    Something is seriously wrong and perhaps right now is time for an entire new F1. Perhaps two F1′s. A Rolex version and a people version – the RedBull or Google F1?
    Europe, USA, Asia, South America, Australia. Clever developed and managed F1 could be a true global sport. With 40 races a year and comprehensive web and virtual integration.
    It can’t be right that half the teams are struggling, with money problems. At the same time teams are forced to invest millions in invisible Simulators, flexiwings, windtunnels, technology centres etc..
    Instead of boldly investing in the front end of the show and taking care of its audience – todays F1 is hiding behind PayTV walls, £150+ tickets and iron gates.
    F1 needs a revolution / intelligent budgeting / more events / more exposure / new and younger audience / more fun / more tomorrow and less yesterday. Tony, Max, Dieter, Audi, Apple – what do you think?

    [Reply]

    cc Reply:

    Fine points. Made me wonder what the response would be if they had asked the fans (what a novel idea that…) would they want zillions spent on a new engine (to name one example) or on making F1 more $-accessible…

    May the bean-counter brigade get their karmic due, not that that’s any big consolation to us fans.

    [Reply]

    Goob Reply:

    Let’s face it, that’s exactly why everyone was looking forward to the breakaway series…

    It’s a crying shame the teams did not reject F1 for a better more people friendly sport…

    The people are crying out loud for a geniune racing competition… and NON of this artifical stuff we get shoved down our throats…

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: John
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 3:32 pm 

    After watching the free to air coverage in France for a few years now, it was clear that F1 was becoming less of a priority for TF1. Qualification was no longer shown live, if at all, live coverage was interrupted with more adverts and races that fell near prime time were delayed until midnight. Canal+ can only be a change for the better.

    [Reply]

    vicnsi Reply:

    Surprising! Did this continue to happen even now, even after France got more drivers to cheer for, like Grosjean, Vergne, Pic, & Bianchi?

    [Reply]

    John Reply:

    Yes, there was definately more hype (and more interviews pre-show), but this did not affect the poor programming.

    [Reply]

    Rishi Reply:

    Didn’t they already have a mix of free-to-air in that for early morning races if you wanted to watch them at a more sociable hour you had to watch it on Eurosport?

    I remember before they changed the start time of the race my friend used to get up at 4am to watch the Australian GP on TF1. Yes there was a novelty element…but it was also the only way he could catch the race!

    A bit surprised they didn’t leave any free-to-air which looks pretty bad but maybe Canal Satellite is generally quite popular anyway despite being pay TV? If so it could well all be for the better.

    [Reply]

    John Reply:

    Yes, Eurosport still covered free practice and qualifying, although as it is only bundled with a number of other channels with Canal Satellite (different to Canal+) the cost benefit is difficult to justify.

    [Reply]

    Rishi Reply:

    Ah understood yeah that does sound difficult to justify. Hopefully Canal+ will then be better than the status quo for F1 fans as you say (apologies for the confusion with Canal Satellite on my part too!).


  37.   37. Posted By: ArJay
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 3:36 pm 

    Internet:-
    Pay-per-race OR
    Pay-per-half-season OR
    Pay-per-full-season
    WITHOUT
    Pre-race waffle, adverts, bundled irrelevant ‘packages’.

    Does that model exist currently?
    If not, I’ll forget it.
    Will take what’s going on freeview
    (while it lasts).

    [Reply]


  38.   38. Posted By: Random 79
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 4:21 pm 

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Please please PLEASE let Australia go under the radar!

    [Reply]

    Onko Reply:

    You will be on Fox-sport within a year or
    Big Pond and you will pay if you want watch
    it live, as sure as the Sun will rise.

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    Sadly you might be right. :(

    [Reply]

    Ben Reply:

    I really hope not! Overall Ten/One do a pretty good job with it (apart from the lack of live HD broadcasts which I’m still angry about!).

    I actually can’t get Foxtel/Austar as I live in a block of units, so I really hope it stays on FTA.

    Alex W Reply:

    I would be happy to pay if it got rid of the commercials.

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    Agree, but at least it’s not like Austar / Foxtel where you’re paying to watch twenty million ads anyway ;)

    Right now I’m still banking on the idea that the pay TV model is not viable for a country with a relatively small population like we have, especially since F1 isn’t exactly huge in Australia to begin with (that might turn out to be a good thing for those of us who do watch it ;) )

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    Oh man, just woke up, completely misread the ‘to pay’ bit, – I thought you said ‘be happy if they got rid of all the commercials’!

    Nevermind…just ignore the agree bit – everything else still stands :)

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    Forget it!!! The money to pay FOM for the rights to broadcast the races comes from commercials

    [Reply]


  39.   39. Posted By: Luke Dalton
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 4:21 pm 

    Bernie would rather have just a handful of viewers paying millions to watch F1, over having millions of viewers watching for free. Not really in a sports interests to cut fan numbers is it?

    He may have built up F1 to what it is now, but he’s making it exclusively for the rich, over the millions of hard-working, dedicated fans.

