BBC vulnerability opens door to F1 on Pay TV: Some fan reactions
F1 on TV
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Jul 2011   |  11:04 am GMT  |  274 comments

Since the bombshell was dropped on Friday that F1 in the UK is to be taken over by pay TV channel SKY, with BBC being only bit part players on the scene, the fan reaction has been very strong with 81% of a poll sample of 5,000 JA on F1 readers saying that they will not buy a SKY package to watch F1.

We’ve had 1,400 comments in 48 hours on the subject, with some very eloquently expressions of regret and anger.

Here is my selection of the best of them:

Ed Arran writesSebee writes

I don’t know, but looking at Fox/Speed I can tell you it’s pushed back 4 hours. So Live at 8AM in EST, and replay on Fox at Noon. So in UK they will probably put it on at 6PM since BBC probably has a Sunday 8PM routine line up of some sort that they won’t disrupt with F1.

It’s actually not too bad, because you can save a lot of time. Remember – this is Sunday – your day of rest and time with family. You check the result before replay and if it’s Vettel again, you just saved yourself 2 hours. If you read that something happened on lap 23, you go about your business and come back on 21 to the action. Really a nice time saver routine. Especially in UK where GPs are smack in the middle of the day for you.

BBC will have only highlights on Sky race days (Darren Heath)

Mark writes:

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 it’s happening to F1…
A sad day, but life moves on I guess…

Mark J writes

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, traditional 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 direction.

Fans will have to dig deep to follow whole season (Darren Heath)

Tony Simmons writes:

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 reticent 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 on-board 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!

New face of F1? Sky's Georgie Thompson is tipped to present F1

Steve Quinnell writes:

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 world 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.

Featured F1 ON TV
FORMULA 1 ON TV Briefings
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I pay to buy my tv I pay for my sky cable I pay for my tv licence and now you want me to pay for my F1. you are killing the golden goose with your greed. When you see the drop in viewers it may be too late to repair the damage you have caused to the sport as money is short everywhare at the moment


This is really a distaster for anyone watching TV on Virginmedia. I as a female lover of motor sports, to get the Sky F1 channel I have to pay for 4 Sports channels I will never watch. I think this is totally out of order. Come on Virgin let us watch it for at least half the price you are charging for the sports channels.


Heya i?m for the primary time here. I found this board and I in finding It really helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to present one thing back and aid others like you helped me.


After this F1 season I plan is to get my motor racing fix by following the Le Mans Series since all this F1 coverage debacle.


Just one thought,

We currently have 2 British WDC. Button and Hamilton. Their profiles have added to achieve 6,000,000 plus viewing figures in the UK.

In Italy, its 10,000,000 because of Ferrari.

Once the British interest has gone, what hardcore fans are left.

Most fans follow a driver, exception being Ferrari where we follow the team.

I’m Italian, I’ll tune into Rai and watch that coverage…


The Channel 4 bid:

But the BBC ran with open arms to Sky to stop it, aided and abetted by the usual suspects at FOTA.


It’s sad that free-to-air F1 coverage will be as good as dead in the UK.

It would have been preferable to dilute the free coverage, but keep it viable as an alternative.


– Free to air: live coverage of the race only (all races), no quali, ad breaks, low budget (e.g. minimal or no broadcast staff at the circuit), no highlights, no HD

– Premium: full race weekend, minimal/no ads in the race, commentators & pundits, highlights, HD + other differentiators

Sky clearly had the high ground in negotiations and it’s understandable that they want to maximize the return on their investment, with an eye on the poor take-up of the premium F1 coverage of a few years ago. A shame the BBC came out with so little.

Incidentally, I reckon adverts would be a small price to pay to keep the event free to view. Split-screen ads if the action is hot and full screen ads in the less crucial parts of the race, with any missed juicy bits shown asap after the commercials.


Hi James

I was trying to find a “contact” link but couldn’t – and this is relevant to this post to I thought it worth while putting it here.

I’m sure you are aware but at last there is one e-petition that has the potential to get noticed rather than all the others which will fall on deaf ears. The Governments newly launched e-petition site currently has the F1 Free to Air petition as the 2nd most signed one, and it has got a reasonable amount of press for that reason. I thought it may be appropriate for you to dedicate a blog post specifically to that, so you can give you readers a focussed place to voice their feelings.

If it gets over 100,00 signatures it will apparently be debated in parliament, not that I personally think it will change much but it does help to raise the awareness of peoples anger

I figured of you’re 1000+ comments relating to this story there would be a lot of people wanting to sign it so any publicity would help!



SKY have taken over too many sports coverage over the years, Football, Golf, and Cricket, to name just 3. The reason SKY are now interested in Formula 1 is down to the fantastic job the BBC, its presenters and production team have done in increasing the profile and viewing figures, after they were successful in the bidding process in 2009. The last two bidding processes for the TV rights, SKY did not bid, as far as I am aware. Its only now, when the viewing figures are over 6 million, that they want the sport, because they can see a profit in it, by charging an exorbitant amount to watch Formula 1. I hope it all backfires on Bernie and Murdoch when they don’t get the expected increase in paying customers.

If the BBC had been honest with the Formula 1 fans to begin with, when they were considering cutting the sport altogether, I would have been more than happy to pay extra for my TV licence, say £5, so if all 6 million viewers paid that, it would amount to £30 million. The problem would have been how to collect it from the Formula 1 fans.

Another party who may be responsible for this situation is the then Government (2009) who left Formula 1 off the Crown Jewel Sports that are preserved for Free To Air TV coverage. The alarm bells should have started to ring in March 2009 when the press highlighted that SKY would target Free To Air Sports.

So has this move by greedy Murdoch and Co been on the cards since March 2009.


I would suspect that only the British GP could ‘legally’ be added to that list anyway – I don’t see how the government can force an overseas event to be preserved other than for ‘exceptional’ occasions such as the olympics or the world cup of football. If live football isn’t protected then there is no chance F1 would be.


Another thought, it is worrying that this deal is for seven years – if it is the disaster it appears to be then we are stuck with it for a long time… Granted Sky would want long-term before investing but I’m surprised they couldn’t come up with a lower cost deal for 2-3 years to try the waters first.


F1 coverage alone isn’t enough for me to justify subscribing to Sky – it would be cheaper to subscribe to ESPN for the Ice Hockey, a sport I love more than F1, but I can’t even justify the expense for that. I suspect many will feel the same.

However, I wonder at the logic of what the BBC have agreed here. Surely there is little point in only covering half the season. The dedicated fans will go over to Sky, a lot of the less keen will drop away as they can’t see the whole season so won’t bother with any of it. The BBC may be lucky to break 1m viewers with this deal – about 20% of their average this year, so I hope they are paying less than 20% of the existing costs…

What I can’t fathom is why they couldn’t come up with a deal to cover just the race live and leave the Sky coverage for all the extras. Sky would still get a similar number of converts as most of the dedicated fans would want the whole shooting match yet the less dedicated fans could still watch all the races.

If the intention is for Sky to offer better coverage then they have very little to lose by preventing the BBC doing basic live coverage and will probably lose more from people deserting the sport out of disgust.

One thing I will be interested in is what is going to be available online on the BBC. At the moment I catch up with most of the non-race stuff on the iPlayer. Losing that would be a blow.

Another thing that strikes me is that the BBC are doing such a good job of covering the sport, why can’t Sky sub-contract the coverage back to the BBC, they would possibly have more money available as a result to improve more. As it stands those who do move over are in for a couple of seasons of Sky trying to find its feet before we are even at the level of the existing coverage. Getting the BBC to do the lot and allowing them to show just the race would seem a win-win for both sides.


German RTL brodcasts free to air on Astra 1 with commercial breaks


To my mind it’s very interesting to see how Bernie Ecclestone has handled this situation. In the past he has often been a man who has broken a story early so that others potentially involved are drawn in to the argument only for him to “change his mind” and get a better deal elsewhere. None of that this time round and this deal was a complete shock to all within the F1 world including teams and Media.

He knew that this would be an unpopular decision so didn’t want anything leaked until the deal was done and yet he will be sure that it will be more profitable than the current deal. I suspect we will see a lot more coverage in the Sun and Times in the coming years and won’t the sponsors like that!

And no, I won’t be subscribing to Sky.


Usually in this sort of situation you would expect the media to jump all over a story like this. I don’t read newspapers so I’m not sure what the printed media is doing but it seems to me that F1 websites in particular are being more passive than I would expect.

I can see a number of possible reasons for this:

1. The announcement was made, tactically I suspect, at the time when most F1 media were expecting a 3 week break with little news. The numbers available to cover the story is less than it would normally be.

2. F1 journalists aren’t keen to rock a boat that they would like to climb aboard, given the opportunity.

3. The details are so scant that there is nothing more to say at the moment.

4. Employers of the interested parties (BBC/BSkyB) may be ‘managing’ their employees throughout the period of uncertainty.

5. The BBC and BSkyB/NI are 2 of the main news providers in the country.

The combination of all of these means that there are few questions being asked (other than in forums) and answered about the coverage.

As a minimum, I would like to know answers to the following:

1. Which races will be covered live by the BBC and which by BSkyB?

2. Will BBC show full delayed coverage of the non-live races or just highlights?

3. Will the BBC live coverage be the same quantity and to the same standard as the current live coverage?

4. Will the BSkyB coverage be on a Sports channel or another channel such as Sky One?

5. How will presentation team resources be shared i.e. will the current BBC team continue to work for the BBC with their commentary output only made avaiable to BSkyB or will the commentary team be employed by BSkyB?

I know some of the questions appear to have obvious answers but I’m not able to form an opinion about this until the above (and other) details start to become clear.

The timing of the announcement is suspicious primarily because these details do not appear to have been worked out yet. I would normally expect BSkyB, in particular, to have the marketing machine up and running to follow up with information that makes their coverage ‘unmissable’.


The thing here is Bernie’s U-TURN and the squander of our forced TV licensing, if we have to pay to watch our sports and any premium show, movies etc then we should not have to pay for a service that provides us with nothing that we want to watch.

Austerity is one thing, pinching our TV licence money to pay bad debt is daylight robbery, so we are now in the situation that we can no longer afford to go to the pub, have a meal and go on nice holidays due to no increases in salaries and rising food costs (you name it everything is going up in price) but the BBC can’t afford £40million because the Government has decided to spend our licence fees on something other than our entertainment, therefore forcing us to pay to have better quality TV in the only place we can afford to be – AT HOME.

If this is the sign of the way the BBC wishes to go (or forced), rather than petition to stop this deal going through we should petition to no longer pay for the BBC which far than meets what the nation wants to watch – reality check here, bar a few good programs the BBC is full of reruns, antiques shows and two channels with nothing on, so you can then actually pay for something you want to watch. Alternatively the BBC could shelve the £900million move to Salford until better times (this is a figure that has been brandished about so not sure on its validity).

I am sure Sky will do a good job even though I hate the obvious moral reasons of recent activities – probably not only secluded to them as I am sure the whole Press industry will suffer as the rocks get turned over – but like everyone I would like to see it remain on the BBC who have done a great job with it, which proves then can do great things if they try. The issue with Sky is where in the scheme of things it fits in. What happens in the case when F1 and a football match coincide, then when F1, football, cricket, rugby and golf, which gets the prime spot? Not saying Sky will be devious (tongue-in-cheek) but I see the need for full packages or sorry the GP will be on Sky Sports 4 so if you want to watch it upgrade.

Well lets see what comes out of the wood work and as mentioned before in this forum it seems to have been a quick decision as I am sure that Sky would have been blasting its trumpet all about it and hey who knows “U-TURN Bernie” may do that yet again.


Having had time to hear all the comments there is an answer the germans never pay for anything so get yourself tuned to RTL as they have justed signed up to free to air till 2015. Same weekend that Bernie sold us a dud. Will be tuned into RTL with Rfive live comentary. Did it before when ITV had it turned to RTL in the breaks. Very proffesional all day coverage. If you cannot beat them join them. Thanks


yes that works. He should have put his head over the parapet and explained fota reaction. Will that read no Lotus virgin hispania and maybe Williams who may well not make the start gate because of no sponsorship. Thats OK Bernie has enough money to buy them and influence the outcome of the fota vote at the next concord agreement.

If the above does not work it is good riddens to all those cretins who say they will get a wider audience on SKY what a load of cobblers.

RTL details Kingofsat small receiver caravan version from Maplins or screwfix point and go. Learn german over the winter months and you can throw the beeb away. Enjoy in the knowledge Bernie Murdoch and the BBC cannot stop you.

Michael Cumming

The BBC spend 2.2 billion on BBC1 and BBC2, they also spend about 200 million just on BBC3 &4.

The Sports package is about 260 Million per year, 09/10, and this was not changing for this year 10/11.

Considering that F1 has hit every target set by the BBC in 2009 including an audiance of 30 million plus for the year which out done every other sporting event except those that have a world wide reach, i.e World Cup, Olympics etc, Wimbledon is the only other one to reach there’s target.

Read this report, it makes a mockery of what has been said and reported on by the BBC.

A minor point did the BBC follow this requirement?

‘ The BBC must comply with competition and state aid law when carrying out its Public Service Activities. In addition,

the BBC Trust requires that all of the BBC’s Public Service Activities must comply with the Competitive Impact

Principle (CIP), which states that:

‘Whilst always ensuring the fulfilment of its Public Purposes and taking into account its other obligations in the Charter

and the Agreement, the BBC must endeavour to minimise its negative competitive impacts on the wider market.’36 The CIP does not necessarily require that the BBC should eradicate all potential negative impacts of its Public Service Activities and is not intended to protect the commercial interests of every company that believes they are undermined by the BBC’s presence.

Rather, the key objective of the CIP is to protect the interests of consumers,which are generally considered to coincide with the aim of protecting competition in the market.

The CIP has been operationalised by the BBC Executive through the Fair Trading Guidelines and is managed through the BBC Fair Trading department,


Thanks to James for allowing yet another outlet for our outrage. There are so many facets to this story that it’s hard to know where to best channel the anger. I would say, though, that a move to Sky will turn F1 into a minority sport within 2 seasons and, given the huge number of people employed in the UK by many of the major teams, this is going to a very bleak period for the UK economy.


F1 BBC -SKY Sports – My take

I’ve experienced mixed emotions with respect the the recent announcements from the BBC and Sky Sports for 2012-2018 F1 coverage. The first emotion is that of frustration, born out of how the situation has arisen where the BBC are unable to meet the financial obligations of an existing contract. It has been well publicised that since the David Cameron came in to power has has met on numerous occasions with the Murdoch’s, (majority shareholders of BSKYB, i.e. skysports) it could be said that the announcement of fixing the TV licence fee (BBC funding) for a period of 6 years was borne out of meetings with the Murdoch’s. Whilst this fixing of fee may have been perceived as positive by the public, it in effect meant a budget reduction to the BBC of 20% making agreements such as the F1 deal simply impossible to honour. In my opinion the Murdoch family / group pressured the government into reducing the financial power of the BBC in order to facilitate their own companies ability to grow. The F1 deal can be seen as one of these areas of growth. Had the licence fee not been in effect cut, F1 would have remained on the BBC until at least 2014. There is a feeling of admiration that the Murdoch family have the strategic sense to obtain the rights to F1, and increase UK entertainment presence in such as way, but the sense of admiration is curtailed by the sense of fear that a company has such clear power over the government of a country I was proud to be a citizen of. In light of the ongoing scandal surrounding the Murdoch group I remain hopeful the company will be split up for dishonourable actions and the decision makers be held accountable. The decision makers without any doubt are the Murdoch family.

