F1 Winter Break
What would a Rupert Murdoch takeover do for F1?
What would a Rupert Murdoch takeover do for F1?
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Apr 2011   |  9:36 am GMT  |  189 comments

The news this week that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is looking at buying Formula 1’s commercial rights from CVC in a consortium with Carlos Slim has elicited a range of reactions; an almost instant denial by Bernie Ecclestone, some media coverage giving the idea some credence and many seasoned people thinking it’s a smokescreen, or negotiating ploy aimed at other interested parties.

News Corp does make bold acquisitions. But it is also frequently trotted as a possible buyer of eye catching assets, when there is no substance to the story; it was linked with Facebook at one time. And Bernie Ecclestone and Rupert Murdoch know each other well and have spent plenty of time together in casinos.

So a leaked story like, this, particularly as it was leaked by a News Corp owned property, Sky News, could have a variety of tactics behind it.

But, in a changing media world where newspapers are in decline, the company is always on the lookout for the right assets to grow the business. It looked at buying Manchester United a few years ago, for example and has long had aspirations to control a global sport, which it can exploit commercially.

F1 is a fabulous global platform and a relatively simple structure with 12 teams, 24 drivers and a 19 race calendar.

There are some areas of F1 which have huge potential for commercial exploitation in the future, like online and mobile, which make an acquisition by a big media company in partnership with a mobile phone giant a sound idea.

The company already has extensive business with Formula 1; it buys rights for Sky Sports Germany and across Asia with the Star Sports Network among others. In the UK Sky dipped its toe in the water in the 1990s with the FOM pay per view platform, but it only lasted a few years.

But it has a wide reaching global platform of its own and the ability via a deep understanding of the market, of how to exploit the commercial rights of a sport.

A consortium with someone like Carlos Slim, who owns an extensive global mobile phone business has obvious sense behind it.

But at the same time, such a consortium, were it to be real, would not be the only interested party. The investment arm of Abu Dhabi, for example, has been looking at the sport for some time, but would probably have to form a consortium with at least one other partner, with a strong media profile in Europe and/or Asia.

As for how a News Corp takeover might work for the consumer, the fan, many fear the onset of pay TV, judging from comments sent in this week.

The Concorde Agreement, which binds the teams, the FIA and FOM together, explicitly sets out some conditions for free to air TV in certain key territories. This is to protect the interests of sponsors and manufacturers in particular. The media value of the sponsorship goes down if the broadcasts do not reach the huge audiences you get with free to air TV. But the revenues from the TV could offset that and make the teams less dependent on finding sponsors, which they find very tough.

There has been a toe in the water exercise going on recently. In a number of countries in recent years F1 has moved to a model whereby the race is on pay TV, which also screens all practice sessions and qualifying and then there is a delayed telecast on free to air later in the day.

This is what has happened for a few years now in Japan and Finland, for example, where the live race is on MTV Max and the highlights re-run is on MTV3. There was resistance to start with, especially in Finland at the peak of Raikkonen’s career, but it seems to have settled down.

There is a cost to the fan, of course. Figures of around €70 a year (€3.50 per race) have been seen and there’s no doubt that the fanbase is big enough and mature enough to support that.

The English Premier League is an interesting comparison, however, as it has similar global appeal to F1 but has significantly higher commercial returns and a fanbase, which has been very strong despite having to pay to watch games.

EPL has been on Sky in the UK for almost 20 years and is a commercial powerhouse. Its UK TV package is worth £600 million a year while overseas sales are slightly higher.

The 20 Premier league teams collect £40 million each with the champions earning £70 million for a season, more than F1 teams, of which there are only 12.

It’s not possible to buy the EPL, but it is possible to buy F1. It has changed hands a couple of times already and is clearly approaching a turning point. CVC deny that they want to sell, but given the nature of their business, private equity, by definition there is always a sale due at the right time and at the right price.

But there are complexities, which have caught others out in the past. The Sky News story this week said that News Corp was being advised by JP Morgan, which is one of the banks left holding F1 stock when Kirsch went bust in 2002 (News Corp was also one of the creditors back then). JP Morgan know quite a bit about F1.

There are many possible reasons why this story came to life this week; to confuse the picture, to blow the cover on News Corps’ plan and derail it, to prompt someone else into action, to send a warning…the list goes on.

It could just be the journalist, who broke the story, flying a kite, but given the number of stories emanating from CVC sources via Sky News in recent times, that’s unlikely.

Central to all of this is the negotiation of the new Concorde Agreement, which is due to come into force in 2013. Until the terms of the new deal are resolved, a sale is unlikely. The teams and the FIA want more money, CVC wants to protect its investment and maybe make a profitable exit, while Ecclestone wants to come out on top, as he always has in the past.

The racing this year looks pretty exciting and the business off track is shaping up to be just as lively!

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I'm sure the teams are not stupid - they know without the fans Formula 1 is nothing.

In 2002 when Sky did show the races on PPV, they charged £12 per weekend, and of course you needed the sky subscription as well. I can't see them being cheaper once they have the monopoly (which of course they didn't have in 2002). Sorry, cannot afford that, and I'm sure I am not alone.

I have confidence the teams will not let this happen. Shame the Scottish Premier League aren't so sensible!


I would get f1 dvd review at the end of the year than pay that money grabbing git i watch le mans on dvd as i cant get it on tv even if i know the results


With high def over the air I don't understand what people are doing overpaying for TV - and why free over the air isn't given more priority in determining rights holders.

I just got off cable TV and have officially declared that I will never pay for TV again. I know the young generation certainly won't. With free HDTV over the air the truth is we should be enjoying free ad supported F1. It is marketing show after all - why would I pay for it with all those brands shelling out millions to be seen by my valuable eyes?


I'm with you on free over-the-air HDTV - I love it. I get 13 channels FOTA but how long will it be free? I read somewhere (cant remember where) that the UK is starting to charge a fee to receive OTA transmissions.


Bernie, his team and all the team owners and managers need to make sure they don't leave important messages on each others mobile phones me thinks!!!


If the races stay as exciting as they have been so far this season, it would be a travesty if Sky got their hands on F1. I certainly wouldn't buy into the Murdoch machine and watch it on Sky Sports if the sport went down that road (excuse the pun). The BBC coverage of the racing has been top notch this year (not so sure about the pre race/qualy build up), I doubt Sky would be anywhere near as good.

No to Murdoch. He has enough already.


- I'm not a huge fan of Murdoch either, but at least he's in touch with the modern world. If he was in control of F1, HD would likely have been implemented years ago. Perhaps ownership by Murdoch would result in increased features for the fans such as superior cameras, interviews, and coverage.


Which you would have to pay for on Sky. We don't want a PPV model for F1, there are other answers.


First thing to go will be any live free to air in any country. Murdoch has one goal, Revenue!


So does CVC and everyone said the same. The public was against it. Same with Kirsch Media. It keeps changing hands, everyone jumps up and down a bit and then it all calms down.

Why are you all sure that a sale will result in PPV? If it decreases viewing numbers, it will decrease the value of all sponsorships (the teams', the FIA's, the race organizers', and FOM's). Each of those will need to recoup those losses from the sport owners, all this at a time when they are actually aiming to increase their revenues. Some of those stakeholders have a say in these matters. On a PPV model, none of the voting stakeholders have any incentive to sign this.

So long as F1 is healthy, I don't care who takes the profit.

P.S. What do you make of the rumours of Ferrari's involvement in this..?


I'm not a football fan, and so don't have any Sky packages at all.
If F1 went to Sky the cost to me would then be quite considerable - probably a minimum 12 month contract - and would F1 be a charged for option in addition to basic access ?
I'd definately not follow F1 onto any Sky platform.


Keep it as it is. The EPL is a completely different model to F1. This must be to do with Concorde agreement. Just manoeuvring between interested parties.


I love F1. But I would not pay Rupert Murdoch to watch it.


Get yourself on the top step of the podium, pretty much all of us agree with you!


I intensley dislike Murdoch's News organisations. I almost respect him as a businessman, but I can't be comfortable with some of the things his companies get up to.

I would not like to see F1 used as a vehicle ro advance his monopolies.


As someone who has worked in one of those organisation owned by him in the past I can't disagree with your view.


I used to watch test match cricket in England when it was on free to air TV. When England won the ashes in 2005 it was a huge national event because everyone had shared in it.

Then the coverage went to Rupert Murdoch's Sky Sports, and I haven't watched a test match since. When England won again in 2009 hardly anyone noticed. Viewing figures were way down. England have a strong cricket team at the moment, but I expect the next generation to be weak as less kids are watching the game on TV.

Aside from that Rupert Murdoch's company is currently embroiled in a huge scandal over alleged phone tapping. It would be a mistake to do business with them at this time.


