F1 Winter Break
BBC and Sky drop F1 broadcast bombshell, teams seek answers from Ecclestone
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Jul 2011   |  11:13 am GMT  |  463 comments

This morning’s announcement by the BBC and BSKYB that they are to share the coverage of Formula 1 in the UK has come as a bolt from the blue to the F1 paddock and to fans of the sport. It is clear that the teams and sponsors have not been consulted and it remains to be seen how they will react when they learn the details of how this arrangement will work. And it could start a trend across the international broadcast landscape of F1.

The teams are likely to resist any deal which reduces the audience number. Whereas the BBC currently enjoys audiences of around 6-7 million per race the SKY audiences for Premier League football suggest that they might get an F1 audience of around 1-2 million on their pay sports channel, far less when the race is also on BBC at the same time.

Until recently it had appeared that the BBC was likely to drop the expensive contract it signed in 2008 as the BBC Trust looked to make significant savings. The word in the TV sports industry was that Channel 4 was a possible destination.

But with ITV not in the running and no other competitive free to air offer on the table, F1’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone clearly wasn’t satisfied with the money on offer from Channel 4 and has struck a bold deal, which doesn’t completely go against his and the team’s stated credo that F1 should stay on Free to Air TV, but which offers a rather awkward compromise for fans and sponsors, whereby half the races stay on BBC with the mass audience, while the whole season will be covered in great depth and with significant resources thrown at it by Sky Sports.

Although half the races are free to air, this will still require the dedicated fan to get a Sky dish or sign on to a Sky package on at around £40 per month on BT Vision, Freeview or Virgin Media.

But the economics of the situation mean that as fans will get 10 of the 20 races for free on the BBC, they will still have to pay the monthly subscription for only half the races which are not shown free to air. That seems an awkward sell to me.

Sky also runs adverts during its coverage of long-form sports like cricket, but has confirmed they will not put adverts into the 90 minutes of the live race.

There is already a strong reaction to the principle of this deal among F1 fans in the UK.

Here is my analysis of the situation.

What’s the deal?

Sky Sports will cover all the races, qualifying and practice sessions.

BBC will continue to broadcast F1 in its current format but for only half the races. The only races they have confirmed are Monaco, Silverstone and the final round. This is likely to save up to half the roughly £8 million production budget a year plus offer a possible discount on the rights. But crucially it extends the BBC’s relationship with F1 until the end of 2018 (its original deal was due to end in 2013 and would not have been renewed). They will continue to be active online and on mobile.

“With this new deal not only have we delivered significant savings but we have also ensured that through our live and extended highlights coverage all the action continues to be available to licence-fee payers,” said BBC head of sport Barbara Slater.

How will the gaps be filled in?
There are a number of questions arising; for example what races will the BBC show live? If they have a strong negotiating position, they would prefer to go for the races in the UK friendly time zones, which means Europe, Middle East, USA, Canada and Brazil – in other words not the ones which show in the middles of the night.

But one wonders whether it will be as simple and convenient for the BBC as that. Sky need to have some marquee events if BBC are showing the crown jewels of Silverstone and Monaco.

Another question is how the commentary and presentation will work. Will it be two separate units or will there be crossover?

Sky is likely to want the Martin Brundle/David Coulthard line up because they are established and offer credibility. Brundle is not under contract to the BBC and it remains to be seen whether he will want to be part of this. He has described himself as “not impressed” this morning.

One school of thought is that the commentary might perhaps be shared across the two platforms. I think this is probably unlikely given the way the two broadcasters work.

Either way the two broadcasters will obviously have two separate presentation teams. if the BBC really want to save money they will host the race from a studio in London and have just the commentators and reporters on site at the races.

David Croft and Ant Davidson could get either job or may fill in the gaps covering the practice sessions, as they do today on the BBC TV Red Button. It’s all to play for.

F1 will be on a hybrid free to air/pay TV platform in UK in 2012

What do the teams and sponsors think of this?
Since the NewsCorp/Exor takeover of the sport was first announced FOTA’s chairman Martin Whitmarsh has made a great play of teams insisting that F1 stay free to air in the major markets. Ecclestone himself told me four weeks ago in an interview that F1 would remain based on a free to air model. But circumstances have made him change tack in order to keep the value high.

As I’ve posted here before it’s been inevitable that at some point the UK F1 fan was going to have to pay for his/her pleasure like football fans have been doing for over 20 years on SKY. Williams’ boss Adam Parr, who is reserving judgement on the deal said to me this morning that the balance between revenue and audience reach needs to be right and that, “Nobody asks ‘Where can I see football on TV in the UK?'”

And as with SKY’s investment in sports like football and cycling, F1 will inevitably get much wider coverage in the NewsCorp owned newspapers like the Times and the Sun.

However Whitmarsh has already questioned whether the deal aligns with the principles in the Concorde Agreement which have to do with Free to Air TV. Ecclestone argues that this deal extends the level of coverage of F1 in the UK, Whitmarsh says that the teams want to know the details of how it will work and whether their safeguards under the Concorde Agreement have been protected before giving a detailed response.

Many fans will be unhappy at the idea of having to pay Rupert Murdoch, one of the main shareholders in SKY and its driving force, in order to watch F1, especially in the current climate with all the goings on at the News of the World.

This is a typically bold deal by Murdoch and a strong forward move in the teeth of adversity. To me it feels like it’s been coming for some time. F1 fans will provide new cashflows to the Sky coffers, in a business which always needs to generate new lifeblood.

Who knows, Murdoch may even have personally had a hand in the deal, popping in to see Ecclestone while he was in London appearing in front of the Parliamentary Select Committee last week!

Major sponsors I have spoken this morning have mixed feelings; on the one hand they are concerned that the mass audience will inevitably fall in size, but on the other hand they have more opportunity to activate their sponsorship on Sky as it is a commercial station. And their return on investment from F1 is so much greater than the spend in any case that it is not going to fall in value below what they spend, even with the shrinking of audience.

Foreign broadcast colleagues have already resigned themselves to their own networks looking at this deal and seeing a way forwards for the future. Who said the revolution will not be televised?

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The biggest disaster to hit F1in a generation!

Remember the show of hands at the last FOTA Fans Forum - I rest my case.

Would the last armchair fan to leave the room pul the plug out.


I like millions of loyal F1 fans feel cheated by what seems a sly and backhanded deal by the two biggest weasels in the business, yes thats you Murdock and ecclestone !

they say the audience is around 6.7 million people and it costs 8 million to produce. so it´s not rocket science, if all the fans send the BBC 2 pounds each they will have more than enough to carry on.

Thats cheaper than 40 pounds a month to SKY !!

all the fans are mear plebs in all this but don´t give in to dictatorship TV !!


Total anger i've watched every race race for 28 years, this is wrong. I shall be contacting the bbc to tell them i will pay half my license fee! Letters being prepared for FOTA FOM & FIA!


F1 is long overdue a fans association. What is happening now is an absolute disgrace.

F1 must remain free to air for all live races in the UK, more so than any other country, simple due to what it owes the British UK fanbase and motorsport market.

If you kill FTA in the UK, you kill not only F1 but much of world motorsport that eminates from the UK.

Fans have been overlooked for way to long and it is time something is done about it.

Yes, F1 needs to modernise. But the current system is fatally flawed because the entire rights (TV, internet and everything else) are sold in one batch to a sole broadcaster who is then free to make whatever other else deals they want to.

Why can't F1 be like other forms of motorsport such as Moto GP and Nascar? Those who want access to premium services can get them? Plus you don't have broadcasters being held to ransom by a promoter who "inherited" the sport.

It's a total joke and this deal must be stopped and, frankly, this is only the beginning. Stakeholders need to consider the fans.

If this deal goes through, I predict that the manufacturers may well break away at the expiry of the current Concorde Agreement when they see the vitriol and reaction from UK fans, both casual and dedicated.

Social media has changed the world in the last couple of years and your help CAN make a difference. If you agree with what I say, if you want to ensure that F1 remains on FTA then please make yourself heard here:



The smart way to do this - as with the Murdoch/Newscorp News of the World scandal - is to hit the advertisers.

I, along with many people I know, independently emailed the sponsors and advertisers at the News of the World, and it was brought down as advertisers quickly removed their products from its pages.

This situation is no different. Look at the rear wings, the front wings, the driver's lapels - anywhere you see a sponsor - email them your disgust at Bernie Ecclestone's decision to farm F1 out to Sky, and inform them that you will no longer be interested in any of their products.

How much do you love F1? Worth the price of a few emails?


Definatley hit ecclestomer in the one place he still has feeling. How do we ensure that the sponsors get the message loud and clear. I will do just than and e-mail them. what we need is a list of email address to send messages to.


couldnt agree more. I am not sure if I will continue to follow f1 on the bbc but I certainly sure that I wont pay a penny to sky.


Surely there must be a better solution. If the BBC were to cut the pre-race fluff and post race analysis, take the standard definition world feed for the video and commentary from the Radio 5 Live guys (that're going to be there anyway) then they could cover all the races on the cheap.

Sky could then position themselves as the premiere method for viewing F1: they'd have exclusivity on HD, 3D, pre and post race analysis and buildup, and higher production values for the race coverage.

This way Sky could still rake in the cash from those willing to pay for those extras, the races are still free to view for those unable or unwilling to pay, the audience numbers remain the same or better, and the BBC don't have the same extortionate TV rights payments to make to Bernie as it can split them with Sky.


I agree Chris. I switched from BBC HD to the red button (non-HD) so I can listen to Ant & Dave anyway..Brundle & Coulthard isn't working out for me at all.

I don't mind losing the forum, pre-qualifying and pre-race show or even if Jake and the team are in a studio if it means it stays free! They can fly Ted and Lee to cover the pitlane and the paddock.

Having said that, I fear they probably came up with this proposal already and concluded that not enough money will be saved... 🙁


I'm so angry. I'm angry with Ecclestone, who seems so destructive with his pricing policy. To lose one broadcaster (ITV) because the cost are too great is clumsy. To lose another one for the same reason looks incompetent. I'm angry with FOTA for not ensuring this didn't happen (I thought they said they were on the fans' side). I'm angry with the BBC who demand a higher licence fee for less and less. And I'm angry with Rupert Murdoch for all sorts of reasons.

I love watching Formula 1. I look forward so much to the race weekends, it's kind of irrational. But I can't afford to pay £40 a month to watch it. I don't mean that in a grandstanding way, I mean I literally can't afford £40 a month. Especially when I'm not that interested in the rest of Sky's output - if half the races are on the BBC, that means it's effectively £40 a race on Sky. Even if I didn't have a problem with giving my money to Rupert Murdoch (which I do), I wouldn't be able to pay.

So because I'm not a high earner I can't watch my favourite sport. I accept that I don't have an inalienable right to watch F1, but I still feel like something has been stolen from me, from us. The shame is that all fans instinctively want others to be interested in the sport. Just like the 'convert a sceptic using the Senna film' on this site, part of being is fan is a kind of evangelical impulse to spread the sport. This season the unprecedented excitement of the races has probably attracted hundreds of thousands of new fans. Now millions will be lost at a stroke.

I predict the BBC will pull out of their part of the deal after a couple of years anyway, because the money they spend will make even less sense under this agreement. Their viewing figures will decline as they lose the hardcore fans (with money) to Sky, even for the events they show. The casual BBC viewer isn't going to get hooked into a season if they miss half the races. Highlights are worthless if you already know the result, and it's very difficult to avoid hearing it on the news, internet, or radio.

F1 will become a small minority sport on subscription TV.

I'm so angry.


This solution gets the BBC out of its ‘Antiques Roadshow’ conundrum. You can bet the races they will not show will include the Canadian, US and Brazilian. All those races cause them all manner of problems with scheduling.

Sad but true and at least for the moment we can watch some of the races on free to air.

By 2018 at the rate online systems are evolving there may be some entirely new system/template for F1 coverage and the only thing you can be fairly sure of is that it is going to cost you money.


actually, according to the Concorde Agreement, you do have an inalieble right to watch F1 on Free-to-Air TV, unless they've decided between Bernie and Murdoch that the UK is no longer one of the major markets, and given that the majority of teams and tech suppliers are based in the UK, that would be nonsense!


The BBC is an absolute mess, as it cannot afford to continue on. In March, the channel came to the US for a grant, which came after a 72m budget cut and 650 layoffs. The year prior they asked for and received a $320m loan from the EU.

If a channel cannot afford to live without commercials, it shouldn't be supported through taxpayer funding.

But I'm an American, so ...


I agree.

The answer...

Put everyone on the same playing field.

BBC tax payer funded

ITV advert funded

SKY adverts and subsciption funded.

Other stations do not stand chance against Sky with this eneven and unfair source of income that Sky has.

ITV should have a pay per view channel, then they could compete.


I agree - I was at the Fans Forum and the opinion on this matter was very clear.

No-one wants this kind of deal except fools like Parr. It brings nothing good to F1, just to under-preforming teams like Williams who could use the little extra money Sky might give them.

This is indeed a disaster for F1 in the UK. I refuse to pay any more for Sky Sports, and I refuse to watch just half a season on the BBC - so my options are very limited; I think Brazil in November 2011 will be the last F1 race I watch on TV.


I agree. Brazil 2011 will be the last F1 I watch as I can not be part engaged in anything and will not pay for sky just to watch 1/2 the races. I how the sponsors and drivers realise the loss of their value and fame and do soemthing to stop this. Who know who the Heavy weight campo is now that boxing is not of Free to air?My children will be very sad but my wife will cheer at the thought of getting her family back on saturdays and sundays in F1 season = noone wins! I'll definately deliberatly boycott all FI sponsors if they don't do something about Ecclestone and his greed.


My thoughts exactly Adrian.

So after more than 30 years of following F1, this will be my final season.

But look on the bright side:

I won't be renewing my Vodaphone contract.

I can look to changing my bank from Santander.

My next PC doesn't have to be HP...


Everyone, how about firing off a constructive email to FOTA if you wish to register your dissafection?


FOTA are the only people who stand a chance of stopping this now.


I just sent this to FOTA:

"Dear FOTA

Please give consideration to actively blocking or denying your support of the recently announced deal between the BBC and SKY concerning the coverage of Formula 1 in the UK from next season.