Beyond the political aspect of the announcement there is a sense of upset, the BBC have produced an outstanding level of coverage, a package which meets the expectations of the hardcore F1 fan and that is light enough for the casual fan to engage with and enjoy. I have doubts that a commercial production will be able to achieve such a balanced package. My hope is that if there are no changes to the current deal, in order to minimise costs BBC and SKY agree a deal that the current production team provide the package for both groups, with additional features available to SKY. It would seem illogical to have two competing service providers for the same market attend the each GP and would serve only to diminish the package available to the viewer. I don’t want to have to switch between BBC and SKY for interviews with certain teams or drivers, or have interviews cut in half so the same person can give input to both providers. I can imagine the reality for 2012 and beyond for the BBC will be Jake in a studio based position for highlights, similar to that of MOTD, and that DC and Brundle, or similar, will be hired by FOM to provide British commentary available to countries with a requirement. SKY and BBC will then have 1-2 passes for personale to do interviews over a race weekend.

Whilst I have given my perspective on the reality of how I see the SKY / BBC coverage panning out over 2012 and beyond, my hope is for much more, I would love to see increased weekend coverage from SKY, with dedicated channels to the entire weekend of sport, including GP2 & GP3 (and I guess Porsche) in depth access to all teams and to driver team communications (available to all from 2012 either way) I would like the viewer to be treated with the respect the BBC has offered, and for the forums for viewer opinions to remain.

Having lived outside of the UK for the last 4 years, I’m used to paying for BBC services, and have a genuine appreciation for the quality of service provided. I will pay to see F1 on SKY, out of curiosity and F1 obsession. Having said that I’m curious to see which 10 races the BBC won’t show live. I hope it’s the European season. (excluding British and Monaco) if this proves to be the case, I’ll cancel the SKY subscription and drive to the races, general admission to the European season would be similar to a year of SKY sports.

2009- 2011 some of the best F1 races of my life, presented by the BEST F1 coverage the sport has ever seen.

Separate note, but I think BBC World posted profits of 114 Million GBP in 2010, surely they could have bid for the F1 deal?


But they would be bidding for UK rights only. What use is that to BBC worldwide?


Thanks for the reply James.

BBC World / BBC USA / BBC entertainment are the profit centres for the BBC. Until recently they have not produced any exclusive programming, instead they take shows broadcast in the UK, on BBC or other FTA channels and broadcast them in the US and other countries. They pay the BBC or other FTA channels for the rights to do this.

F1 is undervalued in the US, I would guess BBC world could obtain the US broadcasting rights at rates significantly lower than the UK. The Public BBC could then sell it’s production to the profit making BBC World and US.

Additionally the BBC could look to acquire distribution rights for F1 in countries where it is not yet televised or is done so with lowe rates, and use it’s BBC World, BBC entertainment or BBC news channels to televise F1 in these areas. Each of these parts of the business are commercial and have funding this could / would significantly reduce the burden of the F1 broadcasting rights fees on the public BBC.

I believe this could have been a solution to keep F1 exclusively on the BBC, but accept it would have required an approach of aggressive growth adopting the spend money to make money mentality, which is contrary to how a public company would normally operate. However this has been the attitude of some governments as they try to recover from the recession.

An alternative, but rather late view!!


This should have read ‘Criminal and unprofessional behaviour is rife…’


Alternative method BBC could have used to continue coverage.

BBC gets approx 4.5 million per race

Cost of F1 coverage to the BBC per year is £45 million

BBC put F1 on TOPUP TV channel and ask that all you pay is £20 per year for this which equates to £1 per race

Thats £4.5 million per race or £90 million per year

It could even go as low as 50pence per race/£10 year and still generate £45 million required

Very little to pay out for the fans Just £10/£20 and coverage stays exactly the same.

Simply and affordable idea.


For reference to our British readers from a Stateside reader:

The terms “over the air / free to air” refer to Broadcast Networks (BBC, Four, Five, ITV) and “pay/subscription” television refers to Subscription-based channels (Sky, ESPN, et al). FTA/OTA/Broadcast mean the consumer does not have to pay a fee to the channel provider to receive the channel, while Subscription Channels such as Sky, Disney, Motors TV, Discovery Communications, Time Warner, et al, charge to receive the service. In many instances, a pay television company (such as Time Warner Cable, Comcast (which owns “Senna the Movie”, or Sky) will charge the subscriber, and then the money is split among the channels via a per-subscriber fee.

It’s the per-subscriber fee gouging that is almost assured with Sky to get F1 that concerns UK fans, as I can see. This is a common practise in the US with ESPN’s rise and the networks’ fall. They keep raising their per-subscriber rate to the highest in the US industry. Sky can “gouge” that rate to keep the Premiership and F1 in their hands and away from the broadcast networks now.


I don’t reside in the UK but i do download and watch the races a couple hours after they air. The BBC coverage is out of this world and to be honest the best there is. The show will of course go on with or without the BBC but for sure i wish that the races weren’t so monetized. Why not let the BBC air F1 for free and charge the rest who offer pay tv packages?

Bernie needs to die and the sooner the better.


James, I would agree with you on the theory that SKY brokered this deal and that the BBC have been used like a puppet.

Why else would BE who is the key to F1 suggest that the BBC only run a deferred highlights show. Well if the BBC ran the race in full why would people move to SKY when they could just wait a couple of hours or so and watch it then.

This deal has been done with SKY in mind and the BBC have had to agree to this.


The BBC went to Sky, primarily to keep Channel 4 out of the picture, this was discussed at the Silverstone meeting.

Having said that, some of the BBC team were very enthusiastic to keep F1 on the BBC, others just wanted to keep it out of the clutches of a FTA rival.

There is another press announcement due, but it’s been delayed as it requires a heavy piece of rewriting and approval.

Annoyed Licence Fee Payer

I’m still amazed by the comments of some non-UK fans on other message boards, who seem to think that the British fanbase has ‘had it easy’ all these years getting F1 free of charge on the BBC. The fact is F1 has never been free to watch in the UK, indeed no TV is ‘free’ to air in the UK. We have the licence fee, which has ensured that we have paid for all our ‘free’ TV broadcasts for decades, on pain of being branded a criminal and whilst there is little sign of this ever changing, after this episode I think it is time for a serious look at how the BBC’s ‘unique’ funding is administered. They consider it acceptable to drop full coverage of a hugely popular (increasingly so, in fact) sport to save money but are apparently more than happy to pay millions for yet another niche ‘talent’ show, a product which frankly should have gone to a commercial ‘free’ to air broadcaster.


It’s interesting to see all the talk of a better demographic for advertisers to target, but I don’t think they appreciate that F1 fans are also a more intelligent demographic, and whilst a lot us (like myself) can afford to pay for SKY, we choose not to on principal. This deal will not change that. Unfortunately I cannot choose whether or not to pay the licence fee! And even though I do pay, as a paying ‘stakeholder’ my opinion (along with the millions and millions of others judging by the response to this news) means didly squat!

We now live in a free EU where earlier this year the EU Court’s Advocate-General Julie Kokott said blocking the right to use far cheaper Greek decoders to screen Premier League matches breached EU single market rules.

The Advocate-General’s “opinion” is not legally-binding, but the full panel of EU judges follows such advice in about 80% of cases. Let’s hope that the panel later this year comes to the correct decision and the SKY empire will begin to fall.

Optomistic, I know, but being so angry at this decision I need to try and focus this elsewhere and hope that Murdoch’s millions aren’t used to ‘pursuade’ the panel.

Finally, well done James and your (unfortunately correct) prediction that the current F1 coverage is possibly the high water mark and we should enjoy it whilst we can. Once SKY have their mits on it you will be proved SO correct!

Richard Jackson, New Zealand.

Well in New Zealand this happened quite a few years back. It used to be free to air on TV but obviously (?) for us it’s on late at night, usually mid night here. That doesn’t attract a huge audience in this country and it moved to SKY/pay TV.

SKY had one ‘free to air’ channel called Prime, on which they show replays and delayed coverage. For F1 this means a highlights package one week (!) later on a show that is mixed with other sporting events. The worst I ever saw on that was an entire race condensed into a 5 minute slot!

So all I can say, is for a lot of the world F1 has not been free to air for a long time. Here SKY is the only pay TV network so there is no competition and prices are sizeable. Half the country has it, but you pay for it, and a lot if you just want a few sporting events only. If your experience is anything like ours then this is a slippery slope that only heads one way.


I have Sky at the moment but don’t subscribe to Sky Sports. If it’s £20 extra then I probably will add Sports to my package next year now. I’m lucky enough to be in the situation where I can do that and I feel for those who cannot afford it.

However I do think though that there has been a bit of overreaction on here and on the BBC forums by saying that they will never watch Formula 1 again. Formula 1 is staying on the BBC. You’ll be able to watch half the races exactly the same as last year and the other half will have the best 50 out of 75 laps so you’re really not missing out on much apart from watching it “live”. Personally I am often out on a Sunday so record it and watch it when I’m back later anyway!

BBC Management had no choice. It was a result of Murdoch being too close to the political parties persuading them to freeze the licence fee. And the anti BBC stances taken by the Mail et al. And Jeremy Hunt.

I don’t think you have a ‘right’ to see anything though. The BBC are just trying to budget their books after having the licence fee frozen and being made to take on the World Service etc. Sky is a business with the aim of making profit. And although not all of you will buy Sky Sports to see the races live there will be a lot of us who do. I’m sure Sky will have done their sums!

If the BBC maintains the production budget for the 10 races it’s showing live and therefore delivers the same quality shows then the coverage will be good. And I’m intrigued to see what Sky bring to it. When F1 left ITV I was sad as they had done a great job…and then the BBC blew it out the water! So I’ll go into the Sky coverage with an open mind!


Sorry, Tom, think you’ve missed a key point here. If reports are true that Aunty brought Sky to the deal to prevent other free-to-air channels bidding (and also making sure into the bargain that Sky alone wouldn’t fail the Concorde Agreement), then the BBC has saved half-a-cake instead of viewers enjoying all the cake free to air on another FTA channel(s). That, to me anyway, is the bizarre part of this deal.


That’s one theory. I’ve also heard the opposite – that Murdoch steamed in with a big offer and Bernie had to engineer something with BBC (he’d tried with Channel 4 first) to get enough Free to Air action to satisfy Concorde Agreement and keep the teams happy. At this stage I don’t know which is true.


So big offer from Sky would have fallen foul of the Concord agreement.

Thereby leaving the field clear for Ch 4.

Your theory does not hold water, James


What theory?

Stephen Kellett

I think the comment from SKY Sports subscriber Steve Quinnell says it all. If someone that already owns a Sky package and thus won’t have to pay to watch SKY F1 won’t watch SKY F1, that tells you a lot about what he expects from their coverage.

You could not ask for a worse testimonial.


Actually, of the four FTA races in the US, Montreal is live. The three European races are on lunchtime delay because of broadcast committments. The four over-the-air networks air Sunday morning current affairs programmes. When Indianapolis was a round, Indianapolis was also live.

What I haven’t heard there is that the fees for Sky will assuredly rise. The pay-television providers pay for their rights fees by increasing the per-subscriber rate, and in the US, ESPN’s fee (currently at U$4.30) is expected to go over $5 as part of Wimbledon moving from Comcast’s FTA NBC network to the pay-tv ESPN channel for exclusivity. In just the past five years, the BCS (college gridiron championships), Wimbledon, The Chase (saloon car playoff), and Open Championship have moved from FTA to pay-television, all on ESPN, and the per-subscriber rate has drastically risen in these years.

Bernie has just shot himself in the foot with this move. I predict we’ll see some talk inside W. T. Harris Boulevard — Will Buxton and Steve Matchett will almost certainly be part of the Sky package, and Speed will almost certainly share with Sky with a Charlotte studio show, similar to their MotoGP style, but instead of “world feed” it’s in-house. I can assure you someone in Charlotte will recommend Sky try the proven in the States style of having an engineer in the booth, considering saloon car commentators McReynolds (Fox) and Petree (ESPN) are both former engineers. Oh for the entire English-speaking world to feel like they’re reading their engineer’s mind!

The ratings for events that have moved from FTA to pay television Stateside have dropped dramatically. The same should happen in F1 should the teams accept the Sky deal.

Wasn’t it ITV that provides Murdoch’s Fox FTA network with their biggest hit, Idols, and now The X Factor (starts this fall0? ITV also provided Disney with Millionaire (starting its 10th season as a daily strip).


Firstly, James, thanks again for this website. We don’t say it enough.

Secondly, those who talk about the BBC having to cut F1 (like Michael Roberts above). No they didn’t. There is more than enough money sloshing around the BBC so they didn’t have to cut F1. They CHOSE to cut F1. From reports, they CHOSE to get Sky involved, and cost any fan up to £600 to get what they get now. Don’t believe the spin coming from Auntie. This is a choice they made. Sky don’t really deserve any flack on this one – this is 100% the BBCs fault, specifically Ben Gallop, Barbera Slater and ultimately Mark Thompson.

Thirdly, from what I can gather, a lot of people share my view that the BBC coverage is significantly enhanced by the individuals involved, and the effort they put into the telecast. That is why a lot of people are annoyed – that team WILL be split up. Sky will get some (Brundle as a minimum – I suggest at least 4 of the current team), the BBC will have Jake (who won’t leave) and whoever is left (possibly more if live BBC comms is the same as live Sky comms).

Fourthly, if Bernie had organised this, I could have understood it. For the BBC to have organised this is the ultimate betrayal of us fans, their own F1 team, and the whole of the BBC.


Just to keep this debate on the sane side I’m not really bothered about Sky getting the F1 rights at all. Where I live ( Welshpool) the BBC is really badly served anyway, Freeview coverage which is dire even though I can see the tv mast with only 11 channels available and non in HD is why I pay Sky gladly to get a HD service. Our viewing is split between Sky channels and “normal” channels, but watch the GP’s in HD and most other stuff in HD if we can as it’s so much better than SD via Freeview. Throw in that we get recording, surround sound output, anytime+ via Sky broadband and I’m pretty sure that we get pretty good value. Now I’m sure most of you don’t agree, but in our previous house there was no terrestrial service at all and EVERYONE had Sky as it was either that or no tv. Still have to pay the licence fee aswell if you had a tv which you couldn’t watch but that’s another story….so to bring my point fully into focus, so people have very few options and Sky getting the F1 isn’t as big a deal as some people believe. If you want to watch F1 for all the races, then I’m sure you can find the money..else don’t watch it. The sport will survive, there are plenty of options these days from live streaming or just watching the highlights. Saying you’ll boycott watching will make zero difference and you’re kidding yourself if you think that it will. In these uncertain financial times this has been on the cards since the BBC deal was inked…


There is such a thing as too strong of a signal.

Since you are close, perhaps you need some sort of a filter to lower the power of your OTA signal to enjoy BBc in HD? A suggestion.


Sorry Sebee if I wasn’t clear…we don’t have HD, it’s not planned for here. It’s a financial decision (like the switch to Sky) because I don’t live in a huge area of population with many geographical problems that limit tv reception. The signal is fine, they just don’t see the point in having many channels because of the small population. A huge majority of the UK population do not realise that they are extremely lucky in their choices of tv channels, broadband and other infrastructure that some do not have…thus my point of saying that Sky isn’t all that bad. I don’t particularly want to pay Sky, but when there isn’t anything else HD, and it is a huge upgrade from SD then we have to make a tough decision on how to spend our hard earned…


Hi James

As an F1 fan that has saved every week to enable me to buy a Silverstone Ticket every year and has that as my one and only holiday for the year, I like others am devastated that I will no longer be able to follow all live practice sessions, Qualifying and races live from next year. I certainly cannot afford to subscribe to SKY, watching diluted highlights for 10 races isn’t really going to give a fan the same sense of anticipation of what is going to happen or what is happening as I always follow the driver tracker as well. This decision will just mean no more Silverstone after next year as I already ave bought my ticket. Beach and suntan hear I come!