The cricket is on ITV4 now mate Freeview channel 24, or Freesat 117


I think thats the IPL, not test cricket.


cricket highlights though not live test match cricket. I also haven't watched a test match since 2005 and have lost interest in it to be honest much as I did with boxing in the 90's and no doubt F1 would be the same.


Which helps prove a point many have been trying to say. Before it went to sky, cricket had many avid followers that stopped watching it, and gradually lost interest. So much so, that people, including myself, no longer knew it was back on a free channel, and to help show how much it has declined it has come back on ITV 4 as well.


I certainly won't pay BSkyB a ransom to watch F1 on their channels. I am not so gullable as football fans.....but that's where Murdoch thinks he proabably can repeat the same trick on F1 to make his fortune. Quite happy with BBC or ITV1 with adverts if necessary.


I am not sure that F1 fans are like football fans. I enjoy the sport - have done since late seventies, but it's not the 'religion'

that football is to some people. I fancy Murdoch might get a bit of a shock.


If Bernie and Rupert are such good friends, how come the Max Mosley scandal appeared on News of the World, which is owned by Rupert, to harm Mosley, who is Bernie's good mate? It simply doesn't make sense whatsoever. Unless, of course, it was Bernie's plan to get rid of Mosley at all cost to appease the teams in order to avoid a breakaway series.


Martin Brundle writing in the Sunday Times wrote a scathing article about Max and FIA and the way Max/FIA handled "Spygate". He described it as witch-hunt against McLaren which prompted Max using FIA funds to sue both Martin Brundle and the newspaper. Here's the link to the article on Martin's website. It makes an interesting read.



That's not MB's site. It's a tribute site


eek, not at all directed at the reporting, just pointing out how people who have nothing to do with the excitement and passion of sport have nevertheless continued to slime their way into the spotlight as if they are as important as the sports they are pimpin...err, promoting.



Murdoch keep your grubby mits off!


If it did end up on Sky I don't know what I would do. My Dad has always maintained over the years the only way he would get Sky is if the F1 ended up on there. When it comes to the crunch it would be interesting what he would do, effectively the only option for us due to the lack of cable or internet speed would be via Satellite to get HD coverage, however for £49+ a month only the F1 sport wise and perhaps the odd England rugby match or football qualifier it is not really good value. To get Pay Per View we would have shell out on all the Sky equipment anyway so that would still cost £29 a month to enable HD coverage. That would be far to much for any casual watcher except those who are lucky enough to consider Sky an essential already to watch the football.

Michael Roberts

James, any idea what percentage of the F1 user base is casual fans? My personal feeling is that it is about 70%. I'd personally like to see the teams and FOM do more work in helping to turn casual fans in to hardcore F1 fans.


I think it's a powerful part if the reason why they'd do it. It's been funded by football fans for years F1 fans provide a new inventory of customers


Sadly moving things on to Sky looses a huge mature audience who cannot afford to pay for a sky subscription, let alone additional ppv. If F1 goes on to sky then it's going to be followed by online blog and report only by many pensioners like myself. The loss of live coverage will then mean a slow decline in interest. Murdoch could well cut the F1 fanbase ultimately by more than 50%.

A restructuring in the image of NFL was mooted some time ago, but the NFL structure has been disastrous and making lawyers rich.


Broadly speaking, the current turmoil rises from the NFL's success. There is so much money being made everyone involved is greedily seeking a larger slice of the pie. I haven't read your link, the sep2009 part persuaded me otherwise. Currently the players are not on strike, quite the reverse, they have been locked out by their employers. Yes the players are suing the NFL, but this is the Good Ol' USA, where people sue each other at the drop of a hat. Can't see how the NFL relates to F1 at all.


"In what way has the NFL structure been disastrous?"

Well as afar as I can see the whole thing is in turmoil with none of the parties involved agreeing to anything and all threatening to sue each other, another strike by the players is also on the cards. this may give an idea if you read it all. http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/sep2009/bw20090910_883366.htm


In what way has the NFL structure been disastrous? The NFL had a turnover of nearly $US 8 billion last year, it's the most popular sport in the largest single market on the planet. It is renown for its stability. Last year a regular season NFL game drew more viewers than a World Series game. The way the NFL is run makes F1 look like amateurs by comparison.


I think a lot would turn their backs on it. I would never buy into Sky - I'd rather no F1 and no TV.


Sky sport has been funded by football for years, because almost every other sport taken over by them has seen audience figures plunge down the toilet. Judging by my response to this news. and other responses so far, F1 will be another one of those, and not the "next football" sky keeps looking for.




Begrudgingly, I agree. F1 is the only thing that'd make me take up a Sky sub too, so for that reason I can see how it makes perfect sense for News International to get involved.

Wasn't Bernie excitedly talking about 3DTV long before we'd even seen it in HD? I know he's recently claimed F1 will never be broadcast in 3D, but that contradiction does make me wonder whether it's something him and Rupert Murdoch have been mulling over for a while.


Formula One coverage in the US, with the exception of four races a year, are televised on SPEED TV, which is ultimately owned by News Corp. One can only get SPEED TV in their homes by subscribing to a cable or satellite company and it has been this way for many years. In some markets, it's part of the "basic" package, others, you have to pay extra to get, but nearly everyone has to pay to get a full season of Formula One.


just out of interest, how much do you have to pay?


The other four races (Canada and three lunchtime tape delays) air on News Corp's Fox television network. For 2012, Fox gets the two North American races live and two European races on lunchtime delay. Speed is an upper-tier ("sport" package) pay package in our market (about 210 km from Speed's headquarters in Race Hub, the old Verbatim Media building on W. T. Harris Boulevard in Charlotte).


Yep. See my comment above. I'd really like to get Formula 1 over the Internet, straight from FOM. My money would go straight to Formula 1 and screw Comcast and Speed TV (although I really enjoy their commentators).


That's a definite possibilty why F1 isn't popular here. Even though most people have a cable/sat provider, nobody watches Speed TV. It used to be a great network showing racing from all around the world. Fox took it over and filled it with a bunch of trash reality shows. If they broardcast all the races on Fox I could easily see the ratings go up.

Michael Grievson

could this be part of the reason F1 isn't very popular in the US?


I doubt it. Only 14% of US households use free over the air TV. The vast majority of them use some form of pay TV service such as cable or satellite where Speed TV is already included or a minimal extra fee.


Does Speed TV compete with 1,000 other sporting/non sporting channels in the US for the viewers attention?


no American aren't interested in what is not american.


Tis the second rule of Americian-ism

The 3rd is that if anything interesting happens outside America then it is because or related to something inside Amercia.

THe first being America is best the country God gave to us (being people or Americans?) (to quote a certain Murdoch owned news channel.

Quite funny to watch Americans call the Egyptions pro-democracy people and the whole Middle eastern uprsiing for democracy proses be linked to either the tea party wanting lower taxes or people on th left bitching about lower pay for government jobs to cut spending..... Yes, completely the same thing..


too many speculations right now and nothing is reliable enough...

On Football price, attractiveness of both sports is nowhere near. In France, Ligue 1 is sold for 600M€ per year paid mainly by Canal+


James French main TV free channel TF1 is planning to drop F1 due to constantly decreasing audience (if some here have ever heard their commentators they'll know why).

Subsequently, the F1 will go to either M6 (free) or Canal+ (pay) and in both cases Mr. E will receive much less money, as much as half what TF1 used to pay it is suggested.


the Tf1 comentators are not bad, they can get a bit biased to Alonso (renault glory days??) especialy Moncet. Otherwise i like malbranque, he is young and he can only get better, the only thing i hate tf1 is because of their timing of the ads, they play with your nerves. As for M6 and canal+ i think canal+ will end up getting the contrat with Mr E, by the way canal+ will transmit it for free either (from what i have read on Moncet's page).


Sky's hostile take over of F1 would be a black day indeed. I say hostile, because many fans view this as hostile - destroying the sport and removing access from the vast majority of home viewers.

Irrespective of whether the races are Pay-per-view, you would still need to invest in the equipment to access the Sky output. I, for one, went Freesat and enjoy F1, free and in HD.

To access Sky, at today's prices, that would be £250 new equipment costs plus £50 per month to get to the same level that I get on Freesat; assuming it isn't a pay-per-view model, which would only add to the cost.

We are continually told, as consumers, we have a choice. When that choice increasingly seems to be: Nothing (of substance) for free, or continue to pay extra each month to a single organisation who can, at a whim, change their pricing model and extract more revenue from the masses.

I fail to see one element of a Sky takeover as positive.


Please remember we do pay for the BBC.


Actually, you could remember that only people living in the UK pay for the BBC. I would estimate 50% of this site's readership is from outside the UK, and the vast majority of us already have to pay to watch F1.


In Singapore we are on Star Sports which I believe has already been noted as Murdoch owned. We have to pay for the cable service and again for the sports package (both annual contracts) to watch F1. We do not get free practice televised and we also have to put up with 1 to 2 mins of ads every 10 mins during quali and race. HD is offered.


