Ben Gallop the BBC’s Head of F1 has posted a blog on the BBC Sport website in response to what he calls “considerable reaction” – in other words the many thousands of comments both to the BBC and other websites – from F1 fans.
Gallop says that sports TV has now entered what he calls a “mixed economy” where large free to air broadcasters can no longer expect to cover big sporting events exclusively and must accept some sharing with pay channels, citing the Champions League as an example.
Gallop argues that the BBC had to scale down the amount of coverage it presents for financial reasons, but the trade-off is that at least half of the F1 season will still be on free to air TV,
“The bare facts are that the BBC needs to save money, “says Gallop. “Given the financial circumstances in which we find ourselves, we believe this new deal offers the best outcome for licence-fee payers.
“In a sense this partnership with Sky is another example of how the landscape of sports broadcasting has been transformed in recent years. There was a time when the BBC and other public service broadcasters could expect to televise all the big sports themselves. Now though we have a ‘mixed economy’, with some events on satellite while others are on terrestrial.
“And although this may be the first time the BBC has shared Formula 1 with another broadcaster, there is a long-standing pattern of partnerships between free-to-air and pay TV to cover major sports. So the Champions League can be watched on both Sky and ITV; US Masters golf is now shared between ourselves and Sky (with audiences for that event up this year); and then of course there is the Premier League – with live games on Sky and ESPN, while our ever-popular highlights programme Match of the Day keeps football fans entertained on a Saturday night.”
Gallop joined the BBC in 1998 after an early career as a journalist with SKY. He was made head of F1 shortly after they took over the sport in 2009.
Bernie Ecclestone met with the teams this afternoon and said afterwards,
“It’s good for Formula 1. For sure there are going to be a lot more people viewing, and a lot more opportunities for people to view, so from that point I’m very happy.
“I’ve been finalising this all night long and one or two things might change a little.”
“Sky will broadcast everything, all the races, live. The Beeb will do 50 per cent live, and when it isn’t live, they will be putting together a very good highlights package.
“They [the BBC] may yet do the whole race deferred, we have to see.”
This would make the deal similar to the model in Finland and Japan.
And his message to fans who cannot afford to take a SKY subscription?
“That’s where the problem is, “I know,” said Ecclestone. But from what I understand Sky has enormous coverage, 10 million homes.
“For those who can’t watch Sky, they can still watch on a Sunday night, which will probably be better than watching the whole race live half the time,” he added.
As for the races, it’s not yet clear how they will be divided up, but here’s what the 20 race calendar looks like at the moment:
18 March Australian GP
25 March Malaysian GP
8 April Chinese GP
22 April Indian GP
13 May Spanish GP
27 May Monaco GP
10 June Canada GP
24 June European GP
8 July British GP
22 July German GP
29 July Hungarian GP
2 September Belgian GP
9 September Italian GP
23 September Singapore GP
7 October Japanese GP
14 October Korean GP
28 October Abu Dhabi GP
4 November Bahrain GP
18 November US GP
25 November Brazilian GP
Read the full blog from Ben Gallop HERE