Ecclestone to meet teams this afternoon over Sky F1 deal
F1 on TV
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Jul 2011   |  1:24 pm GMT  |  265 comments

Bernie Ecclestone arrived in the F1 paddock at 2pm this afternoon and is set to meet with the F1 teams after the ninety minute practice session to discuss the SKY/BBC F1 broadcast deal which was announced this morning.

Both Ecclestone and the teams have made it clear in the past that F1 must remain on Free to air TV and yet the Sky part of the deal, where they will broadcast all 20 F1 races and practice sessions live, would seem to contradict that.

Ecclestone's Mercedes arrives in Hungariring paddock for crunch meeting with teams

I’ve spoken to FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh in the last hour and he says that the teams want to understand how the deal will work in the context of the Concorde Agreement wording about TV broadcast.

My understanding of the crucial clause in the Concorde Agreement is that it says that the Commercial Rights Holder must “avoid” a situation where F1 coverage is “only available on pay TV” in key markets, such as the UK.

Ecclestone may argue that this clause has been respected because all the races will be shown on the BBC, it’s just that half of them will not be live but will be highlights. Either way he is likely to have found a wording which allows this to happen.

BBC staff at the Hungaroring are stunned by today’s news and have not yet been informed of the details of how this arrangement will work.

Whitmarsh confirmed that the teams were not consulted on the deal despite the fact that it appears to go against the Concorde Agreement and makes a mockery of Whitmarsh’s recent claim on the subject of Pay TV that “The sport is going nowhere without the teams.”

However when presented with the figures they may change their minds as the revenues from F1 on Sky are likely to be large. If just 1 million people pay £600 a year to watch F1 on SKY that’s £600 million of gross income. The BBC currently pays around £45 million a year in rights. One would imagine that the deal is likely to be based on the actual take up numbers, so there should be a back end for F1 and the teams get 50% of all revenues.

SKY had F1 a few years ago at the time of the multi channel digital coverage. Ben Edwards, John Watson and Damon Hill were involved. That didn’t do so well because ITV had F1 live and free to air at the same time. This deal is quite different to that.

As I understand it the model in Finland and Japan is slightly different again; there the race is live on pay TV but is also available in its entirety delayed on Free to Air TV.

In Japan the audience for the pay TV show is around 2 million, each paying £12 a month. The terrestrial audience is around 5 million. This is down on the Senna days when around 17 million watched F1 in Japan.

Meanwhile word coming through from SKY is that they plan a full scale production of F1, with no adverts, which they say will take the coverage of F1 “to a new level.”

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I’ve been reading, with interest the messages on this thread. A few have been saying that the countries they live in have had to pay to watch Formula 1 for some years and saying what is all the fuss about. If it was not for the pioneers of the sport in this country all those years ago there would be no Formula 1 to watch. This country is the home of Formula 1.


James – time for you to rise to the forefront and champion the cause of the average UK based Formula One Fan. Give us someone to rally behind.


James can you tell me has Sky won any BAFTAS for sports coverage ??????


Probably. Don’t know. Not in last few years


Good bye to F1


The Bxxxx have sold us down the road again


They will have lost a lot of viewers, I for one.

How are the team sponsers going to react when they realise that there will be a vast audience lost, who at the moment watch their adverts on the BBC come round on every lap. Big business yet again is making the world a sadder place to live in!


“Meanwhile word coming through from SKY is that they plan a full scale production of F1, with no adverts”

Considering it’s Pay TV, I should bloody well think so!


As avid F1 fans for 35+ years, we are totally disgusted with today’s news. This is the worst ever as far as F1 is concerned…. F1 going to bed with the head of News Corporation! Ecclestone should be ashamed of himself. But then again greed and a lack of morals always rears its ugly head! F1 bye bye forever.


I am totally disgusted by this deal.

I have been an F1 fan for 24+ years and I am seriously considering never watching it again after this year, whether it is free to air or pay-tv.

The only group who has no say in F1 is the fans. without us, there is no F1.

Bernie has sole us out to line his own pockets.



Why didn’t the bbc just give up all of it?? keeping half, which they are not as its still going to be shown on sky at the same time is a complete waste of public money.

If this is the mentality of the bbc, then its time the bbc was released and turned into a commercial station.



I’ve been a fan of F1 since the mid-70’s. I have probably watched 90% of the races.

If/when it goes to sky, I shall watch 0% of the races.

Its not about the money. Its the principle. I will not have Sky.

I will not use a proxy server to stream the content from other regions. But don’t be naive, its trivial and the kids know how to do it. A VPN/proxy costs $10 a month. If its free-to-air anywhere in the world then it’ll be proxied here.

To the teams, wake up and understand the technology. Its not about TV. Its about TCP/IP over the internet. Your future is in open content with a social internet backend. This will generate more money than a paywall.

So farewell then F1. It was good, but, alas not that good.


well, i have been watching F1 since the 80’s, i DO have sky but not the sports channels, I can not afford to get them, so it looks like i will become an interested reader of F1 but will no longer be able to watch a whole season even getting up at silly times of he day to watch! I understand the need for finance BUT surely this will just reduce the fan base


I think maybe Bernie and Sky are betting that F1 will follow the football model where many of the fans follow the sport onto pay TV.