Slight error in my post. F1 is on TSN2 (TSN's secondary channel) and while broadcast in HD, is not free-to-air. Nominal fee for HD channels in Canada. Curiously, the French-language version is free-to-air. Those Quebecois!

For English-language fans of the sport I've yet to see anything rival the BBC coverage. Truly in-depth coverage by very competent commentators I was spoiled by it while living in the UK.


F1 is broadcast in Canada on TSN. We receive the standard FOM broadcast commentated by the BBC team. It's in HD and free to air. We have to put up with advertising which is painful, and we don't get the pre-race/post-race commentary or "red button" facility. At least the ads are run in PIP mode so that you can watch the action during the ads.

I've tried the SPEED network (have to pay for the HD channel, and it's brutal commentating) as well as getting the BBC feed over the internet (using VPN software to emulate a British IP) but the bandwidth can't really keep up so it's also not worth the cost at the moment.


Unfortunately I'm unable to watch the UK coverage now, having moved to the Middle East (Qatar). I 'watch' it for free on a United Arab Emirates satallite channel. It's SD and 4:3. However, all the commentary etc is in Arabic, and I don't understand it. I listen to the Radio 5 Live coverage with sound muted on the TV.

Regardless, I would be very much against any one broadcaster having the rights to show F1. I'd rather see it owned by a none broadcaster who sells the viewing rights to each territory (as they each have unique needs). I would also very much welcome a quality, worldwide live internet feed from one of the broadcasters, or F1 itself. Problem out here, though, is that the internet to the rest of the world isn't that quick, and is very expensive.

In terms of pay-per-view, I wouldn't be interested, but I would be interested in an off-shore BBC licence to give me access to their content. 🙂


In Turkey, a state channel TRT broadcasts Formula 1, just like BBC. And just like BBC, we pay a small amount fee to compensate the expenses of it, but it still has commercial breakes during F1, not just like BBC.

When the words come to quality, I prefer to watch BBC's coverage on the Internet. If I'm able to or given chance, I would probably pay yearly BBC fee, no doubt about it, but if Formula 1 becomes pay-per-view costing more than what I can afford, I wouldn't bother to watch it. Rather download it and watch later.


Would be interesting to hear about the quality of F1 coverage in other countries around the world apart from the BBC!

I suspect that BBC would show up favourably with its quality, even if it doesn't get it 100% absolutely right every time.


Australia isn't that bad... it's on free to air tv, and we get the BBC commentary during the race.... downside, ads and Rusty and co spamming us with Webber updates each side of the break while cutting over BBC. Still better than pay.


Not a bad guess- 60% is outside UK


Yes, we have to pay for the BBC - but for the broad range of quality output they produce, I think that £145 per year is excellent value.

Compare that with an EXTRA £600 per year, minimum if F1 went to Sky (just for the basic Entertainment package + Sky Sports + HD).

Assuming you also commented below: "But I pay enough to the BBC already –

and am not willing to pay any more."

But you are happy to pay more to Sky?


There would be one bonus at least if Sky took over, and that is that we would be able to watch F1 in true, full HD, which is significantly different to the watered down rubbish the BBC serve up.

For sure with Sky you will pay, but they are a more dedicated broadcaster to sport than the BBC will ever be due to the nature of the organisations.

Years ago when the F1 channel was launched, I bought a season ticket about a third of the way through the season for 50 quid. At the time it was money well spent and was quite revolutionary compared to conventional coverage at the time.

You will only be able to really judge if and when... My personal view is that it would be significantly better coverage than the BBC.


I hear your point about potentially superior coverage from a dedicated broadcaster, but.

Back when the ill-fated F1 channel was on the go, the reason it was better was beacuse it offered more in car shots, driver trackers etc. These things are all standard now such has the level of sports broadcasting increased.

I fail to see what extra things they could offer. I havent seen teh BBC HD F1 but I have heard it isnt great, but is that the BBCs fault? The BBC does not film the race, all the shots come from one company (the name escapes me) they only film the intro, end and interviews and things and provide the commentary.

You may get superior coverage but it would be bad for the sport.

Rubinho's Keyfob

Quite right. The BBC segments are HD(ish), the long-shots in the race appear HD(ish) and the overlaid graphics appear to be a bit sharper on an HD service.

However ... the in-car cameras (which account for a significant percentage of the race footage) appear to still be SD and even though (as far as I know) no HD service is not "widescreen" (16:9), the graphics are still overlaid so they will fit on a 4:3 screen, meaning that on the long shots the cars are often behind the graphics ...

I appreciate that the bandwidth requirements for the cameras on the cars to be proper HD are perhaps quite challenging, but for a sport that sees itself as a technological "cutting edge" (and is also perhaps trying to sell itself to the highest bidder for the TV coverage rights), it could perhaps bring the TV side of things up to date a bit ...


3D Coverage! My mind is not made up on whether this would just be a quick thrill with the novelty disappearing quickly or not?


So it's on FTA later in Finland, or just highlights?

In Norway/Sweden, and i assume the Baltics (via VIASAT), it's ONLY on pay-subscription channels.

Viasat pay-channels are not even offered on my current tv-method (digital over the air, not cable/dish) in Norway - and if you have dish, but not viasat dish, you don't get it either.

F1 interest at an alltime low i would imagine, since it stopped being on FTA channel. If anything, there's no recruitment of *NEW* fans... i watch some of Viasat FTA channels, and i've never seen them advertize their pay channels apart from football.


[I]"The 18 Premier league teams collect £40 million each with the champions earning £70 million for a season, more than F1 teams, of which there are only 12."[/I]

However, there are what 300+ EPL games every year? This means there is always something for the fans to watch, always a game they can find on Saturdays,Sundays and even mid-week. I love F1 more than soccer but a race every 2 weeks or so doesn't compare in terms of TV coverage so it's not a realisitc comparison.


If Murdoch and crew take it over, it'll be a disaster. From a quality point of view, how could it be better than the BBC have done this year? It's been superb with the Brundle/Coulthard commentary pairing the icing on the cake.

Then there's the access and the money - tightly linked of course. I don't have Sky, as do only half the households in the UK have Sky. To me, it's simply not good value for money, and I don't want to make Murdoch any richer than he already is.

So in spite of being an F1 fan for the last 40 years, I shan't watch it if it goes to Sky. I'm not alone...


One could make F1 pay-per-view.

One could slit one's throat.

I won't pay to watch either on the tube.


It would be a disgrace IMO if the only way you could see F1 on TV was via pay TV.....a kick in th teeth for all F1 fans.


If they put F1 on Sky chances are they would put the race and quali/practice sessions on separate channels forcing you to buy several channels. Even as a huge F1 fan for many years I could not justify paying the extortionate price Sky Sports charges. It might not even be within my budget.

There would also be fewer younger fans attracted to the sport as, unless their parents were fans and paying for Sky Sports, they would not get to see F1. If this was the case 12 years ago I would have never discovered the sport (accidentally turned it on ITV one day).

F1 on Sky is not good for the fans whatever way you look at it.


I accidently turned it on in 1978 - south african gp - and have not missed a race since. But I pay enough to the BBC already -

and am not willing to pay any more.


PPV is a bad idea methinks.

Football is the national game so comparisons with the Premier League don't square. Football's also a participative sport which millions of people in the UK play week in week out, so there will always be massive interest in that particular sport. I think a better comparison is boxing, which used to be a massive spectator sport in the UK, but, since going to Sky, has virtually disappeared from the national psyche and interest of the general public.

I've watched F1 religiously every year since 1991. Even watched all the races during the bore-fest of the Schumacher-Ferrari era. I won't be paying Murdoch a penny.


Not a chance i would pay for Sky or PPV and i would imagine most people would just find a free live internet stream to view it or torrents. This is a failure in the making.


Just what I was thinking, I consider that F1 fans are more technically minded than other sports fans so I think a bigger percentage would go down that road, legal or not.


Can't say I rate any of Sky's coverage on the EPL highly. It would be interesting to hear comparisons from viewers who have had access to both the BBC F1 coverage and the SKY subscription channel broadcasts mentioned above. Personally, I won't be subscribing to Sky if Murdoch gets his hands on the broadcasting rights for the UK. Doing a 'Match of the Day' and having the race highlights repeated on 'free' TV later on in the same day would be a pretty miserable compromise. Having all the practice sessions on the red button and all of the subsequent in depth commentary that goes with the current BBC coverage of F1 has enlivened my interest in the race weekends and I just can't see Sky doing as good a job.

Alas, the rule above all others in the world of sport is to go where the most money can be had, so if RM puts a deal on the table that the free to air channels can't match ...


I paid for the Sky F1 channel in 2001. It was dire, with John Watson and Damon Hill commentating (ZERO chemistry).

They had an interactive driver cam, so you could choose from a tiny selection of drivers to watch from, but nothing like what was available in Europe (every driver from every camera angle).