F1 is an elite sport but it only thrives through support of the average sports fan - via free to air TV. Moving the coverage to a hybrid arrangement will not only see vastly diminished viewing figures for those races not broadcast free to air, but also a vastly diminished support for the sport in the UK generally. It will just be something else to be broadcast by SKY alongside other high profile sporting events - and it will not be given the support from that broadcaster that F1 currently receives from the BBC.

Furthermore, in the long term, I can foresee that eventually all free to air broadcasting of races in the UK will cease, possibly with the exception of Silverstone and Monaco. That is an obvious result of the 'privatisation' (as I call it) of the sport by moving it to a pay platform.

Cut off the lifeblood and you cut off the life...

Please think carefully!"

Not sure it will actually make any difference but if enough of us do it then it may make them think twice about their response..


I've been watching F1 for 25 years now missing only a handful of races. In that time the UK TV coverage has constantly improved until the current situation where the BBC is doing a fantastic job. In conjunction with excellent websites like this one I, as an F1 fan, have never had it so good.

I don't watch any other sports. In fact I don't watch much TV other than F1. Life is too busy with other things for that. So, I've never been interested in getting cable or satellite TV. Looking this morning at the cost to watch F1 on Sky it looks like it would be very expensive - not just the cost of the channel but also the cost of the basic subscription. Bernie, we don't all have your millions. I know nothing in life is free but my current feeling is that I'll prioritise spending my money on my family rather than to watch F1. It'll also give me more free time. I would have considered a single fee per race but the price of a basic and channel subscription just to watch F1 is too much. Sure, half the races will still be live with full coverage on the BBC but to be honest if I'm not able to watch all the races in full, live or delayed, then I think my interest in F1 will wane which is sad as F1 has been quite a big part of my life so far. So the BBC are going to show races such as Silverstone, Monaco and the last race. But what if the title decider is not the last race? So, I watch half the races but it's 50/50 that I will see the winner? Come back ITV and your advert breaks, all is forgiven! This reminds me of how as a kid I loved football. I regularly watched games on TV on Saturday afternoons. But now? The only football I watch now are England games when they're in the world cup or something, but other than that I don't watch football any more - and don't have much interest in it - as its all on pay TV. Now its happening to F1... 🙁

A sad day, but life moves on I guess...


If I pay 45m per year for TV rights, I want to make a profit on it. From subscriptions, or from ads. That's the reality.

For Canada it's been on a paid channel for years. I cancelled it recently, and watch the 4 or 5 races free on Fox beamed from US. The rest - I hit the gym and work the treadmill while watching the race. I'd rather get a two-for-one gym/F1 routine than just pay $60 a month to watch F1.

I guess in the UK it's a disaster to have it on pay TV. Like many businesses - they want to hook you free and then make you pay for it.


How typical of F1 to arrogantly (not believing that it s fans are intelligent or morally grounded enough to object) link itself to an organisation which is further linked to one of the largest, most deep-rooted and morally disgusting press scandals in history. Only yesterday, it emerged that a company linked to the Murdochs (News of The World) stands accused (but not yet proven) of, among other things, hacking the phones of the parents of murdered children. I have always despised SKY TV and everything it stands for and since the News of The World scandals I would literally sooner burn my money than hand it over to the owners of NewsCorp and Sky.

The BBC is not blameless either having taken the cowards way out of the deal, thinking it can hold its hands up and say ‘but we are still showing F1 and therefore international sport’. How dare it be claimed that this deal is “aimed at increasing choice, innovation and breadth of coverage to UK fans”? How unbelievably stupid do they think people are? How insulting!

Furthermore, how the hell will the likes of Whitmarsh who said that F1 would remain free to air justify this one? With a load of sycophantic BS that’s how. Let us be clear here, FROM 2012 A FULL F1 SEASON WILL NO LONGER BE LIVE FREE TO AIR, LESS THAN 50% WILL BE FREE TO AIR (including all the other sessions). What a bunch of sycophantic BS from Whitmarsh and Parr this morning. Only a month ago they were saying that F1 had to remain free to air – which now more than 50% IS NOT from 2012. These two will see a few zeros from SKY and all of sudden their objections and worries for the fans will vanish. Greedy, hypocritical, arrogant……

Moving on to the way Sky will inevitably cover F1…. They will no doubt use a couple of pretty blonde presenters who know more about the makeup industry than they do about F1, its legacy and history. Headache inducing high contrast blocky text will scroll across the bottom of the screen between endless adverts while the presenters prattle on about SOS (super overtake systems like DRS) and speculate on how brilliant it would be to see a few more crashes. Horrendous psychedelic graphics will illustrate inane points and answers to questions that no-one asked. Above all it will be patronising, my friends, oh yes prepare to be patronised for your £50 per month. No doubt they will do what they do with other sports and start shuffling it across all their sports channels so you will have to buy ALL Sky Sports channels to watch F1.

If this news is enough to switch me off of F1, someone who has adored the sport since my early teens in the early 90’s, I know I will not be, cannot be the only one. There is no point me following half a season is there? If I cannot have the full F1 experience then I certainly do not want some watered down highlight version of it.

Lastly, where will the future FANS in the UK come from? There will be a fraction of the chance that children ill be exposed to F1 from an early age… Would we have had Lewis Hamilton if this deal had been in place 20 years ago? Would his working class family have been able to afford SKY TV? Would Lewis have been exposed to motor sport? I literally shudder to think.


Brilliant post, couldn't agree more. I'm really angry about this and to hear Whitmarsh and Ecclestone spouting things like "it will increase coverage" is just insulting and rubbing salt in the wounds. What utter garbage, how can it increase coverage when every Sky subscriber already has access to BBC? How stupid do these people think we are?

And greedy BE has proved what we already knew with his comments about how he would prefer the BBC to show a one hour highlights show rather than the whole unedited race. He is only interested in money, nothing else. If he cared about the fans he would want an unedited race, not highlights. Do they REALLY think all this is going to keep hardcore fans happy? Who the hell are they trying to kid?

All this BS about keeping it on free to air tv, well they soon changed their tune when they saw the money being waved under their noses! Well they also have a lot to lose and I hope this comes back to bite them, and I hope it hurts.

Sky will never get a penny out of me. I truly can't afford it and wouldn't pay for it even if I could. I'm disgusted with the whole thing and the two faced people involved in it.


Very sad day. Reading through these comments, i share similar feelings to a lot of the people here.

I'm normally not this vocal about things but I felt so strongly I started a blog today with my personal view about this. Been busing all day writing it. Please read at http://f1ontheedge.wordpress.com

James, hope you don't mind me putting that link in. I've linked to this article from my blog post. Thanks


I can't agree more with both the content and sentiment. This sounds like a disaster about to happen.

Its time for the teams and their spoinsors to stand up to Bernie and tell him to get a deal done with the BBC.

If Sky want to show F1 in the UK instead of screwing with the best coverage of F1 in the world, why don't they just buy the feed from the BBC and show it AS WELL as the BBC. That way they get all the races, the viewers decide which coverage they want to watch and the sponsores can decide where to place their marketing spend.


You cannot be more correct.


Then of course there is SKY news. I never watch it personally because it reports opinion and not fact unlike BBC News 24 which is consistently brilliant. Yesterday I walked into a public room where it was on and it's reporters were harassing people as they went down to the lakeside in Norway to put flowers before a shine to the madness that recently happened there. Honestly the banal clichés and sickening drivel the anchor and reporter were spouting in a transparent attempt to manipulate the emotions of their viewers was enough to put me off my lunch.

This sort of over the top 'Americana' type reporting and commentating is what those people that pay £50 a month for 8 F1 races have to look forward to. Sorry to our American cousins, I routinely talk with many of your countrymen and know many of you too cannot stand some mainstream American media (Fox anyone? - another of Murdoch's).


So, Wayne, you watch BBC News 24 because it's consistently brilliant. And unbiased, would you say?

Do you read The Guardian, perchance?


well said ,i think this will be my lAST SEASON,i cant afford sky and cant understand how pay per view can reach more people than free to air. this is the death of f1,,,,so sad


If you had taken the time to read the various reports, you would of known that the teams didn't know about this until the announcement was made. So, Whitmarsh & Co. are blameless for this.

By-the-way, I am not impressed with this either, to borrow the quote from Mr Brundle.


I did read ALL the reports which is exactly why I knew what Whitmarsh and Parr have ALREADY said.


James in my unbridled fury I forgot to thank you for by far the most informative, comprehensive and insightful article available in the Uk on this subject.

James Scantlebury

All true - but doesn't stop me thinking that Bernie (again) ignores the fans for his own (financial) gain.

What's the % of fans at the FOTA forum that would not/could not get Sky, whether on principle, cost or location?


The BBC needs to understand that 1/2 a season is nothing. Literally nothing to dedicated F1 fans for whom, generally, watching 1/2 a season would actually be worse than no season at all as there is no weay to feel part of the whole sport as it travels the globe. I was actually coming round to Bernie of late - what an isiot I was not to trust my initial instincts about the man.


Hi James,

Whilst I'm disappointed by the move to Sky, there is at least one positive; they have already confirmed that there won't be any adverts during any session.


Until 2018 at which point Murdoch will have taken over all of F1 and will own it lock-stock and barrel. At whihc point he will flodd the thing with adverts because you'll literally have no choice but to put up with it. Think this news is bad - wait and see what happens in 2018 my friends!


Exactly, of course he will. This is him just getting his foot in the door, once he is in that's it. He will own it and do what he wants with it, and it will cost you more and more to watch it. Well not me, not a chance, after 30+ years I'll walk away from it.


Not happy. Being a student, I live at home for most of the summer where we have Sky. Here, I would've been happy to pay half of the increase to get Sky Sports.

However, at University there's no way I can afford to pay for a Sky box, Sky subscription and Sky Sports package.

Really not impressed by this.


we all know that f1 is run by the rich but now it will only be watched by the rich. I refuse to pay a penny to sky.


You can watch all the sky channels online while at uni using your home subscription, that's what I've been doing for football and it works great!


To counter Adam Parr's point, I've been a football fan for 25 years, and my team was in the Premier League for 13 of those, but I've never bought Sky Sports. Just because you know where it is, doesn't mean you pay for it.


I couldn't agree more. I'm a football fan and have been season ticket holder for many a year until about 5 years ago. The money from Sky TV has ruined the game in my opinion and Sky treat the real fan with disdain, by chopping and changing scheduled games to suit the arm chair fan. A very bleak future for F1.


i like many people, will never pay sky their high sports package subscrition fees to watch perhaps for two weekends a month, maybe more, maybe less depending on the season schedule, its a terrible day for f1 fans in this country


Sky have already confirmed there will be no adverts during the Race, so at least one benefit from this as if it ended up at channel 4 they would have.


...but it would have been free on channel4!

Rubbish logic.

Take it you already line Murdoch's pockets with at least £50 a month then?


Would prefer it if they had adverts and showed it for free on Sky 3 which should be available for most people.


No necessarily a benefit over C4 as there are other (less intrusive) ways to add advertising during a session that C4 *may* have go for had they got coverage


Sadly this mean i for one will not be folling f1 in the future, ill watch what i can live on the bbc but that will be it, i like many others cannot afford to go down the sky route....sad times

Chris of Adelaide

Hi James.

Any word on how this will affect the broadcast in Australia?, as the feed we get is from the BBC.

I am a HUGE F1 fan, been following the sport from 8 years old when I attended my first race on the streets of Adelaide in 1995. Since then I have watched every single race. I can not afford the money to watch this sport I have fallen in love with.

Im not happy with this move @ all.


ONE HD will decide which commentary to buy.


But would Sky sell to ONE? Wouldn't they instead direct us to our Australian Murdoch owned pay TV provider FOXTEL which has SKY on it?


The laws in Australia are very clear, they need to be on free to air. Laclan Murdoch own a share of channal 10 and One, infact he is the chairman of the board. So it will go to foxtel.


Hi James, Sky Sports have stated that the race would not feature any adverts at all.

Apart from that, this could be the beginning of the end for F1 in the UK.

What a ham fisted "deal" too.


The British GP was 'supposed' to go to Donnington but no-one ever really believed that and now we have a long term deal with Silverstone getting upgrades.

This move to Sky will not happen (not to a Sky subscription service anyway). Its suicidal for F1 in the UK and everyone knows it, feels like a typical Bernie shake down to me.

"With these (viewing) figures, it would be almost impossible for teams to find sponsors. That would be suicidal.” Bernie in May 2011

Also, the BBC would effectively be subsidising Sky! You would need a Sky subscription to watch the entire season but the BBC are saving them money on the rights. Seems to crazy.


Totally agree with you Ian. It's not a done deal (hopefully). The decision re Bahrain was also reversed after the out cry from the public and teams.

Good point re sponsors. One of the reasons they pay so much is because of the huge viewing audience which will surely drop if this policy becomes fact. Will the sponsors pay as much for a much diminished audience? Will lower viewing numbers translate to lower attendance at the races?


Bernie has sunk to a new low and shown that he just dosen't care about the fans at all. How can it be better coverage for the fans as he states when in this ecconmic climate most people can't justify spending an extra £40/50 a month to watch one F1 race (if the other is on BBC). How many more £100 million houses do his daughters need..........


I must agree. Bernie should be ashamed of himself. The guy is 80 years old. ..[mod].....I mean, does there not come a time in ones life that you do something because it's the 'right' thing to do? How much money and power does a man of his age need? He really screwed over the fans and the sport on this one.

I'm a student, who has followed F1 since 1997. It would really be beyond a strain for me to subscribe to Sky for F1. But that's not my main issue. I refuse to give any money to Newscorp and Murdoch. Flat out refuse. And that was before Hackgate came to light. But never moreso than now.

Leave it to Bernie and Rupert to announce such a deal the very day after it has been revealed that they were hacking the phones of the family of Sarah Payne. They are vultures. Nothing more. ...[mod]


and well done Mr Murdock you've just made yourself an even more hated man than you already are


Nice analysis. But it's over for me. Can't see the point in watching only half the races, and certainly can't afford the money that Sky wants for loads of other sport that I'd never watch.

Steve Wilkinson

Same for me and I've been watching F1 since the early 80's


I,too, can afford Sky. However, I would rather have no television than give any money to them. Many (many!) years ago F1 was not broadcast by the Beeb on tv or radio, and I took French lessons so I could listen on French radio. This shows how committed I am, but still no money will go from me to Sky.