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    I don´t know. Fewer viewers means less commercials. Advertising companies paying the channels to show commercials makes the system work. Because with that money from commercials the channels pays the rights to FOM. So if ratings are lower advertisers won´t be happy.If they pull the commercial off I don´t see how Sky or Canal+ can pay the rights

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    And then it goes back to FTA, we all get to say ‘told you so’, and everyone lives happily ever after – except for Sky :)

    Fingers crossed…

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    But in FTA the amount of commercial is going to be big as well. And we will have people complaning that they are forced to watch more commercials than races. We will never have an ideal situation


  40.   40. Posted By: KGBVD
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 4:31 pm 

    Get used to it ppl. In 40 years ppl won’t even watch TV anymore.

    New subscription based-services like Netflix are the way to go. Web 2.0-based, and available on multiple platforms, with TV only being one of many.

    TV’s use is in producing content: sitcoms, dramas etc. But PVR, online streaming, and subscription services have made live-terrestrial-based-TV incredibly obsolete. Netflix is now even producing exclusive content.

    F1 is content itself. So it doesn’t need TV to produce it, and also doesn’t even need TV in the “It’s 2pm and I’m flicking to BBC to watch the race” sense (i.e. a vehicle for distribution of the product).

    The FOM F1 App on Android costs $40. I can one day soon see being able to stream races live on that, or on the net, or on a TV-based subscription service (the logical next step from pay tv channels).

    [Reply]

    vicnsi Reply:

    I won’t be here in 4o years!!! ;-)

    [Reply]

    Ben Reply:

    I agree with you and would welcome the change! Being able to pay a subscription straight to F1.com would be my preferred solution. Live streaming of all sessions with included access to the live timing apps.

    [Reply]

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    F1 is still going to need free-to-air, simply to get the viewers needed to sustain its funding. That applies whether the medium is TV, the internet or directly beaming the show to people’s heads.

    [Reply]

    KGBVD Reply:

    Absolutely nothing needs free-to-air anymore.

    F1.com has more daily hits than any free-to-air F1 magazine during a given broadcast.

    I used to hear JA on TSN every second Sunday here in Canada. Now I get unrivaled access to his analysis and engagement whenever I want, on Twitter, facebook, or the net.

    What do I need TV for? As soon as Bernie starts streaming online, what will I need BBC, Sky, NBC, TSN, RTL or anyone else for?

    [Reply]

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    F1.com has most of those hits due to live timing, which is used as a supplement to viewing. That’s not necessarily the same as going for a pay TV path (it’s much cheaper to take the pay live timing option there than it is to get pay TV). Internet streaming would be subject to the requirement that it be free-to-air for the same reasons as TV is proving to be (at least in terms of audience figures and sustainable payout for the series).


  41.   41. Posted By: RobertS
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 4:42 pm 

    I agree. I watch f1 on sky but when the BBC is on live I find myself switching to the BBC for the pre show as I find it better and more insightful they do not sit on the fence like sky. You also have a point about sky finishing earlier than the forum. Again I feel that f1 was really becoming known in the UK and now its gone back a few years.

    [Reply]


  42.   42. Posted By: Onko
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 6:05 pm 

    Mr Allen Sir,on the deferent topic somewhat,
    you are more in the know in F1 world then
    most of us that follow your site.
    Refer to the probability of only 18 F1 races
    in 2013.It seems Bahrain F1 is very questionable.The Bahrain Airline stoped its
    operations due to lack of passengers and elsewhere within the Kingdom a rising daily
    disturbances of a great concern.
    Mr Allen Sir,are you awere of it and your
    thoughts if any please.

    [Reply]


  43.   43. Posted By: Quentin
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 6:28 pm 

    Problem with applying logic to this situation is that it was assumed that viewer figures counted, it was stated that the teams would never be able to justify reaching a smaller audience to their sponsors, it was a ‘fact’ that the sport ‘had to’ be FTA. And yet… it’s going to Sky in various countries, the viewer figures have fallen, and I’ve not heard a word from the teams, and new sponsors have eagerly signed up.

    All of which suggests that the public know very little of the deals made and the money changing hands, for all the ‘inside’ stories we read everywhere. In the end, Mercedes, Vodafone, Red Bull et al must believe they’re better off despite (or because of) these pay-tv deals.

    [Reply]

    Optimaximal Reply:

    Bernie’s hinted that the teams have got an extra 15% coming their way out of the TV money pot – they won’t speak up lest Bernie hit them where it hurts.

    Yes, he’s trying to hold onto as much as possible but considering the track and races fees are 100% to FOM/CVC, giving the teams a little more to buy their silence? It’s pocket change.

    [Reply]

    Quentin Reply:

    I can’t see that, somehow. Ok, BE might sweeten things with ‘pocket change’. But how does that translate to sponsors getting a smaller audience for their message? We’re told they pay for the sport. So does a team go to Santander for example and say “Tell you what, F1′s getting less viewers, so we’ll cut our prices this year”? I can’t see it myself, even if Bernie’s sweetener levels up the teams’ balance sheets. Which is why I think there’s so much more to the picture than we have any idea of, regardless of the accepted ‘knowledge’ about these matters.

    [Reply]

    Optimaximal Reply:

    If the Teams are guaranteed 15% more than they had before, it’s easy to offset the risk of smaller sponsors going elsewhere.

    Sky put an alleged £1-2 million into the TV pot just for taking the UK rights – if that’s happening across all of Europe, the TV coffers are swelling.