I used to bring my TV from the bedroom into the living room so I could watch the Sky images on one and listen to the commentary from ITV on the other!


John Watson was good whenever I heard him - I think on the radio.


It was a dumb idea to sell the commercial rights to the sport for 99 years in the first place... watching our (and it is our) sport being sold by VC firm to media dynasty is just prolonging the gouging of money from the promoters, the teams and above all the fans.


Maybe selling it for 99 years wan't dumb. I agree that it was silly for the teams but the person who signed on the dotted line, supposedly representing the FIA and sports fans might have just been taking care of himself. Maybe he's dong rather well now. This happens all the time.

Michael Grievson

I know I wouldn't pay to watch any sport on TV.


here, here. Like football, I will stop watching F1 and take up morris dancing.


Coming from a small audience market in which New Zealand, Sky Tv already has the rights to F1 here.

It came about since 2006, and I miss the times when f1 was free to air but we here dont have the audience figures to sustain the costs so it went to Sky.

Im glad that we were lucky to get the ITV UK

feeds and now BBC Uk feeds and find that ESPN and Sky coverage is generally pretty poor, aside from the WRC.

I can the importance of F1 staying on free to air on many other networks. I have heard that when Indycar went onto pay tv, it looks a big chunk of its audience.

I hope F1 doesnt go this far and I dont think it will agreed to by the the teams, which appears to be a requirement.


I'm also in NZ and miss the free to air days as well. However... Sky is giving us all the free practices and qualifying where as TV1 only gave us the race which was not always live either


How quickly one forgets. Sky, in NZ, is not giving us Free Practice and Qualifying. We are paying for the ability to watch. By comparison the old TVNZ TV1 days were truly free.


Can't get Sky where I am, and would hate the ads anyway. What to do?

How about the James Allen bespoke race viewing experience - take over the Curzon or Bafta for every race, uninterrupted FOM feed, bit of commentary, etc etc. I'd much rather pay for that than a Sky subscription.


To bad I'm not a billionaire! It would be an exciting life to 'have' to go to every race!


Keep Murdoch (aka Fox news) out of F1. BTW, I am hearing this will be the last GP in Turkey. Bernie asked for a $26 M guarantee from the government and they rejected it.


A broadcaster owning the sport? The EU might have something to say about it.

Possibly would be more realistic to buy the rights to sell F1 to the TV networks which is what ESPN does with the premier league outside Europe I believe.


CVC, Bernie Ecclestone, Rupert Murdoch, Carlos Slim...Who cares? Maybe if Slim enters in F1 world the FOM video edits on Perez actions could appear in f1 official web as faster as Hamilton's victories or probably we could discover a new american prodigal son who never will be fingered by Charlie Whiting on live camera. Everything but the sport.


82% against, think thats fairly conclusive...

I think it would be terrible having F1 on Sky. We would go back to commercial breaks all the time (Skys breaks are 20 times worse than ITVs) and probably terrible generic sky commentators with generic accents and no passion. ITVs coverage was generally good (breaks let it down) but the BBCs has been a step above, providing everything any type of fan could hope for.

James, could you possibly do an article on CVC, who they are and why they can take such a ridiculous amount of the sports money (its around 50% is it not).

A bit of history on them would be great because it confuses the hell out of me how Bernie taking care of some financial stuff back in the 80s has resulted in this overlord company, capable of ruining F1!


He won't be getting any money out of me. Murdoch can see me next tuesday.


Even as a fan of F1 for 20+ years, I wouldn't take out a Sky subscription for it. I would just have to hope that BBC or ITV gets the rights to show the highlights, but it would be a terrible shame if this was to happen - it's hard enough hiding from the results if I sleep in for an early race!


So, James, your argument basically goes: Free to air rights, with 3 million non-paying customers, is a worse situation than 150,000 fee paying customers?

It might make economic sense, sure, but like the cricket model shows it doesn't make sense for the popularity of the sport to do so. Cricket support, once on a high after 2005, collapsed again as no-one watched it anymore.

I know finding sponsors is tough in this day, I understand that F1 needs money to run. But it also, for its future success, needs large numbers of fans far more than it needs monetizing.

If they take the Murdoch money, then they'll be fatally weakened by having to rely on it to survive. Once the audience goes, the sponsors will go. And it'll be damned hard to get anything back once you're in that situation, especially considering the collapse in audience figures.

I won't watch if F1 is going to be that selfish. Because that's what it comes down to at heart.


Very well put. Unlike many here, I've nothing against Murdoch or News Corp.; it's simply that pay-to-view is the wrong model for almost every sport except football. It may generate impressive immediate revenue, but it's destructive in the long run.

Bernie, to his credit (and surely if there's one businessman in the world who can rival Murdoch in the “hard-nosed” stakes, it's Bernie) has always understood that. I recall him saying a decade or so ago that F1 would always be free-to-air in the most important markets as long as he was in charge for the sake of the sport's “reach” and the good of the sponsors. Since 2005, the ECB has shown the wisdom of that approach.


Well said. My sentiments shared.


No that's not my argument at all. I'm merely looking into the matter


I think you cannot compare TV rights for football in the same way as for F1. Football is not in itself selling anything, i.e.they are not car manufacturers trying to sell cars to every individual on the planet.

F1 is trying to reach every and I mean every adult on the planet. If you go pay per view then immediately you loose your target audience in a massive way. So funnily enough the Manufacturers being involved will save us from pay per view.

I do not even see the idea of pay live watch later free being acceptable to the manufacturers.... If you didn't watch it live but then hear the result on the news, and the winner is not who you want, then you probably won't bother to watch especially so if you are not an ardent fan.

In a way I watch F1 because its free... If I am too busy in the summer, I record it, if I had to pay... I am not sure where that would take me


I wouldn't be too sure about this. I bet Manchester United make more profit from selling merchandise around the globe than Ferrari do selling sports cars.


The power brokers in F1 need to be very aware that they get their money from the fans. Without us there is nobody watching F1.

If Murdoch got his hands on F1 I would be off. I LOVE the sport and have been a fan for 25 years but I have an even deeper dislike for Murdoch and his businesses. I would walk away from the sport, free to air or not (and if anyone thinks it would stay free to air in the UK then they are sadly deluded).

Even if you don't like Bernie (and personally I do like him) he is F1 through and through, like the proverbial stick of rock. Yes he's made his billions on the back of the sport but has a love and respect for the sport too. Murdoch loves and respects money and the ability to make more of it so he can influence governments and others to help him make even more of it. Any interest he has or would have in F1 would be to help him in that regard, whether it worked for the sport or not.


Couldn't agree more.


"The 18 Premier league teams collect £40 million each with the champions earning £70 million for a season"

There r 20 EPL teams, what do the other 2 get?


I don't really care.

But I get a great deal of amusement out of the Rupert-is-Evil crowd!


I don't feel like I know enough about Rupert to comment but your mention of Carlos Slim makes me nervous. I spend the majority of my time down in Latin america and the the telex telcel claro empress that is Carlos Slim is a little too much, and right noe they only have a share in an F1 team. I'm sick of Fox Sports Latino interuptin press conferences and race feed to interview their homeboy Checo Perez. From TV adds you would think it was Sauber who beat Redbull last week.
That aside, if Slim runs television like he runs cellphones and internet down here, people will be laughing at the 12£ per weeken that SKY charged, my Claro phone costs me almost 3 times as much to call a friend in a competing network as it does to call international, so much so that it was cheaper to get a second phone line on the competitor for those calls. I could see this being a very bad thing for the viewer.


in the UK, the free to air BBC coverage compares favourably to any product Sky might offer.

In many areas of Australia we still can't even watch the race live, often delayed 8 or 9 hours, let alone qualifying or pre-race coverage. The casual audience is also much smaller as most races require a great deal of effort to watch late at night.

I would gladly pay if the option for comprehensive live coverage was available. And doubly so if it was ad-free.


Don't you have a set top box or digital television to watch ONE HD's live coverage of F1?


OneHD is not available in all regional areas and won't be available for many years. OneHD does not appear on Foxtel or Austar and is not likely to be included in the forseeable future.

In most of WA we are unfortunately stuck with delayed channel 10 (or WIN) telecasts.


Like many other i'm against F1 being owned by Rupert Murdoch, the guy already has a monopoly on football, to do the same to F1 would put fans off. F1 on the BBC has never been so good,

its far more interactive and accessable than ever and its typical that once something becomes so good then someone with more greed than sense comes in and ruins it for the guys who really love this sport. I've watched F1 since I was 5, twenty years later I watch F1, buy products and services which sponsor teams and drivers to make there investment pay off.

I never have nor never will pay to watch sport and I'll certainly take that money away if I no long can watch F1 for free!

Sorry to rant but I hope that the F1 teams see your blog james and take on board the poll abd the views before ruining all the hard work that has been put into F1!