I could afford a sky package but will not, I like my 5 terrestial channels and do not want to sit in front of a TV with hundreds of channels mostly c--p.

I guess its over for me too, shame.


I've had it being messed about with by Bernie, et al.

I'm not accepting this dilute literal 'half-measure' deal, and I'm certainly not giving a single penny, let alone hundreds of pounds a year of my income to Murdoch.

I wonder if Brundle will head over to SKY? He is in a real tough position, and I sympathise hugely with his position.

For me - I'm hanging up my F1 coat. I've had enough.

Thanks for the 20-odd years of thrills and excitement.

C'est la vie.


I hope Martin Bundle stands by his principles and tells us what he really thinks of all this tomorrow and Sunday. I think we true fans know what he thinks of it.

I really hope MB doesn't sell out and do a deal with Sky - I can't imagine he would, as I've been a fan of Brundle since the F3 and Senna days, and I can't believe that someone as principled as he is would do something to condone what is so blatantly wrong for F1 in the UK.

If his honest opinions lead to him being fired by the BBC, then so what? He won't be missing out on much if that's the way the BBC view the subject of F1; it will be a poor substitute next year whatever, and maybe it's time for someone like him to stand up for the average fans like us.

If I was MB I think I would make it my goal to BE fired by the BBC this weekend!!



Martin Brundle, unlike Bernie and Murdoch, has principles - i met him once, briefly a few years ago, and was struck by how kind he was to us fans, there is NO WAY he would do us all the disservice of not completing this season in the commentary box, regardless of his feelings about this - and we all agree with his feelings.


I don't see any way that this cannot lead to a huge fall in the number of people watching F1. I'm not questioning the quality of the coverage Sky will give to the races - from what I have heard from friends about their sports coverage it appears to be very good, but how many people have a Sky Sports subscription?

I certainly don't and I just went onto Sky's website to see what it would cost me to be able to watch the races. To get Sky Sports in HD costs just under £50 a month. Sorry, but that's out of my price range.

I don't understand the logic behind showing half the races on the BBC either. Show them all or show none at all - who wants to watch half a season of something. Would they screen half the Wimbledon matches or half of the races at the olympics? If I can only watch 50% of the races, I'm sorry but my interest is going to drop. I can see myself watching it if I am doing nothing else on a Saturday or Sunday, but I doubt I will make much effort to watch 50% of a season and I also doubt I am alone.


Spot on.

I'd rather BBC dumped F1 altogether. Then Bernie would be forced by the concorde agreement to find another free-to-air alternative.

I already have a basic Sky package but I'm not paying another £20 a month for the one race that month I can't watch on the BBC.


No surprise that the boss of the team that has floated on the stock exchange is all in favour of it.

We know F1 is expensive Mr Parr but you've managed so far, so don't go telling me I have to pay £600 a year just to keep the sport going, its just about making profits to keep shareholders happy.

I wouldn't mind paying a reasonable amount to view quality unninterupted F1 coverage like the BBC has given us but not giving a penny to the immoral Murdochs and getting poorer coverage and adverts thrown in for good measure.


you do pay a reasonable amount - its the license fee!


That, and the sponsors pay the team based on how much exposure they expect to get. That is after all why the concorde commits to free to air. Less viewers = less eager sponsors.


Very disappointed with the "deal".

Offers very poor value for money: £40 a month for 2 races. or £480 for 19/20 races = £24 a race?

Football on Sky Sports is far better value for money with several games per week let alone per month!


This needs to be highlighted to the teams and that idiot Parr. I'm sure Ecclestone/SKY/CVC will argue it's a lot less because of the number of remaining free to view races on the BBC, but we cannot pick and choose which months/races we subscribe to, so the only way which makes subscribing "affordable" is to take out a 12 month package. That's certainly what I've calculated with my current provider, Virgin Media.

If there was a more reasonable Pay Per View Option of between £5 and £10 per month, I'd be interested, but there is no chance I'll be paying an additional £22.50 to get the Sky Sports channels.

There is also a morality angle here too. I've stopped buy (a long time ago) News Corp. newspapers, so will I pay for News Corp/BSKYB channels? Probably not.

I'll watch the free races and probably see what options there are for viewing foreign channels.


Worse than that, 10 races will be Free on BBC, so it's £48 a race, it would be cheaper to put them on pay-per-view!

Adam Etherington

Great article, thanks a lot for this information. I hope Ant and David get the Sky commentator role, and the BBC coverage remains exactly the same with the forum, practice coverage and everything. That is the only way I think I can be satisfied - I have Sky, but my worries are F1 will die out into just another motor sport, with the dying audience that will follow from this decision.

Thanks, Adam.


Absolutely gutted about this. Not missed a race since Monoco 1996, even got up early on my wedding night to watch the Chinese GP.

To pay to watch the coveage on Sky I would need to cancel the family holiday - I can't do that to my kids. £500 a year, and that's just for standard definition. And I have the same respect for the "half of races on BBC" as I do for a drug dealer giving away his stuff just to get people hooked.

Bernie has completely lost it if he thinks F1 can afford to lose millions of extremely dedicated followers.

Absolutely gutted.

RIP Formula 1 1950-2011


James, as soon as I heard the news I was straight to your site, what does that say about the quality of your writing! Thanks for the info. Feeling rather annoyed at Bernie more than anything. His comments of 'loosing free to air for F1 would be suicide' (made in March this year) now seem rather stupid.


i did the same when i heard! Had to hear what James thought and knew


Just to add, heard the news. Checked on the BBC Sport website then straight to here.

PS, agree with Wayne above. Doesn't feel right this "deal"


+1 as well.

Thanks for getting right into the action James, and also for softening the blow in your earlier articles.

"Enjoy it while you can."




Not sure i understand the comment about Murdoch and BSB? i thought they didnt buy it in the end - why then would we be upset at having to pay him if he doesn't own BSB?


Murdoch is the majority shareholder. He is also the owner of NewsCorp a newspaper that has allegedly hacked into the phones of the parents of murdered children, bribed police and royal protection officers and spied on just about everyone imaginable.


Perhaps News Corp can teach Bernie a thing or two about bribery, so he doesn't get caught with his pants down next time he does a Gribkowsky? How on earth can the German prosecutors be so naive as to take Ecclestone at face value - we did over free-to-air, and look what happened. The BBC is so wet they should be wrung out. If there are 10m viewers per race we'd have been far better off forming a company, raising £40m a year or whatever [£4 each..], paying the Beeb's TV rights bill for them, and subcontracting them to run the broadcasting.


He owns a fair portion of it and his son runs it. Its not News Corp but its still completely tainted by the Murdochs.

Perfect fit for Bernie though teaming up with more people who forget morals where theres a buck to be made.


He's the driving force behind it in any case. He just doesn't own 100%...yet


F1 won't always be on Sky Sports 1 as it would clash with EPL football - I can't see Sky moving the footy so F1 will slip onto SS2. So it's acutally £50 per month. That's £600 per year to watch 10 races! As I don't already have (and don't want) Sky I would effectively be paying £60 pay per view for each race. It's not on. I really hope the sponsors kick off big time, but even then I can't see Bernie changing his mind. Gutted.


SKYs money has pretty much bought them control of the football scheduling, so I can't imagine they'd ever clash a big game with the F1.

It's cricket that will casue problems, it's on SS1 all day at the moment.


F1 has sold its soul to Rupert Murdoch.

I'm sorely disappointed with with this decision. I don't watch enough other sport to justify a Sky sub, and though I might have begrudgingly bitten the bullet for all the races I won't be paying £50 per month (or whatever it is) for half.

I'll wind up watching half as many races, no-ones happy with this, surely? Except perhaps for Bernie, Murdoch, and my wife.


I’m absolutely disgusted with this news and will not be forking out £600+ a year to Murdoch to basically watch 10 races (the other 10 being free on the beeb). I feel wholly betrayed by the sport which I have stood by and continued to watch through an array of scandals such as Spygate, Crashgate, breakaways threats etc. It looks like nice Sunday afternoons in front on the TV will be replaced with afternoons on the computer attempting to find some sort of free stream of the sky, or foreign broadcaster, coverage. Massive, massive mistake from Bernie.


I have refused to pay Murdoch a single penny to watch TV in the UK and I will continue to refuse! Shame on the BBC for cutting this deal.

No doubt some F1 fans will sign up to Sky and for a time Ecclestone will feel vindicated in the decision to allow F1 to transfer to Pay to View TV. In the longer term, TV viewing figures will fall and with overall interest in F1.

Why not invite ITV or another free to air channel to bid for the contract?


ITV has nowhere near the money required.

Grabbing Ecclestone will not reduce his charges fo TV & other rights, Murdoch will not reduce the cost of receiving his packages & forces you to have other things that people scarceley watch, even though SKY are really scratching fo subscrbers now.

Men like Ecclestone & Murdoch want to control us & almost openly sneer at people who have not big earning potential.

After the awful revelations of what goes on in the Murdoch empire, it seems possible that he may have to cease operating in the UK before too long.


They don't want to, clearly


The article says that ITV is out of the running. To appease FOTA under the Concorde Agreement, Channel 4 might have been the only option for Ecclestone had BBC done the honourable thing and walked away if it could not no longer afford to show all races.


No surprise - the leaks over the last few weeks have clearly been paving the way to this announcement. I hope sky offer a F1 only package because I am not paying £40 a month! At least we will still get 50% for free.



i would consider myself a pretty hardcore fan, basically schedule my weekend round f1 when its on and there is not a chance i am signing up to murdochs sky

half a season it is for me then, i can see more nefarious means of watching a full race gaining traction online


Firstly this deal won't extend coverage of the sport because inevitably some fans will refuse to pay to watch it.

On that question of paying then of course it has to be remembered we are paying for it already on the BBC via the licence fee.

Personally I think Bernie has lost the plot completely on this one. Perhaps it's time for him to go.


"Many fans will be unhappy at the idea of having to pay Rupert Murdoch in order to watch F1, especially in the current climate with all the goings on at the News of the World"

That is vastly underestimating it, you only have to look at the forums and postings to other blogs to see that fans will refuse to pay. This will mean the audience will go down and fans will drift off to other free to air sports such as the hugely successfull BTCC on ITV4.

The BBC has betrayed the ordinary F1 fan. Not many will fork out the significant cost to subscribe to Sky, I know I won't as it is a) too expensive and b) it is part owned by the Murdochs, News of the World scandals aside!


Indeed. And if the hard-core fans who post on F1 forums aren't willing to pay, the more casual viewer certainly won't either.


Well after 20 years watching every race, even when abroad travelling, I'll no longer be able to. I don't have Sky and I refuse to get it simply to watch one thing a week. The BBC show themselves to be a bunch of narrow minded idiots more willing to spend money on trash TV than quality. I don't watch much TV these days as I just don't have the time so to spend a load of money to Murdoch for the privelidge is just not going to happen. Even more so considering the sick operations of his other investments. My only reprieve would be if the BBC showed the races online, fully, highlights just do not offer the same immersion. I stopped watching football years ago because of the limitation of highlights. Thank god David Croft and Antony Davidson will still be on air, best bit of the weekend those two!

Does this mean that people will be able to watch the full footage abroad, complete with the british commentary as now, but whereas we would have to pay, they would get it for free? It's not even like I can just go down to the pub to watch the races as the football will always be shown ahead of a Grand Prix, whilst summer might offer a reprieve it wouldn't be much when the Euro's or World Cup took up a lot of the summer, matches played in the exact same time slot.

James, as journalist and a former broadcaster (should be current!) who saw the transistion from BBC to ITV and back again, what do you think is going to happen to the viewing figures? Sudden large drop, gradual decline or remain the same for the next couple of years? Surely not rising!


mate just watch it on one.com.au, commercial breaks but live and free.


Hi Alex,

Do you know if this works in the UK?


I've given a back of the envelope estimate in the piece. I think there will be a lot of unhappiness among fans and some teams and sponsors over this. As many fans point out, they'll have to spend £40 a month to watch two races (only 1 in March and August)


Apologies, I wasn't very clear. I was asking more of the way audience figures have varied in past switches of broadcaster, between BBC and ITV. How did viewing figures change? Just wondering of a base level to consider without the exaggeration of the pay per view factor.

Good points made about the costs of subscription being for a maximum of two races a month, but if BBC showing half the races that surely means only one a month, or none if BBC show a block of races consecutively. March and August could have none if BBC shows either of those on free to air and it still leaves December, January and February without any. Admittedly if you already have Sky you're on a winner but personally I just can't justify the cost as I don't watch enough TV. I can understand some sponsors seeing a benefit from advertising but from the teams perspective it doesn't help the sport grow its fanbase and widen its audience as it has been doing over the last few years.


That £40 month to watch/use all the sports/programs and features on Sky including test match Cricket, Football, Golf Sky+ etc.

There must also be a number of fans that already subscribe to Sky.

Also from the end of December 2012 when current Concorde agreement is due to expire what has FOM sold to Sky and the BBC?

After this date F1 as we know it might have its own new commercial promoter and TV deal to sell.


And none in December, January, February and March if a 12 month contract is required.


It won't be to watch two races, it'll be to watch 1 extra race, as the other will already be on BBC.


If they share the coverage, wil the BBC show the start or end of the races?


BBC will only show half of the events in full and none of the other half (except online highlights), not half of each race, if that's what you're suggesting.


It may be televised James, but you've got to pay an additional £20 a month to watch it. £30 if you want to watch it in HD.

It's a shocking situation.


James, your post is very sad. You state is it inevitable... you say it's been coming for a long time... you compare F1 to football.

The point is, this was not inevitable. motorsport is the real national sport of the UK, and a major contributor to the economy. The BBC has a duty to show F1 for these reasons alone.

This deal is a retrograde step for everyone but Sky. The fans lose out, F1 loses out, the BBC loses out, sky wins. I will not be paying £40 per race watch F1... I don't think many others will. The Sky coverage will be more expensive than the BBCs was, and of lower quality.

It's strange to note that I would happily pay a fee per race for the BBC coverage, but not for the Sky coverage.


I'm with you on that. I'd pay a BBC top up fee for F1, but Sky aren't getting a penny more out of me, I already pay them £42 a month on top of my BBC licence fee. I am not prepared to increase that.