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    The teams were paid an extra £1 m each to accept Sky taking 50% of the UK rights. I don’t think that was anything more complicated than them getting their share of the increased amount of money charged to the UK for coverage (as in, BBC + Sky paid £12 m more in total per year than the BBC was due to pay before the deal came through). I get the impression the teams were (and continue to be) also told things that haven’t necessarily happened, possibly to reduce the risks of teams noticing the problem with TV and complaining.

    Quentin Reply:

    Alianora: At risk of dragging this out – the reason I have trouble with this explanation is that the teams aren’t stupid. They employ small armies of specialists, at the top of their game, to ensure that they and their sponsors’ get as much of the right kind of exposure as possible. They wouldn’t notice that tv figures are down, and that Bernie’s waffle about combined figures is just typical bluster? I just can’t see that myself.

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    The teams were warned by fans. BARB clearly indicates a drop, and numerous fans have made statements indicating that the number who would actually pay is lower than the raw statistics suggest. They should have noticed. If they have, they haven’t admitted it.


  44.   44. Posted By: David B
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 6:31 pm 

    I have been a follower of F1 since my teens getting; on for 35 years. I cannot bring myself to spend Sky money just for F1. I wouldn’t watch anything else, so effectively the money is just for 10 live races. The highlights on BBC were good and I did not especially miss the early mornings. If and when Sky takes over completely I suspect that F1 will just fall off the grid for me. Either that or someone will find a way of streaming highlights or race recordings free over the internet as seems to happen with a lot of TV shows.

    All a bit sad really, but I don’t think FOM will listen to few poor disgruntled Fans.

    [Reply]


  45.   45. Posted By: Rob
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 7:51 pm 

    F1 is well on the way to disaster…

    DRS and the TV cash grab are all about greed from the top…

    I’m at the point where results don’t mean a whole lot to me, just interested in one team battles like Hamilton vs Nico, Hamilton in Merc vs Schumacher in Merc improvements…

    The rest of F1 is so artifical, it’s not worth a second look.

    [Reply]


  46.   46. Posted By: Ben G
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 8:32 pm 

    I don’t watch F1 as much as I used to, or indeed log into sites like this.

    The BBC not having live races kinda broke the spell, and I can’t get Sky where I live.

    [Reply]


  47.   47. Posted By: astra
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 9:11 pm 

    In Germany RTL last year signed a new 6 year deal to show all qualifyings and races free to air. SKY Germany (the former Premiere) also signed a new multi year deal recently, but not as long. Over here it was rumored that SKY might not continue with showing races. Free to Air was never in question. European Viewers could combine RTL via Astra with a local radio channel which covers F1 live if there is such a thing in other countries. And if the 2 biggest private TV operators in Germany, RTL Group and Pro7 Group, give up their silly fight over a monthly 10 Euro fee for their HD channels with the very same programming there will be a RTL HD for free as well.

    [Reply]

    Quentin Reply:

    Yay! If that’s true, a good few UK fans who thought “Let’s see how the BBC arrangement goes” last year must be thinking hard about the RTL-5Live route. Another dish and box costs the same as just a few months Sky, then it’s free for good.

    [Reply]

    Smudger Reply:

    I bought myself a dish/STB HD package on ebay and set it up to watch F1 on RTL for the non-BBC races with my Virgin Tivo on 5Live. It worked really well and paid for itself in 6 months vs what the SkySports monthly sub would of cost.
    I think the RTL deal runs until the end of 2015, which meant I’d have at least 4 years at the time of buying.
    I went for a 1m dish as it ended up cheaper as a package and it is huge! Its on a ground mount and was easy to setup,

    [Reply]

    Quentin Reply:

    That seems pretty much the way to go, I’m planning to do same before Australia. Maybe not a 1m dish though! I’m told the Astra 19.2 signal is pretty strong where I am.

    Smudger Reply:

    Try dishpointer.com and enter your postcode and select 19.2. Or just look at other Sky dishes near you, point in the same direction then move to the right, from behind the dish. It’s a very strong signal and just fine tune the dish to get the best signal. Kingofsat.net is a good site for frequencies. Don’t do what I did and try and tune into RTL and it didn’t work as it was the old analogue frequency! :) Should be dead no though. Damn CTRL-F found the first RTL…..

    [Reply]

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    I heard that Sky Germany was given a reduction in fees to continue broadcasting the races. I’m starting to get really suspicious about the Bernie/Sky connection.

    [Reply]


  48.   48. Posted By: forestial
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 9:19 pm 

    When Sky transmits this Pay TV F1 show, is there advertising or do you get to watch what you paid for uninterrupted?

    In the US I watch F1 on Speed channel, which I pay for as part of my package from the satellite broadcaster. It always annoys that I have to endure commercial breaks. I avoid watching them by recording and 30-second skip on a DVR of course, but still I am getting less than the full race.

    (Speed is gone for 2013 to be replaced by some NBC channel but I imagine the commercials will continue.)

    [Reply]

    Optimaximal Reply:

    Sky don’t show adverts during qualifying or the race when the cars are on the track.

    I don’t think we’ve seen yet how they’ll deal with a red flag scenario – no doubt the producers would love to throw an ad-break or two in once the feed switches back to the broadcaster.