It works so well for the Premiership, theres no reason why it wouldnt work for F1. Money is such a big part of the game in football and Sky provide huge sums of money to 20 teams for a sport that is based just in England, just imagine what it can do for a worldwide sport like F1. Id only support the Sky takeover if it was viewed in the same way the Premiership is.

Moto GP is currently run on a similar format to what might be proposed, all the practice and qualifying sessions are shown live in all 3 series and then the races for 125cc and Moto 2 with the Moto GP delayed. It is shown live on the BBC but because the coverage is so good on Eurosport I prefer to wait. Bring Formula 1 to Sky!!!


You say:

"It’s not possible to buy the EPL, but it is possible to buy F1."

Possible to buy the commercial rights, yes, but not the FIA Formula One World Championship, that stays with the FIA.

And the commercial rights are useless if the teams think FTA is more important than hiding behind a pay wall, they'll just set up a new championship, and leave News Corp with a big load of nothing.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Football is very different and Murdoch would be mistaken to think that it can take the same route with F1.

a) From childhood, football is a game that almost everyone gets to participate in. It is a sport that is easier to relate to and there is always an up and coming generation of wannabee footballers.

b) Participation in motorsports is for the few. For a person who has never seen an F1 race before, what would provoke them into paying for the race? How would Murdoch expect the fan base to grow.

c) Many cup games and the Champions League are shown for free on TV. Some of the F1 races would have to be shown for free in order to generate interest.

Dreadful for all if Murdoch and Cowell get there hand on F1.


I have a horrible sick feeling F1 will go to Sky after the BBC.

I think F1 has never had better coverage than it has now, not only is the race live and with NO ADVERTS, the Forum on the web and Red Button channel adds so much value.

Can you imaging watching the Chinese GP we just had with adverts every 10 minutes? Think how much you would miss!

I would hate it if F1 went to Sky, it would be a black day for me and although I'm a dedicated F1 fan, Im not paying Murdoch a penny.


600,000,000 fans

15% =90,000,000

$150 each= $13,500,000,000

James, Set it up as and international non-profit trust, give yourself a fair wage, hire some of the myriad people you know to help you administer it, reduce fees to the tracks, pay the teams a decent amount to help them with costs, still give points bonus money, and feed it to the internet for a 100 dollars a season, in HD. There's a lot ofways to augment the income, and there we are. I'm sure that there are ways to watch an internet feed on a TV, and you could have a number of other feeds in the same broadcast such as sector times car by car, radio coms, to mention only 2 that would be fun.You could also sell TV rights inexpensivly as well.

Or you could set it up as for profit and all fans could be owners, and make a small return every year. You'd be great in this position, and the only negative would be that you might not have time to allow you to continue JAF1.

On the other hand, we stockholders could make it's continuance part of your job.

Wuddya think


You'd hope that the reduced viewing numbers would have enough of an effect on sponsorship revenue (especially for the teams) to make it unviable...I'm probably being naive though.


This entire plan makes sensible long term sense to every one involved with F1, except the vast majority of fans.

What is really irritating is that it is not necessary. F1 makes all the money it needs right now. It does not need to do this at all. It purely greedy businessmen seeking additional profits at the expense of fans, to whom there is no benefit what so ever. Worked in some ways for football because it meant teams could go any buy expensive exotic players, and improve stadiums. What can F1 buy that it doesn't have? Where is the added value? It wont even fund new amazing tracks, because the hosts have to par for the track, and then pay F1 to host the race. There is no benefit to fans. Only the opportunity to make money.

I dont mind people making money, but what do we fans get back from that? Or are we happy that every one in F1 will just get more cash to pay with? Is that good enough?


As someone who has Sky (for Football) Il admit the its the last place id want F1 to end up. Ignoring the fact that I dont actually pay for the package (parents house, they pay) Sky has something like 15mins of viewing before a commercial break kicks in. Anyone who watched ITV's coverage will know exactly what to expect. Football works on Sky as they allow the halves to be played out in full before any breaks. Sky currently shows INDY on Sky Sports and theres breaks-a-plenty on that, same when they have NASCAR too.

F1 needs to ask its self a key question. Is the commercial opitunity for F1 greater then the needs of its fans? I dont think so, whats the point of advertising itself & its sponsors if theres noone there to watch it. Im all for the teams to have more money coming to them, if it helps the teams survive & create better racing, but not at the cost of its fans.


The BBC has been targeted by Cameron. The chap he has placed in charge seems intent to destroying it. It is almost as if someone is paying the tories to destroy the corporation.

Murdoch obviously only wants F1 to make money out of it. He would have to fund the purchase because it won't come cheap and he would have to make this up somehow. Going into new markets is for extra profit, not for paying for it. So what can he do? Have adverts throughout the broadcast? We've tried this and it ruined what otherwise would have been an excellent production. That leaves, in my mind at least, PPV.

We are in the opening stages of a severe recession. It is going to get worse. My income has dropped considerably: disposable is down by around 40%. Yet I have it better than most. Even so I am looking at my Sky package very carefully. This despite my 'main' sport being rugby.

I would suggest that the number of people who would pay extra to see F1 is down considerably from what it was a couple of years ago.

No offence to Bernie, but we're talking about money here and I would not necessarily believe everything he says. Controversial that may be but I'll stick with it.

F1 is at the top of the pile because so many people watch it. If it goes PPV, or even as part of the Sky Sports package, then numbers of viewers will drop.

I paid for PPV last time it was on Sky. It wasn't worth it, not by a long chalk, but I had the money (in those days).

Would I pay this time?

That's a difficult one.

If the hype wasn’t there, if my friends didn’t see it, if it wasn’t talked about in my circle the answer is probably: ‘No’. I’d wait to see it in highlights.

But Murdoch can afford to lose the likes of me. The real difficulty is in keeping the ‘newcomers’, those who have been enticed over recent years. Paying for it might well become a step too far for them. How many would jump ship?

F1 has run the gauntlet between being upmarket enough to attract the premium dollar whilst still appealing to the masses. Henley Regatta it is not. If it goes PPV will it still be able to pull it off?

There is something not quite right about this supposed bid for FOM/CVC. Is it really on the cards? Certainly not before the concord agreement is signed. Any bidder would need Ferrari on board and probably McL and RB as well. The small print in any agreement would have to be binding and I can’t see the teams signing that.

The big teams have the real authority over this one. If they say nay then the bid would be withdrawn. So Sky would have to come in on their terms. What could Murdoch offer them that they will not get from Bernie? Apart from fewer viewers that is.

The real unknown is the BBC. What will they bid when their contract comes up for renewal? That is the big imponderable.

Stephen Kellett

I don't have a Sky package and I would not purchase one just to watch F1.

If F1 goes PPV, I will regrettably stop watching. I'm sure there are many many fans like me that although they follow it closely will not fork out for a TV package they don't want or need just so they can watch F1.

Hello Sky, Goodbye F1. I hope it does not come to that.


If Murdoch were to acquire the rights, there's no guarantee that he would want it on his channels. The BBC pays quite a lot for F1 rights, and I would imagine that revenue would be greater than any bump in subscribers to Sky.


My first reaction would be firmly against pay per view.

However it has recently crossed my mind that the only reason I have a TV - and therefore pay a licence fee - is to watch Formula One. If I could just pay for the races - Sky? - then it would actually be cheaper.


You would still have to pay your licence fee.


The figures quoted for Finnish pay-per-view are exceptionally cheap, the likelihood of similar charges in the UK is remote - should F1 move to airing on an existing subscription-based sports channel - this would involve an paying an ongoing subscription of £40-50 per month in the UK - pay-per-view failed for F1 before as not enough people were prepared to pay to watch it, its only real success appears to be in the field of high profile boxing bouts.

The EPL's reliance on TV money appears to have skewed its relations with fans who are faced with crazy kick-off times, hefty ticket prices and an environment in which clubs can easily ignore their fans as they are no longer the ones "paying the wages" (you could argue that this is already the case in F1 though!). In addition, it has hardly levelled the playing field between clubs, with '95 being the last time anyone outside Man U, Chelsea or Arsenal won the title.

The likelihood of a takeover leading F1 to fully embrace online content delivery seems pretty remote given News's stewardship of MySpace or its apparent policy of hiding most of its web-based offerings behind a paywall. IMHO it is more likely is that the web would remain a cinderella service in F1 terms, viewed suspiciously as a threat to TV monies, thus limiting its reach and availability to new, younger fans who often use the web as their primary entertainment source.

If the teams were as clever as they care to make out then they would unite together with a partner investor and buy the sport themselves, ensuring that they (and the sport) truly benefit from the profits created rather than simply being transferred to yet another middleman. Only an "F1 Partnership" running F1 would have the long-term interests of the sport at heart, any commercial third party buying it would likely (albeit quite understandably) have short-term profit maximisation as its primary goal.