I've followed F1 closely for nearly twenty years now. Sadly, this will not be the case at the end of this season.


It's not a retrograde step for Bernie and CVC who will no doubt pocket untold millions from Sky.


I'm the same Michael. PPV from BBC, ITV or even Virgin Media at £10 a race I would class as reasonable but I will not touch Sky.


I agree!


I haven't missed a live GP in over 15 years. I always watch qualifying as well as the race. I won't get Sky Sports because I'm not interested in any of the other sports on that channel. So next year I will be forced to put up with half-arsed coverage from the BBC. Frankly, I think my days as an F1 fan are numbered. I wasn't looking forward to the crappy turbo-engines anyway...


What a very sad day for the F1 fan! Not only do we see the cost of living rising and wages stagnating or falling back, but we are now being told we will have to line the pockets of the Dirty Digger if we want to continue to watch our favourite sports. Sorry, I for one will find another sport to follow as I did when Rugby Union went to Sky (and Cricket, and Football....).

The teams don't care about the fans. Their interest lies in revenue and getting as much of it as possible. I wonder if they have considered that a shrinking viewing base will inevitably mean less interest in the sport from the general public, which in turn will mean a drop in merchandise revenue? Perhaps this is such a small revenue stream they won't be bothered.

Anyway, cheerio Lewis, Jenson, Rubens it was fun while it lasted....


I really don't think the teams/sponsors will be very happy to be honest. It's economic suicide. The reason the EPL has thrived is because of the reliance on TV money. It does feature in F1 but prizes and sponsorship is where the cream is at. The teams could structure a better deal with the broadcasters if they were in the driving seat. Where's Flavio when you need him....


this is a very sad day for f1 and uk viewers. the bbc coverage had gotten so good the audiences growing every race now overnight they will shrink to their lowest ever. i have followed f1 for 25 years but i will not pay for this on sky and will probably give up being a fan as watching a higlights programme long after the race has been run just doesnt cut it. bbc and ecclestone should be ashamed they let this drop to this standard

Nicholas Martin

Out of all the solutions the bbc could of done to save money this is there best one? I would rather they drop the forum, practice broadcasting cut some of the build up and broadcast the whole season instead of this farce.

I will not pay murdoch to watch f1 and i have no interest in only following half the races. So long f1 its been fun the last 15 years


As an F1 fan I can't just watch 50% of the races it doesn't make sense.

With audiences at a 10 year high the BBC should support the sport instead of this half arsed approach.

Part of F1 management commitment was that it should be shown on free to air TV.


And it's something we - the UK - are actually good at!


Excellent article, James. A lot of my friends, all early/mid-20s, are very angry about this. £600 a year for SkyHD is not something we can realistically pay.

Incidentally, do I understand (from Adam Cooper's Twitter feed) that you've ruled yourself out of consideration for the lead commentator role?


ah. i was waiting for this to be mentioned. I imagine Sky would reward you quite highly, James. The bottom line here, inescapably, is cash. BBC's lack of and Sky's abundance. It is sad and seems a somewhat half-arsed arrangement. Clearly Whitmarsh won't be pleased but there would need to a strong consensus in the teams to beat this down.


In Germany F1 is already shown on both FTA & Pay TV.

RTL show the races live FTA & Sky Deutschland show everything Live & interactive on Pay TV.

For Nurburgring in Germany 7.7m people watched RTL's coverage, Only 330,000 Watched on Sky Deutschland despite around 2.7m people subscribing to Sky.


Thanks Stef! Those are some VERY interesting figures. I don't think people realise how much this will hurt the sport. F1 will be playing second fiddle to the live football coverage. I don't expect them to show it live in pubs or bars either.


I for one will not be getting a Sky subscription, I will not add to their swelling pockets, after all I am paying £145.50 per yr to watch F1 and Top Gear, thats the extent of my BBC watching.... I have been a fan of F1 since around 1973, and followed the sport as a young boy. In my opinion, this deal when it comes to an end, will wedge out free to air completely, and become subscription based only, and F1 and myself will become estranged....It is a sad day, unless Sky plan to show it free to air as it was when it was shown on terrestial tv and also on eurosport....


I live in a (small) listed house, so can't have a sky dish. Also don't have a BT landline. What to do?

Do they still show races in some cinemas?


Presumably you've some sort of digital tv, or you won't be able to watch anything in a few months.

You can get sky sports on freeview http://www.digital-tv-advice.co.uk/tv-news/sky-sports-on-freeview/ hardly seems very cost efficient though!


I work on fixed-term contracts around the UK so I'm unable to subscribe to Sky or pay for fixed-line internet so I relate to your woe myself.

My advice? Pubs. Let's hope F1 becomes a draw so we can support the ale industry... 🙂


Unfortunately, if pubs wanted to show F1, they already would be - they have access to BBC. Football, rugby and other sports aren't going to disappear from Sky, and the pubs will largely continue following the demand they feel already exists.


This is a terrible shame. I refuse on principle to pay for Sky TV. I love F1 but I'm not going to pay £40 a month for it.

James, I read somewhere that the BBC will still be able to broadcast all the races online. Do you know if this is true or just idle/hopeful speculation?


Your last line Phil, could be the biggest topic out of all this with the BBC still able to stream the races online. With such a backlash towards watching the races on Sky, it could be a real alternate and many people thankfully have access to the net these days.

This is a sad day though and firstly for nostalgic reasons in that F1 has been broadcast on free to air for so long. Second in that the demand for more money and high fees is making the sport more and more out of reach of the everyday fans. High ticket prices at venues, traditonal locations forced to drop races or share because they themselves can not afford the fees. The balance between making money vs. the followers of the sport has tipped in the wrong driection.


BBC can only stream races they show on TV it appears


James, are you suggesting that BBC will stream every race live on their website? If so, that's pretty significant I think seeing as I have seen that stated no where.


No, that is not clear. BBC staff here at the race do not know the answer to that


From the BBC news item:

"Races screened by the BBC will be live on the BBC Sport website for UK users.

The BBC will have highlights on TV, online and mobile for any race it is not showing live, and all races will be broadcast on BBC Radio 5 live."


Yes I heard that is the case


Yes! I was just going to steal the sky ones online anyway. I'll pay my license, but the BBC are making a false saving here. They've got an award winning show, close to 10m viewers. That doesn't cost much per viewer, per race, compared to BBC3 or 4. Those channels could be merger because they only broadcast for half a day. Most people use PVR's, iPlayer etc, we don't need to LOOSE anything.


Do you mean broadcast all races live online on the BBC website or just showing them delayed?


Broadcast them live online?


No, the BBC website says "Races screened by the BBC will be live on the BBC Sport website for UK users."

So only races screened live will be live online.


Well, that is a relief. Although, if only half of the current viewers use this option (say 3 million, I wonder how reliable and smooth the internet connection will end up being?


If that's the case then it could make all the difference, but I suspect the UK internet backbones could melt under the strain of 5 million people simultaneously watching the same HD feed.


Hope so. I'm quite happy to watch it online.


James - I wanted to vote on your poll but could't find the right answer for my situation.

I have Sky (through Virgin) already, as I quite enjoy watching football. This means that I will likely watch F1 on Sky (no point watching half of it on Sky and half of it on BBC). But that does not mean I support this decision. I'm dead against it!

(Also, I have a bug with your website to report, regarding posting responses using Chrome. I frequently get told to slow down as I am posting too quickly, despite this being my first post in about a week!)

Presumably, F1 on Sky means a return to advert breaks, and it must be said the Sky presenters are typically all studio based, in their shiny suits, spouting cliches and such. Obviously we don't know the lineup yet for Sky, but I am not expecting a level of coverage that matches up to the BBC.


Press CTRL+F5 to re-cache the site, should fix it.

Agree with all the F1 points. Would be nice to see James back on the telly though as a sole plus point!


I get that bug in Chrome too


I too get this "slow down" message. I use Iron with is a Chrome derivative.

According to other posters, Sky have said, that they won't show adverts whilst the race is running.


Once again, Bernard E. lets the UK F1 fans down over 'MONEY'. This guy is unreal. Who wants to pay to watch F1, and on top of that pay to watch F1 riddled with adverts... Especially when we already pay a licence fee in the UK- which is compulsory (failure to pay the UK TV licence fee can lead to a jail sentence)

So- we pay the licence fee, AND we pay for the basic sky package/ box and dish, AND we pay for sky sports AND THEN have to pay extra for the HD feed... We will see what the numbers are in due course- that is if you believe the figures when they are released...

Truly this is the saddest day for F1 in the UK in living memory... perhaps even sadder than May 1st 1994. And I didn't think that was possible.


This is very sad news, i'll not be signing up to sky as i now boycott all newscorp products, one has to draw the line somewhere.

I can only really feel disappointed with the BBC, eastenders costs around £30m a year to produce lets hope they will also be halving the number of episodes this and the rest of the dull soaps.


I already have Sky, but I'm still disgusted with this. It shows contempt for fans and for any right-minded onlookers.

You can't blame the BBC - they can't afford what Ecclestone is charging. You can't blame Sky - it's a business decision for them.

It's Ecclestone (I wish people would stop referring to him as 'Bernie' as though he's a much-cherished mascot - he's not) who has made this happen, and for what? Certainly not for F1 fans. Certainly not for F1 teams.

It's a disgrace. An absolute disgrace.


for his spoiled daughters expensive tastes....


i can barely afford the £20 my phone costs me a month, and that's an absolute essential, certainly can't be splurging 40 quid on a Sky package just to watch F1.

sad day to be a British motorsport fan 🙁


A sad day. I don't normally post on here but I feel very strongly about this story.

I've been watching F1 since the 70s and is one of the main reasons I'm happy to pay the BBC license fee. However there's no way I'm going to pay BSB a penny. They already make far too much money charging ridiculous amounts for sport coverage. I also do not want anything to do with the Murdochs.

As for watching on the BBC, what's the point of watching half the races? You won't get the complete story and watching something when it's not live just doesn't work for me. The excitements not the same.

So that sadly is the end of F1 for me. On a positive note my wife will be happy if she no longer has to put up with F1...


I'm gutted ... while i do pay out considerable amount each month for basic TV channel package the extra £24/month for SkySports HD is just unjustifiable...

£270 a year to watch 10 races is just too much.

If there was something like a SeasonPass deal which was say £5 / race weekend in HD i might be able to justify it and do it on a pay-per-view model but i'm not subscribing to a trio of channels for a year a couple of hours every couple weeks....

Many football / rugby fans are comparing this situation to theirs but i can't see how it does ... football coverage requires broadcasters to setup their own film crews at countless stadiums and have outside broadcast units for all this for all the matches they cover a week plus internationals and other matches and now including 3D feeds and cameras....

F1 has its feeds supplied by FOM and just requires a production unit and presenters for 20 events in a year, granted not small costs but surely not on even a patch of Football costs.


Very well said. Agree completely.


I've just spent half a grand on a Freeview HD setup, more or less specifically to watch F1 in HD. The sickening thing is that if I want to carry on watching F1 in HD I will have to pay more than that per year for a subscription to Sky Sports HD. Not going to happen.


This will be a boon to piracy.....


Gutted for all the British fans, and extremely worried about the implications for overseas audiences. Having made so many leaps and bounds in previous years with excellent coverage, the wealth of data (team radio etc), the rise of quality journalism and its availability to fans, and the ability to follow live timing, this feels like a massive step backwards for fans of the sport. Having grown up with highlights, delayed coverage, and commercial breaks, I know how difficult it is to remain enthused about the sport when access to it is restricted or absent. Given the choice, I would choose to lose the enthusiasm than see any of my hard earned go to a corporation or person as loathsome as Murdoch. I can only hope I am not faced with that choice anytime soon.


How very sad

I already pay for Sky HD + movies + multiroom (61 quid a month) to get Sky Sports on top of this would add another 20.

Not going to do this as I have no interest in watching any other sports shown on sky.

I did notice on the sky web site you could just get Sky Sports 1 for an extra 7.50 a month - if Sky show all races on SS1 then I might do this.

At least the BBC will show highlights of the races it doesn't show live - this would be ok if they do this for the fly away races and show the European ones live.

Great article as always


This is a bad bad dicision for F1 fans in the UK. I can't justify paying for sky sports to watch 10 races, when it'll be the only sport I'd watch on Sky Sports, not really interesting in watching football. F1 will be loosing millions of fans. I'm sure I won't be the only one that can't justify it.

Does anyone know how long after the race the BBC would be showing the 'Extended Highlights'?


So I guess F1 as a show is official. BBC will show certain one off events which will have no bearing on the championship but be little motorsport festivals independent of everything else. I know there are highlights but there wont be the same ability to follow the ups and downs of the season.

And where does Silverstone stand? We now have two successful drivers at a British team and attendance is guaranteed, but how many of those people who are new fans going to stick with it if they can't watch it? Surely there will be a drop off as people don't get into it in the same way.

And finally where will the new blood come from. If people don't have sky where will they watch it all from, children can't get hooked if they can't see it all. It's not like football that people play as a child, this is something that is only available to select few and only enjoyed by tv. I now go to Silverstone yearly with my dad, and he only got into it because I wanted to go to silverstone because I'd watched the races on a little tv upstairs while they all sat downstairs eating Sunday lunch when I was 7. I'm now 27 and hate how the race/event is more important than the sport.


What about viewers from other countries ?


Many of us have found a way to watch the BBC's coverage and would gladly pay a UK license fee for it (the BBC) - because the coverage is excellent. In fact, compared to many other countries, the BBC's services are second to few.

I do wish those "in charge" would see the big picture - Formula1.com could charge a reasonable per-race weekend fee and stream all the races online (in user-selectable languages) for a reasonable 5 pound/8 dollar per-race-weekend fee. They already supply the world feed... we might not get the excellent pre-race BBC coverage, but we'd get something afordable and (hopefuly) advert free.

It will never happen though - big media is too close minded, hence all the "sue the fans" non-sense and pricing themselves out of existence. I haven't had cable/satelite/commercial TV in years now and can't stand adverts. I would gladly pay broadcasters/production companies directly for the products I want to consume/view rather than pay some random (and poorly managed) middle-man, just as much money to offer me hundreds of choices I care not for.

I love Formula 1 but as an industry it's getting to the point of being unsustainable, both fiscally and environmentally. This move proves as much.