    [Reply]


  49.   49. Posted By: RickH
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 9:26 pm 

    The little market that is New Zealand lost free to air to sky a few years ago. I go round to friends who already have sky. Or watch a recording due to the late night broadcasts. I know no-one who has purchased sky specifically to watch F1

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    Well…you just completely blew up my theory about Australia being a small market and not worth it!

    I didn’t know about NZ, but it doesn’t surprise me in the least that no one you know has shelled out for Sky just to watch F1.

    I’d be very curious to know what you think about how it might have affected the fan base over there.

    [Reply]


  50.   50. Posted By: Michael
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 9:27 pm 

    …and also a decline in viewership no doubt.

    [Reply]


  51.   51. Posted By: "Martin"
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 10:08 pm 

    Me thinks this adds a foot of earth on top of French GP cofin.
    (Sorry if someone else already mentioned it,
    don’t have time to read all the posts.)

    Meanwhile, the BBC is NOT showing the Oz race live, denying us to see for ourselves what the pecking order of F1 drivers and teams would be at the start of the season.

    The problem with BBC highlights is:
    They do NOT tell us when they skip time / laps
    so it’s very hard to follow when suddenly the order of gaps change …!
    I even watch that on my own recording, go back and forth and still quite often can’t fathom what has happened !
    Regards,
    “Martin”

    [Reply]

    Optimaximal Reply:

    The BBC don’t get a say in anything – The commentary is done live & edited onto the highlights which the FOM provides to them a few hours after the race.

    The only way to keep track is to watch the lap counter.

    [Reply]

    Optimaximal Reply:

    …also, the BBC have made curious race selections this year. They were never going to run AUS live because of the time slot, but I believe they’ve also decided to run JAP live, which is basically run at the same early hour.

    [Reply]

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    There is, at least to some extent, alternation in the selection process. This means neither BBC nor Sky can cherry-pick all the “good” races – both of them have to have curate’s eggs. Japan is usually an hour or two later than Australia, and at that time in the morning, even one hour can make a considerable difference to viewing figure.

    [Reply]


  52.   52. Posted By: Stephen Taylor
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 10:18 pm 

    Ban sky from f1. They make people pay for coverage which on television although better it is not worth the extra.

    [Reply]


  53.   53. Posted By: mohamed south africa
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 10:40 pm 

    The whole of africa watches f1 on pay tv and we supposed to be the poorest people in the world. So get with it europe and stop complaining to pay to watch a sport that you love

    [Reply]

    Optimaximal Reply:

    How much do you pay to watch F1? How much do you pay to watch TV all together?

    It’s all very well telling people to suck it up, but it doesn’t take into account the fact that (for example), a UK viewer has to pay a £145.50 p/a just to own and watch TV and £31.50 p/m for the cheapest Sky package where F1 is available. This works out at least £523.50 per year.

    Converted to your Rand at the current rate, that’s the equivalent of 7,263.10 ZAR per year. I don’t know what the average wage/cost of living is in SA.

    In a nutshell, it’s all fine if you can a) afford Sky and b) there’s enough content across the entire service to justify the expenditure, but it’s an incredible amount of money to ‘just’ watch F1 for 20 weekends a year, which is how it would likely be in my household.

    [Reply]

    mohamed south africa Reply:

    I’m currently paying 700 rands a month for my subscripton to satellite tv which is the equivalent of the best sky package available.our license fee is nowhere near as expensive as you guys but our free to air channels consist of just 4 channels that I don’t ever watch. The minimum wage here is 2000 rand a month which is about 170 pounds I think. There’s no benefits no housing allowance no nhs. Most of the people on minimim wage don’t have access to satellite tv yet no one complains about it. They don’t think its there god given right to have everything that they want if they can’t pay for it

    [Reply]

    Optimaximal Reply:

    “There’s no benefits no housing allowance no nhs.”

    You do understand that just because a country has universal healthcare and benefits, it’s not a total free lunch – we are paying for these things (basically paying for the people using them) through taxes.

    I don’t think anyone is saying Formula One is a ‘god given right’ – if they do, they need to re-evaluate their priorities – but the problem is moving the sport it to an expensive pay channel for short-term gain during an economic downturn when the cost of living is rising faster than wages.

    For the record, comparing our cultures is never going to work.

    Tarun Luthra Reply:

    good point!
    F1 fans have a habbit of whinning about everything.

    [Reply]

    Elie Reply:

    Well we will see who’s wining in about a years time..

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    I’m more interested to see who’s going to be winning this year.

    Alianora La Canta Reply:

    Most of F1′s viewers come from Europe and Brazil. Its economic survival is dependent on the viewing figures in those areas holding up – either via free-to-air TV in order to sell adverts and team/circuit/series sponsorships, or via pay TV in order to sell subscriptions, access fees and adverts. The wiser course for F1 would have been to elevate everyone’s experience to the standard enjoyed by the biggest markets, as this would have grown the audience.

    Reducing coverage to the lowest common denominator, as F1 is doing, only damages the sport’s sustainability and prospects.

    [Reply]


  54.   54. Posted By: Yos
        Date: February 14th, 2013 @ 11:40 pm 

    I would say merde lol, As an F1 fan living in France it is going to be hard for me to pay 40 euros for canal+ just to watch 2 GPs a month.

    [Reply]


  55.   55. Posted By: Brisbane Bill
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 12:01 am 

    The pay TV route will only serve to make internet sites like this one (and particularly this one) an ever important resource for race fans. We still get it free-to-air down here in Oz but I would not pay to watch it. There are too many other things competing for my dollar.