Ring Silverstone and ask for a refund. Tell them why. If they will not (be persistent), ask them if there are any preferred mechanisms for selling on a ticket (a number of organisations do this).


Setting aside all the outrage and anger etc. This boils down to one thing.

Im an F1 fan and i will pay to watch it just as i do football, snooker, darts, boxing etc.

Id love it to remain solely on the BBC but unfortunately its not going to happen. I can only hope Sky go above and beyond to bring better HD and interactive services to bring F1 closer to the fans.

Thats my demand as a Sky Sports subscriber.


Follow up from last post here are the frequencies and yes Freesat Humax works AND an old SKY box is capable of receiving this frequency (I have tested mine)

Frequency 12188H 27500-3/4

SKY – Services – Add Channels.

Use Something like this if you do not have a spare dish or Sky box


I saw my first glimpse of F! in 1964 when my Dad let me stay up late to watch a clip of FAngio at Monza. I have been hooked ever since. My wife and I have seen F1 races live in Australia since our first one in ’86. I have been lucky enough to be in the right place to go to Silverstone in ’83. We have not missed and F1 race since thy have bene broadcast in Australia. Whiel we have been assured by the local Channel One that live F1 will stay the same on free to air one doubts the Murdock commercialisation. We do not waste money on pay TV. We did once but the programmes just are not worth it. Whiel we love F! it is not great enough to go to pay TV and it will be teh loss to F1 and its sponsors if pay TV takes over.


My Council has just increased car parking charges — so far they have LOST £42500 in revenue over the past few months as people are showing their disgust and going else where!!! Formula 1 must watch out as if they are to greedy the public will do the same there are other ways to watch FREE one is RTL Television which broadcast live on Astra 19.2 (just need a caravan satellite system approx £70)the other is via the web on we pay enough now for out TV so do what I will do watch RTL but listen to the commentary on Radio5 Live Steve


Correction, LyngSat


Fellow fans, this is distressing news indeed, but…..if you point your satellite dish (I use freesat, with a humax set top box) at Hotbird, 13 degrees east, you can watch the races live on RAI (Italian tv) and have BBC radio 5 live on as your commentary?

Or point your dish at another nations coverage (RTL Germany). I am planning to set up a second dish at my home for this exact purpose.

Any satellite position/free to air info you need can be found at Lynsat website.


I’ve hardly missed a race since I was a kid in the 70’s… I’ve followed F1 all of my life, but I would never pay for Sky & Sky Sports because there are no other sports on Sky that I’d ever want to watch.

Hopefully I can get a free European feed on FreeSat from 2012 and just stick on Radio 5 Live for the commentary ? The whole BBC F1 team & shows are just perfection and will be missed….Sad Days ahead.


Your thoughts on my understanding that channel 4 had matched the offer that sky had made, therefore keeping it with free-to-air, perhaps HD and most likely a very polished show when reflecting on what they did with the cricket. Also, what are your thoughts on the FIA’s involvement if any?!) regarding this whole debacle?


I wonder if anyone has actually looked at it this way – we are in a recession, everyone is trying to cut back, so why not F1? Why should they receive the same amount of money for something that doesn’t have as much value as last year? Surely market forces demand that the price the BBC pay should be reflected by the current financial climate?

Myself, like thousands [millions probably] of others, will not subscribe to dumbed-down Sky TV, which is like watching someone read The Sun out loud…I want presenters familiar with the sport, not pretty young girlies [Lee MacKenzie, you are the exception!] and ad breaks every five minutes that the race is not on, I want to follow the sport daily via the excellent BBC F1 site [ is rubbish by comparison] with articles submitted by people who respect the BBC, not scandal-mongering tittle-tattle written by people who are more interested in Alonso’s latest underwear change and what watch Jenson Button wears than what the sport actually means…

I think financially this is a massive dump for F1, the sponsors will look very closely at the quality and the depth of coverage and decide to walk away very quickly…can you see team principles leaving their winning team party to hunt down some unknown bimbo after the race like they do nowadays? No, me neither…

Methinks this story will run and run…


After watching a thrilling race in Hungary yesterday, the question I would want to ask is:

of those wonderful 70 laps, which 35 laps would you have cut so it could be squeezed into a ‘highlights’ program without losing the tension?


What they do is jump you ahead 4 or 5 laps if nothing happens. That’s what they would do here when races would get tape delayed.

Funny little thing about those tape delayed races. Murphy’s Law ensured that more often than not they were quite exciting.


And you’ve only got a few hours to turn it around before it airs at 6pm. Editors are very skilful, but it’s hard to tell the story when really pressed for time

Stuart Harrison

I find it amusing that there has been a lot of talk recently regarding a widening of the media delivery of F1 – twitter feeds, living timings from, telemetry from McLaren’s website, etc. All of which is completely useless when you watch edited highlights, several hours after the race is won.

Also, no-one seems to have mentioned the fact that Martin Whitmarsh was quoted as saying that he was assured by Bernie that the non-live races on the BBC would be full races, not edited highlights. Why has no-one followed this up to find out who was mistaken / fibbing?


There’s an interview with Bernie where he’s asked the question of full delayed coverage vs highlights and is asked why Whitmarsh thinks it will be full re-runs. His response was “that’s what I told him”

So another case of Bernie’s BS?


found the link to the interview in my comments above

It’s towards the end of the interview


There is an interview with Crofty from 5live asking the exact question of Bernie floating about in the twitter world (can’t find link, sorry). Where Bernie says BBC is “free to show” full race, but he says he suggested to them then they have a highlights show. How out of touch with us does that make him ?


Very very good point. THe Soft Pauer app works at any time after the race, though. But as you say no use for highlights


On occasions when I’ve recorded the race and am watching it later in the day, it becomes harder and harder to avoid the result with all the media and every device I have hooked up to it.

And watching a race when you already know who’s won is much much less exciting.


I am not at all happy with the situation. I think ITV did a very good job when they took over from the BBC, and now the BBC have improved that over ITV making it the best overall coverage of all time. As much as I want to watch all the races, I wont be subscribing to Sky. To get all the races and pay, with half the races on free to air, means the package in effect costs twice as much anyway, and F1 would be the only reason i would consider paying anyway. So no I wont be signing up, and I think someone has seiously miscounted what the effect on the viewing figures will be. I can live with delayed full race coverage on free to air, trying to avoid the results, but a round up 60 minute highlight show is no good if the races this year are anything to go by, how on earth can you miss so much of the action and analysis in that time. But despite that, and no matter how much I will miss it, I am not paying a lot of money to Murdoch just to watch 10 races a year.


Hi James,

Do you have any stats on global TV audiences? I understand that this decision affects UK viewers, but if there was a decline in UK audience how much of an impact overall would it be to the global TV audience?



I think one of the reasons why you hear so much about F1 popularity in North America for example is that it is on obscure Speed and tape delayed on Fox and on pay TV in Canada. I’ve seen it bumped in Canada for other sports and in US it’s not on Fox at 8 AM EST live due to some religious programing.

This is why I hoped that the move would be made here for free to air. But their thinking instead is to monetize the small viewership they have. Well, it will continue to shrink. People more and more are cutting cable as they realize that free OTA an deliver as many as 20 channels free in most of the cities in Canada, and all major networks for cities in US. New generation is not a big pay TV buyer as they download and stream. I wouldn’t be surprised if viewership goes down for a year or two in UK. Question is what will it do after those two years? How long can you go without your F1 fix? And is 10 races enough to keep you happy as a fan?


UK is a solid audience of around 5-6 million. Brazil, Italy etc are around 10m, Germany about 6-7 mill. Global figure is around 300m.

I expect figures for BBC live F1 races to be similar next year, highlights will get around 4-5 million at 6pm while Sky will get around 1m- 1.5m for the 10 non-BBC races is my estimate, a LOT less on days when they clash – probably 100,000, depending on how much build up etc BBC does. That in turn will depend on budget.


What I’m m trying to figure out is how much this really affects the teams/revenue. Out of 300m it does not really equate to much (UK audience).

Do you know if the teams income from FOM will remain the same even if the UK viewing figures drop?


I read that only 2 million people subscribe to Sky Sports, which means they are trying to increase that figure to maybe 4 million using the F1 coverage as a lever. I have to be honest, paying £1000 a year more than I do now to watch HALF the races live means £100 per race, and that is ridiculous. Okay, so I’d get all the rest of the stuff they broadcast that I can currently, happily, do without, but that’s like paying double the price for a car and getting two, when you only want one.

I hope the sponsors turn on Bernie and ask him what he thinks he’s up to…


If 6pm will be the replay window as we seem to think, than that is dinner time in my house as I’m sure in many British homes. No TV while family sits down to eat. I winder how many people respect meal time with family without TV and engine sounds…


I have been hooked on formula one for over 30 years and only missed a handful of races, I could literally count on one hand the races I missed live. I have been guilty of delaying holidays based around a date that would not conflict with a race. We could debate all day long about the rights and wrongs of this SKY/BBC contract but it seems a done deal and signed on the dotted line ,we cannot change the minds of massive organisations that really do not give a toss about Joe public and would probably cost Bernie loads of dosh to change the contact and that will not happen. Do not also count on the teams taking any notice of fans opinions as they are also financially benefiting from this their sponsors might make a few noises

But lets face it do you go out a join vodaphone because they sponsor a particular team I know I do not.

My options are very limited next year thanks really to the greed of the sport I love not the BBC I can buy a sky package and continue as if nothing happened but I cannot justify the cost based on f1 only as I do not watch much other TV or have no interest in soccer but most of all I do not have the money to splash out also a point worth mentioning is if I could then why watch it on BBC at all, I could go to my in-laws as they have the full package but the race timings are usually at what is traditionally Sunday dinner time and that’s a tradition I will not give up in my own home, that leaves only the half baked option and I am not interested in the Mickey mouse highlights but I think in my case the “half a loaf is better than no bread at all” (can you tell I am from the same town as Jim Eastwood of the apprentice fame) will probably gradually drive me away from F1 altogether and renew my passion for Gaelic football which dwindled because of conflicting Sundays when both a race and a game fell. As I say the greed of F1 is to blame and the sport is becoming a sport for the rich and not the masses so bye bye f1.


I’m a massive football fan and used to watch matches on Sky, despite the fact that I can’t stand their simplified. dumbed-down boorish coverage with it’s ‘every match we show is the greatest match ever’ philosophy. Nowadays I just listen on 5 Live instead as its’s more exciting and there’s better analysis and insight.

I fear the F1 coverage will go the same way and change from the BBC’s intelligent engaging coverage to dumbed down Lewis/Jenson are great, Vettel/Alonso are dastardly characters coverage with an emphasis on the glossy showbiz side with presenters that don’t know what they’re talking about. I think Sky’s coverage will miss the intricacies of the sport that make it undeniably esoteric, but hugely rewarding and enjoyable. For example, I can’t imagine Sky doing many features on tyres or aerodynamics etc, it will just be on what Lewis or Jenson like eating for breakfast, or where Vettel has been on holiday etc.

All of this is irrelevant anyway seeing as I don’t want to pay £40 per month to watch 2 F1 races that I couldn’t see on the BBC and to have about 392 channels showing dross 24/7. I fear after watching every race since Canada 1995 my interest in F1 will wane, which is sad, but all good things must come to an end I guess.


I understand, from a source within Sky, that will show live coverage on Sky One for the first year at least, so you will not require a premium sub.


Hi James

I have a couple of points/questions I would like to make, and would be grateful for a reply.

1) Is it fair to say that BBC pulling out of their 5 year deal would not have happened if the license fee had not been frozen for several years? On that topic, would I be right in saying that the reason the license fee was frozen is because the government felt annual increases in it – in line with inflation – would have been too harsh on the general public in these difficult economic times? And if the answer to that question is yes, then one could argue the greedy, reckless bankers of this world are largely to blaim for F1 going to sky!!!!

2) My 2nd point is BBC priorities. Do you know how much the BBC spend on MotoGP? I think it’s poor judgement of the BBC to continue with their live MotoGP coverage (which is far less popular) of every round, whilst ditching – more or less – F1

….which leads me onto my 3rd point…

3) Could the BBC REALLY not find a way to make the savings necessary to keep live coverage of all races going?

Surely, if they practically scrapped the quali build up show – reduced to 5 or 10 mins max, or even put it on red button – and cut the race build up show to between 15-30 mins (we used to manage fine with 15 mins build up to malaysian GP on ITV) then the BBC would save a MASSIVE amount of money!

I could not believe it when i saw how many the beeb employ in their F1 programming when they revealed all the names in closing credits to Abu Dhabi last year, as they also did at Silverstone one year. Surely the reason for employing so many people is because they broadcast for so many hours on sat and sun!!

…which leads me onto my 4th point…

4) Even if BBC sport has had to make 20% savings in light of license fee being frozen, is it fair to say that if the BBC had gone for a more modest and sustainable F1 offering from the outset in 2009, then we would not have got to a situation where large factions in the BBC got angry about the amount the corporation was pouring into the sport.

With the greatest of respect, because ITV had adverts (which, as you know, were annoying — Imola 05 and all that..) the BBC did not have to do a huge amount to please fans. No ads was instant winner. Add to that having DC and EJ and the popular Jake, and the BBCs offering was always going to be popular.

So instead of being hell bent on providing the most monstrously huge F1 offering possible – almost AS IF they wanted to make ITV’s efforts look poor – perhaps they could have employed less people, had much shorter build up shows and even presented half a dozen fly aways from London….


I know a lot of you will think “yeah yeah – hindsight is a wonderful thing” but you only have to see how many people they employ at races, see the size of their operation in Jake’s behind the scenes video in Hungary last year and think about how much air time they give it —and frankly you could see last fridays announcement a mile off!

5) My fifth and final point is: why couldnt the share have been done with channel 4 or 5???

Would the amount the BBC and 4 or 5 be willing to offer combined REALLY have been less than what TF1 or RTL pay??

Thanks – and looking forward to reading your response, James.


Has anyone thought how this will affect the British Grand Prix, if the Sky deal (like I think it will) pushes the fans away could we see the end of sell out crowds at Silverstone. Yes, die hard fans go, but so do so many other people who watch f1 occasionally on the back of it being free to air and boosted by the british success we have recently seen. A sucess people have been able to tune in (for no fee to see).

I know I am making loose connections, but I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter James.


I think that is logical however why have cricket, rugby union and footballs attendances increased after moving tv rights to sky?


I know we (the true F1 fans) seem to many within the higher echelons of the sport to be utterly unimportant and disposable, but how on earth can a decision to take away a sport attracting over 10 MILLION viewers on the BBC be made behind closed doors without even seeking public opinion first? Any half-hearted newspaper poll would of shown the huge amount of outrage at even the possibility of F1 being removed from free-to-air televsion.

I dont have the money to pay for a Sky subscription, and even if I did there’s no way I would line the pockets of the Murdoch empire, even if it meant being able to continue watching my favourite sport. A sad, sad time for all true fans of Formula 1.

Utter disgrace


I for one am hoping here in Australia we get F1 via subscription TV. At present we receive the broadcast via a BBC feed and full of adds. Actual racing starts around 10pm.

If you ever want to watch practise you are forced to find a live stream somewhere on the internet as this is not shown. Then we do get Qualifying broadcast on tv and yes they also throw in adds during that!!!

F1 has always had less than average coverage in this country hence its low popularity.

So for some of us in different countries this may be the break we have been looking for.


Dear James,

I’ve been following F1 for a long time. I’ve seen the live coverage grow from virtually non-existant to the fantastic access all areas television we get from the BBC today.

Todays race was absolutely brilliant. I was on the edge of my seat for every lap. This whole season has been brilliant despite Vettels early dominance and I will continue to enjoy it right to the last race. But after that, goodbye F1. Because this race reminds me of what I’m going to miss- I don’t want shortened highlights shown after the event. I want to watch the race in full and live, supporting the drivers and teams that I want to do well. That is the whole point of following a sport. If I can’t watch all the races, I’m not interested in following the sport.