I read on autosport that some teams were happy to hear they might each get a 1 million dollar/pound (can't remember) increase as part of this deal. That's less than one percent of big team budgets and, ultimately, does it matter if no one is watching the sport anymore? You increase your cashflow but your overall (and generally passionate) market/fanbase plummets? I'd say you're in sport for the wrong reason.

ICLMS, ALMS, WTCC, DTM, WRC, IRC, GP2 - there are so many great racing series around. Heck, despite poor viewing figures (and again poor fiscal management) the last four or five A1GP races were stellar, overtaking-filled events that made F1 (at the time) pale in comparison.

Wow.. lost my train of thought here.

Oh yeah, other countries... we'll do what we always did, find the races and watch them.

I think the issue for us is largely the same as for UK viewers. We're not trying to use "grey market" or even "black market" means to watch the race. We'd gladly pay for race coverage. In this day an age though, it's senseless to make anyone pay for hundreds of sports they don't want/need and then turn around and claim the fans are stealing when we would have paid in the first place - for the races, not the rest.

The world is slowly going open-source. That doesn't mean free (nor should it). It means choice. Media production and delivery is no different (if still sadly living in an archaic infrastructure that robs fans - of any sports/content type - of what they love for the sake of extra bucks.)


Very disappointed with this news. Hopefully the teams find this breaches the Concorde Agreement and veto this deal.

James - very early days I know, but out of curiosity should either the BBC or SKY be looking for a new lead commentator would you consider throwing your name into the hat?


Your report is admirable both for its measured tone and its comprehensive overview. The reaction in the UK has been anything but: narrow-minded and melodramatic.

The BBC must, must prioritise and right now that F1 contract is just too expensive.

But at least put the plame where it belongs, with Bernie Ecclestone, not the BBC. He and he alone sets the price. This one is his call, from start to finish. And for all we know this is just another "bribe", his way of fending off that much talked about Fiat-News International consortium by giving BSkyB the toy up front.


there are a lot of internet sites where u can watch skysport and other channels from UK,even if ur not from there!So i think this is the solution,convert ur tv into a computer screen and watch the races like that!


Re: Post 14 - I too would pay a fee to watch the BBC's coverage in addition to the TV licence that pays for the BBC ... oh wait.

I'm just being daft there - I genuinely would pay an additional fee for the Beeb's F1 coverage as I think is it excellent and I am a fan.

I don't want to pay a catch-all fee to Sky to fund their football coverage (a sport I loathe), their Golf coverage (not a sport IMO), their darts coverage (not a sport either), their boxing coverage (urgh) etc. etc ad infinitum.

If they came up with an F1 HD package for a sensible price (£10-20 pcm during the season for example) and the BBC's quality standard maintained then I'd be interested. Otherwise, "I'm Out".



Bernie has sunk to a new low and shown that he just dosen’t care about the fans at all. How can it be better coverage for the fans as he states when in this ecconmic climate most people can’t justify spending an extra £40/50 a month to watch one F1 race (if the other is on BBC).


Absolutely livid with Bernie over this. Most of the stuff the BBC put out is dross, except F1 which they won a BAFTA for. Could they not have shared it with C4 thus keeping it free to air. To those that do not have Sky already it does seem very expensive on a cost per race basis. F1 is differrent to football, we can't go to watch every race live. It is a sad day!


It is a disappointment that F1 is to leave the BBC. The BBC coverage is currently second to none.

The only advantage of Sky winning the deal ahead of Channel 4 (for example) is that we can watch races without adverts (I'm 99.9% sure that Sky won't have adverts during the actual race). F1 with adverts is a disaster, as we know form ITVs coverage.


Hi James

One of the questions I wanted to hear asked at the recent FOTA forum at the MTS was "Who should own F1". My own view on this is that where we have a financially driven venture capital company taking a huge slice of revenue merely to cover their debt is detremental to the sport.

Here we have a deal that on the surface of it feels like Sky have made CVC an offer they couldn't refuse. If F1 was under more appropriate ownership I don't think this deal would have happened.

BSkyB is joined at the hip to News Corp and it's a relationship that's only going to get cosier in the future. After the recent revelations (in the UK) I want to have nothing to do with any News Corp publication or broadcast and certainly can't see myself taking out a Sky subscription while they have links to News Corp.

I would implore the FOTA to reject this deal afterall it's worthless if the teams take the show elsewhere.


We had that at the Montreal one. Have a listen to the audio of the team principals section


I already have Sky but not Sky sports, so I am not concerned about the Murdoch association. But I have just looked at the prices! £20.25 extra a month or £30.50 for HD. For 10 races (as the other 10 will be on the BBC), that works out as £24.30 a race or £36.60 in HD. Sorry, I am not paying that just for F1. I have no interest in the other sports on Sky. It looks like I will just have to put up with the highlights on the BBC for the races it doesn't show live.


Sky are showing ALL the races, not just the ones the BBC don't get. So it's £12.15 or £18.30 in HD. And you are not paying that "just for F1". You get all other sports on the Sky Sports package as well you know - Football, Golf, Cricket, Darts, etc

I'm not really a fan of this deal as I believe that all F1 should be on FTA. I do already have Sky Sports though for the other stuff too.


What you say is true, but I am not interested in any of the other sports on Sky Sports, except perhaps IndyCar. I was just considering the extra cost to see the 10 races that the BBC are not showing live.

I can live with not seeing the races live, especially the early morning ones which I usually record anyway and watch later, but it will be a shame to miss the whole race.


Interesting to note that of the 115 votes placed when I made this comment, only 4 said they would watch on Sky, while 7 said they were undecided and the remaining 104 (90%) said they would not pay.. Those kind of figures speak volumes...

For 2/3 races a month (max) for 9 out of 12 months it hardly seems worth it.. That price works out almost the same as a general admission ticket to some races, and look how many people complain about ticket prices..

Sky Sport's fees are too high - one only has to look at the number of hardcore football fans that have to watch Sky down at the local pub or else miss the game.. How many local pubs will give F1 the same treatment.. Not many I suspect.

Personally, I believe this is a horrendous mistake for a sport that is trying to boost its popularity and reach.. IMO - The BBC's coverage to date has done wonders for boosting F1 appeal both in the UK and other countries that use the BBC coverage, almost to the point where I think Bernie should have offered them the rights for a lot less money because of the value they add to the sport - but then again, Bernie has always had a thing about "exclusivity" - maybe this time it will come back to bite..

I refuse to pay for Sky specifically for F1 - and do not watch enough other sport to justify the cost anyway, so yeah I guess my interest will dwindle when I can no longer watch all the races live.


The ridiculous thing is that i'd have to pay the full price for sky tv just to watch HALF of one sport (i literally wouldn't watch anything else on sky).

That sounds like one of the worst value for money deals ever.



I'd love to think that the races that the BBC do not show on TV will be shown on the web.

However, I cannot imagine Murdoch would have allowed that.

However, if it is correct - Laptop->Telly = fullscreen (probably HD by then) BBC web broadcast. And no extra money to Murdoch.


It's a sad state of affairs when it comes to this.

Fundamentally CVC and Bernie are taking too much money out of our beloved sport. When the BBC and ITV can't afford Bernie's fee's, and the Nurburgring (scene of a fantastic race just last weekend BTW) doesn't want to keep the German GP because Bernie's fee is too big, you know something is very wrong at the core of the sport.

What are the multi million dollar paying sponsors going to make of their investment when the coverage is on sky sports 3?

Greed pure and simple is the problem.

It's very sad.


difficult to know what to say - this is a decision made about money and no matter what either party say it's got nothing to do with the fan's enjoyment of the sport. Sad, but typical of F1 and to be honest I have no doubt that FOTA will do nothing to rectify this. I am sure their income from Sky will smooth over any fears they have about loosing fans.

I havent missed a race (as far as I can remember) since the early 90s, never once thought of quitting F1 during all the controversies that have taken place during all that time (of which there have been many) but I'll tell you this - I won't be paying for Sky.


This is going to kill F1 as we know it. Sky is far too expensive for anyone to consider paying for half the races.

Why on earth are we stuck with this outdated model? Why isn't there a pay-per-stream available from FOM? Charge £10/event, offer every camera in every session on demand, allow replays up to 7 days after - direct income for FOM/teams, and the die-hard fans get a cheaper route to seeing all the action.


Register your disappointment and sign the petition:


Probably too late to have much effect, but a better outlet for one's anger at Ecclestone than booting the cat.


I would be happy to pay to watch F1 live, but I will not pay Murdoch. Matter of principle.

Also a little concerned with how the deal has been done. Teams, Martin Brundle and others seem not to have been told. Professional courtesy ring any bells?


I have watched other motorsports on sky namely A1GP and Nascar and got to admit i ws never very impressed with the broadcast quality of either.

Another warning is that when Sky lose interest in a sport you need to hunt through the channels and under the red button to see where they have hidden the coverage for this week.

Not impressed and not sure i want to pay again for any motorsport from Sky after past experience.


After 50 years of following F1 avidly I am now retired. It's not a matter of choice whether I pay as being retired I can't justify signing up to SKY as I hardly watch TV anyway, and it's too much money for a pensioner. It's a stab in the back after all these years. Sad. Dead soon.


I have to say that this stinks.

It's bad enough on those odd occasions where I can't watch the race live and I have to avoid all other media (in case they report the result) until I can watch it later. Having to do that for half the season would be a joke.

If Sky were to broadcast F1 on an unencrypted free-to-air channel (on Freeview and Freesat) then I could live with that, but if the comments by the editor of the Sky Sports website are anything to go by then it will mean purchasing the Sky Sports package if you want to view F1. There won't be an F1 only package.

I'm an avid fan - my wife reminds me of what she considers too great an interest frequently - but I cannot justify spending the best part of £40 a month to watch the remaining races.

I can understand the pressures the BBC is under to pare down their coverage (which I have to say I cannot imagine being bettered) but I would far rather that it was given to a production company to put together and then that company shared the coverage with another terrestrial channel - even if that meant a limited number of ad breaks.

Sorry, Bernie. This time you've made a big mistake.


i have sky already so will still be able to watch the coverage.

however i cannot afford to pay the extra monthly fee for the sky hd pack so my brand new hdtv which i brought primarily for f1 will be stuck showing low quality f1 (as sd content can look quite poor on a hdtv) in sd on sky sports 🙁

this is the worst decision ever in the history of f1, way to kill the fanbase.

Tom in adelaide

I for one will never pay a single cent for what is essentially an exercise in advertising. If this happens in Australia F1 will be dead here i can assure you of that. In this age there are just so many other, better ways to spend that money.

Look to the torrents british friends. The F1 fan community will do for fans what F1 itself seems incapable of.....


James this seems like an absolute slap in the face to British fans, and it seems that Bernie has sold out to the highest bidder. It seems that he has our interests at the bottom of his list of priorities especially when you consider how much of F1 is actually UK based.

He was brutal in the way that he handled Silverstone, giving the GP to Donnginton so easily, and then going back when it was clear that they were never going to be in a position to host a Grand Prix. We as fans are so lucky that the BRDC did such an amazing job to revamp and make sure that Silverstone is the fantastic venue it now is, The tack was never in question !!

I sincerely hope that this is in contravention of the Concorde Agreement, and that F1 should remain on Free to Air TV. I'm sure that the BBC will claim that by showing highlights that they are still "covering" F1 for free.

The BBC has been doing an absolutely brilliant job with F1 of late and it seems such a shame to off load half of it !! What amazes me is that we now live in a country where our National Team can be competing and yet we don't get to see it on terrestrial TV, cricket and rugby (not the 6 nations) are prime examples, could you imagine this happening in a sport obsessed country like Australia, no way !!

Let's hope they all see sense and change their minds !!


How does this deal affect iPlayer. I understand it has very different licensing, separate from traditional broadcast licencing.


I'm wondering how this will effect other countries coverage? For example I'm in Australia and as far as I'm aware the Ten Network get the world feed from FOM and the play the BBC commentary over the top. The best I can see this turning out we continue to get the world feed with the BBC Five Live commentary or possibly the Sky commentary.

Although I have a much better idea, and now would be a perfect time to trial it. Google or Apple come in and do an online deal with Bernie. All the races, quali and practise sessions are shown live on either companies dedicated site. This could hopefully done using HTML5 standards so we could watch it on our smartphones or Apple/Google TV boxes as well. Charge $100 a year ($5 a race I think is acceptable). Later in the week a highlights package is uploaded and made available until the next race roles around.


+1. Good thinking...


Bye bye Formula one. At least I'll get my weekends back now. I'd be interested to see how hits to websites such as this are affected as interest is bound to wane in the UK. Such a shame.

It's a pity the BBC wasn't able to negotiate a time delayed broadcast for all races, I could live with that quite easily.


I won't give up entirely, your site and some others will no doubt keep me up to date. But I will only actually watch the free to air stuff. Whether that be live or highlights.

There is no way I can justify paying for a package just to watch a few races.

I'm sure it will marginalise the sport....and just when it had been at its peak

Such a pity...


It's a sad but inevitable day for F1 I'm afraid. I've watched F1 on tv for over 25 years and it's a shame its resulted in such a compromise. It says a lot about the current finances of the existing free-to-air channels and their inability to compete with what SKY can offer (finance wise).

It also surprises me what little interaction there is between the free-to-air channels. I remember many years ago when the First Division (now Premiership) prior to SKY's birth, was shown on alternative Sunday's on BBC and ITV. It's a shame that a deal couldn't have been done between 2 of the free-to-air channels (eg. BBC & ITV or ITV & C4)to show races on aletrnative weekends, they could even have shared platforms, commentary teams etc - but that of course would make too much sense and actually involve a working partnership.

Let's hope it somehow works out, however much as everyone else, I have my doubts.


I am gutted, sad, and a little bit angry.

I am a massive F1 fan and think the BBC has done an amazing job since getting the F1 deal.

I will not be getting SKY, I can't afford to in the current economic climate.



Not only will I not buy a Sky package, I will not passively support this by watching F1 on BBC where I can.

As far as I am concerned it is all or nothing and I have therefore made other plans for this weekend. F1 has just lost one viewer with immediate effect.


Just when the Senna film had been encouraging new people into watching F1, this eclipses all the good work and will be sending them away again. I am gutted, I cannot afford SKY, period. Also my children were just starting to show interest too, that will now wain too.