I think that’s a big misjudgement; let me explain. In the UK football is tribal. F1 is not. People were already used to spending money on the sport regularly, going to matches, going to the pub afterwards and talking about the game. So, as tickets got more expensive with all-seater stadia and more corporate involvement, the fan could afford to go less often, opening the gap for Sky to step into. With the Sky coverage, fans could ‘go’ to several games on the same day!

F1 is an entirely different sport. Over a whole year there is, say, a bit under 50 hours of competitive action. There is only one event in the UK, and a tiny proportion of fans attend it.

It could be argued that by paying for the football coverage on Sky, the football fan was getting quite a good deal, and a better one than before. This deal with F1 cannot be described as a better deal, or even a good deal for fans of the sport.

Let’s see what FOTA have to say about it over the weekend. I can’t imagine them rocking the boat too much, but one can hope. If their reponse isn’t to kick up a stink, then I propose that we, as fans, target our complaints at the teams and their sponsors.


OK…So,If the beeb is to loose some of the covarage..Do i take it we will get a reduction in the beeb`s TV licence…I think its a sham being honest…LOOSE THE LICENCE FEE`S AND PUT ADVERTS ON THE BEEB FOR ME….Just lets have something of value for our money instead of feeding Bernie the snake …????


They have gotta be kidding us, right?! 😮 This is farce of epic proportions. I will NOT be subscribing to Sky. I have been watching Formula One since March 14th 1993 (Kyalami). I have only missed three races, and two of those were because of trans-Atlantic flights. F1 is a part of me, maybe not as significant as aviation, but it has become a part of me. I cannot picture a life without it … until an hour ago 🙁

I have a fundamental dislike for Sky, its subscription-based business model, its leader, and its utter dominance in certain areas. I would have paid a higher license fee to watch F1 on the BBC, or even pay-per-view via another channel! Never mind …..

I have purchased numerous diecast models and even F1 car parts. Over the years I have purchased GP1, GP2, GP4, and rFactor, in order to give me an understanding of F1.

I am currently looking into other forms of motorsport … F1 will no longer be one of my primary interests. What’s the point?


Bernie, you sold us out!

I won’t be paying Murdoch a penny and I’m not staying up till stupid o’clock to watch some poorly edited Beeb version.

I hope the sponsors have the commercial savvy and cancel their contracts.

Still, I suppose it free’s up a few more hours for the Beeb to schedule even more repeats.

TV Licence under duress!

Ooh – I could crush a grape!


“If just 1 million people pay £600 a year to watch F1 on SKY that’s £600 million of gross income.”

I’m not sure what madness is used to make those numbers. Adding Sky Sports is (at best) £20.25 per month to a regular sky subscription.

Assuming that £20.25 was JUST f1 you’d still be wide of the mark. The reality is that that money is spread across all manner of costs and sport rights, and since Sky is broadcast once, receive by many, it doesn’t really matter to them how many watch any individual sport – if they’re paying for the subscription it’s job done.

So actually once you’ve used more realistic numbers the bounty isn’t so good.


Well, BT tell me it will cost £360 per year to watch the races on Sky. I can’t afford that. (Well, technically, I can’t *justify* that.)

Will I watch the BBC ones? Maybe. But I can’t imagine I’ll be as “involved” all season long.

Either this website will get more important to me, or I’ll leave F1 and this website will matter less. I just can’t tell.

I’ve been watching the races for 25+ years. Sad day.



At first hearing about this, I too was really hacked off, I do not have Sky anymore, I did have the full package but got really fed up with their Customer Services and to be honest If you want to watch a new film it is out on DVD first, so whats the point? (I have never been a fan of watching 22 grown men kicking around a bag of wind)

Then I remembered my 12 year olds prowess on the Internet so I dont care about this deal, I will still see all the races FOC and not have to pay News Corp a penny.

I do wonder if they have thought this through enough, as in, the average F1 viewer IMO is quite tech savvy, more so than your average football fan and to me it follows that a far higher proportion of viewers will use a torrent to see their favorite sport.

Radio for commentary and torrent for the picture on my 42″ tv with the output from my home PC sorted.



Bernie sold F1 down the river, after he promised not to.

If I were an F1 sponsor, I would wonder why I’m paying a gazillion bucks/euros/pounds to have my name splashed all over an F1 car that only pay-tv customers will see for half the season. Sure, the Beeb will carry “highlights” of those races, but “highlights” could take the form of a 30 minute summary. And forget about the race itself, what about all the exposure companies get in the pre- and post-shows? Lost.

And if the sponsors decide they aren’t getting the bang for their buck, they will cut back on funding. Which will eventually whittle the entries down to half a dozen teams circling meaninglessly around some track halfway round the world in the middle of the UK night, where only SKY subscriber nightowls can see them.

But by that time, Bernie will probably be in jail so why should he give a toss?


So which one is going to go over to the dark side first, Martin Brundle? David Coulthard? Eddie Jordan? Jake Humphrey? Lee McKenzie? Ted Kravitz ?



It’s simple. You can watch the SKY F1 coverage for free, streamed over the Internet in HD via any one of hundreds of streams that can found in 5 minutes. Just like SKY Premier League games.



I hope the team sponsors air their concerns to the teams so that they can weigh up the added revenues from pay per view versus lower sponsorship income.


Oh, and please everyone… go on Williams F1 Facebook and agree with my comments that Adam Parr has no idea what the fans want!

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