James, your site is fantastic. Your blogs are informative, unbiased, and great to read. But I won’t be visiting regularly next year. I’m not sure if your site advertising earns you revenue, but I’m afraid I will account for one less regular ‘hit’ for you next year. Indeed, that goes to all the F1 websites I currently visit.

I spend £3.30 each week on a copy of Autosport. That’s £168.30 per year. I won’t be buying it next year. I buy F1 Racing magazine each month. That’s another £56.40 per year. You see where I’m going with this? Just one fan and the money I personally bring to the sport and the media is going to be lost. Now lets take a note of all the advertising I see on television, on the cars, on the team uniforms. One less pair of eyes seeing those each race next year I’m afraid. This can only lead to devalued sponsorship. I wonder if the small teams will survive beyond next year if sponsorship revenues decrease. HRT couldn’t afford to get parts together for a single day of testing before the first qualifying session this year so there really is a fine balance between surviving and sinking at the back of F1.

While I can afford a few hundred pounds a year to follow the sport I love, I can’t afford a further £600 or so just to watch 50% of the races on Sky. I’m not interested in any of the other channels or services Sky have to offer. So I urge those in F1 to take note: fans like myself WILL turn their backs on your sport.

And then there is the F1 Forums that you’ve been helping organise. The two main subjects of recent times have been the insistance from members of FOTA that F1 will remain on free to air television in the UK, and the new engine regulations for 2014. So, now that the fans have been slapped in the face regarding the first subject, rest assured I no longer care what the engines will sound like in 2014 – I won’t be listening to them. Sorry James but, in my point of view, the situation makes a mockery of everything you’ve personally tried to do to bring F1 closer to the fans. And I only feel sorry, not angry. It’s such a shame when you’ve been let down by your own sport.

Thank you Formula One for all the memories and for going out with a bang in 2011- it’s been a blast! But I have no regrets in finding something else to do on a Sunday afternoon. If F1 doesn’t think it needs me then I don’t think I need F1.

Best regards,



In South Africa we have been forced to watch formula one on pay TV for years!

Its just how it goes sometimes :/

I prefer it anyway, we have no adverts 🙂

They would always drop one in just when there was some action starting!


F1 is different things to different people and, for me, that continues to evolve.

I never missed a race from the age of 5 even though both my parents and sisters had no interest. I wept when Ferrari won the constructors and was on the edge of my seat when eddie came close to beating mika to the drivers title.

But after the austrian gp and the indy dead heat i fell out of love with Ferrari. Add the indy tyre fiasco to this and i fell out of love with F1.

My consumption of F1 now is the odd race, maybe 3 per year. I buy no mercandice, when before i spent a fortune on clothing, books and magazines.

I’m primarily into F1 now for the politics and engineering.

I think the reason F1 is trying to break into emerging markets is mainly financial, but partly due to the fact that its mature market is becoming cynical to its lack of respect for them.

No amount of fan forums, while interesting, will change my mind on that.

F1 is a business first and a sport second.


I should add that this site is a credit to you James. I may be cynical but quality and journalistic integrity matter. I hope your significant contribution in this area is recognised. Considering who you interview in F1 i would say that it is. Thank you for your efforts, sincerely.


Thanks for that


Another way to look at the situation is this. If the Sky ‘product’ is so much better than other shows then you’d expect people to willingly fork out for it over a free-to-view option.

But instead, Sky first of all have to skew the playing field by having the exclusive right to screen ALL F1 live (rather than 50% for the BBC). With all their other sports (football, cricket etc.) there’s no competition at all.

By the time this contract is renegotiated Sky will have F1 all to themselves as the BBC will say it’s not economically viable etc.

What continues to make me so angry is that the cost of producing F1 is a red herring. The BBC sell on the commentary after all to other broadcasters. So in many ways I don’t think it’s the money pit people claim (but it would be great to have the actual numbers).

This is a political move to appear to be saving money as Laura suggests above. The BBC don’t want to appear to be subsidising a ‘rich mans sport’. But the fact is F1 brings in a enormous amount of money to the UK (9 of 12 teams are based here with hundreds of direct employees and their expertise is sold on to other industries (see here from, er, the BBC Formula 1 technology goes beyond the track).

So as a nation we gain big-time.

Finally, as a kid I watched football on TV. Then it went to Sky and I now couldn’t care less about football.

As a kid I watched cricket on TV. Then it went to Sky and I now couldn’t care less about cricket.

As a kid I watched F1 on TV. Then it went…

Now, joking aside, is there any chance my kids will care AT ALL about F1?

Today after the race my five year old said ‘Daddy, who was first?’ Jenson Button. ‘Yes but Daddy, who was second?’ Sebastian Vettel. ‘Yes but Daddy was Alonso third?!!’ Yes. At which point he was punching the air crying ‘YES!!!’

From a five year old… but I’m not buying a subscription to watch TV no matter what the price.


I agree with you, much the same loved football as a kid, went to sky, ruined it for me and now cant be bothered at all. as you say just a stepping stone to sky having full coverage in the future


I don’t think BBC gets the revenues from commentary, FOM does


According to a article in the Telegraph, the BBC spent £47,932,348 over four years on Staff Credit Cards, maybe they should look at things internally before making cuts elsewhere.

I am absolutely raging because F1 is the only thing I watch on the BBC, Why should I have to pay for a TV Licence in the UK for the BBC channels when I wont be watching them.



I have read the majority of comments over the last few days. Personally, I have no interest in the ethics etc of companies, I want to watch F1. I do subscribe to Sky Sports and have done for several years because I also like cricket. Their coverage is as good as you will get.

I have no doubt that the Sky coverage will be very good, and I expect it to be better that the BBC, as it should be with a dedicated sports broadcaster.

As good as the BBC coverage is, it has its bad points:

Too much on the red button

Not full HD

The F1 Forum has deteriorated this year.

If people don’t want to watch Sky because they despise Murdoch or can’t afford it, that’s your choice, the BBC is the alternative. To those who say they won’t watch F1 anymore full stop, then how much of a fan are you?

I don’t like the BBC using the licence fee to blatently advertise and promote Andrew LLoyd Webbers shows, pay the likes of Bruce Forsythe ridiculous amounts at his age etc, but that’s the way it is. Some like some don’t.

I think people have forgotton that it was ITV that raised the standard of coverage in the UK. I hated the adverts but there were parts of their coverage that were better than the BBC. The BBC is getting record viewing figures, but I suggest this is down to Pirelli/DRS and the subsequent publicity rather than the quality of their coverage as they seem to suggest.


How is not being able to afford something a choice?

The main thing I watch on the Beeb is F1, followed by Top Gear. After that, the odd documentary.

Split up, my licence fee goes £80 to F1, £40 to top gear and £20 elsewhere.

I don’t listen to the radio either.

As for your comments about ITV – bang on IMHO.

The adverts were annoying, but they stepped up and took F1 seriously which a lot of people seem to forget.


It’s an absolute disgrace, I for one won’t be buying Sky.

Where is my BBC Licence fee going?

Executives pay, more soaps and even more reality junk I suppose!!!!!!!



It is reported that the Concorde agreement requires free F1 coverage in the UK. So it strikes me that Bernie has used to BBC to fufill this commitment (partially but probably enough) at the same time as getting more money.

The BBC should have put their foot down and refused to accept anything other than total coverage. If all other free-to-air channels (eg Channel 4) had done this then Bernie would have been forced to accept less money instead, and that’s only fair given the current economic climate anyway.

So it seems that the BBC have been very gullible, to the point that they seem quite pleased with their negotiation, even though it has failed the public.

There is simply no way I am going to spend £50 a month to watch F1. It isn’t worth it.


The Beeb couldn’t afford the full coverage. Bernie doesn’t accept lower rates and if he did it would damage F1 as other TV companies would expect the same. So then the money has to be made up, how do you do that? Charge the circuits more! So higher ticket prices and increase the likelihood of circuits going bust.


Bernie will back down, you just have to back him into the corner look at Silverstone & Monaco.

Bernie needed a free to air channel to satisfy Concorde Agreement. IF all 4 FTA broadcasters had flat said it was too expensive the price would have had to have dropped to fulfill the agreement.


In these times, the focus needs to be on saving money. A lot of people in F1 are very rich and live extremely comfortable life styles. Dividends can be reduced. And you can always cut costs generally. Bernie needs to be forced into saving money, not charging the same or more. To expect someone to pay £600 a year just to watch F1 is utterly rediculous, they have completely lost any attachment to reality. They are living in a dream world.


And 200k for a basic Ferrari, 2k for a purse and 40k for a watch is reasonable? Of course they live in a fantasy dream world. That’s part of what they are trying to sell us.

And with Sky they will separate the classes of income and try to sell them these various overpriced luxury goods in the Sky feed which are supposed to make one feel special.


“I don’t know, but looking at Fox/Speed I can tell you it’s pushed back 4 hours. So Live at 8AM in EST, and replay on Fox at Noon.”

Whoever made this comment is JUST PLAIN WRONG!!!!

* There are 4 races in the year shown on Fox and NONE of them are broadcast live on speed… you just cannot use the real time scoring or twitter for those races. The quali is live on speed. IF there is time you MIGHT hear from the winner but not all the unilateral and never from 2nd or 3rd.

* We PAY for access to speed… and pay a LOT!! Due to “packaging” on cable in the US I pay @ 1/3 of my cable bill to get speed and I get all sorts of crap channels I never watch as part of that package.

* Speed is still FULL of commercials… and a lot of the time at a bad time. Sometimes we see the tv unilaterals for all 3 place finishers… but not always (today we got ZIP because it was more important to play some crap show that no one watches :-/ It is redone in full later in the day.


I used to get it live on TSN and Speed, and when it is OTA delayed on Fox it’s still live on TSN. I used to keep Speed as backup before there was TSN2 when F1 would get bumped for Tenis or Golf on TSN. Yes!

That’s how sorry F1 got in Canada – it would get bumped from live broadcast! Don’t know if it still gets bumped to TSN2 – cancelled that overpriced service.


It seems to me that lot of people can’t get their head round the fact that the BBC simply had to cut costs. They didn’t want to reduce their F1 coverage, but in much the same way that if you take a pay cut to keep your job you need to cut back on your out goings.

I think that deal that has been put together looks pretty good, given that the Beeb have cut back by 50%. So why didn’t Bernie just slash the cost of the rights by 50%? Well for one that weakens Formula One globally not just in the UK as other TV companies will want similar deals. Secondly, if the TV contracts bring in less money then CVC to make that money up by charging somebody else more money and that is likely going to be the circuits.

A direct result of this will be an increase in ticket costs for fans, which will only lower attendance figures. A lot of the current circuits are in poor financial health and it wouldn’t take much to push them over the edge.

Given the choice between the move to Pay TV or losing the classic circuits, I would take Pay TV every time.


Split the contract with Channel 4 or 5, cut other shows (or in the case of BBC 3, channels), send fewer staff to the races, don’t have hour-long build-up shows with features shot in Fiorano, etc.


Why so angry?

As I understand it, it’s the BBC who are pulling out of a contract they had to show F1.

It’s the BBC – funded by FORCED subscription – who are saying no to full coverage of F1 and disappointing the legion of fans around the UK.

Sky on the other hand are the ones who are saying “we understand there is demand from the viewing public and we will pay the price for the product in order to give the fans what they want in return for their VOLUNTARY involvement.”

Now I read that some “fans” are praising the BBC and angry at SKY?

What a crazy world we live in?

PS Does anyone know how I can cancel my subscription to the BBC so I can afford to pay for Sky and watch the sport I love?


Logic Al, you’ve answered your own question there. You HAVE to pay your BBC license. For F1 next year you will need to pay both your BBC license fee and your Sky subscription

on top of that.

The additional coat for something that was otherwise ‘free’ is the issue.

If you want to stop paying the BBC then ditch your telly.


ive been a fan of formula 1 for 30 years now I hated it when itv took over from the beeb, but i kept watching, I was elated the beeb got it back, now im gutted that bernie and the beeb has sold the fans out,,

I will not be a sky customer never ever ever,I will not buy the sun any more or anything from news international!!!!

I hope that next year nobody will go to silverstone and vote with their feet and boycott it, and I am thinking of even burning my f1 merchandising I am that upset by the news , its time to leave the power hungry nutters to them self’s without the money from my pocket


600gbp buys a lot a go karting time at local track.


I think it will be BTCC for me next year, never really followed it, but seen a bit of it recently and it has some good racing… thankgod for itv4’s supurb coverage of that.


James have they thought of taking the official coverage and the BBC commentary and making a Pay-per-view live steam available on the net?

That way they open the income revenue stream to the whole world, as many countries don’t have it live, or only have it on a pay tv option, like here in South Africa. I drive 50km and back to sit in a public restaurant and buy food and drink JUST so that I can watch a race without commentary as they never turn the commentary up!

Live or even delayed live for a few bob per view on the net would be a bargain!


Surely tests how the Sky streamed online feed will be sold.


It’s pretty distasteful of Bernie to allow this to happen after categorically stating that F1 coverage would remain free to air. I would have thought that would mean ALL races, not just Monaco, Silverstone, the final, and the other 7 races sky allow BBC to show.

This has got to be the beginning of the end. And it’s a shame, it looked so promising when BBC took over, now it’s resulted in a single blow that can ultimately signal the demise of F1.

Utter disgrace really, taking all us fans for granted!


also, the BBC have stated it’s either this or nothing at all in terms of TV coverage, so that’s it. No need for debate, like it or lump it, you are not owed F1, it is a business run by other people for profit, if you wanna enjoy their product you might have to pay. That is how life works


F1 was already profitable, this is just greed.


F1 is a business first and foremost, and the income comes from sponsors and tv rights. So if you’re not willing to spend £30 a month to watch F1, then you obviously don’t have much spending power to spend on sponsor’s products anyway. So if this deal keeps the money from TV rights the same, then the fans leaving are no real loss to F1 in business terms at least. I’m not fussed, if they sign up Brundle to commentate and i can watch the Sky pictures of free practise with the 5Live radio commentary then i’m not bothered. They’ve already promised no adverts during the race.

Just go to the pub one less night a month, don’t buy a couple of DVDs or CDs you might have, don’t get a takeaway one night. I genuinely think if people actually love F1 they’ll find a way. Even people who can’t install a dish can sign up to Sky and stream it.


Message received loud and clear; live on the breadline, pay odious broadcasting company absolutely through the nose for less than 20 hours of exclusive, live sport a year.

Your condescending advice really helped put things in perspective.


It does affect them as Sponsors are what keep the sport going, less viewers = less value for money for the sponsors which means they either reduce their sponsorship or cut it completely.

This then will kill off the smaller teams who struggle financially forcing them out of business which in turn will kill the sport slowly.

Advertising is not purely based on sales it is also important to get brand recognition out to the public so WHEN they do have the finance’s to buy a product the consumer already has a brand name in their head giving them an head start over other competitors.

As an example quickly name a mobile phone company …… was the answer Vodafone?

Now ask yourself why you thought of them 🙂


The BBC went to Sky, aided and abetted by FOTA, the BBC pulled out of their contract a year early so as to scupper the Channel 4 bid, C4 couldn’t start broadcasting until 2013.


From what I’ve read FOTA didn’t hear about the deal until after it was announced on Friday. Sounds like the BBC, Sky and Bernire/CVC did the deal.

I doubt that FOTA have any input into this other than the clause in the Concorde agreement.


That is correct


That is incorrect, as FOTA and Adam Parr’s name were mentioned at the BBC/Sky meeting with regard to the deal’s acceptance.


I love Sky: by buying-up the majority of sports broadcast rights I get my life back (particularly at weekends). They should be praised for saving people from themselves – they’re the modern Salvation Army.