This smacks of short-termism. Cricket has yet to feel the full force of its decision, but its coming. I help run a youth group and none of the kids talk about cricket anymore.


One word: Gutted


I'm so gutted to hear this news, as with everyone else. But I would be interested to know any details of the Concorde agreement that may allow the teams to revolt against it?

Surely even Bernie halving the fees to the BBC wouldn't make him struggle? Its business I know but somethings are just a step too far 🙁


Disgusted. After everything Murdoch's been on the hook for over the last month, we're supposed to line his pockets? No way. Bernie finally takes a step too far. I've had enough.


Exactly how I feel. This is a disgrace, and it always would've been. But at this exact moment in time, to expect the regular F1 Fans to queue up to pay Rupert Murdoch more money? This just shows how divorced from any reality these 'negotiations' must've been. Thanks for the (14 years) good times F1, but there is no way I will transfer to Sky for you.


That's me out too. I'm not investing my Sunday afternoons, if I'm only getting half the deal.

This comes at a time when many people in the UK are having to make choices about which way they are going to watch TV from now on, as our analogue transmitters are being phased out. Do we get a digital box and go for Freeview, Freesat or a Sky subscription? Where I am, analogue has been switched off already and I've found that all the TV I want to watch is available online through the various TV channels Iplayers. I can find all the shows, vids, music I need, on my computer screen without switching on a TV and it's portable, room to room. Sky is going to have to do far more to get me as a subscriber.


this is the end of f1 in the uk.when i was told this morning i didnt think it was ture.But when i found out it was my heart sank.I have already gone of f1 a bit it just dont feel the same now sky has.the watered down version bbc has next season is a joke.Its a sad day for f1 fans across the country today


"And it could start a trend across the international broadcast landscape of F1."

Didn't this already happen a few years ago? For example in Scandinavia and Finland you can't see any F1 live for free. And isn't the situation somewhat same in France, Germany and Spain? Why is the media only picking this up now?


Slightly different - they have live on Pay TV with full race delayed on Free to Air


Not quite. In Finland you can watch live and advert-free on a subscription channel, while free-to-air has highlights in the evening - definitely not full race. I believe the situation is similar in Sweden. In Estonia it is also live on subscription, but the full race is on free-to-air with the delayed coverage of the European races starting before the race has finished - in other words, not delayed by very much.

In Germany there are parallel broadcasts - live advert-free on subscription, and live definitely not advert-free on free-to-air.


James - intrigued by your comment that Martin Brundle isn't under contract to the BBC. What's the deal then, can you expand? Could he in fact walk out on the back of this if he's really that 'not impressed'?


I'll watch whichever channel has the best coverage - Luckily I already have Sky sports, but I'd be mightily hacked off if I didn't.

When I say the best coverage, I'm really meaning the best commentary/presentation team - the current BBC set up is the best there's ever been imho.


You don't read half a book skimming every other chapter. This scheme seems crazy.


I totally agree Giles. I have watched F1 since I was 10 years old and used to walk Brands Hatch with my Father. The thing about F1 is continuity - and to watch only half the races just spoils the anticipation of the event and severely disrupts the continuity from one race to another. If this is a done deal then there's probably not a lot that can be done. I hope this is actually a 'testing of the water' and that changes can be made before it's too late. It's a very sad day indeed - first Internalional Rallying and now F1. Makes you wonder what will be next!!


I'm undecided about this as there is a bag full of details to be confirmed that will determine whether this has a positive or negative effect overall on coverage. For example, it has been confirmed on the BSkyB website that there will not be any adverts during the race.

The BBC will still show highlights of all races so if the races that I would normally watch live are still shown free-to-air then it may not have such an impact for me. I'd be surprised if BSkyB have gone for that within the deal, though.

I will be reticient to pay a significant amount for a Sky Sports subscription that I will hardly use other than for F1 but I'm sure there will be some 'tempting offers' thrown about to get subscribers onboard prior to the 2012 season.

It will be interesting to see who goes where from the current personnel covering the sport or whether any former presenters will be employed by Sky Sports, James!


Despite already being a SKY Sports subscriber I m very disappointed with this decision but unfortunately it was inevitable. This is a real shame as F1 was beginning to appeal to more new fans than ever.

SKY Sports has already taken Premier League Football, Champions League Football, Heineken Cup Rugby, England Autumn Rugby Internationals, Test Cricket, etc to the pay per view platform so it comes as no surprise F1 has followed.

BBC is going through a massive cost cutting exercise and is essentially selling the family silver.It gave up 2 days of its US Masters Golf to SKY earlier this year, from that time I feared for F1.

BBC is now left with 6 Nations Rugby (watch this space), Wimbledon, British Open Golf and some horse racing. You only have to look at the BBC schedule to see it is struggling, the amount of repeats is ridiculous.

BBC's coverage since 2009 has been excellent, the red button has added a new dimension and has to be applauded. It is a real shame that its execs could not see the value of F1 instead of just looking at the cost.

My only hope now is that SKY sign up all the BBC commentary/track team (bar Jake Humphreys - who is going hang around for BBC Olympic Coverage). If SKY can do this I will watch the whole season with them, despite half the races being live on BBC.

Hopefully with an F1 race being similar in length to a football match SKY will not interupt live coverage with commercial breaks. I would not mind breaks in the buildup show, post race, etc.

BBC having a highlights package is not the same as you invariably know the result before you sit down to watch. Most people's preference is for live coverage.

Could you be tempted back James ? Perhaps as an anchor to the SKY coverage ?

PS loved the strategy report this week. Great nuggets of information ! Keep up the great work.


The BBC really have sold themselves and our beloved F1 down the river. Who wants to watch one race a month on the BBC? The BBC have really failed their F1 watching fans here and the sport itself will suffer from lower exposure and interest.

Those who run illegal streams can expect some benefit, on the other hand.


I'm not against paying a reasonable amount to watch F1, it's certainly worth the money at the moment. But I am not a big TV fan so we don't have Sky/Virgin/anything equivalent in my house, and I have no interest in any other sports. How is it going to make financial sense for me to pay the requisite amount just for F1? There must be some other way of working it.


Hugely disappointing for the UK

Fully understand the Beeb's position, though lament their failure in 08 to cut a better deal in the context of ITV's termination. Doing so would have benchmarked broadcasting rates and ensured sustainability and averted this measure.

This is unlikely to be a payer for SKY and with several teams struggling to attract sponsorship already they'll will see what they have got at risk.

Question is will their income increase to compensate or are we looking (I realise we're only talking UK, at present) reduced grids?

Ayr Town Centre

If you dont want to give Sky the money then dont. There will be plenty of medium quality internet streams availble for the Sky races - not that I'm saying you use them.


Please support the Petition for BBC F1

License Fee Payers want F1 and should have been asked before such changes were made.

Please have your voice by signing


*Please* Sign It, Tweet It, Pass it on


My cousin told me that since F1 went to pay per view in Finland hardly anyone watches it anymore or has much interest (although lack of decent Finnish driver does not help).

I take Sky Sports in the winter for the football then cancel my subscription, as Virgin allow you to, in the summer as I never watch it. I refuse to pay out an extra £30 a month to watch 2 races as I dont watch cricket or golf so it will be highlights only for me for next year.......a shame.

On a possitive note it is good news for pubs and bars as I might consider that route next year as they will undoubtably cash in on it...

But in life nothing stays the same forever and you have to move on....


This is very bad times for F1 as an industry and for F1 fans. I've already got Sky as my other watched sport is Rugby League.

Audience figures are sure to decline (significantly) and therefore turn advertisers off F1


I furiuos about this, and it looks like so too are the majority of F1 free to air viewers, but sadly as usual it will make no difference what WE think....


Not happy at all.

If your a keen sports fan then the total SkySports package may be worth it. But if you only like F1 then there is no way its good value for money.

If the option was there to view just the race with a one off cost (like Boxing) I would pay (despite my hate of Rupert Murdoch).

50% of races & the highlights for me I guess.


I agree this is rubbish for British F1 fans who don't currently have Sky, but I don't honestly think whining will do anything. (and I'm sorry, but comparing this to the death of two drivers is completely over the top).

What we need to do is campaign for SKY allow non-SKY customers can pay to watch certain races on a pay-per-view platform via Freeview or online.

We should put our collective energy into making this happen, not complaining about a done deal.


i have had loads of people txt me this morning about this - all outraged!! apparently everyone at my sister and partners work are all talking about it and are all fuming and refusing to get sky to watch it, also i work in a mental health hospital and my patients are really upset as they have no option to be able to watch sky....

a revolt of the fans is on the cards........


Hi James, Clearly with this being such an unpopular decision it will be interesting to see whether there is an instant reaction in terms of viewing figures this weekend. Especially after the highs of silverstone and nurburgring.

Do you have any figures on the trends in TV audiences over the years. I'm shocked the BBC is backing out as I assumed that the figures would be higher than they've been for a while at the moment.


The only reason I can see why the BBC still have half the races is so that Ecclestone can still say it's on free-to-air TV.

The whole attraction of F1 isn't just the race, it's not even the practice sessions and qualifying. It's the entire sport that I get wrapped up in. The politics and gossip and all that happens between races and even between seasons with the races being the climax to each mini-break.

Having half the races on the BBC loses that appeal completely, how can you become wrapped up in a sport when you only see half of the action. My link to the sport will ruined. I went to my first GP last year in Belgium and was planning a trip to Barcelona next year but am having seconds thoughts now.

All I can see happening is that the BBC audience will reduce over the time of the agreement which will be used as a reason to drop it entirely from the BBC so in the end it will be shown exclusively live on Sky.

Not happy at all about this decision.


This is very much an "it depends". With 20 races, I've got to the point where it is too much of my life to get immersed in every race, so there is a side of me that thinks this is good!

If the selection is the UK overnight races and dropping the likely dull stuff like Valencia (so BBC are able to use their knowledge of likely poor races) then it could actually work for me (and it is just that sort of attitude that should be sending alarm bells to the F1 teams as I am sure there are many who are thinking the same).

However, I've always been fundamentally opposed to Sky (never forgiven them for making my Squariel obsolete!), and it bothers me that the BBC will not be able to hold a great team together and they will simply not do the quality of coverage that they are doing at the moment.

For the record, another Virgin Media customer who has the XL package but will never ever pay for a Sky package. Sky cannot be trusted - take Sky Atlantic as a typical tactic for taking viewers into upgrades, and the Sky 1 dispute.


That's it for me. Tried to watch every race since 1984, but absolutely refuse to pay Murdoch £50 a month for the privelage.

To me this is just another example of greedy corporations controlling our lives and bleeding us dry. With never ending rises in fuel, gas and electric prices and stagnant business in the uk many people simply won't have the required £50.

I find Adam Parrs take on it very one sided and cynical - what teams lose in viewing figures could be gained in increased revenue from Sky. Well without fans what purpose does the sport serve.

As for the BBC showing half of it, how utterly nonsensical is that. Half a film, half a book, half of anything - it's pathetic.


So sad that for two men in their 9th and surely last decade of life that it is still all about the money - screw the punters.

Tom in adelaide

Brilliant comment. So sad yet so true. Bernie may be financially richer than all of us combined, but i actually pity him in the same way i pitied Darth Vader as a kid...


I don't like this deal and I don't think the comparisons to football coverage are fair. Football is generally on every weekend, and there are many games for fans to watch. F1 is typically only every fortnight and most people will watch a 1 hour qualifying session and a 2 hour race. £40 per month for 3 hours of sport is asking a lot, even of dedicated long time fans.

I will also be interested to see how this affects coverage in other regions. For example in Canada is think that TSN uses the BBC coverage. Will they only show half the races now too?


So 30 years of watching F1 goes down the drain for me.

Ah well, there's always ITV4 BTCC coverage to look forward to I s'pose

So what's next Aunty Beeb?

The first week of Wimbledon with you and the second with Sky?

Eastenders shared on alternate nights with the evil empire?


What a disaster! Not just will the Sky audience figures be much lower than the BBC, the BBC's figures will surely also fall as well - as people will have lost the plot.

by the way if David Croft does the commentary you can halve those figures again.

Marty McSuperFly

Well, that’s what happens when you have Bernie in charge! Lol.

Surely you’d be interested in a gig at SKY James? To be honest I thought your pre-race stuff on ITV was of a higher standard of analysis than what the beeb currently offers on the red button. Oh I know, BBC gets great access and good quotes from teams and drivers, but so too did RTL about 10 years ago. All it does is just please fans who want the show to go on for longer.

To all the Sky naysayers, I’d recommend comparing the BBCs match of the day against the likes of goals on Sunday, or other similar highlight shows on Sky. They really do a better job.


I hear going to dog racing is pretty cheap these days. Pretty disgusted. I can't see the teams dragging their heels to be honest. So a barrier has been put in place between me viewing my fave sport. Not my loss, it's F1's. I will loose interest


I'm out.


Lets stay open minded and wait and see how everything plays out at the end. Maybe it is also a good time to review and think about how we consume F1. On 20 Sundays, Mornings + Afternoons 3-4 hours F1? Maybe it is a good idea to do something else and just follow the live development on your phone, on Twitter, James Allen etc., and watch the highlights on BBC TV later in the day. How knows.

Marty McSuperFly

Agree. Haven given up on live F1 apart from maybe one or two races, I can honestly say I prefer to watch a recording of it.

I read an interesting article that suggested (from market research analysis) that people who tend to watch an entire season of F1 live, rather than do something else like go to Thorpe park or do some DIY on a Sunday afternoon, are the type of people who just prefer to spend a Sunday watching TV. So I guess it’s those people Sky want to tap into, the ones who don’t watch F1 ‘cause it’s exciting or high stakes drama, but because they enjoy watching a sports broadcast over doing more sociable things.


I prefer watching F1 live. Not because I couldn't be bothered doing something else but because the experience is much better. If something big happens in a race chances are I would find out before watching the recording and that ruins the experience. It's just not as exciting.


I would just like to add my condolences, RIP F1, its been 19 good years for me, you will be remembered. Its by far my favorite sport and its one of few BBC programs i consider quality and worth paying my TV licence for.

A couple of interesitng quotes:

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: "This is fantastic news for F1 fans". I don't think that is factually correct.

Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: "We are absolutely delighted that F1 will remain on the BBC." Half a season does not equal "remaining on the BBC". Do these people not understand that the excitement of F! lies in the rollercoaster ride of a season not just the individual races.

BBC understandably need to make cuts but apparently the BBC will be covering EVERY hour of the 70 day Olympic torch relay, sounds over the top to me.

I bet all the ITV coverage bashers wish that they were taking the rights back, doesn't seem so bad compared to sky! (In fact I actually thought ITV were pretty good, showing qualifying, pit lane reporters, good build up, interesting tech pieces etc. BBC prior to ITV were pretty poor I thought)

I would be happy to pay BBC a pay per view fee, but Murdoch & friends, no chance.

James, any chance Whitmarsh & friends will bring the breakaway idea to the table again?


Like a lot of others I very rarely miss any of the races on TV. Also like a lot of others I don't watch too much other sport. I currently don't have Sky or any other pay-to-view TV system. I certainly won't be paying £500/year to see half the races, that's over £50/race. The fact that I would have access to other programs as part of the fee isn't much of an incentive, we already record more free-to-air programmes than we have time to watch. To be honest, even as a die-hard F1 fan for over 30 years, I still find myself fighting to stay awake in some of the races so in these times of trying to cut back on expenditure adding £500/year to my house-hold bill is a non-starter.


R.I.P. UK F1-coverage

So-long F1, farewell, I have known you all my life, but we have finally been ripped asunder by pillaging brigands.

Though, in truth, this parting has been a long time coming; the death of a legend, a tyre-war that left good cars and drivers unable to compete, one-lap qualifying, the unmitigated bias of the governing body, the castration of the F1 engine, grooved tyres, championships dictated by lawyers through dubious interpretations of well understood rules, devilishly-ugly cars, Bahrain, artificial playstationesq overtake-buttons. These things bittered my love for you; your affair with Murdoch has killed it.


Gutted. F1 on the BBC is the only thing the wife and I watch together. We have a Sky basic package, but will not pay an extra £20 per month for sky sports. I feel bad enough as it is paying the Murdochs for my TV.

Can feel my interest in F1 will wane when I can only watch half the races.

Can we hurt the sponsors into acting. What if I cancel my vodafone subscription in protest?




Err, so, does anyone know of any other good sports to watch? I've only watched almost every single quali and race for the last fifteen years so it's not like I'll miss F1.

As F1 is just about the only thing I ever watch on television I consider that is what I PAY MY TELEVISION LICENSE for. So which one should I choose to pay, BBC or Sky? Oh, wait, if I want to watch a whole season I have to pay them both! Awesome! Taken advantage of? Not a bit of it.


I think F1 and the BBC has deeply underestimated the British F1 audience, they are going to pay dear for this deal in the future. I feel very bitter and makes me think we should call time on the BBC TV “tax” licence.


Thiis is the worse situation that could have come out of all of this. To have a muddled picture of who's got what race, what a farce. I for one will NOT be giving any of my money to Sky or by association Rupert Murdock, he can go jump!

You've got to question as well what the BBC thought when they signed this deal. Surely they knew that the teams and the sponsors would all want a say in it going away from Free to Air and to get into bed with public enemy number one can only be seen as a PR blunder of the largest proportions!

Like everyone else has said here, this is a sad day for F1 indeed.


This deal s*cks and I will not be paying to watch F1, Is this deal not in breach of the concorde agreement?


I know a lot of people will buy a Sky package to see F1 next year.

That's your right, but I urge you not to, if it's a success for Sky then F1 will end up there for good.

If it's not a success, and the Beeb are feeling wealthier post-Olympics, it will be back on Free To Air.

If anyone is starting a campaign against this, count me in.


I feel let down.

The BBC coverage is that good, you feel part of it. Jake and co bring you into F1 in a way I don't think I've seen in any other sport, let alone previous F1 coverage. (no offence JA)

If Sky can match that, great. But I'm seriously cheesed off about paying sky all that money, especially as I have just got rid of it finally! I'll probably end up paying them but i want some serious promises that it gets decent coverage. Full on weekend coverage would make me happy, GP2, support races etc etc. Plus a decent after-show like the F1 forum.

Or, keep it as it is and stick it all on a FTA sky channel.


The compromise between Free to Air TV and Sky is in a sense a truly reppresentation of a kind of way such as, how can I get away with it?

I am not here to say that Ecclestone is this or that but I would like to present a different view

Without Ecclestone F1 will not be where it is now

Without the teams F1 will not exist

So the two parties needed each other but not anymore

F1 teams, thanks to modern technologies, could tranfer the broadcasting of F1 away from Ecclestone and CVC and do that themselves with a bigger share of the revenues.

The underline supsicious is that ecclestone would like to introduce the Murdock empire with Sky in a view to sell him the lot, probably this was his masterplan bewfore the NoW scandal.

Murdock had, untila couple of months ago, the financial power to buy F1 and take away Ecclestone headache since the German court case.

But now it is a different game all together, I can see F1 teams to dig their hells and take F1 away from Ecclestone and produce the same series without him



I can't post - same problem as Dave.


Sky weasel their way in and then take over completely e.g. Test cricket.

I already have Sky subscription otherwise I wouldn't bother paying £40 a month extra for F1. Very surprised that this doesn't have to be vetted by the culture department first.

Having two production teams going to half the races covering the same thing for the same audience hardly fits in with the green image Sky and F1 try to claim they promote.


If they must go PPV, why not start-up a dedicated Sky Motorsports channel - a magazine show. Which includes all the F1 gubbins and is priced around £20/month.

This I could go for.

The full £60 Sky Sports 123 package can kiss my ass.

When is Sky going to adapt to meet customers actual requirements - without making them pay for content they are never going to be interested in. All ethical considerations aside, on a pure customer care front they really do deserve to die a death - to adapt the words of William Wallace "You may take my Formula 1, but you will never TAKE MY MONEY!!!".

Bring on internet TV as soon as you bloody well can and put these greedy dinosaurs to the sword.

And Bernie should be ashamed of himself. i was warming to him these past few years - but every now and then he reminds us what a self-obsessed little bastard he is.


on an unrelated note, I've got the BBC classic F1 (on red button) on and how refreshing to hear they are now showing the older races with your commentary! I wonder if we'll be hearing you on Sky? I know you like these kinds of comments but really, you and Brundle make a better team than Brundle and Coulthard. Also, I wonder if Sky will pounce on Ted Kravitz?

I can only echo the comments of others on here though. It's depressing that Murdoch is able to extend his reach. Sky have changed football dramatically in lots of ways and most of them, I think, have been for the worse. However, I don't think you'll find much support for that position from the F.A. or the teams. If Bernie wanted to inspire the teams to overthrow him he couldn't have done a better job, although I think this odd arrangement will go through as the smaller teams will be eyeing up that extra Sky cash.


This is a real dog's dinner. Like many others here, I am a liflong fan. I have failed to miss only two live TV races since 1997, all through the BBC and ITV years. Coverage on both channels has been excellent. I will not be buying SKY, however, for three reasons, so I suppose my F1 TV watching days are just about finished. They are: 1) SKY sports is a boring, vacuous load of old tosh 2) You have to buy football and other rubbish just to watch a race 3) Most of all, the company is associated with the Murdochs and, quite frankly, after the News of The World (and more to come probably) I don't want to touch any of their tainted goods. I will continue to go to the British Grand Prix, as I have done for 13 years now, (so I'm not averse to paying serious wonga to see F1 - it's the principle).

Hey ho...perhaps take up running on Saturday afternoons instead...


"As I’ve posted here before it’s been inevitable that at some point the UK F1 fan was going to have to pay for his/her pleasure"

They already do! That is what the advertisements on the cars are for.


So far from what I've read of the deal, I'm not particularly happy with it. There's no way I'm paying for a Sky TV package just for the balance of the races; I'd rather listen to them on the radio.


Time to back the breakaway series. Keep the same rules, same teams and same drivers. The teams need more control and I'm sure many sponsors will leave the teams because of this coverage restriction and being related to Murdoch!

It was my only fear with the breakaway that it would go to Sky, now it wouldn't!

Come on Ferrari, Mclaren and Mercedes, this is your chance to put those threats into motion and capitalize.


A few years ago, Stock Car (Brazil's self proclaimed most important motorsport series) was hard to follow. Then they went into free to air live TV and I could followed every race. Then it moved into a format very similar to this BBC/Sky one and it never crossed my mind that I should have pay-TV only for them. Not even F1 would have me pay for TV.

Sad for the UK fans and hoping this thing doesn't go global.


I'm as disgusted by this as everybody else.

To those of you criticising the BBC, just remember that one of the the coalition's first actions was to force a freeze in the TV Licence fee, something which was widely praised by lots of people.

This is just one consequence of that decision. I would guess that if the licence fee had continued to rise by a few percent each year the BBC would still have been able to compete for exclusive coverage.

How many F1 fans who supported that freeze would now happily pay a few pounds a year more to keep it on the Beeb?


The last time it was on sky was with F1 Digital+. That was a a total failure just like this one will be. I can't see it taking off and limits audience too much. If the audience goes down, sky would drop F1 and then who would pick them up? With the cost of showing it with low ratings no one pick it up.


just download or stream it peoples. They even cut the ads out for you 😉


'f1 must stay on free to air tv' i remember bernie and whitmarsh saying not so long ago,, thanks for selling the fans out for a few extra quid. i am completely digusted and outraged!!! i am (was) a lifelong fan and have not missed a race in years, making sacrifices to see the live broadcasts as many other fans do. this is a sport i breath and dream, and to think that because of mr e's greed i would only see a fraction of the season, i feel cheated! thanks for nothing

Mike H from America

Here in the US we've been getting screwed like this for years, I can't remember when (if ever) all of the races were on free to air channels (60s/70s maybe). I am currently in the midst of changing cable companies as a) new company is cheaper and b) new company carries the channel F1 is aired on for all but 4 races in HD. The other 4, this year Canada, Valencia, Silverstone and Nürburgring, are on Free to Air channel Fox (owner of the cable channel Speed that airs the others) and the last 3 of the 4 are all tape delayed. And to get speed I have to pay for both a basic cable package and an add-on package.


Oh my god!Paying to watch sport...its the end of the world!

When i last looked Test Match Cricket and Premiership football were on sky and their coverage is first rate.

Get a Life everybody!


I think you missed the point. Plenty here are willing to pay - but they'd like to pay a reasonable amount to watch F1 - not a gouging to watch F1 and then have access to Cricket and the Premiership which they couldn't care less about.


I will never get Sky so will not bother to watch anymore, shame cos Ive enjoyed this year, still it will free up quite a lot of weekends for me next year !


"The teams are likely to resist any deal which reduces the audience number. Whereas the BBC currently enjoys audiences of around 6-7 million per race the SKY audiences for Premier League football suggest that they might get an F1 audience of around 1-2 million on their pay sports channel, far less when the race is also on BBC at the same time."

I doubt if that comparison is valid. Football is far more part of the national identity than motor racing so there is a greater chance of the fans paying premium rates. Also, how many of that audience figure comes from group viewing such as at pubs? That won't happen for F1 where it would often be in competition with football anyway. A much better comparison would be with cricket and that would indicate viewing figures rather less than a million (and the subsequent large drop in general interest in the sport outside of the core fan base)


Horrible news.

Just because such a move "has been a long-time coming" doesn't mean we should take it lying down.


Oh well, it was getting a bit sameish and the increasing manipulation of the formula in an attempt to create some competitiveness was just a joke. After following F1 for some 40 years, this is exactly the nudge I needed to find something better to do with my Sunday afternoons.

In the UK at least, F1 will be a minority sport - in terms of active followers - from 2014. Money, greed and power ruins everything eventually.


After my initial outrage, I've stopped to think about what would make it worth my while paying to watch this. I would suggest to Sky:

1. Have a Motor Sports channel that can be subscribed to separately and give us good value for our money. Most F1 fans are not into football, cricket, but are into other motor sport / bike racing / behind the scenes engineering.

2. Don't dumb it down and make it "shouty". Be have intelligent, reasoned, non-orange presenters. Look at the really successful BBC F1 team. Get them, or model your team on them. Don't talk down to the audience.

3. Don't whatever you do get respected motorsports figures to stand in front of a touch screen pointing out positives and negatives of cars and drivers like you do to those poor boxing pundits.

4. Pundits touching and feeling at the track/paddock, not in a CGI studio.

5. No Ads - I think you get this bit.

6. HD, 3D no extra cost.


So now F1 is only for the rich. The beginning of the end for F1.


Rupert Murdoch is poison.


I think this will be a fantastic development for F1 coverage in Australia. Why?

Because at present it is very hard to watch practice sessions live in Australia, the only way is to watch a pretty dodgy, low-res illegal feed off one or two websites that are known to show the feeds.

With this new deal I am guessing there will be dozens and dozens of illegal feeds popping up, hopefully some with a decent resolution, to satisfy all the disgruntled UK F1 fans who don't want to pay for their F1..!


The coverage of the last few seasons on BBC has been outstanding. The Brundle/Coulthard combo really works, informed passionate love of the subject, Jake's been a top draw presenter, Eddie's a diamond, the F1 forum the cherry on the cake, etc etc...

Now Ecclestone has tricked the BBC into betraying a generation of Licence Payers to the New World Order... i.e. more profits for the super-rich, and screw the millions of poor saps that pay for it! Murdoch, and particularly little Damien, sorry James, are just soulless psychopaths, like many heads of governnment and industry, systematically eroding all that is good in the name of personal gain.

Capitalism only really benefits capitalists with capital!

...and we know what J Murdoch thinks of the BBC...


Formula 0.5 on the BBC!

It will destroy the sport.


No way will we pay £50 a month for Sky, just for F1 (I have no interest in the other sports).

New plan - find a pub showing it. Have done that on holiday, why not here. A couple of drinks is much cheaper than Sky!

Still awful news though. The BBC coverage is great, and it's a real shame that can't be kept up for the whole season.


Stop Moaning you lot.. Remember, "Man does not live by F1 alone..." I will be taking up Morris dancing and Origami


I have Sky Sports from Virgin anyway so it doesn't make any real difference but I am distraught at the decision.

There are so many questions which I'm sure will be answered as we go but it's a poor comprimise.