    Here’s a suggestion to those suffering the loss of free coverage – get yourself down to your local kart track. Usually, entry is free. The people are hugely friendly. The racing is extremely exciting (way more exciting than F1, particularly when you get to know the guys involved). Granted, it doesn’t have quite the speed, noise and glamour of F1 but it is a fantastic alternative.

    Another plus is that it is the breeding ground for tomorrow’s motor racing stars and we are seeing many kids with famous sporting fathers on the grids right now. Here in south east queensland I am rubbing shoulders and chatting with guys I couldn’t get close to when they are/were racing – guys such as (my all time hero) Troy Bayliss, Mick Doohan, Stevie Johnson (current V8 Supercar driver and son of the legend Dick Johnson), Glen Seaton (triple Aussie Touring Car Champ), Jason Crump. Try getting into an F1 pit – impossible unless you are a)incredibly rich, b) incredibly famous, c) work for a sponsor or win a competition d) are James Allen (who probably actually qualifies under a, b & c anyway – well, b & C at least). G-day cobbers – off to give Troy Bayliss a disc with action photos of his sons.

    [Reply]


  56.   56. Posted By: Greg
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 12:26 am 

    The pay tv is going to back fire. F1 fans just arn’t as dedicated as football fans as its less personal and accessible.

    To be an F1 fan you have to watch it on the TV as jetting around the world isn’t an option unlike football where going most weeks is normal/viable to the die hard fan.

    The sponsors will quickly catch on if they haven’t already, yes there is a recession, but we have had them before and even the likes of MW of McLaren saying pay drivers are being taken as teams don’t have the money (Perez is a pay driver).

    This will come back and haunt BE or his legacy. The pay tv companies will offer less money on the next contract as there will be no competition, FTA channels can’t afford it now (BBC gave up/ITV gave up) so there will be no going back.

    In the short term this pay tv lark has given BE some extra cash, but the teams are losing out now and in the future BE won’t have the extra cash to float them.

    I would class my self a F1 fan and would never miss a race, I listened on 5live and skipped the highlights completly. I can’t be the only one?

    [Reply]


  57.   57. Posted By: Peppers
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 12:32 am 

    This could be trouble long term for F1. A similar thing happened here in Oz with Rugby Union.

    Quite a few years ago, super 15 rugby was on the rise, and was challenging to be one of Oz’s major sorting codes. They then struck a lucrative pay tv deal. Provincial rugby disappeared from free tv, so only people who were keen enough to pay, and fight their way through all the other channels would tune in to watch. Fast forward to now, and provincial rugby in australia is almost irrelevant. This arrangement has decimated Super rugby in australia, and F1 bosses should keep that in mind.

    Maybe if there are more Pay TV subscribers in the big markets or maybe if F1 is more than a side sport, then this could be proven wrong.

    I also think this is, for want of a better phrase, a false economy on the part of F1. If I was a sponsor, I would be extremely concerned at any loss of audience, let alone what could possibly be a drastic one. I would want to pay less money for what I am getting, so teams would get less money, then the sport, then quality of racing would decline (slowly), then I would pay less money again, then the new TV deal comes up, and they would pay considerably less this time for a less popular, less elite product.

    Not only would sponsors be paying less, but there will be fewer of them, as the audience would be more niche, so only brands that appeal to this niche market would bother putting any money in at all.

    Think this pay TV stuff needs a rethink.

    [Reply]

    @Damien_Marquez (GrandPrixAdvisor.com) Reply:

    Very valid point.

    [Reply]


  58.   58. Posted By: Craig in Manila
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 2:29 am 

    It’s starting to look like Countries that offer free-to-air coverage are in the minority ?

    Here in Philippines, I’m assuming that “Star Sports” (ESPN PayTV) will still be showing F1 with the super-cute Paula Malai Ali doing the intro and the super-inane Steve Slater doing the commentary.

    Personally, I’ll just pop down to Melbourne to watch the Oz GP live instead of worrying about the TV coverage.

    [Reply]


  59.   59. Posted By: Peter Jones
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 4:41 am 

    How can this possibly help grow the sport?

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    It’s not to help grow the sport; it’s to help grow Bernie’s wallet.

    [Reply]


  60.   60. Posted By: Trevor
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 6:58 am 

    Last year simply because we already had the Sky HD package already I watched F1 on Sky… this year we have to cut our costs so we are replacing Sky with the TalkTalk package saving me £25 a month, but sadly at the loss of the F1 channel – a shame but I really can’t justify the cost of paying this money simply to watch F1, and I’m sure there are many more like me… F1 is fast heading towards becoming a minorit sport…

    [Reply]


  61.   61. Posted By: bearforce1
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 10:04 am 

    Long term this will ruin the sports following.

    I know Bernie doesn’t care because he is selling out.

    I myself got into F1 because it was on free to air TV. If it had not been on free to air TV I would never have gotten into the sport at all.

    I also know most of my friends are exactly the same as me.

    I imagine in five to fifteen years the following for F1 will be only 20 percent of what it is now.

    Very sad really.

    [Reply]

    Bring Back Murray Reply:

    Yes I feel the same. Been a die hard fan since the late 80s and never used to miss a race, no matter what time of day it was shown.