The teams uniting with a 3rd party investor would never work. Some of the teams can barely afford to be IN the sport, let alone own a share. This would lead to Ferrari and McLaren owning a significantly bigger steak than the rest therefore having more control. Even if all the teams had an equal share, what would be the deal with new teams joining the sport? It just wouldnt work


I'd never pay Murdoch, Sky or anyone else to watch any sport, not even F1, athough it would be a major loss. My guess is viewing figures would suffer greatly, interest wanes, and another great sport is lost to the wider public, alongside cricket and the rest.

I hope Bernie, the teams and any other interested parties are taking note.


This would be a disaster - I would refuse to pay to watch F1. As is the case for matters like this, the fans don't have say. I hope Murdoch keeps his filthy hands off the sport.

Edward Valentine


If people stopped their Sky subscriptions then they'd close down and all of the top sporting events would be broadcast on free to air TV. It would be a disaster if F1 went to pay TV. Just look at the A1GP series.


I'm not fan of Murdock and would just as soon not see him aquire CVC because I think it would effect the content of the race coverage. However I think all the acrimony over Murdock and his alleged politics (liberarian) and/or an aversion to Fox News channel is frankly a bit specious. Are his politics any worse than that of Bernie Ecclstone who rubs elbows with all sorts of sordid characters and governments to bring the circus to town?

On the other hand, Murdock does own StarTV which would give Formula 1 greater access to the Asian market, and he has bought rights to the Turkish TV channel TGRT which might actually help keep the Turkish Grand Prix on the schedule.


Ok I'm coping with the credit crunch, the prospect of my job being relocated, my pension being reduced and my savings diminishing in value, but I cope with all this because of the BBC's superb coverage of the sport I love. Now I am being told it might go to pay per view? This is the last straw! James there is only so much a man can take!!!!!!!!!!!


Bernie's big push into Asia will probably get derailed if F1 becomes pay-per-view around the world. The concept of PPV sports coverage hasn't come to India yet. And even then it'll only be available to people with a DTH connection which is a pretty small number.

Sure F1 is currently on Star Sports,a pay channel. But that's usually part of a 3 channel bouquet (Star Sports+Star Cricket+ESPN) which goes for about 12 USD a year. Pay-per-view would instantly kill interest among casual viewers.


I would be rather upset if F1 ended up on Sky Sports or PPV, I would have to do what I've done with Cricket, follow live blogs supplanted with BBC Radio coverage. I don't have Sky itself (Virgin Media) and I do not have Sky Sports channels on our subscription.

I have been following F1 and motorsports for as long as I remember, but my earliest coherent memories was of Nigel Mansell's title winning season in 1992.

I wouldn't be tempted to part with extra money for F1 in that manner. I hope it stays on FTA, either on BBC/ITV et al.


"This is what has happened for a few years now in Japan and Finland, for example, where the live race is on MTV Max and the highlights re-run is on MTV3. There was resistance to start with, especially in Finland at the peak of Raikkonen’s career, but it seems to have settled down. There is a cost to the fan, of course. Figures of around €70 a year (€3.50 per race) have been seen and there’s no doubt that the fanbase is big enough and mature enough to support that."

No, the "resistance" has not settled down - it has just upped sticks and moved on to something more worthy. It is utterly mindless to pay for sponsored content i.e. watching billboards and brands race each other. The cost of the operation is already paid for, advertisers are in effect renting space on viewers' retinas and cognition. Thus Murdoch should only consider an investment if he's sufficiently convinced that the majority of F1 fans are stupid. This is interesting, in fact, because here we have an empirical method to establish that. Murdoch does like his readers and viewers dumb (and dumber), witness the corporate sponsored self-defeating "Tea Parties" his US (and possibly other) networks and print media miss no opportunity promoting on behalf of a handful of oligarchs. On the costs side, it certainly isn't €70/A, in Finland you can't purchase the F1 content alone but have to spring for a whole "channel package" (7 or so, mainly re-runs and cheaply produced fare) which costs at least €20/month or so. If you only wanna see racing, tough. One can buy web viewing rights for around €50/A, but then your broadband better be up to it (yet more costs) lest your Microsoft Silverlight reception becomes blurry, choppy or both. No, you can't be "mature enough" to support this sort of unwarranted voluntary wealth transfer, but utterly infantile.


Looking at with Sky and Rupert did to Rugby league in Austrailia in the 1990's, I would worry about him taking control of F1


Inline innTaiwan where the only way to get F1 is via pay tv (Star sports). If you want it in HD it's extra on top of the monthly fee. This sucks. Compare it to Australia where it is free to air in HD. This sucks hard.


Here in Edmonton Canada, I am already paying for the cable network plus additional $$$ for the premium package to get one practise session on Speed TV and then switch TSN to watch the race, both with limited time slots, so the interviews are cut if it interferes with other programs...., pre race shows, pit tours I can only dream off... I would be more than happy to shell out for PPV for the race weekend with good HD 1080P coverage... technical briefs etc.....

I would not be fussy who is providing the broadcast, as long as the coverage is top notch...


Also from Edmonton. But I've given up on watching F1; 5 a.m. is getting too early for me on a Sunday morning, my previous investment in hardware for TV recently expired and there's too much competition for my entertainment dollar, and I've suffered enough TSN/SpeedTV commentators to be actually put off the sport.

I still follow the sport for the soap-opera value (hard to beat!), and for the technical analysis (many thanks James!).

If there were internet-delivery options for coverage, I'd be interested. But I don't think that strategy is anywhere near top-of-mind for the F1 leadership. Perhaps after viewership dollars drop enough, they will consider those options. But they seem to be headed the other direction; extracting more dollars from fewer viewers. I'm not that interested


Look I don't really think you have anything to fear. In Australia Murdoch own a share in the NRL. We have anti siphoning laws to protect sports of national interest, so most of the top shelf games are still on free to air channels. It's the Die hards that spend most of there spear time following the sport that will most probably pay to watch extra commentary and repeats.

From what I can tell from here is, it's the US market that Burnie is looking to catch. Murdoch's News limited owns a controlling share of Foxtel world wide with some pretty big players like the packers family involved.

Channel 10 in Australia who broadcast F1 was the subject of a take over bid from Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer,they canning one HD as a sports only free to air Channel. So you can only speculate why??

While Bernie is a big player, he has some very big players wanting a piece of the action.


This would be so bad for formula1. Murdoch's company is evil. As an Australian I'm ashamed of what his company has done to the world. If news corp took over formula1 there would be no free broadcasts anywhere on the planet and in the end formula1 would go bust.

Tom in adelaide

The days of pay t.v are dead and buried. If your particular region moves to pay tv, just torrent the race coverage in full hd shortly after race completion. Murdoch has been complexly unable to adapt to the Internet age and all his ventures end in failure. His standard tactic is to try to charge people for things then can get for free, and better, on the net. Can't wait to say good riddannce to this awful old man!


The ridiculous thing is, some people ARE prepared to pay for things they can get elsewhere for free. Sometimes that is through ignorance or just convenience.

Pay tv dead? Isn't that what Sky is? I would love to say good riddance to him as well.

Grayzee (Australia)

Oh Dear....surely the major players in all this realise that NOT every region in every country has access to pay TV. I live in a semi rural area of Australia, only about 60km from Brisbane, and I cannot get Pay TV!. I would need to install a satellite dish!! $$$$$

No thanks. Let's hope common sense prevails and it kept on Free to Air.


Surely once you've installed your dish, you can point it at the BBC.


As an Australian living in Germany I have witnessed both the near death of rugby league in my home country courtesy of News LTD circa 1990's and the terribly AD riddled 'pay for HD' F1 coverage offered by Rupert here now in Germany. So I will add to the discussion that as far as the 'Evil empire' is concerned "resistance is futile". good luck f1 fans...you'll need it.


It's a real shame to see the failing of the BBC sports division. Although James did a great job on itv ive always liked the style and approach of BBC sport.

It seems incredible to me to see BBC only covering 2 days of the masters and now saying f1 is too expensive. I have my own views on the BBC and it's agenda. It has plenty of money for ridiculous programming.

Sky getting coverage of f1 would be bad enough for me, but Murdoch actually owning the rights to the sport would be as welcome as a f@rt in a space suit for me and a lot of fans.

Ultimately we are powerless to stop it, unless we club together and buy it? 🙂


I would be very uncomfortable with Murdoch taking control over Formula One. Mainly because of his companies ethics and the way they go about doing business. News International employees broke the law in the UK by hacking into high-profile people's phone's, and they show no remorse whatsoever when reporting - not caring what consequences may occur.

I do not want an organisation that gets embroiled in dirty tactics, and are power-hungry for everything to control F1. At least with Bernie, he knows F1 inside out and loves motor racing.


If F1 is switched to pay TV I can see the circuits suffering. My ticket to the British GP this year, including camping fees, food etc, is around the £400 mark. I wouldn't be able to afford to take out a Sky subscription at £50 a month and attend the GP. I would have to sacrifice my attendenace at Silverstone (or both). I suspect this would be the same for many people.