Next, the vexed question of getting my £145.50 TV licence fee back? The BBC site ( says: “You need to be covered by a valid TV Licence if you watch or record TV as it’s being broadcast. This includes the use of devices such as a computer, laptop, mobile phone or DVD/video recorder”…

…this looks straightforward to sort out.

File Under “Common Knowledge”


sky have a sports monopoly which should really be looked at — especially with the olympics soon and all this talk of inspiring people and legacy

there again though i dont think politicians or the BBC count football, rugby or motorsport as ‘sport’ – its far too common for them


Who knows perhaps the BBC will split the Olympics and only show the heats with the finals being on Sky!

Bye Bye F1 to the majority of fans that cannot afford and extra £300 a year to watch you.


I agree with the above. The BBC are on a sticky wicket. Sky are slowly buying ALL popular programs (not just sport) from people who make free to air TV.



Do you have any more comments from teams that are mid to back of grid?

Everybody seems to have a conspiracy theory. So here’s another one. This is the begining of the move to mostly PPV/Sat on a worldwide basis. Teams then receive the same or slightly more money from a mostly PPV/Sat arrangement. This leads to either a loss of team sponsors, or an increased reluctance of major world brands to become involved, because of the reduced spread of audience. Teams lose some/major part of their financial independence. Where does the power then reside in F1? This all looks like an opening shot from Mr Ecclestone, in the possible sale of F1 to Murdoch/Agnelli and partners, at some point in the future.

Iain R18/viry



Sorry if this has been asked before (so many posts on this subject) but are you in a with a chance of picking up the Sky gig? Would like to see (hear) you back.


What strikes me about this whole debate is that basically all the F1 fans who don’t want to pay for F1 want everybody else to contribute for there enjoyment.

The fact is the BBC can’t justify spending this much money for a few fans who have been spoilt over the years because the sport hasn’t needed to chase TV revenues. Unfortunately now sponsors are drying up so the best way to go about it is to maximise your money from TV revenues. This is why the Teams haven’t kicked up a fuss as they will have done the sums and research.

The interesting thing for me is what happens now to motor racing as a whole. Hopefully sky will get the GP3 and GP2 series and it already covers Indycar. I am sure they will carry it on turn it around in the same way they have for Football, Cricket and Rugby Union. None of those sports are struggling.

Finally, I am sorry for the BBC team as they do a wonderful job but life moves on and I am sure that Brundle (the cream of the BBC team) will move as he is already on the Murdoch payroll.


James b wrote:

“I am sure they will carry it on turn it around in the same way they have for Football, Cricket and Rugby Union. None of those sports are struggling.”


Most of the football teams in the Premiership are insolvent in any real business sense (i.e. they spend more than their income) and rely on billionaires to keep them afloat, so how is that not “struggling”?


I was mainly talking about how attendances and the popularity of the sports have not diminished. Cricket has grown attendances at tests and 2020 have increased. I imagine county cricket has also increased although this is marginal. As for rugby union club rugby is very healthily supported. The heineken cup is a massive success. Finally football just goes from strenghth to strength.

In terms of your point about billionaires keeping football clubs afloat? Just out of a matter of interest how many f1 teams survive on there own without major investment from manufacturers? Mclaren possibly but don’t they have major investment from Bahrain?? Williams have had to float on the stock exchange. Red bull are subsidised by a drinks company! No f1 team really survives on there own and this essentially is why they are going to sky.


Hi James, I think the majority of fans would have considered a Pay TV alternative. We know our sport is not immune to financial pressures, however the way this has been done has left a lot of people angry at the thought of paying £600 a year for 10 races worth of action. You could argue to the football fan Sky Sports actually offers good value (if you don’t mind paying up to Mr Murdoch) as they show countless huge games that would be out of reach to the everyday folk in the street.

I also believe that the BBC probably could have kept the rights, however so many people singled it out and made the ridiculous F1 vs BBC4 argument that they were backed into a corner and had to be seen to change something. Those kinds of decisions rarely make sense, and that is why this decision makes no sense either.


I agree with that. I think it seems the BBC have tried to hold onto it at any cost.

I do think though that if it was a pay per view for the other 10 races it would have not been well received either?


JA is right, it would be interesting to see what was offered and at what stage. As has been said in the fan forums, the sport needs more transparency. I’ve heard everything from the BBC wanting to get rid, to them doing everything to keep it. A little clarity would be nice.

JB, I agree that any payment based service would have been met with some kind of outcry, people moan when you change, then charge more for something. The thing is, the deal seems to suit the folk with more cash, and as actual F1 tickets cost big money, it would have been nice to see a bit of a better plan for the fans to make it relatively affordable.


It isn’t true, if it went to ITV, it would have been shared with Sky, with ITV insisting they were to be the senior partner, Sky rejected this.

The (initial) Channel 4 bid was for exclusive broadcasts.

At the meeting between the BBC and Sky, it was evident that the BBC wanted to keep F1, (or at least the people at the meeting did), but it was unclear whether it was because they felt the BBC was the home of F1, or that they were under orders to keep F1 away from another terrestrial broadcaster, hence the 2012/2013 arguments that ensued, because if the BBC had honoured their contract for 2012, C4 could have broadcast from 2013.

There are some very F1 passionate people at the BBC, but they don’t write the cheques.

Unless Sky have very low viewing figures, all live races will be exclusive to Sky sooner rather than later. FOTA may make a fortune out of this deal, but at the expense of the fans.


I have been told that if it had been Channel 4 it would have been on a similar basis shared with Sky. It’s important to find out if this is true


If you look at it like that, then why don’t the BBC axe Casualty.

Casualty costs twice as much per hour than F1 to produce, yet gets on average 1.5 million less viewers.

As the BBC Trust’s own report into their sport rights reported, F1 is the corporations most cost effective sport.

F1 Cost per Viewer Hour = Hit

F1 Cost per Viewer = Hit

F1 Actual Reach 54% = Hit

F1 Actual Live Rating = Hit

Other sports in the report:

Euro 2008 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss

Euro 2008 Actual Reach 35.2% = N/A?

Olympics 2008 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss

Olympics 2008 Actual Reach 42% = Miss

Olympics 2008 live Rating = Miss

Open Golf 2009 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss

Open Golf 2009 live Rating = Miss

Snooker 2009 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss

Snooker 2009 live Rating = Miss


None of the events you mention apart from snooker command a fee. F1 has a fee of around £40m a year. This is the sticking point not production costs.


A bargain?

Olympics 2008 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss

Olympics 2008 Actual Reach 42% = Miss

Olympics 2008 live Rating = Miss

It’s hardly watched by anyone, except for a few high profile events, as evidenced by the BBC trust’s own report, the Olympic contract costs £18 million more than the F1 contract, and F1 is the BBC’s top rated sport for cost per viewer/viewer hour … Now that was a bargain.


£47m for the London Olympics that is a bargain!! Imagine what sky would offer if they could?


Yes they did, the 2008 Olympics cost nearly £40 million, and the rights to the 2012 Olympics will cost the BBC £47 million … Do you really think the IOC give Olympic coverage away for free?

What’s the colour of the sky on your planet James?


With about 5 million F1 fans watching F1 on a regular basis in the UK, the BBC’s exclusive contract of £40million a year worked out at £8 per fan per year.

To get a Sky package with Sky Sports costs £40 per month (or £50 a month if you want it in HD) which is £480/£600 per year, as well as being put in the unstomachable position of having to contribue money to a global organisation who have been responsible for some highly questionable behaviour with their newspaper outlets.

A 75 times mark up is ridiculous; it is blatant daylight robbery, but if only 19% of the 60% of F1 fans who don’t have Sky take up the packaged needed to watch F1, Sky is still going to make £342 million a year, which – even if they were paying 100% of the £40 million fee – means they are going to be making in excess of £300 million a year on the venture.

The price to F1 for this move is that 81% of fans – in many cases long term fans who don’t even have the option financially to consider it – are going to go without and 12% of F1 fans will be an extra £600 a year out of pocket.


Or put another way, just 100,000 new subscribers to sky will Net Murdoch £60 million to share with Bernie. 250,000 new subscribers (and there will be a lot more) will net £150 million. Enough money for them not to spare a thought for the the rest of us. Done deal!


I guess you forgot that many of those 81% of fans to poor to pay for sky will still follow the races through BBC.


Says it all. Perfect example of when the BBC can invest *our* money wisely.


Very succinctly put


Yes, its definitely the End of the World.


After being an F1 fan for about 50 years and now a pensioner it is not possible to take out a Sky subscription to watch F1. I think I have alreday lost interest over this move and will take up some other interest.



This isn’t eloquent but I don’t care.

Screw BBC. Screw Sky. And Screw F1.

You can censor this if you want but I don’t care. F1 fans got screwed.


I’ve seen it suggested a couple of times that the BBC will still show the live online streams, where is the evidence for this?

If its true then who cares about the actual TV?


From what I’ve heard they will only do this when it is their week, as it were. It would make no sense for Sky to sign a deal where most folk just went to their PCs to watch instead.


How they have allowed this is beyond belief !!!

I as a 47 year old grew up watching F1 with my dad and brother, now I watch with my son and grandson (who sits between my legs and we drive round the track when in-car shots are shown) and my brother with his son, this will now no longer be happening 🙁

Generations of F1 fans let down in one foul swoop.

Pay TV sports damages it’s following (yes it funds the sport more but it reduces the sports following)

Think back 15-20 years I bet you can name many Boxing champions, Cricket Players, Football players and teams, Now compare that to which boxers, cricketers, footballers you know of now?

This also reduces the number of youngsters who grow up with the dream of becoming a sports star as they do not have the access to it like we did has youngsters.

The same will happen to F1, I like most cannot afford to pay out

£294 for Sky subscription

£147 for Sports subscription

£180 for phone line (required for First year)

£621 extra a year

Plus we still have to pay our Licence fee £145.50

Sadly this will be the demise of F1 as Viewing figures will drop in turn Sponsors will not be getting value for money thus reducing sponsorship thus meaning teams have less to develop with driving the sport backwards.

Why was the other FREE to view t.v channels (ITV, 4, 5) not given the chance to take over or share the F1 rights?

The government should be investigating the running of the BBC to allow such a major event being sold off and taken away from licence fee payers.


As a huge F1 fan I was thinking I would have to sign up for Sky. Having just seen this cost breakdown i’m in shock! Is this really the cost? I just can’t afford that. I knew it was going to be a significant amount – just not that significant.


hmm. the ‘phone line’ comment isn’t right imho. but its still a lot of money without that.


As most people in the UK have a landline for internet purposes you can disregard that cost.

You will need a dish.

So cost about 450 a year

An alternative is buy a dish and a generic satellite receiver point the dish at astra 2 then receive the german or french feeds. Tune into radio 5 live for commentary.

Total cost about 100 for new receiver and 80 for dish including installation.

It is simple to tune a dish into Astra 2.

Whatever you do dont give the money to SKY.

Johnny Shallow

Or enter : ‘Petition Buzz Keep F1 On The BBC’ inot your search engine.

It’s vital that we all unite and spare a few seconds to ‘sign’ it and show these capitalists that F1 is our sport and we’ll fight for it.


I’ve signed a few petitions so far but this seems to be the best.

James I know it might be an unusual step for you but any chance of highlighting this petition or starting your own for me to sign?

I’d like a petition that could be given some prominence for both fans to sign and fota/BBC/Cvc to track…

Somewhere where the number of complaints can really be tracked…

Carlos Marques

In Canada, F1 is shown on TSN (The Sports Network). The races have not been shown on CBC (your BBC equivalent) for quite a few years. To watch the races you have to have cable (basic subscription), subscribe to the high-tier sports package (which shows TSN1 and TSN2 so that you can watch all races in case TSN1 is showing golf), and the HD package (if you want to watch in HD). All in all, it costs $130 (with tax) a month to have these packages. Net result? I went from watching every race since the ’80s to occasional races (Monaco and Spa) when I can make it to my father’s house. I will disconnect completely from F1 if/when James puts his blog behind a pay-wall…


This is why I cancelled my Canadian cable.

It is ridiculous! If you guys think Sky is bad you should see the rip off that is Canadian cable, Internet and cell phones.

Allan Bannister

And the TSN coverage is dreadful, the cut to commercials way too often and then have been known to cut the end off the Drivers Interviews to show the 45th re-run of last nights Hockey or Baseball Game.

Carlos, it is actually possible to get Speed HD on an FTA satellite in Canada, I will hopefully have mine set up ready for Spa….. Then I can cancel my Sports Package and save $50 a month.


Speed is worse. From what I remember they took commercial breaks like crazy. At least TSN has the BBC feed.


No chance of that..glad you use JA on F1 to stay informed. I hope many of our UK readers follow your example.


Time for JAonF1 to put a live feed up 😉


What I’m particularly concerned about is that there is so little account taken of the need to do everything we can to maintain the United Kingdom as the home of motorsport. As anyone who saw Evan Davies’ ‘Made in Britain’ documentary on the BBC learnt, high value and high tech industry such as Formula 1 is critical to our economic future as a nation. Whilst I am sympathetic to the view amongst many, including BBC execs and MPs, that the BBC shouldn’t be pouring our money into the pockets of the wealthy and immoral vultures that control formula 1, this is not the only factor. Indeed, isn’t there an argument that our public service broadcaster ought to be promoting and nurturing such an important national industry?


Is this a genuine mistake by BE? Did he forget that it is not enough to have the basic Sky subscription, but also the package subscription? I don’t believe BE is so silly as to cut off so many viewers. There are a quoted 10million Sky subscribers – how many of these have the relevant channel package? And how many of these do not watch FI on the Beeb already, thereby being truly “new” fans.

It doesn’t affect me directly because I am not in UK these days, but it does affect the only sport I have been following continuously since the 1970’s. I accept that the sport is a business, but every business needs customers – the fans – and the sponsors will be watching carefully about their exposure. I see some have expressed optimism about the possibilities of tying up with other Sky facilities, but that was too quick a reaction, they need to really sit down and think hard about the raw numbers of fans seeing their product.

Personally – I think the business has got too greedy. OK – it is an expensive sport and the teams have to continue the process of cost control, but the other aspects of the sport need to do the same.

A reduced fee to free-to-air and increased fee to pay view was another idea that we kicked around here. HD only on payview was another. Keeping free viewing is crucial to keep the fans (customers) happy, and the ones who want a “better” service of HD and data-streaming can go to satellite.

BE is very dismissive of ideas that are not his own, so it’s unlikely that we will see any big change unless the teams and sponsors really do flex some muscle. The fans are just connon fodder 🙁


It would be interesting to find out if the 10 million subscribers also includes the freesat customers. Whereby it’s just a sky receiver showing free to air channels.


i agree, sky should have provided HD, 3D and other data sources for the ultra hardcore fan and the BBC could have kept a normal feed. The two could have shared commentators even…


Am I the only person that thinks Sky getting F1 is a positive thing? Sure, the mass-market sponsors will be unhappy as will the majority of fans who have become used to it being available on a FTA broadcast. However, what cannot be discounted is the quality of Sky’s premier sports broadcasts and what they’ve done to enhance the sports. Make no mistake, Sky *always* know what they’re doing and they’re not afraid to blow money to the viewer’s benefit.

As a long-term, hardened F1 fan, one of the most frustrating things I find about the BBC’s coverage is its perspective – they constantly want to recruit new viewers to justify the costs and do this by producing extended features and (what I consider) patronising commentary. ITV were also guilty of this to a lesser extent and I can’t think of the number of “How expensive is an F1 car” and “How does over-steer/under-steer work” feature shows I’ve sat through. Even more annoying are the news features that cover stuff mentioned on here and Joe’s blog 6 weeks beforehand. I’ve not even watched any of these features this season and instead just tune in at 1pm, partly for the above reasons but also because of the broadcasters.