    I felt cheated last year when half the races were removed from FTA. My faith took a real knock and can only imagine it going down more and more in every year that passes.

    By the time the SKY deal fades (5/6 years?) and it finally is all back on FTA it’ll be too late. We’ll all have moved on.

    Well F1 as we’ve known and loved it over the last 20 years is dead already.

    [Reply]


  62.   62. Posted By: Emma_LN
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 1:14 pm 

    People moan F1 going to a PayTV model, However ignore that most sports have already gone the same way with F1 lagging behind in that respect.

    Sport on FTA TV is a dying thing because the FTA stations cannot afford the rights & also in most cases would rather show something which appeals to more people.
    Also consider that all the FTA channels are trying to cut costs (In the UK at least).

    [Reply]


  63.   63. Posted By: GT_Racer
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 1:20 pm 

    Regarding Sky’s viewing figures, There not concerned with them as Sky don’t care about viewing figures.

    To sky its all about subscriptions, As long as them having F1 is seen to be bringing people to there platform & keeping people on there platform then they will be more than happy.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    That is correct

    [Reply]

    Quentin Reply:

    Maybe so, but it’s hardly a revelation that Sky are, quite reasonably, in it for themselves. No one thinks for one moment that they care about the sport or the fans. The point made by many is that the teams rely on the sponsors believing they’re getting the best exposure. So they must all be very interested in viewing figures…you’d think!

    [Reply]

    Anne Reply:

    Well the sponsors are in big trouble if they depend on me. I don´t care about Infinity, Burn or whatever. I found interesting however how during testing in Jerez Lotus (they have the best twitter comments ever) were giving updates with great sense of humor. At some point they mentioned they were drinking Earl Grey tea. That´s something I can identify myself with.

    :)

    Bring Back Murray Reply:

    We have to hope that the sponsors will eventually do the talking and pull out, effectively forcing Bernie’s hand. But there’ll be nothing left of the F1 as we know it by that stage

    [Reply]


  64.   64. Posted By: @Damien_Marquez (GrandPrixAdvisor.com)
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 2:03 pm 

    (Hi James – I’m not able to post on your site for some reason. I’ve used an alternate email address in the meantime.)

    An important point to add is that Canal+ is a dying channel after having lost the Ligue 1 and Champions League to BeIN Sport.

    Asking F1 fans to fork out 19 Euros a month plus deposit and set up fee nearly equals to spending 20 Euros per race on a channel that is dedicated to movies rather than F1.

    Unlike the UK, I think this is a suicidal move for F1. They will lose 80% or so of the viewers.

    France has no longer a grand prix but has two major companies in Renault and Total involved in the sport. That’s on top of the three or four drivers mentioned in the article.

    All the young kids that we once were getting into the sport because it was just there on free-to-air aren’t going to be converted into F1 fans and interest in the sport will certainly fade in the long run.

    [Reply]


  65.   65. Posted By: Rich
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 2:21 pm 

    Darn! Last year I managed to convince my better half (who is French) that buying a TNTSat box would be brilliant. She could watch all her free-ta-air French TV channels and I could watch the live races not on the BBC via TF1 and listen to the Radio 5 commentary by James.

    Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be as successful in convincing her to pay for Sky Sports…

    [Reply]

    Bring Back Murray Reply:

    That, my friend, is a bummer…

    [Reply]


  66.   66. Posted By: Scott D
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 2:23 pm 

    As an loyal F1 fan since the mid eighties, the prospect of losing free to air broadcasts will mean that I will no longer watch races, it is that simple. This will mean that my children will not grow up as fans (which saddens me) and I suspect this scenario will be (and probably already is being) multiplied across many thousands of other families across the UK and many more internationally. Short-sighted greed will be the death of the sport.

    [Reply]


  67.   67. Posted By: cartweel
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 3:11 pm 

    This is nothing more than a cash grab to liquidate the sport’s popularity. As others have said, long term this will cause a decline in viewership- but I guess when you are 80-something you aren’t thinking long term anymore. ALL major US sports have SIGNIFICANT free-to-air coverage- and that is why they have become major US sports. First you get the viewers, then you get the sponsors. People love racing all over the world- that will never change. The US is the example that for the biggest country in terms of motorsport (even lawn tractors are raced there)- it couldn’t give a toss about F1. People have other things to watch and other racing to follow. No FTA coverage = loss of largest motorsport market in the world. People simply put their attention and money elsewhere- except the minority of die-hards like those on this comment string…

    [Reply]


  68.   68. Posted By: Victor
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 3:14 pm 

    I’ve been in France for a few years now, and can tell that the French coverage was less than impressive – instead I opted to watch the races broadcasted by the BBC through the internet. Canal+ will struggle unless they improve the show.

    [Reply]


  69.   69. Posted By: FW14B
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 3:53 pm 

    I guess come 2016, F1 on RTL will also disappear, and in 2018 the BBC will lose what coverage it still has, that’s when I will cease to be an F1 fan, after what will be 42 years of following the sport.

    TV output is bad enough now, no way do I want to spend £35pm for just 4 hours viewing and to add another multitude of channels still with nothing on.