That is a very valid point


I follow F1 on starsport. Whatever the quality of the comments etc... I am happy to be able to see the races live. It wasn't like this when I first came to live here. I truly dislike the commercial interruptions, but again there is no choice that I know of. No choosing camera shots and whatever else you boys get. Race day usually goes; qualifying replay followed by a pre-race show, the race and a post-race show. The whole 4 hours peppered with ads every 10-15 minutes or so. Can sky do better? Marc

Sebastiaan Hekman

Here in Chile I can watch a free broadcast of the races a couple of hours later when I know the results already through the internet or get a Fox Sport Premium subscription for the duration of the season (about 92 euros a year). The decision was an easy one as the free broadcast is a dull event with an inexperienced commentator doing a voice-over from the studio, whereas Fox does a rather decent show with their Argentinean based studio crew (a group of 3 sharply dressed men being busy showing off and missing very often to see the key events in the race: for example Button parking where he was not allowed to do so was not commented on by them until the replay), but still I prefer them over the free version. And now with two new Latin drivers in the field (Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez) they go an extra mile. Instead of 3 sharp dressed men they have invited a 4th one, from Mexico, and all four of them are squeezed in one screen and start commenting on all kind of issues with these two drivers. A typical Latin way of things as they include all kind of greetings from family members and friends. They overstepped the line in my view when they broadcasted Maldonado's post race comments while Hamilton, Vettel and Webber were listening to the British national anthem during the podium ceremony. Very disrespectful I must say, but caused by the urgency Fox has to get F1 out of the way for the next program because they are running out of time and therefore never have time to show the press conference.

I envy you folks in the UK with the show BBC gives you….. if only I could get that signal here in Chile…., that would be great, just picking and paying for the F1 show you like, wherever that is broadcasted. F1 a global platform, but hindered by local, regional, national boundaries. It is time for BBC Global Internet TV to free fans of the local limitations. In the mean time I carry on with what is…. but it can be done much better.


That puts it in perspective for UK fans!! I know the Fox TV crew from Argentina - great blokes


The trouble with F1 and many other top sports is that they are run by extremely wealthy people who have completely lost touch with the disposable income now available to the average fan.

I currently subscribe to Sky's basic package for no other reason than to watch Eurosport and its motor sport coverage. However, I need to cut costs so will now be cancelling my subscription and switching to Eurosport's far more reasonable iPlayer service.

As an avid F1 fan for over 50 years I would be gutted if it went the Sky Sports route as its something I just couldn't afford.

The decline in cricket's popularity in this country is proof of how the pay per view model can affect a sport. Football is different as it has a huge fan base being our national sport. Having said that I'd love to know the viewing figures for your average EPL match compared to BBC's Match of the Day.


If the way the BBC was uniquely funded changed, i.e we didn't "HAVE" to pay a license fee I would switch to Sky tomorrow.

But as it won't happen soon then I'm very happy with the service the Beeb give 🙂


I continue to lol at this thread.

Now, in addition to the Rupert-is-evil crowd we have the "Free TV with No Commercials is a God-Given Right" people!

Well there aint no such thing as a free lunch, so you guys need to get over it.

And btw, who do you think will be walking the pits, running the show - Rupert hisself??

Nope, it'll still be Bernie, with a big fat consulting fee!


No, Rich, as I said in my comment above, I've nothing against News Corp., and the fact is (depending on the price and quality of coverage) I probably would pay to watch F1, but it's ultimately destructive for the sport.

This isn't just some kind of rationalisation of a desire for a free lunch: sports that don't have the fanatical “in-the-blood” following of football need the casual viewers FTA brings because today's casual viewers are tomorrow's paying fans. TV is the only “way in” to a sport like F1 for the vast majority of people, and pay-TV will throttle that supply of new blood.

It's almost like charging people to enter a shop before they buy anything. You've every right to do it, and in a sense some businesses do operate on that principle, but good luck attracting new customers...


The BBC isn't free you know. You're probably an employee of News Corp with a careless comment like that


LOL Its hardy 'careless', and no I'm not, but I'd take his money if he needed a little help.

My point exactly: it already aint 'free'. Most of the rest of us are used to ignoring commercials so you guys can too.

Anyway, tbh I think the rumors were started by Bernie for negotiating leverage.


Don't current tv stations have on going contracts anyways? For instance ORF mentioned during the malaysian GP that they had made a new contract for several years.

How would that work?


To be fair to Sky both football and cricket coverage improved considerably and no doubt they could do the same for F1

I though could not afford PPV and would not watch it if I had to pay per race = this despite watching F1 since the late 70's. There are too many other things I have to pay for - F1 is a a nice to have - not need to have,

Rubinho's Keyfob

I'll make my comment before I read everyone else's - so I apologise if it's been said already.

Although I got into motorsport through F1 (because of the general popular marketing etc), motorsport has many, many aspects. Try watching the Formula Ford races currently on C4 - they are very entertaining. The lack of aero, the homogenous nature of the cars and therefore the raw _racing_ can be quite refreshing compared to F1's current reliance on gadgets. Sure, it doesn't have the amount of coverage that F1 has and you might not know who the drivers are etc ...

... but if F1 were to leave free-to-air, then I think that enough of the audience would go to find their racing elsewhere that F1/FOM would be shooting themselves in the foot - FF, GP2 and others would be quick to jump on that lucrative sponsorship bandwagon. What F1/FOM/BE need to recognise is that's it's a different world - some of them have pioneered this mass-market televised motorsport phenomenon, so now it doesn't take an entrepeneur/innovator/visionary (like Bernie) to spend years convincing people and building things up, it just takes someone to notice that they've dropped the ball and then to pick it up.

Selling F1 to pay-per-view, in my opinion, is dropping the ball.

Of course, what we have to rememeber is that CVC are there to make money for their investors. If they can make a decent return on their investment by selling, then I suspect it makes not a jot of difference to them if F1 is dead in a year or not through that action.


He is a [mod]l man is Murdoch. It would kill the sport if it happened.


I think it would be a travesty if F1 went to sky-Im not alone there then....

But, alas, in this day and age corporate greed is everything, and the only motivation for this would be to make even more money than they do currently(greed)

I appreciate the fans being up in arms about this, I for one would be truly gutted and would NOT pay any subscription, but to put it in context would any of the paying masses that turned up for China really care if some folks in the UK had to pay to watch it?

I fear that the argument/threat put forth that some distgruntled fans here would never watch F1 again will not even register with the guys whom stand to make money from this. They would think 'We can fill the grandstands with Chinese/Indians/Mexicans/insert up and coming 3rd world countries here/ who don't really understand the sport on the whole(sorry if you are from there and do!), don't care much to follow it, but will pay up to turn up and watch the 'spectacle'.

Organisations right now are DESPERATE to generate more capital, and the sad truth is that an 'F1 fan' will never get in the way of that. If someone(or more usually someones) can get a whiff of making cash at this, it WILL be done. This would obviously only be the case if the business model worked for sky(which Im sure some counto's are making happen as we speak)

I don't think I have the time or inclination to whirl the numbers, but I would guess that ad breaks every 20 mins would lose X customers(viewers) but the ad revenue would generate X+100.(Advertising..another false world where money flies! How many people went and bought a Hublot watch after the race, or went to Halfords and said I don't want Bosch spark plugs, they gotta be NGK cos they just won the Chinese GP?)

F1 advertising is for brand presence, not a call to action, and so our exodus from the sport wouldn't hurt it at all if it was still simply played/advertised on a TV channel, and folks were paying for and getting paid for advertising around about that.

Dont mistake my comments for complacency or any endorsement of the proposed venture, simply the case as I see it and am happy to stand corrected....


Hello all,
Many people around the world are aware of the News Corporation "culture" -- first instinct when faced with a decisipon: "What would Rupert do?": second instinct when something goes wrong: "Who can I blame this on? It wasn't me." -- but perhaps only Australians know about how News Corporation greed and over reach virtually killed rugby league Down Under.
When News couldn't buy the TV rights, it decided to buy the league, player by player, club by club. Result? Sky rocketing player payments, clubs failing all around and therefore, the need for News to own clubs, most famously the Melbourne Storm.
The Storm had a glorious first few years in the league, attracting several of the best, most valuable players and winning two premierships.
But -- shock, horror -- it turns out that Melbourne Storm -- owned by News Corp -- had been [making - mod] secret payments to those high-profile players, in direct contravention of the league's rules. In fact, it is the main rule when it comes to ensuring the integrity of the competition.
As subsequent court rulings and other statements have revealed -- in the rugby league case, in an unfair dismissal case down here and in the phone hacking scandal in the UK -- News Corporation directors are unfamiliar with the integrity word. And, of course, they knew nothing of the [matter - mod]....
The News Corp culture was laid bare in the decision in the case brought by an editor (Guthrie) for unfair dismissal. Those that gave evidence included News Corp Australia chairman John Hartigan, and the company's senior executive in Melbourne, Peter Blunden.
Here's a quote from one judge:“In my view Hartigan was an unreliable witness in respect of the negotiations that proceeded the formation of the contract.” That's legalese for saying Mr Hartigan was not telling the truth.
And another: “I also consider that the explanations given by Mr Blunden in evidence, for not revealing to Mr Guthrie, at the time, that he was advocating his removal as editor-in-chief of the Herald Sun, do not survive scrutiny.” That's legalese for saying Mr Blunden was not telling the truth.
That's the News Corp culture for you. And, if you think the F1 teams will get a bigger cut of the TV revenue so they can improve the racing when News Corp is running the show, think again.
Picture this: a desk in Los Angeles in the News Corp building with $US1 billion stacked on top. Now ask yourself: "What would Rupert do?"