Jake Humphreys is a charismatic guy and I’m sure he’s done a good job recruiting new viewers but he’s not a passionate F1 follower. Eddie Jordan is an embarrassment, brightly coloured clothes are fine but his strange predictions and opinions just highlight how he’s not really right for the job. Brundle is great but really should have been kept as the ‘commenter’ rather than the ‘commentator’, I’ll be surprised if Sky don’t offer him a deal. Coulthard is quiet and uncomfortable, he’s just not a natural communicator. It’s clear from the coverage so far this season that they’re all a little embarrassed about the BBC’s decision.

Sky have done some impressive stuff with football but, almost to a greater extent, to cricket. Their programmes are meant to entertain fans, not recruit them and the production quality is terrific. It’s a completely different level to channel 4. Further to this though they’ve done something which no FTA broadcaster can do – they’ve re-glamorised the sport. By attaching a price tag to the live coverage, getting the best commentators and pouring money in left right and centre it’s made cricket exclusive and arguably more exciting to watch.

I think Sky will make F1 broadcasts into what the hardened fans really want with the right broadcasters, commentators and really detailed features. Now all I need to do is justify the cost to the Mrs…


You are absolutely right! YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE who feels that way.


I agree that Sky’s coverage of football and cricket is excellent, however they show a lot of it and therefore invest a lot of time and money and the best people want to work for them. If the BBC had live cricket and football and Sky only had highlights I’d imagine that the BBC’s coverage would be better than Sky’s.

You only have to look at their motorsport coverage to realise that if they don’t have a monopoly over a sport their presentation is quite poor.


Ok well for a minute think about the premier sports that Sky does broadcast…

Premiership Football

Championship Football



Rugby Union

Are any of these sports in a ‘bad’ place at the moment? All of them have been in the past and I’d argue Sky has played their part in helping them out.

So what, they like swooshy graphics and dishy girls; it’s better than listening to Eddie Jordan mindlessly talking about utter nonsense.


Not living in the UK I cannot comment on Sky’s coverage and commentating skils or lack of. I can disagree with you Josh in that a TV company private or public, free to air or pay per view there main goal is one thing to gain viewers more so for privat companies. Why you ask because that is how they charge for advertising and therefore gain revenue. No company will produce and transmit a show that does not have enough viewers.

Trust me if F1 does not provide SKY with the revenue it need and demands it will drop F1 quicker than Lewis around the Nurburgring.


Fred, just as an FYI the BBC charges a license fee of about £125 per year to every property in the UK. As a result, programmes on the BBC have no advertising and do not promote any ‘interaction’ with a private company.

Sometimes this cascades into amusing levels of ridiculousness with their policy on independence. See here

Occasionally they will mention ‘Baked Beans’ on TV for instance, deliberately not mentioning ‘Heinz’. Sometimes they accidentally mention ‘Heinz’ and swiftly apologise and say ‘there are other brands available. Inefficient circus.


Sorry Josh I can’t agree there. The BBC coverage is full of charisma and adds to the entertainment served up on the track.

I don’t know why Sky gets such a good rep, if the Beeb covered the Premiership I’m convinced it would be so much better than what we have now on Sky. The BBC try to produce a decent, in depth, current analytical coverage.

F1 is (whether we like it or not) niche when compared to the likes of football and needs new fans to be able to pick it up. For example the features on tyres, sure as a fan I know what the tyres do, but it was still cinematic and interesting to watch. Some of the features this year have been superb.

Sky’s coverage is the equivalent of a glossy magazine. Loads of bombast, loads of glamour (I’m sure their Monaco coverage will be sickly) with swooshy graphics and the like. When it comes to the analysis and punditry they tend (in most cases, but not all) to be wishy washy and very very biased towards their own product.

BBC did that today but it was all extremely tongue in cheek, as they too know what Sky will do to it.

I do agree with you in part that for example their cricket coverage does have a level of depth, and is mostly free of the HELLO! style of coverage that blights much of their other sporting output.

I’ll be watching at my folks rather than shelling out though, the cost is much too prohibitive for 10 races


What nonsense. Can’t be bothered to say any more than that really.


I’m gutted to be losing this coverage after watching since the late 1970s also – but I think the BBC have shot themselves in the foot with their expensive polished coverage and innappropriate “team”. It’s almost as if they have hired this expensive team and flown them all over the world and now we have to listen to them – I agree Jake is not a die hard enthusiast, Eddie is embarassing and DC just biased.

I’d like to know how much of licence fee payer’s money is spent on those awful mini films in the build up with Eddie talking about the noble sport in poetic terms with uplifting music in the background! And how much on wardrobe?

MotoGP coverage whilst not exactly ideal either bumbles along in an amateurish fashion in the style of Murray Walker but must surely cost a whole lot less and therefore have a much better chance of survival.

I too will never go down the Sky route – Like most F1 fans I’m not generally a fan of televised sport – I have never watched a football match in my entire life.


hmm i have to disagree about brundle and DC I think they’re a good pairing and getting better. They need a bit of working maybe but they’re both knowledgeable, passionate ex-racers who clearly get on with each other (even if they do have little arguments over gravel traps etc.. :p).

EJ and Jake can walk imo, they add nothing except filling time by interviewing people in the pitlane.

Ted does an awesome job in the race though and the bits he comes out with add alot.

Personally I would like to see the radio 5 live commentators brought in somehow, i’d like to see croft and Davidson on the tv feed.


Josh, the wonderful cricket coverage you laud here (and I’d say it was showy rather than great) is at the expense of all those viewers who cannot afford to watch it. Are you happy with that?




You think sky employs the best commentators and isn’t patronizing? Really? Forget the cost of sky for a moment – just on their brash, loud, know nothing airhead level treatment of most other sports – you’re calling the BBC amateur and patronizing and bogging up sky? I think ypu must have a unique sky sports package compared to me mate. It’s neon tosh. Bright, shiny and cheap.


hang on, yor’re in favour of Sky and yet you complain about the BBC’s patronising coverage??


Good posts, thanks for going through and selecting some good ones. Mark makes a good point – let’s have some perspective. I have been following F1 for over 20 years now, but it’s just not worth the hassle going to Sky. I’ll probably watch the BBC races next year, but without all the races, I don’t imagine it will hold my interest.

But so what? What I’ll probably do is just do some more family things on those Sunday afternoon, or watch a film or one of the many other things that until now, F1 has beaten in the battle for my attention.

Who knows, with a growing family, maybe this is the push for me to go and find something more important to do instead of sitting in front of the telly for several hours on one of my precious days off.


A very sad day , the BBC Full coverage had been the best I have watched , fantastic coverage , I am now going to have to pay to watch the full season , will it be any where near the same kind of standard ???????


I think there has been an over-reaction from F1 fans. It appears the remains had Sky not jumped in, the BBC was going to drop F1 coverage altogether. I think many should be relieved, not angered.

I suspect the Sky coverage is going to be absolutely superb and will surprise a few people.

I’m thinking James you should be on the coverage as well as Craig Scarborough doing some in-depth F1 feature programs 🙂


the contract could have gone to channel 4 who offered the same money as sky and could have done a split deal with the BBC too


If the BBC did decide to drop it, one of the other free to air broadcasters would have been offered it under the concord agreement. Sky will show the FIA output like everybody else and I’m sure any pre and post race commentary will come from the studios in London and be the same sterile format as everything thing else they do.

This is basically Bernie taking the cash while he can, he’s an old man and in 2018 when the deal is to be renegotiated he will be out of the picture.

The European market is not the prime market it once was, you may have noticed recently most of it has been going bust, Asia is where the money is and Bernie and the sponsors will be looking to them to increase their income, so unfortunately no matter how much noise we make its not going to change much, they don’t care about the fans just keeping lots of money coming in to swell their pockets

Michael Horswill

I read somewhere that the sky coverage would be on a pay-per-race basis, a but likethe boxing is at the moment. This is completely outrageous, at a 22 year old who has been watching f1 since I was about 5, I can still remember the mansell years. After some of the most exciting seasons I have ever seen in the pastfew seasons to be priced out of this is a real shame. There is no way I can afford a sky package and there realistically won’t be an opportunity to watch it in a pub with sky as the football will be on there. The only saving grace is that although I can’t afford sky I do have very fast Internet (I stream alot of content online already), so please BBC atleast keep streaming it live!!


Lets take a breath and just see how things develop. We have been spoiled recently with excelent coverage, practice sessions have been brilliant with crofty and ant. So informative and as i can record it on the pvr i havent missed one in the 3 years they have been on.

Sky have a lot to live up to and if they dont do it, numbers will fall and the contract wont be renewed. In a few years the licence fee will go up, the bbc will have more cash and F1 will be back. If it all works out, then pretty soon it will just be how it is and we will forget that it has been any different. And i have been watching F1 for best part of 30 years, first race i can really remember is Monaco 1984, i think. Senna chacing down prost in a toleman??

And btw, James, keep up the good work on the site. Along with the BBC coverage, it has been so important in my enjoyment of the whole F1 experience.


+1 on the comment about this site.


Shame all these poignant remarks will make no difference. Money, money, money. Shame so many of us earn so little.


This is a strange self destructive move that will reduce viewers and thus sponsor exposure.

I live in Australia who take the BBC feed and wonder what will happen down-under ?

If I had or indeed am forced to pay to watch adverts on wheels I will not. I have watched F1 since the late 1970’s and find it a sad development that a modern approach and service will exclude so many.

Massive own goal Bernie, but as you don’t have many years left, why should you care and the teams will need fancy footwork to keep sponsors on-side.


It’s worth remembering that the BBC had a stark choice – lose F1 completely or go for a halfway house. I think they chose the right option.


BBC had a contract until 2013.

They could have honoured this and then left the way clear for another free-to-air channel to bid-the Concord agreement entails a FTA channel for the UK.

But the BBC chose Sky in preference- why? Pure spite.


I disagree guys. Had the Beeb retained their coverage until 2013 it most likely would have been on a massively reduced scale, meaning UK based presenters commenting over the live feed. Going down to 10 races – and probably mostly European ones – means that they can still put on a good show as they do today.

I’m not saying I’m happy with the decision – far from it – I’m not happy that the Government can’t afford my pension either! But times are hard…


Honouring a contract should have been the only option. It is the live coverage that is important- the commentating feed is the least important part and is available from other sources.

After 2013 the way is then open for a Free-to-air broadcaster to come in with a low bid knowing that the Concord agreement will not allow Sky to bid.

The way that BBC has twisted this means that no FTA broadcaster has a way in.

The sponsors will soon start screaming once they see the low viewing figures from next year.

Martin Johnson

They didnt choose the right option – they had a contract of exclusive rights to live races to the end of 2013.

If they cant afford to continue they should have seen out their contract, bowed out graciously and then allowed another free to air channel to bid. Instead they sold out to Sky and Bernie, keeping some involvement, whilst locking out ITV or another free to air provider until 2018.

Despicable behaviour with my licence fee.


Not even mentioning that if one goes for sky sports option, he will effectively pay for half of the races + get all the ad treatment. Not fun.


I had a lot of harsh words to share with everyone involved in this whole situation.

I left them all on my voicemail so Murdoch can access them and share my thoughts with the rest of the people responsible for ruining F1 coverage in the UK.


ha ha ha ha ha ha that is such a valid point i think i shall do the same lol


Perhaps you would like to know how this issue is dealt with another country, Portugal in this case.

For quite a few years, Cable TV is the main choice for viewers. There are several operators and subscription packages which makes the market quite competitive with matching prices. A basic plan with 15 channels including the 4 free-to-air national channels, costs less than 10GBP/month.

The problem is that F1 is broadcast by SportTV which is an expensive extra-fee channel, increasing the subscription to over 30 GBP/month. And for an F1 fan, who wishes just to watch two races/month and doesn’t care for the endless football matches always on, it is too much. There isn’t even a pay-per-view option, which could minimize the situation.

F1, that was a widely followed sport when boadcast by the free channels, is now completely ignored; and this is shown by the newspapers on monday: the news about the race are 1/16 page stuck somewhere, while before it was usual to have full page reports.

To look after the sponsors money, Bernie should favour free-to-air deals or, at least, with the obligation of having F1 races with ppv option.

Clair Bussandri

Sadly it is not just a case of a large number of fans not going to pay for SKY, there certainly seems to be alot of fans that are absolutely livid about this decision and probably won’t be watching F1 on the BBC from next season either. Please see the attached link to a bbc blog where fans have given their reaction to the BBC/SKY deal.

I for one at this moment do not think it is likely I will be watching F1 from next season onwards, so far from this move attracting a new audience it is certainly doing so at the expense of a longstanding loyal fanbase.


I think some will follow through on their threat, but many will find a way to continue following the sport


Sure, many if not most will continue to follow it in some way. I just cannot understand how some intelligent people are acting as though the viewing figures will stay the same or even rise though. Maybe if the BBC show the highlights on BBC1 at prime time it would but I can’t see them doing that as it would make a mess of their key Sunday night schedule which caters for a very different segment of the viewers. But when it comes to watching live, the Sky only races will see a massive fall and I expect the BBC ones to be lower too since it no longer becomes a tradition to watch every race among the fans – once people get out of the habit they will quickly realise that there are other ways of spending their Sunday afternoons. For sure, the first time there is another boring season (and there will inevitably be one before long – no amount of KERS, DRS, or built in obsolescence tyres will stop one team getting a huge jump on the opposition at some point), F1 will lose a lot of viewers they will never get back.


So James, do you think there will be an increase of the sites illegally streaming it over the internet. most of the ones I’ve used when I’ve been in the USA have shown BBC footage and I’m sure sky will shut them down ASAP especially if the person doing has broadband from sky.


I am in the states and have been watching ITV and BBC coverage for years via bittorent and usenet. I will continue to do so with sky – it is very unlikely that sky or anyone else will put a stop to this content being available if you know where to look.

I am more concerned with losing the great commentators – Brundle/Coulthard/Kravits.

BTW – I am not suggesting it is right to download content. I would pay for BBC F1 coverage in a moment just like I pay for cable TV here where I live.


I do, yes. It will be a very interesting time in terms of internet piracy


Hi James,

I think many, many, more people will leave the sport than Ecclestone, the teams, or even you realise.

I have followed F1 avidly for 40 years, but I already feel a little disconnected from it today – didn’t bother with the Forum on the Red Button for the first time I can recall.

I won’t be watching next year as it stands – I don’t like to feel cheated, so I will have my first “sabbatical” from F1 next year and then we will see how it goes! What a shame for the fans and the sponsors – the 2 losers in all this.


You should have watched the forum for the moment a fan said “Not on Sky” and Jake looked as if he had swallowed a wasp!


I totally agree @Adrian M. And they’ll be quite shocked next year…

Another thing I haven’t seen anyone say yet is that F1 fans tend to be different to followers of football etc. Many tend only to watch F1 as a sport so it makes even less financial sense to pay for sky.


Perhaps, but I’ve never seen so many negative comments pile up so quickly on your website, especially if we count the previous few articles. It’s patently obvious that the majority are somewhere between sad to absolutely livid. At the very best some are cautiously optimistic. Nobody is jumping up and down with joy. Shouldn’t that tell us something?


Unfortunately it’s not us that need to be told.

Will the teams, Bernie, the money men understand from within their ivory towers ?

Do they just not understand, or do they understand perfectly but not care?

The sponsors are the key who can make a difference I suspect. But most of them are not from the UK market, nor earn the majority of their profit from it any more.


You are wrong. Today was the first time I ever **deliberately** missed a Grand Prix. My 20 years of regular viewing have ended. Period.

I will not support a sport that has no interest in it’s fans. Even while the current season’s races are still available. (the racing may be interesting, but it’s Vettel’s year again, and I couldn’t care less any more)

Good bye F1.