    [Reply]


  70.   70. Posted By: The Catman
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 5:45 pm 

    Well I have to admit that I returned to Sky after a couple of years break purely because of F1 but I do watch some football and cricket and teh missus loves Alibi but I do still watch BBC coverage and will be tuning in to see how Suzi does. I did get a 12 months half-price deal but will probably continue when this runs out.

    I like the full coverage of FP sessions, and record the GP2 races to watch on the Monday.

    Sky have recently announced that they are making available “24hr day passes” for £9.99 to watch all 6 Sky Sports channels via the internet which wouldn’t be worth it to me compared to £40.50 for a full month but might be of interest to someone who watches the BBC races and just wants some extra.

    Plus it had to be worth something not to have to listen to Eddie Jordan – for someone who ran a F1 team I continue to be amazed by how little he actually seems to understand.

    TC

    [Reply]


  71.   71. Posted By: Nico
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 6:38 pm 

    Interesting that F1 is now tapping Govts to subsidise the sport at ever increasing level, and now looking for more revenue through the pay-tv model.

    Keen to understand whether the recent change in F1′s ownership model(i.e. now run by a private equity firm) and its profit targets are driving this move. At the end of the day, CVC’s sole purpose is to maximise its return for its investors, fatten it up for the holding period (what… 10 years?) then offload it on the sharemarket through an IPO (singapore 2012 fizzer), as its investors walk away with a big fat cheque. As you say – it’s not a major sport like football so not sure how this will turn out or what their projections are saying. Also, what are the sponsors going to think about this? Forget the fans, no-one thinks of them anymore…

    [Reply]


  72.   72. Posted By: Max
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 8:45 pm 

    F1 went to Pay-TV already in 2007 here in Finland.
    It sucks, but what can you do. Either you pay and watch, or then you don’t watch.

    [Reply]


  73.   73. Posted By: zerof50
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 11:18 pm 

    Oh God I hope pay races doesn’t hit the U.S. I for one won’t be able to afford it, not to mention the best sport in the world is already struggling here, mores the pity too because the most races and replays here is nascar. GOD I HATE NASCAR!

    [Reply]


  74.   74. Posted By: Lawrence
        Date: February 15th, 2013 @ 11:54 pm 

    Very interesting – just as I read Martin Whitmarsh at McLaren complaining about ‘falling rate cards’ (what the surface area of the car is worth to advertisers) , and the people running the sport are determined to further restrict who get to watch it. Nice one.

    F1 was just about to become mainstream, and putting it behind a pay wall rarely helps.

    If you really want to compare F1 vs Football here is a very simple test. Saturday morning at your local shopping centre, count the number of people wearing footie shirts, and the number wearing F1 shirts. You’ll find there is a teeny weeny bit of a gap in the numbers!

    Nice quote “but I guess when you are 80-something you aren’t thinking long term anymore”

    [Reply]


  75.   75. Posted By: Random 79
        Date: February 16th, 2013 @ 2:17 am 

    Let’s cut to the chase (and this *will* offend some of you)

    Bernie is 80+ years old. He’s looking at the short term gains because he knows he’s probably going to die soon.

    Why would he care what we think?

    [Reply]


  76.   76. Posted By: jorge
        Date: February 16th, 2013 @ 4:27 am 

    LOL!! I first thought that TV stations where going to pay a model (a person) for F1 coverage, which left me a bit puzzled for some seconds until I got the right meaning.

    Of course, that must be because of my lesser English.

    In my country (Bolivia, Southamerica) you only get F1 via the most expensive paid cable network. And you have to stand frequent advertising, mostly colombian and veeeery long, when I watch it I find necessary to also use live internet commentary or it’s not possible to follow the race.

    So I find weird that you euro people complain so much!

    Nice site James!

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Thanks tell your friends!

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    You have a point, but just because you’re used to something that doesn’t make it acceptable – people can get used to almost anything if given enough time.

    The Europeans probably won’t be grumbling as much in ten years time (assuming the pay TV model doesn’t self-destruct in the meantime), but that won’t invalidate all the opinions that people have expressed today.

    PS – Your English is fine. For some reason I find that a lot of people who have learned English as a second language seem to be better at it than those of us who use it as our only language! :)

    [Reply]


  77.   77. Posted By: Denis68
        Date: February 16th, 2013 @ 4:43 am 

    If your English or French and support one of your drivers at least you can pay to watch your drivers.

    But if your Italian like me and want to follow an Italian driver why pay?

    I would gladly pay to watch Formaula One if I had an Italian driver to follow, until one returns I will save my money.

    [Reply]

    Random 79 Reply:

    I know he’s Spanish, but Alonso drives for an Italian team and speaks Italian. Isn’t that close enough for government work?

    [Reply]


  78.   78. Posted By: Ed Bone
        Date: February 16th, 2013 @ 6:20 am 

    I just hope FOM dont do the same with the radio commentary. Radio 5 live do a superb job on the cricket, and they could and should up thier game when it comes to F1.

    Motorsport is not the most visually interesting of sports, rather like cricket, but it is much harder to cover than cricket. Maybe this is why so much of the BBC coverage was/is focused on the preamble and the post race analysis. Dont know about sky.

    But with some creativity and innovation in F1 Radio coverage, you could easily create an immersive, informative and very enjoyable listener experience.