Bye for now


A Murdoch owned F1 would be similar in comparison to a home cooked roast over a cheap McDonald's quarter pound combo.

No thanks to the latter.


If F1 went to some sort of pay-to-view or subscription TV that would be it for me as a viewer. I'm not really interested in any other sport and wouldn't want to add crappy boxes or dishes.

I just hope the BBC (or ITV, 2nd best) will continue to provide 'free' coverage on Freeview and I'll happily continue to pay my licence fee, which provides such amazing value for money. We British viewers don't know how lucky we are to have around 5 hours of completely uninterrupted coverage in stonkingly good HD each GP weekend, with commentary by people who really know their onions. It just can't get any better. So there's sure to be something come along, like Murdoch, to upset the apple cart. Just my luck.


I have no market research or crystal ball to tell me what other F1 fans will do. It will be what it will be. I know I won’t pay. Already here in Canada I watch it in French to get it free on high definition TV. In English, here, to watch it in high definition I must pay and I choose not to. My French is getting better.

Unlike the Premier League this F1 buy out would not own the teams which could withdraw and take their ball to play elsewhere.

If it happened it would be a great time for a new racing championship to begin. We could call it the European Grand Prix Championship. McLaren, RB Racing, Ferrari, Mercedes, et al could create their own show. Here’s the schedule for the first season. To discourage the drivers jumping ship to the Bernie show all drivers would have a 30% stake in the team they raced for, for as long as they raced with the team.

1. Portuguese GP

2. Sicilian GP

3. Nice GP – the streets of

4. Spanish GP

5. Budapest GP

6. Marrakesh GP

7. Le Mans GP

8. German GP

9. Mexican GP

10. U.S.A. GP (Laguna Seca-great track)

11. Canadian GP

12. Swedish GP

13. Russian GP

14. French GP

15. Polish GP

16. British GP

17. Scottish GP

18. Dutch GP

19. Belgium GP

20. Danish GP


"What no Australian GP"


Murdoch or no murdoch, F1's underlying weakness is its dependence on public money to stage races worldwide. Could the circus survive without taxpayers shelling out to Bernie and co.?


If Rupert Murdoch launched a successful takeover of F1's promoter and moved the coverage onto pay TV, my response would be quite simple: I'd watch the BTCC and take out a subscription to Autosport or similar to catch up on F1 instead. It'd still be cheaper than the comparative Sky package and probably a lot more enjoyable as well. I'm a dedicated fan of F1 but not at any price I'm afraid.


Any management team that allows DRS should be shot. For the sake of desperately needed change, I'm all for change of ownership - just maybe, F1 can get back to geniune racing, and celebrate the true strength of its driver's skill... its a huge gamble, but anything is better then the status quo...

Bernie should be completely eradicated from F1 - I only see him as a leech type character, to be honest...


I grew up surrounded by football fans and was a real odd one out as an F1 obsessed 10 year old. I found it hard to believe that those football fans seemed happy to pay out more and more each year for their sport, particularly since the creation of the Premiership, with ridiculous ticket prices, constantly changing merchandise and pay per view. So many posters here say they will stop following F1 if Sky acquire it, which makes me wonder whether football fans are just stupid to keep on shelling out, or are they more devoted fans of their sport?

Much of this resistance to Sky is founded in a personal animosity people have towards Murdoch, which begs the question, how would a Virgin bid be received by the F1 viewers? I suspect there would still be grumbling, but less reluctance to line Bransons pockets further due to the unique place he seems to occupy in our national consciousness.

For what its worth, I don't think that I would be able to afford Sky, don't really want it anyway, but have felt for a long time that sooner or later F1 will go PPV.

As a 10 year old, the only TV coverage I saw was a highlights programme on a Sunday evening, usually on too late for me to be allowed to stay up. Todays live coverage is fantastic by comparison and probably worth paying for, I just think we don't know the costs involved yet.


I would pay if I had to, but I wouldn't feel good about it, and for sure I would rather pay anyone else than Sky. An online sub for HD streams would do the trick, but I would need the whole BBC team for coms and stuff. What a big deal this story has turned into.


I don't like it any more than the rest of us, in fact I plain HATE it. But to be honest, I would pay Satan for F1, I love it, am addicted and will probably never be able to stop watching it, no matter where it is. Although it would break my heart. God knows, this might even finish Murray off.


would it matter to the owners of F1 if the live audience isn't as big as right now.

As long as the event remains newsworthy, so the win is replayed countless times on 24 hour news channels then that would be job done.

Reaching the "right" audience may not necessarily be the audience that would actually like watching motor racing.


I don't think football and and F1 are comparable when it comes to subscription and advertising.

Football advertising is just a means to put a brand in front of the viewer -- if a drinks company sponsors a football team they're not hoping people will think that that team does well because the players drink their brand. On the other hand, sponsors of F1 want real association: Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren want fans to think of their car being the best because it as incorporates their technology. It's the same also for watch manufacturers and communication technology companies etc.; they want the association of the high-tech involvement in F1. Only sports shoe manufacturers have the same high-tech relationship with football and that's nothing like such a big market.

Having spent so much on sponsorship I'm sure the sponsors want -- and arguably have a right for -- the spectacle to be available to as wide an audience as possible. Charging for viewing actually works against this by reducing audience size, and is likely to reduce funds available from sponsorship.



just my tuppence-worth, as an F1 fan who honestly cannot remember a time when i didnt watch F1 (im 39 now)...

This whole story does seem like a smokescreen/bush beating exercise, but i sincerely hope the people involved have the good sense to read your original article and many of the comments posted - if that doesnt tell them the way the wind is blowing, then clearly they deserve to fail in their efforts to milk our beloved sport for every penny they can get (we all know its Murdoch's raison d'etre)

I will feel like i've lost an arm if F1 goes to Sky, as i simply cannot afford it, and will be hoping for a few internet options appearing if it did come to pass

And, just for the record, barry latour's idea sounds like a good one to me - James Allen as the 21st century's Bernie?


oh, and a quick afterthought....

Funny how there was never any of these rumours during the Schuey 'borefest' years

Seems F1 and the BBC must be doing something right for Murdoch to decide now is the time to try his luck


Personally I won't pay for SkySports. I used to have it, but cancelled it years ago because it costs far too much money for something I hardly used. F1 on Sky would not change my mind, it would only give them an excuse to raise their already extortionate prices.

My main thought though, is that I thought there was some legal condition in place for the UK, where certain events have to be shown on free to air TV, with these events including things like Wimbledon, the football world cup and F1? Any comment on this?


Didnt Sky do some kind of deal with ITV not so long ago?
Maybe it could end up back on there?
Definately NO to PPV or subscription tv!


I love F1, and I love golf. To me, the pinnacle of 'viewer golf' is the Ryder cup. I've spent thousands to be at The Belfry, The K Club and Celtic Manor to watch the Ryder cup. When it is in the States, I listen on Radio 5. I would rather use £20.00 notes as toilet paper than get Sky.


Dead simple from my point of view, if Murdoch were to buy F1 from CVC then I will totally dissociate myself from F1 and that will be the end of it.

I can't express the contempt and revulsion I feel for the man, the companies and their methods.

End of discussion.


I think this can be what the sport really needs. Maybe there can be a new engine regulation instead of the silly one that's proposed right now. I think this is exciting news!


If F1 goes to Sky we will have to pay for the package, and then pay for the race. Maybe I could wear that. Maybe.

But then Sky would put ads in every 15 minutes, with bumper ads from their sponsors, which ruins the experience of watching the race.

There is no way on earth I am PAYING to watch adverts. None. If F1 goes to Sky I will stop watching after 20 years, simple as.


I used to watch football till it went to sky, cricket too, I have given up on both as far as tv goes and listen on radio. If f1 goes to sky I will give up on watching it and switch to radio coverage, radio isnt the same experience obviously but its better than paying sky. At least with fewer hours in front of the tv watching. Sport I get a lot more fly fishing done.

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