It's the same old story, just as something starts getting good (current BBC coverage is good, but I do prefer David Croft and Ant Davidson especially the practice sessions which have been fantastic) someone decides to change the format!

We all know Jake is the face of the Olympics next year, maybe this is the end of his F1.

A very sad day which will end my 26 yrs of watching every race.


This deal is a complete joke, but, and i hate to say it... Look hard enough on the internet and you can find virtually anything, so look for F1 live streaming on the day (JustinTV) and stop Bernie/Murdoch from fleecing anymore of our hard earned cash.


Well this looks like the start of the "phasing out" of F1 coverage by the Beeb.

I won't be paying for Sky.

Looks like I'll get my F1 online and on the news from now on.


Not really - they are staying in F1 until 2018

John Wainwright

Hi James,

Long time reader of your excellent site but this is the first time I've been moved to post.

I've followed F1 closely throughout my life. My earliest memories were back in Graham Hills' days. I remember watching James Hunt winning the title in the monsoon in '76. I remember cheering Damon Hill on against Schui (especially during the infamous collision...however my opinion of the German has mellowed as he himself has). In short F1 has been a large part of my life for many years.

This development has the greatest potential to damage F1 more than any of the scandals which have brought the sport into disrepute (crashgate, etc). Like many posters on this site, I will not be handing over any of my hard earned cash to Mr. Murdoch and am absolutely horrified of Bernie's decision. How can this possibly be for the good of the sport?? Cutting viewing figures, involvement with a corrupt company, no UK night time races (part of the enjoyment of following F1 is the getting up in the early hours to watch a race from some far flung country), etc.

I hope that Bernie reads your website and sees the basklash from the real fans of the sport.

Thank you for your excellent coverage and it seems like your website will be the most accessible way for any fan to follow the sport in the future.


This just has to be the worst move ever for F1. I for one will NOT be purchasing any additional packages from the likes of Murdoch. Bernie, you should be ashamed of yourself. I used to believe you were an honerable man and did your best for the sport. If what I read here is true, then it is clear you have zero feelings for the sport and the fans alike. It's all money, money, money. Don't you think it's time to give something back to the sport Mr. Bernie Billionaire?


I thought it was only the races they were also showing on tv?


I think the responses here say it all. No consultation with the teams, a move to line the pockets of Bernie and co and then a half arsed compromise to those who will be priced out of the move.

For years people at the top of sporting events always tried to get the most viewers as for sponsors, this is an attractive proposition. Most sports of national interest were shown on free to air TV. Slowly but surely they are being moved over onto pay TV (for example the football world cup could soon be all on Pay TV).

Sky has done this before, remember "rugby fever" in 2003 after England won the world cup? Look what happened there, their coverage is poor in the views of many fans and viewing figures went down 50% in one season!

I think most F1 fans would have stumped up some cash for a dedicated F1TV type channel, but now we'll have Skys coverage (which could be anything from questionable to average judging by their other sports coverage.)

No wonder the Murdochs are running scared of the BBC, I would be if my main competitor produced brilliant programming with record breaking figures that wins awards. In fact I'd stop them by simply buying the rights to their coverage, so one day I'll have no competition. Hmmm think we've been here before.

Sad, sad day.


RIP F1....


There's an interesting point for the future as well. No new fans will come to this now. Female and younger viewers are ruled out - who gets into a sport you can't watch properly? Unlike football which can be played by anyone as an amateur and can get into a match of your local team for a lot less than paying for a trip to one GP, the grassroots connection to F1 can't be compared to football. It's ludicrous.

Secondly - having watched SKY NEWS during the Murdoch/News International scandal, their anchors are often insanely biased towards Murdoch - defending him and his empire in a way that would keep sister Fox News proud. When CVC sells up to the Axor/Newscorp - expect the Ferrari bias to come flooding in.

Some of the technical aspects of SKY sports coverage is admirable - but the SKY sports division is run like a mini fiefdom of studio-bound airheads. Expect no truly incisive coverage, technical rundowns or behind the scenes forum. It will be corporate, bland, loud, press-release stuff. And the worse thing is, the BBC can't justify their high quality elements for half a season, so expect a tiny production with no sense of drama, passion or technical knowledge. it will be a minimized MOTD approach to F1. Say goodbye to the FORUM (where most of the interesting interviews happened anyway).


To your first point - Can you say that about Premier League football? Kids are attracted to it all the time. And yet it's on Sky Sports as F1 will be. Sky is now in 10 million homes


But the point is kids can get into football without TV - watching their idols in the Premiere league then follows. With F1 you need the coverage to get the fans in the first place.


BBC are paying 2/3rd of what they are now, for 1/2 the races, I'm no maths wizz but that can make good money sense!??


Looking at the comments on this and other sites it's clear that the only people who are going to be in favour of this deal will have the surnames Murdoch or Ecclestone. What I haven't yet seen is any focus on ensuring that overwhelming sense of anger from the majority of the fans is heard by those that made this decision. Are there any online petitions protesting this decisionl as was the case with Barhain?

dave neath f1 fan

so .....

Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: "We are absolutely delighted that F1 will remain on the BBC.

the point is .....

half the races are on the bbc Barbara ! f1 is all about THE SEASON ! so go back to watching eastenders and leave f1 to be sorted by a true f1 fan, its a sad sad day when a program that got a great team and great ratings gets the boot i vote to lose the last ten minutes of

Eastenders , caualty , and the boring bits of bbc news and why not finish the golf on the 17th tee bbc whoever came up with this one is

having a great big laff on us ripped off f1 fans !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Richard Fletcher

The long run situation isn't good.

While on the one hand this deal looks to me like an illegal cartel, since it has only been done mid-deal then it's not interfered with the bidding process for the F1 broadcasting rights in the UK. Now let's look at what happens when the deal comes up for the next bidding process.

Scenario 1) The BBC and Sky bid together. Possibly against no-one. This strikes me as bad for ecclestone who may complain that they should be bidding against each other. It's like a monopoly in reverse, rather than monopolising supply BBC/Sky get to monopolise demand.

Scenario 2) BBC and Sky bid separately. The viewing figures will have diminished dramatically by then I suspect, meaning the BBC will not feel compelled to bid high because "F1 has become less popular over the last few years". Sky win.

And in the meantime every race shown on the BBC will act as an advert for Sky.

As the viewing figures go down, so will the team's income from the UK. Hopefully this will be the spur for them to stop the deal in it's tracks.

And hopefully the sponsors would find the drop in audience too great to warrant what they spend on the teams. This too would lead to pressure to reverse the situation.

However, on the other hand Bernie Ecclestone is 82 this year, he may no longer be thinking about the long term interests of the sport.


I think this sadly goes to show how little the BBC commissioners understand F1 as a sport.

Bring on a pay-per-season internet TV subscription like they have for American Football.


Could this enhance the possibility of the teams starting up their own breakaway series?

I for one will be buying a Sky Sports package, as much as this really annoys me. I've been a massive F1 fan since for 23 years, so I can't see myself not watching it live. Although with my first child on the way it certainly isn't ideal, so I guess I'll have to make savings elsewhere.

However surely this will impact viewing figures massively and may spur teams on to setup their own rival championship.

pissed off aussie

Hi James,

Massive long time viewer,

Im here in Australia

We have advertisements when we watch the broadcast.. but most of the time its not so much of a problem (occasionaly they break just when you least want them too.. grrr annoying, but other then that no complaints as I can see advertising playing a part in broadcasting the sport)

But ever since (Channel 10) ONEHD have taken over the broadcast whether it be back when ITV had the feed or once bbc took over... soooo smooth. I look forward to and love hearing your insight everyweek as you are so repected in the F1 field. (and give such and unbiased opinion)

I hope this debarcle in the UK doesnt hurt us as there is absolutly ZERO, Nudda NOT A FREAKING CHANCE I would give up any more of my hard earned dollars to the scum that is Murdoch.

Its already hard enough to watch the sport here most race's kick off at 10pm or later (Canada is live here at 4am, IMHO the best race of the calander.. I try to stay up to watch)

I fear that what is happening in the UK is only to benefit Bernie, as lets be realistic he hasnt got many more years left and is obviously trying to line his gready pockets with more cash before he quits.


How do I feel? Hacked off. If it wasn't for the fact that the BBC were going to drop the coverage completely then this would be a total disaster.

I have no idea how I'm going to square £40 per month with the missus.


Already have Sky as its where the most coverage of football, tennis and cricket are, which I watch a lot of, not to mention 2 golf majors and the Ryder Cup. So this deal doesnt affect me in the slightest. Although I do feel for those who dont want/cant afford to have sky, I am afraid this was always going to happen eventually.

At least half the races are on the Beeb, thats 50%. 0% of cricket is on free to air(I think!) and very little tennis is on free to air, Of all football shown in a season, I reckon no more than 20% is on free to air, and I would say I am being optimistic on that


For the BBC to drop F1 like this is disgusting. I've seen pretty much every race live since the Brazilian GP 1989. This will now stop; I'm not paying Sky for the privilege. Also, I will not pay my TV license next year – why pay for a load of talent show crap I don't want to watch.


"As I’ve posted here before it’s been inevitable that at some point the UK F1 fan was going to have to pay for his/her pleasure like football fans have been doing for over 20 years on SKY."

Or.... we'll just walk away, and leave Bernie to count his money.

It's one thing to put Football on pay per view - all you need for a match is a bit of grass, a ball and 20 players. OK, so they spend silly money on wages, but that's optional.

F1 requires an aweful lot more money to put the show on, and if they loose 80% of their UK audiance (from your poll), then that is going to make a dent in revenue.


This is horrible.... does anyone have any idea how this will affect TSN coverage in Canada?


I'm in Canada also. I figure TSN will be able to buy either the BBC commentary or the Sky commentary.


Been watching F1 since '76, haven't missed a race since '78 - seems this year will be the last.

This whole arrangement is mad - those with SKY will (probably) watch the whole season thereon for continuity whereas those of us without will get to watch a highlights show half of the time. Sorry, but if I was happy paying I'd have SKY already and if a highlights show were satisfactory I wouldn't persistantly get up at stupid o'clock to watch the fly-aways live.

I will NOT be paying SKY, whosoever the owners of F1 happen to be OR the teams/sponsors anything to continue watching this sport - if 35 years loyalty isn't enough then ciao.

Furthermore, Mr BBC, I will henceforth only send you half of your licence fee - you can have a photocopy of the rest.


If any SONY reps need an idea, put a browser of sorts on the PS3 so we can stream in F1 in HD from the BBC Website. BBC is still going to steam it online at every race and it will be an easy way to get it on the old box & in HD (Trials this weekend on BBC Iplayer in HD).

I'm an xbox 360 guy, Sky has that contracted up and I don't use the sky side of the XBOX (tells you something), but I would be happy to buy a PS3 (get a free blu-ray in the process) and trade in the XBOX. It would be cheaper than subscribing too Sky and its a one off bill of a couple of hundred quid I would pay for a console.

Sony, step on it. redeem yourself with the old Sega gamers!


PS3 already has a browser, and an iPlayer application (well, link to the website really). Doesn't do HD yet though - one day perhaps! 🙂


The BBC will only be streaming races they are actually broadcasting live on TV.


I am really happy about this. I can't wait to pay the extra £40 per race for those not on the BBC....and then I woke up.


Imagine watching BBC at the 'final' race of the season only to be greeted by Jake that the championship is over without watching it happen the race(s) before. Farcical. This is BBC and Bernie/CVC's fault and goes to show that money talks - F1 is business. What I don't get is that current F1 teams are spending less these days, sponsors are paying less (Sauber couldn't get any sponsors last season), and yet costs to broadcasting rights and race hosting fees could not be compromised.


I'm also very intrigued by the fact that teams and sponsors have not been consulted and will this lead to yet another threat of a breakaway series? More bad publicity to focus on over a racing weekend!

Steve Quinnell

I'm already a Sky Sports subscriber, mainly for the big Champions League matches that aren't available elsewhere. The thing is although I'm in the lucky position of being able to afford it & will still have coverage of all the races next year I'm still absolutely gutted about this for a number of reasons.

Personally I think Sky tend to dumb-down most things they cover. Look forward to F1 coverage for the "lowest-common denominator" fan. Presented by James Corden and Jodie Marsh maybe? I'm only half-joking! They also steadfastly refuse to criticize any aspect of their product, meaning if you've just watched the dullest race in the would you'll then have to sit and watch as the presenters try to convince you it was the best thing you've ever seen.

I think this is a big own-goal. How can they spend a whole race weekend dithering about exhaust gases and anal technical rule changes that no-one except themselves care about, stuff that doesn't really affect anything much in the long term, and then make a decision like this which I would argue is more far-reaching and important than any of the usual politics and affects far more people and their view of the sport.

I have been an F1 fan since the Mansell years. I've missed no more than a handful of races on TV since 1987 and have travelled all over the world on holidays to Grand Prix as well following the sport I love. And despite having Sky Sports I don't think I'll be watching the races on that channel next year. I think the coverage will be too unbearably annoying and I don't want to watch F1 like that. Which means I'll probably lose touch with the sport and stop watching the BBC coverage too over time. And stop going to the races. Life moves on.

Bernie is usually proved right in the long run, but unless this is a cunning bargaining strategy as another poster suggested I really doubt he's picked a winner this time. Nice one.

Douglas Revill

I support most of the comments I read. Very disappointing. Impossible to justify a Sky subscription to watch half a season of F1 - especially when the money is going to a company that is prepared to stoop so low.

This proves to me that despite Bernie's wealth, he's prepared to prostitute himself for a good deal - morals and commitment to his sport's fan base be damned.

How will Max feel about this? That would be a question worth asking James.

As a fan, I'm gutted. Shame on you Bernie. Good time for FOTA to break away. They would have my full support.

Thanks for a great article James - a great read as usual.


as if bernie hadn't screwed enough money out of F1 - this to me is the final nail in the coffin. he will finally come to realise that F1 is nothing without the fans. this *will* affect viewing figures. that will affect the popularity of the sport. that will affect the number of fans who watch on tv and attend the races. it will not take long for audiences to drop to a level where circuits and broadcasters find hosting the races unfeasible. and without an audience, sponsorship will dry up pretty sharpish too. but he'll be out of it by then - he'll have his trust funds nicely topped up, he'll quit when it's on it's way down, and then probably claim that it won't survive without him.