This sport is quite popular for quite a long time.

Perhaps a cycle will take it down a few notches and it will be free to air again.

NFL, NBA, NHL, baseball, MLS, Olympics, world cup somehow all manage to be free to air. While I understand the revenue angle, I was really hoping that UK model was going to go world wide – just with ads, not the other way around. But I honestly have saved a few nice days so far this year since I dumped my cable. I’m alive, have no regrets, and know what is going on so far. I even saw a few races live at the gym in the morning while on a super long treadmill run.


i completly agree with you but you don’t have to do that.

I follow f1 since 1981, and nowadays i only watch on tv. I don’t even buy magazines anymore. And when i travel to see motorsports, i never choose f1. But i watch on tv, that doesn’t cost me a dime.

Of course if a would live in england i wouldn’t subscribe to sky, but i would go to a sports bar to watch it for a few hours with a couple of pints.

Keep enjoying the “show”, because that’s what it is. The real f1 is long gone.


A bit dramatic. Premature, too. You’re shooting yourself in the foot, why not explore possible alternatives then make a decision?

There’s masses of creative thinking on JAonF1, someone may come up with a devious way to out-Murdoch Murdoch!


Indeed – though I imagine many of those will circumvent Sky. Foregin satellites, streaming via proxy, or download after the event.


When it’s all said and done basically the teams and bernie have chosen the money over the fans.


I’ve recently read Tom Bowers bio of Bernie called ‘No Angel’, it’s not very well written but gave me a good understanding of where Bernie came from and how he got to where he is. I decided to read it after the Barhain fiasco.

One thing that it made clear to me was that the only opinions he has are based on what makes money. ‘the book people’ sell it for a fiver. It certainly makes these announcements less of a surprise.


Ecclestone & Murdoch do the British public a big favour – get yourselves in a leaky boat and set sail in search of icebergs. We’ll keep a lookout for you honest….


Just like the long goodbye of an old flame, looks like F1 is slowly but surely disappearing from my life. I bought Sky years ago when Eurosport showed practice days free but got rid of it when sky wanted more money for this that and the other. Then they stopped qualifying on Fridays, I always used to go to Silverstone for the two days qualifying, then watch the race live on TV. Then they stopped in season testing at Silverstone, which was a great opportunity for real fans to get a taste of the action. It was at F1 testing where my kids got their first taste of live F1. Now pay TV! That’s not for me so I will just do what needs to be done when an old flame fades away, get a new one!


I completely agree with Mark, although I haven’t been following F1 for quite as long. It’s everything live on free to air TV or nothing, even if one race is to be on Sky I’ll stop watching. The coverage of F1 by the BBC was and still is nothing short of perfect.


I’d like to hope that Sebee’s contribution was written with his tongue in his cheek.

Having had time to reflect on this, I’m coming round to the idea that it could have been worse. We’ll see more of F1 on BBC than football fans get to see of Premiership and Championsahip matches.

Also, this isn’t strictly Bernie’s fault. He represents CVC and the teams, if the BBC aren’t prepared to pay the going rate then he has to look elsewhere. If anyone’s to be blamed it’s BBC bigwigs that think their budget’s better spent on 101 Ways to Leave a Gameshow, and Total Wipeout, or whatever it’s called.

That’s sad, because with F1 the BBC was demonstrating that they truly are a world class broadcaster. Their F1 production was something they could have been very proud of yet they’ve elected to give up on that. It isn’t really world class at anything anymore, except perhaps for its news output. It’s been years since they’ve produced anything close to The Wire, Sopranos, Mad Men and the like.

Ah well, nothing lasts forever. Next year I’ll watch what I can. I’ll probably listen to a couple on the radio, with Twitter and live timing to look at. I’ll perhaps watch a couple of Sky’s races at the pub. Then I may have some success pointing my satellite dish in a different direction. I’ll learn German before I start paying Sky £50 per month.


Look, all I’m saying is that you have to make lemonade from lemons. Of course it is meant to be live and watched as it happens. I tried to watch the Fox delay and every time I read who wins before I watched it if I missed the live stream.

You can see here there are many fans. Some who will pay, some who won’t, some who won’t watch, some who will put up with it. One paintbrush does not color us all. I have been to nearly 20 races in my life, and watched every GP for two decades, but there aren’t as many committed fans out there. Popularity of F1 goes up and down you can be sure. Fans drop off with each event and new fans take a peak at the sport and maybe get sucked in. Many fans enjoy the sport for life. Many get turned off by the politics and more an more obvious greed in this money sport as they mature and pass their 30s. I for example had a few kids, and nothing will change your priorities faster. I don’t want them watching TV, an I don’t want them to see me plumped down in front of the tube for two hours. So I have come to tape the races and only watch if it really is exciting GP. I know the result usually, yes. James is quick with reports and it’s there right after the race. But it’s not so bad. You value your time when you’re older and have kids. 3 hours per race times twenty races is two and a half days a year. Add to that that it’s in the middle of the day, and saving a few of those days is a real gain. BBC has just potentially saved you 10 Sundays. Not ideal for fans since FOM did it to rake more cash. But you can pay them back by watching only the 10, reading up on the other 10 and taking 10 Sundays back from clutches of F1 and TV marketing. Lemons…lemonade.


If BBC hadn’t done half and half deal though it wouldn’t have gone to pay tv at all though. BBC involvement is what helped nullify the Free To Air clause in the Concorde Agreement.

If they’d stood fast, Bernie would have had to come back with a lower fee and/or offer it to one of the other terrestrial channels.

Its a very naive move for someone who is paid £180000 a year to amange BBC Sports.


Yes but the problem for Bernie and CVC was there was nobody with the money, he can sell it as much as he likes but if nobody is buying at the price he’s selling and he has to sell, then a smart salesman will eventually lower the price.

He knew that he was going to struggle getting the full money from a FTA channel, hence him constructing his nice little split deal with the BBC playing patsy, because they didn’t want to pay out for the full contract they had for next year. Blackmail? Bernie? Surely not?

I’d be happy to pay £3 per race via the internet and FOM/CVC would probably make more money that way and i’d know that my money was actually helping to fund the sport.

But the deal that has been done is 10 times that and would involve handing my money to the Murdoch empire and very little actually being passed on to the teams.


Yes, but it is Bernies job to ensure he always has more people lined up to pay more – not less. He creates demand. A smart salesman.

I really feel for you, but at the same time I remind myself you get it free OTA still. Sure it sucks to loose 10 live races, but you still get them all.

F1 is slow to move unless motivated by profit or necessity as HD broadcast lateness showed us. Probably only 10 more years before we can buy F1 races on iTunes or Netflix for $2.99 each.


*Manage even


well ive just watched RTL coverage, in poland, via the internet, with the 5 live commentary in the background and it wasnt too bad…
Its a good experiment of what the future of F1 will hold for me.
Incidentally, the RTL coverage with their massive outdoor studio, nay amphitheatre, Nikki lauda and some other guy was pretty shocking. I wondered if this is what the Sky coverage will look like? (shudder!)


Kai Ebel does take some getting used to Paul.


Interesting. Anyone else been experimenting?


I wouldn’t get your hopes up. The Concorde agreement that enshrines the right for free-to-air TV in Europe expires at the end of 2012. Judging by the way that the teams are talking (or remaining silent) they all appear to welcome this deal and probably wouldn’t object to the clause being removed from 2013 onwards.


Yes, but I live in Germany and enjoyed watching RTL from Vettelheim(Heppenheim) today but there are ads.

For the UK fans you need a 80cm dish and a receiver which might already be built in to your LCD TV.

The cost is around £100-£150 but at least it will not go to Sky. Point at the Astra 19 satellite and away you go.

RTL is channel 3, however the quality will be 720i (DVD) not 1080i


I have watched formula one for as long as I can remember. I will be 25 this year and have been brought up in a house where we watch f1 round the table with our Sunday lunch. I went to my first british grand prix at the age of 9 and have been (almost) every year since. I have many childhood memories of watching f1 and ‘the chain’ is a song I think of as a theme tune to my early years. The ITV coverage was acceptable but the level of the coverage has been unparalleled since the BBCs return in 2009. As a fan I am extremely disappointed that the BBC has abandoned the sport in this way. The viewing figures are currently at the highest they have been for 10 years and a move to pay tv will only damage the level of recognition the sport has attained. We currently have 2 British former World Champions on the grid both of whom are regularly fighting for wins. This season has been the most exciting in recent years by far and we have, contrary to popular belief, had 4 different winners this season and some excellent battles throughout the field. As you have pointed out 81% of fans surveyed have said they will not buy a sky package to watch the sport. I’m with them and will be listening to Croft and Ant on 5live as I know they’re commentary is well informed and entertaining.

I’m well aware of the BBC’s ‘financial reasons’ for the decisions but can anybody tell me how this makes sense for the sport?


This deal is a poor deal for F1 overall. No new viewers will be added. If anything judging by views on here and elsewhere less people will watch. This can’t be good for sponsors of F1. Consider also people like pensioners who can’t afford to pay for sky. People who can’t get sky at their home. Freeview/virgin tv viewers and people who aren’t allowed to put up a dish. Also with an anti Murdoch view in the country not sure how many will sign up. I’m sure Sky will do a decent job shame only two million people will be watching.


Sky are allowing broadcast on their sky go coverage. I’d suggest clubbing together to purchase a subscription and then hundreds misusing this feature to save cash and save filling the sky coffers.

This does nothing for the coverage quality however. The BBC are ditching the current team and reducing race build up and the red button forum and as mentioned above the sky analysis will feature corporate lackeys who will only go on and on about the 4 drivers who’s names they remember – they would never dare utter Martin Brundles claim that ‘this wasn’t the most exciting GP ever.’

Sky sport is well financed and I imagine their will be a lot more race cams and streams (good points) but their analysis – going by their other output – will be for polished model presenters or minor fringe f1 hangers on with very little to say other than Lewis was robbed etc. It will be the equivalent of the planetf1 website which is dedicated to rumor, gossip and populist chanting sloganeering rather than anything approaching the knowledge displayed by the BBC (bad points).

So now we will lose the quality BBC output (which appears the savings were immediately spent on bidding for Dutch talent show ‘the voice’ to combat the x factor) and gaining loud and shallow coverage from sky.


I’m not happy at all about this. I can’t afford to open a Sky account and I love F1. I’ve never missed a live race, even when abroad. The BBC were supposed to have signed a 5 year contract. I would rather it have stayed with ITV now, even with the annoying ad breaks. I’m so sad about this and I can see me gradually stopping watching it.

I diligently fill in my F1 guide book with the results each race and work things around the races, well it looks like I’m going to have more time to myself now,sadly.


well if sky do an online stream through their website where you can pay say £2 to watch the GP, with Brundle (and DC) as commentators and no adverts during the race then I would actually be tempted to do that. Murdoch there’s an idea.


I’ve not looked into this in much detail but top up tv allows you to subscribe to Sky on a monthly basis without contract. You do need to buy a new box though. It still costs a fair chunck and you only get sky sports 1 and/or 2 in SD but may be an option for some (depending on your stance with the Murdoch machine).


Its still £32 a month for Sky Sports 1 & 2 and who’s to say they’ll always put F1 on those 2 channels and its still Murdoch so its a no go from me.

Whats interesting is all the team bosses thinking everything is fine. Obviously they’ve been out of the country for a while so may not fully understand the backlash against the Murdochs. Think if Whitmarsh and Parr do even a small amount of research when they’re back in the UK they may have a different view on how succesful this was/is.

Whitmarsh even said something about viewer numbers increasing when it goes to Sky. How does that work? everyone who has Sky has access to BBCF1, whereas not everyone who has access to BBCF1 has access to Sky.

Its ok saying that we will still be able to see race highlights but when I watch races i’m also watching the live timing screen, the driver tracker and the McLaren pitwall website. I’d lose all that extra info and excitement if I watch the highlights.

The thing that really stinks about this whole thing is the numbers.

If you say an average of 6 million people watch live races at the moment. The 30 Million per year saved by the BBC is equivalent of £5 per person per year.

40% of people in the uk apparently have Sky at the moment and lets take a very optimistic guess that 50% already have sky sports package, meaning the other 50% (1.2 Million) will need to upgrade at a cost of £25 per month

Then take all non sky viewers (3.6 Million) as either ordering sky or take the top-up tv option – midpoint £45

It means worst case scenario, for everyone who currently watches F1 Live to do so in the future would cost £2.3 Billion each year or £384 per viewer.



I agree with you and I am no fan of this decision either. There has been a big attempt from most teams to be more open and embrace social media. That aspect really helps to become more involved in the sport as it happens as well as between races, this will be lost for free-to-air viewers.

I think the quote about attracting more viewers came from Bernie as I’ve not heard or read much reaction from British team principles at all on this (outside of what James has reported) which is disappointing to say the least. Their lack of comment makes me think they are accepting it.

I don’t have Sky and won’t subscribe to their full package, top up TV is the only option for me, but as you say, only if F1 will be shown on those two channels.

All a bit of a shambles really.


If only. They love their big package subscriptions – and look at how much boxing costs to PPV.


i said when this all cam about that Georgie Thompson will present it.Epic Fail.


Living a long way south of UK I can’t get Sky, but I do have access to the red button streams. Consequently,I am absolutely devastated. Next year I shall have to watch the Spanish HD presentation with its poor and biased commentary.

My only hope is that the Non live shows will be transmitted on 5 live on the red button streams too.


And may I add, there a hundreds of other ex-pats trying to watch F1 in English all over Europe in the sane position.

Has señor Ecclestone no compassion, do the Beeb not care about the British overseas.


May I recommend you move further South to Australia?

All the races are shown on free to air TV. we get the commentary from the Beeb (Brundle and Coulthard), have James Allen commenting practice for the #AusGP as well as some features too.

The only downsides are that we’ve got four 2min 40sec ad breaks during the race and the prerace show is mostly below standard.

I wasn’t a happy bunny when I discovered Australia’s coverage after being used to years of ITV broadcasting.

I’ve moved from France to the UK in 1998 and have never known the BBC coverage but have been quite envious for a couple of years. I guess the tide has turned somehow.


I have lived in Melbourne for 7 years and also have been able to watch on FTA on HD with BBC coverage. OneHD must be paying the BBC for live coverage as I imagine so do a lot of other countries. What happens to all that revenue they get from this. Very sad


It is not the BBC’s job to care about people who have chosen to leave the UK and therefore not pay their contribution in terms of the licence fee. You have paid your money and taken your choice. As one who chose to live in Germany for 6 years I know full well there are many folk like you who expect everything to be provided in English for free.


I actually have lived here 13 years, speak the local language almost fluently and watch the local tv regularly. The point is I don’t have the option to pay for an english language service if I wanted to. I don’t EXPECT it for free, but whilst it is there I am grateful. So the phrase “folk like you”, doesn’t really apply.


I live in Belgium, where I subscribe to cable carrying main BBC channels. So I am paying for these channels through the carriage deal struck with BBC Worldwide. However, Sky is not marketed here so I don’t even have the option to subscribe without convoluted alternative arrangements.

The upshot is that I will be back to watching on commercial tv with no HD option and no pre/post race coverage.

I suppose you only truly appreciate what you had once it has been taken away.


+1 I live outside the UK, but it would be unreasonable for me not to pay the licence fee & expect to get what I want from the BBC.

Oh, I’ve just thought…….Do you think my old local Council in Sussex will take a trip out here to empty my bins?


Depends if they pay the licence fee, I suppose…


I think that this would have a major impact on the future of F1 Racing, losing publicity because people wont pay to watch the sport. Personally, i think BBC are doing a fantastic job, and don’t understand why something so brilliant has to change! I’m strong against BSkyB taking over this coverage, so please put a spot to this outrage!


I posted this elsewhere and thought it would fit the theme of this blog.

