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.
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.
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!
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.