    [Reply]


  79.   79. Posted By: BenM
        Date: February 16th, 2013 @ 6:46 am 

    Bernie can shove F1 where the sun doesn’t shine if it goes pay TV here in Australia. The reason he can charge the money he does for races and the teams can for their sponsorship is because of the claimed viewership. At some point the greed gets beyond a joke.

    I’ve been a dedicated fan of F1 since the first race in Adelaide as a teenager, but I’ll be stuffed if I’m going to fork out money to watch something that he already makes an absolute fortune from because of millions of people like me.

    [Reply]

    Chris R Reply:

    My only thought from this is to think of all the kids who will not watch F1 while growing up.

    As has been said, free to air coverage of F1 has been the norm for decades, and this meant lots of people grew up watching it, they saw it on one day and liked it.

    So when the kids grow up having not watched any F1, why would they bother paying to watch? Is this move effectively neutering its legacy.

    I am aware this is a generalisation, and that there will still be many kids who get to watch it. And I am aware of the need for money.

    [Reply]


  80.   80. Posted By: Gregoi
        Date: February 16th, 2013 @ 7:46 am 

    You can all still watch for free. It is called the internet!

    [Reply]

    Paul Reply:

    Yep, these deals would have been more damaging 10 years ago.

    [Reply]

    Bring Back Murray Reply:

    I’ve tried to watch the non-bbc races via streaming but the quality is pants compared to a decent wide-screen TV in high definition

    Well watching low quality streams live just about beats waiting for the highlights I guess

    [Reply]

    Greg Reply:

    Anything beats giving Murdoch money! And I’ve seen as many as 50-70,000 people streaming on the Sky weekends. Eventually if the poor ratings continue the teams and sponsors will realise they can’t make as much money via pay per view as Football or the NFL, there just isn’t the mass market.

    [Reply]


  81.   81. Posted By: Rachit Thukral
        Date: February 16th, 2013 @ 5:33 pm 

    Another fight between Sky and BBC.

    Yes, Sky just provided about 20 minutes of coverage on each day of testing(this includes interviews and Ted’s diary), but you gotta see that this is the first time they are covering a test session. Remember what happened at the first two races in 2012?

    You gotta give them time! They are broadcasting the Barcelona test in 3D and it is the first time that F1 is broadcasted it 3D!(though FOM has tested 3D in Singapore and Abu Dhabi).

    So lets hope Sky provides better coverage in the next two test sessions!

    [Reply]

    Bring Back Muarry Reply:

    Try justifiying it to your other half if you want to spend all that money on a 3D TV just to watch the F1!

    [Reply]

    Rachit Thukral Reply:

    I live in India and there are no 3D channels here, so I obviously won’t buy a 3D TV. Star Sports coverage isn’t upto the mark and I usually watch F1 online(both BBC and Sky).

    All I wanted to say was that Sky’s coverage wasn’t up to the mark in the 1st test but I expect a much better coverage from them at the Barcelona test.

    [Reply]


  82.   82. Posted By: Bluefroggle
        Date: February 17th, 2013 @ 12:28 pm 

    What annoyed me when it first came out that BBC were not doing live races anymore was that in their original press release the BBC said that they would cover 10 races live and on the remaining races show THE WHOLE RACE three or four hours later in the day.

    I would have been happy with that. I could find something to do all day on Sunday with no access to tv or computer and then sit down in the evening to watch THE WHOLE RACE.

    But this has not been the case. On the non-live race days, the BBC has shown just 1 and half hours of extended highlights. In this 1 and half hours they show 20 minutes of rubbish at the beginning and 20 mins of rubbish at the end making it 40 minutes on non racing, thereby cutting the actual race to around 50 minutes. This is then the total sum of the whole race. The whole race isn’t even available say two or three days later.

    I too have found some internet sites which stream the whole race, but as already stated in other posts the quality is very bad.

    [Reply]


  83.   83. Posted By: cavallino
        Date: February 18th, 2013 @ 5:13 pm 

    How about doing something for the F1 pay walls?

    A petition has started to support free, live TV coverage worldwide and boycott the first 2013 race.

    Show your support, share and act.

    https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/free-and-live-formula-1-tv-broadcasting

    [Reply]


  84.   84. Posted By: LS
        Date: February 20th, 2013 @ 12:15 am 

    Men, we are the best in the worst things, I have to say!! I am Portuguese and I have been paying F1 for at least 4 years, but last year I dropped out!! Too much!! I go to bars or watch on FirstRow!! Lucky you guys that you only have to deal with it now!

    [Reply]


  85.   85. Posted By: Matt W
        Date: February 20th, 2013 @ 10:50 am 

    I do believe Sky have actually changed their subscriptions and that as of something like March 1st the F1 channel will no longer be included in the HD pack for new customers. New customers would also have to take up the Sky Sports subscription. Current subscribers are uneffected (for now).

    Reliance on PPV channels is a dangerous game, as Elite League Speedway is finding out.

    [Reply]


  86.   86. Posted By: James J
        Date: March 15th, 2013 @ 10:23 am 

    They are all so far up their own they cant see the light, the light is while they where FTA advertisers saw a 600 million season audience, now the figures are in they don’t add up for the advertisers, so they leave to put their ad budgets into other things, which means less revenue for the teams, jobs have to go and wages drop.
    If Bernie had set up his own TV company and used F1 as the funder, he would of had a bigger earner than F1 if that is possible!

    [Reply]

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