THE revenue stream for the BBC is the license fee that we all pay to watch any TV in the UK. The total income pays for 4 TV channels, numerous radios stations, national and local, and the BBC website. The BBC is independent. It produces a large proportion of it’s content – a lot of which is sold around the world very successfully, creating a very decent ‘revenue stream’. The BBC’s Formula 1 programming is sold to many countries around the world. (I’d love to know what that earns for them.) I’ve read that F1 on the BBC attained a 47% audience share – the share of ALL people watching the TV at that time in the UK. In the current splintered TV market, that is HUGE. Any commercial network would kill for such a share. It was also the 15th most watched show of all shows in one week during the Canadian GP – that’s all shows on British TV. This would suggest that a very large percentage of the UK license fee payers want to watch F1 and that should give the BBC a pretty decent remit to spend a decent amount on the extensive programming. Another thing that a lot of people aren’t factoring in is that the Sunday show is usually 3 hours long and Saturday 2 hours. To produce 1 hour of peak viewing TV of any sort is probably pretty expensive so the costs of F1 should be divided by the number of hours the production team actually produce.

On the other side of the argument, you have to understand that this independent, high quality broadcaster is under sustained attack from the Murdoch corporation. James Murdoch presented a heinous (IMO) speech at an influential TV festival ( claiming the BBC was a Government stooge and was basically doing everything too well which meant poor little Sky couldn’t compete. You cannot believe how insulting this is to the people that work at the BBC or the way in which the BBC protects free speech in this country and around the world. Murdoch was basically talking to his own stooges in the Conservative Party who, on gaining power in the last election, immediately slashed the BBC budget without debate or remit. Everyone has just swallowed the ‘we must make cuts and savings’ mantra without thought or question because they’ve been going on about it for so long. When you consider what we get for our money at the BBC, it’s shameful. I doubt there is any ‘commercial’ corporation that can do half what the BBC does with it’s money. Many people work for less than they’d get at commercial TV companies because they love working there etc. Now consider that the people who are getting the F1 broadcast rights are the very people that are attacking the BBC! They say the BBC shouldn’t spend their …OUR money on ‘commercial’ broadcasting. Why? So they can spend theirs instead. And spend more of it. And where does that money come from? Us? Through subscription AND advertising revenue (and on top of the license fee). So the real argument is that Sky and the Murdochs (and Bernie Ecclestone) think we should pay more for what we like watching. No real competition or increased quality or service. Sky and the Murdoch media just keep bleating on about the BBC spending too much money and, in the end, everyone accepts that mantra too and Murdoch get another prize jewel to go with all the other sports (and other programming) they’ve poached off terrestrial TV since they started.

Finally, there is very clear outrage in this country about putting any money the way of the Murdoch owned companies because of their alleged wanton criminality over many years. Rupert Murdoch keeps apologising but sorry isn’t good enough to be honest. It is generally thought that the unpleasant revelations that have come out so far are only the tip of the iceberg and either the top management knew about it and condoned it or they didn’t but set the tone and culture for it but were willfully irresponsible in not knowing what was going on. Any which way, Bernie Ecclestone has decided to make a money grab from the one organisation in the UK that is widely reviled at this time. It must be a match made in heaven. My personal feeling is they can take their revenue stream and stuff it. If one talks about audience size and revenue maximising potential, personally I don’t think Sky are going to do well out of this one. There may be some who already subscribe who watch their programming. There may be a few who sign up in desperation. But I don’t think the majority who watch on the BBC will. I’d rather listen to the coverage on the radio!


Very good comments I think you hit the nail on the head about the feeling against the Murdocks in this country and if F1 is trying to open up the USA market next year then the Sept 11 phone hacking allegations will make the complaints in the UK lokk like a tea party…


BBC obviously isn’t raking in dough as they asked and received a $320m loan from the EU and have asked the US for a grant. They’ve also trimmed $72m from the budget and laid off 650 people.

The Beebs is an absolute mess where money just goes down a pit.


And that pit is located in Salford, Manchester!


The BBC produced some of the finest content on any TV station, anywhere in the world. Pretty-much the whole world knows and acknowledges this. Has been slipping of late in my opinion though….


Please, please, please, could Laura’s post be passed on to someone of influence at the BBC.


Here, bloody here. Well said that man – even a 20 year love affair with F1 is not even close to being enough to convince me to divert any of my hard earned money to Murdoch – i’d literally rather sponsor a Panda in China than pay for SKY TV. The sheer breath-taking arrogance of the decision to sign up with SKY now of all times is what really blows me away. It is literally two fingers to most right-minded people in the UK who are sitting in our homes watching the News Corp scandal unfold. Let us be clear here, an organisation linked to SKY TV via Murdoch is accused (but not yet found guilty of) of hacking into the phones of the parents of murdered school children to get stories to sell papers and make money.


Isn’t this fitting that F1 races in Bahrain, China and decides to broadcast on Sky from 2012? 🙂

In all seriousness, I am fairly diappointed over the UK fans raising the money issue rather than the moral one.

Most F1 fans in the UK have been fairly vocal about the poor job ITV Sport did; blaming Jim Rosenthal lack of F1 fanhood, Tony Jardine’s poor analysis, the too many commercials and what have yous.

Compared to what you get abroad, that was a very decent coverage (I come from France and now live in Australia). The commentary from the James Allen/Martin Brundle pair was the best I experienced after the Murray Walker/Martin Brundle one (sorry James).

Now we are a situation where the BBC needs to keep BBC4 and some other lesser known activities to fulfil its public service mission.

The Tory government decided to take austerity measures and the Beeb can’t make more with less.

Now, I’m afraid to say you kind of got what you bargained for: Sky offers you the opportunity to keep the race uninterrupted whilst you still get 10 races on free to air.

You can’t have it all people. The best coverage in the world, ads free and for no more than your tiny license fee whilst you voted for the Tory/Lib Dem coalition and their austerity policies.

The reality is that the UK can no longer afford this luxury anymore. There’s also a part of me that thinks UK fans would be moaning just as much if Five or Channel 4 got the coverage with ad breaks.

For me, the issue remains that the Murdochs got their hand on F1 coverage after being involved in the phone hacking scandal.

I am glad that Laura, Iain R18 and wayne have raised it. Let’s not forget that NewsCorp is trying to get its hand on F1 (the business) and that this might be a step that consolidates their position.

I have no doubt the hardcore fans will pay extra to get the coverage so as to follow the race with twitter and apps, which can only be done live. Others will head out to watch the race at the pub or stream it of the internet via a proxy, however legal this might be.

No one knows what races Sky will broadcast and wonder who, aside from the hardcore fans, will want to watch Australia, Malaysia, China, Japan, Korea live as they all take place very early in the morning.

This story is far from over. Personally, I’d wish C4 or ITV got the coverage keeping Brundle and Coulthard as commentators (or even Allen/Brundle would suit fine).


It’s a very sad state of affairs. The BBC coverage has been better than I could ever have imagined and although I was conscious that it might prove to be a high watermark, I didn’t think we’d lose half of it.

I’m an existing Sky customer, but even that’s cold comfort. I only have the entertainment, arts and documentary channels and my subscription comes to around £30 a month. I’ve never added Sky Sports to that package for two reasons. 1) It’s expensive and 2) there’s very little on there that I want to watch.

This year I’ll add Premier Sports to my subscription for a modest £8 a month, primarily because they will cover my football team now they’re in the Conference but they also carry NASCAR and the Gaelic sports, so I feel I’ll be getting good value for my £8.

That’s a big contrast to the Sky Sports packages. If all of the F1 coverage is on Sky Sports 1 (or all on Sky Sports 2), then I’ll be able to add that to my package for an extra £12 per month. Even then, I’ll be losing HD coverage. If Sky choose to split the races between Sky Sports 1 & 2, then my only option would be to take out the full package for £20 per month. I’d get HD back, but there’s almost nothing I’d want to watch on Sky Sports except the F1. An extra £240 a year to watch half the F1 season and maybe a dozen games of Premiership Rugby doesn’t sound like a very good deal to me. I’ll be taking a good look at streaming options before I give any more money to the Murdoch empire.


The licence fee isn’t tiny, either. It will cost me about as much as adding Sky Sports to my existing package (assuming the whole thing is shown on Sky Sports 1).



My main point was that more than a money issue for the fan, it is a moral one.

I was expressing my surprise that not many people were concerned about the fact the same group that was involved in the hacking scandal had somehow obtained the rights to broadcast F1.


Let us also not forget that SKY sports presenters were recetnly sacked for being openly sexist to their colleagues.

The SKY/Murdoch coalition is one I could never justify giving money to. I would feel as though I were part of something ‘dirty’.


A lot of generalisations there friend. Nobody voted in a coalition govt with austerity measures. It’s not possible to vote for a coalition in the UK. However there was no majority so a coalition was formed. They have since put in place a number of measures that people didn’t vote for at all, in fact some policies differ so much that they are the opposit of what was promised…some might say.

But this isn’t a political forum and this is not a political issue. It’s purely about money (often the same thing).

Whilst I appreciate your right to knock the people of the UK people I don’t think its application to this debate or F1 in general.


Well said that ‘man or woman’! I should have said! Seriously though, one of the best user posts I have ever read on this website, thank you.



I agree with your post. I posted something similar in an earlier thread on this web site, reply #80 in

The following links will give non UK residents an idea of the structure and funding.

The S4C link is particularly interesting. Please read the sections headed ‘controversy’, and ‘funding’. £76M of your licence fees, plus costs raised by other “freely produced material” are going to subsidise programmes that have zero viewers.

Iain R18


Well all this I hope may the teams think again about what is going to happen with the sport. Could be that they are receiving big money (I’ve read it in other forums) but how much they are going to loose? only time will tell.

As an avid fan of F1 I’ve paid a lot of money more for Bridgestone tyres only because they were in F1 at the time but I don’t think I’ll buy Pirelli this time because of just what happen with F1.

Shame on FOTA if they don’t realise that they will support their Fans.


Remember one key point that I don’t anyone brought up. Sky Sports is found in homes with certain income levels. By introducing this they may separate the 6m British fans into good targets for BMW M, Tag watches, Boss clothing. While BBC gets the basics like soap an corn flakes marketing if any.

It’s not nice to put the class issue centre, but as a business model what they did is perfect. More revenue, same visibility, separation of consumer for marketers. Now Audi can go into F1, or it can simply blast ads on Sky to reach the UK premium audience. Not nice, but truth soometimes isn’t nice.


Seebee, I think you’ll find the Sky Sports audience is made up largely of Football fans of varying status from A-E. Similarly F1, but one difference F1 is about the whole sport not a particular team as all the teams paly against each other 20 times a year at the same time.

Personally I won’t have any Murdoch product in my house. I wouldn’t even have it use for the puppy to wee on.

Have you not seen what has been happening recently with phone and computer hacking and police bribery.

You really think top flight companies wish to be associated with that.

Wake up and smell the coffee.

This is the future of a £5 billion a year industry we are talking about. We can’t allow SKY to have any saw in it.


It’s hard to measure the outrage of Brits about this NOTW hacking mess from a distance. I wonder what kind of impact it will have on viewership and Murdoch’s properties and for how long. People do forget, no one seems to care about BP spill anymore for example, and that just happened.

We have to get over this view that corporations are ethical and caring – including FOM. The bigger the “monster” gets the more it wants to eat it’s young. The men who made this TV deal are heads of powerful corporations. They don’t always play nice or by the rules. Have you seen the documentary “The Corporation”? It’s not F1 related, but it does give you some food for thought. It’s not like FOM will care about Murdoch’s phone hacking if the deal is good.

At the end of the day I feel for UK viewers. But at the same time, you do have the ability to still get all 20 races OTA free – which I don’t for example.

In this 2018 extension with BBC – I’m sure BBC would have insisted on exit clause with sufficient notice. Bernie probably wouldn’t want to give into it, but maybe his position wasn’t as strong for the OTA free component to satisfy Concorde – since there didn’t seem to be OTA networks breaking down his walls. Meaning, I wouldn’t be surprised entirely if BBC exits earlier than 2018 with it’s negotiated right to perhaps do so. Plus, doesn’t seem like any recent TV deal with F1 lasted the whole term. Perhaps we have a 2 year period where it’s on SKY and BBC – while they work to move the viewership over to Sky, and then who knows? If Sky ratings grow stronger in 2 years, they will consider options. If Sky ratings stay flat then perhaps Sky will want to exit. If history is any indicator perhaps more UK TV rights news to come in the not to distant future.

In the mean time – what can you do exactly?

Seems you have 3 choices.

1. Sign up for Sky

2. Watch on BBC with 10 races delayed

3. Kick F1 to the street and stop watching, perhaps ask Santa for the season review DVD for Christmas.

I think in the end most reasonable fans will just watch it on BBC. I would.


I disagree entirely. Sky TV generally and particularly Sky Sports are far more likely to be found in lower income working class homes. This is largely because of the football. Not that class or income levels come into it at all but this point is wrong in my view.

To suggest that people who have Sky Sports are the same people who buy M series BMWs and TAG watches is ridiculous.


So what you’re saying is that football is enjoyed by low income individuals only? And what exactly do football ratings have to do with F1 ratings? I could watch F1 on BBC, it doesn’t mean I have it in my household to watch X-Factor or whatever “talent” show they have on BBC. They will rate each broadcast independently.

I’m not saying everyone who enjoys F1 is rich. But the probability of high income earners sitting in Gold or Silver grandstands vs. general admission is higher at any race track. Also the probability of wealth being found at the Paddock Club is also higher.

Which I still believe means anyone who is watching F1 on Sky during broadcast likely will include a higher % of higher earning households vs. OTA broadcasts. Gut feeling, but you can be sure this will be looked at and pushed to potential advertisers.

But let’s be honest, Sky isn’t a service that’s out of reach of most individuals. Likely majority here can afford it. And that’s the secret now a days – find something everyone can afford – volume! As for choosing to do so – that’s another matter all together.


No offence, but I really think you should do some good research and buy the best/correct tyres for your car regardless of who’s making them as it could save your life 🙂

Buy an LG TV if the sponsorship means that much to you!


@Ron W

Ron, we in the motorsport fraternity will tend to support sponsors of motorsport above other company products. When I need to buy goods I do check to see if a particular company sponsors motorpsort and if so their product goes on the list. Being in the business you support people who support you. Scratch my back I’ll scratch yours. As for tyres there is not a lot between the top makes so what ever one you use its OK. But sponsors rely on this sort of patronage otherwise why sponsor.


James, do you know what is happening to the international markets to whom the BBC sell their live feed/commentary? I assume if they’re only getting half the races too then that would be breaking the clause in the Concorde Agreement of being “materially adverse” if other territories were losing support.


I think FOM sell the commentary to overseas markets and in any case I hear it will be the same on BBC and SKY


I think this forum gives a good opportunity for fans to voice their strong feelings, but if you readership feels really passionately about this James, perhaps they should consider emailing their thoughts to the main protagonists using the contacts shown here:

There is so much outrage, so thank you James for being one of the few journalists who isn’t brushing the story under the carpet.


Write to the sponsors guys. I recently wrote the below to and I am not joking either – I am currently on a Voda contract and will certainly not be when it expires in September this year.

“Dear sirs, a very quick note to let you know that I will be actively boycotting all products from all sponsors shown in future Formula One seasons due to the link the sport will have (via SKY TV) to NewsCorp and the Murdochs disgusting business practices in the UK which allegedly include hacking the phones of the parents of murdered schoolchildren. F1 and its sponsors should be ashamed of themselves.”

Remember too that you have Murdoch to thank for this. It was he that pressured (and who knows what else) the UK government into slashing the BBC’s budget in the first place.


25000 signatories and counting:

I only wish this petition had been phrased more from the perspective of keeping F1 away from SKY rather than specifically on the BBC.

Top Tags
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!