F1 Winter Break
Italy follows UK in F1 pay TV deal with Sky
Italy follows UK in F1 pay TV deal with Sky
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Jun 2012   |  7:58 am GMT  |  185 comments

The Italian rights to broadcast live Formula 1 racing in Italy have been won by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia, leaving the state owned free to air channel RAI to lick its wounds.

In a variation on the deal organised in the UK with SKY and BBC, from next season onwards SKY will have exclusive live rights for 11 of the 20 races, with 9 races available to a free to air broadcaster to show live at the same time as the SKY broadcast, with the Italian GP at Monza as one of the live races and highlights packages for the SKY exclusive races. Colleagues from RAI said in Monaco recently that the problem for them was that they would have to negotiate with SKY as well as FOM for the nine races.

Italy has had two broadcasters running in parallel before, with SKY trying to build an audience alongside full free to air coverage on RAI – with Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter Tamara as one of the presenters – from 2007 to 2009. They abandoned this route because it was hard to build an audience when qualifying and the races were also free to air. They have now come back to take a much stronger position, based on the UK model. Colleagues in Italy are talking about a figure of €65 million a year, roughly double what RAI were paying.

SKY Italia has Moto GP from next season as well as Olympics, World Cup, Champions League and Serie A football.

RAI has enjoyed viewing figures of over 10 million in the dominant Ferrari years of the 2000s. SKY Italia now has 5 million subscribers in Italy, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We have a similar agreement in the UK, ” said Ecclestone. “It works really well, amplifying the quality and depth of the coverage and assuring the races are still seen free to air.”

It is quite a delicate balancing act for the sport as it seeks to grow revenues from broadcast rights. The traditional home of F1, free to air TV, is finding it hard to afford the rights fees, especially in countries hit hard by the Euro crisis. But the trade off on audience numbers has to be carefully managed. The demand is different from football, which has been on SKY in Italy for some time, as it has in the UK and it generates huge revenues for the sport.

SKY also has the rights for mobiles, which is surely one of the key areas of growth in the future.

It will be interesting to see in how many more countries this model is rolled out; the rights in France are up for renewal and like RAI, French incumbent TF1 sees a threat from Al Jazeera, another pay TV channel with big ambitions on sporting rights.

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Bernie moving F1 to Al Jazeera? Seems to fit right in with his Middle Eastern ambitions!


Funny. Al-Jazeera used to broadcast F1 for the middle east a couple of years ago, they've got many sports channels you know.


I've always been bothered by this xenophobic tendency of people to treat Al Jazeera as if it were some terrorist organization just because it has a Middle Eastern name. Al Jazeera is a fantastic news channel, with much better quality journalism than many Western outlets. Here is a quote from the Wikipedia article on Al Jazeera that I think you should read if you think of Al Jazeera as some backward, terrorist loving media channel.

"In 2011 Salon.com noted Al Jazeera's coverage of the 2011 Egyptian protests as superior to that of the American news media, while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also opined that that network's news coverage was more informative, and less opinion-driven than American journalism."

More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Jazeera


"...and less opinion-driven than American journalism.”

Ofc. Thats because there *is no more American "Journalism."

There is,however, a *great deal of "Opinionism" masquerading as "journalism."

Pay close attention to them. Observe how often they report their opinions as "facts."


Who was being xenophobic? Al Jazeera is a middle-eastern broadcaster & Bernie is currently chasing the middle-eastern oil money.


Or maybe his global ambitions will lead to another overthrow reminiscent of those happening across the region? Perhaps flag waving protesters outside FOM London HQ? Unlikely.

Viewing figures for the Monaco Grand Prix showed Sky with an average of 0.56m watching the coverage between 11.30am and 4.15pm. The BBC had an average of 3.13m with a peak of 4.16m.

Comparing the figures to the Monaco Grand Prix in 2011 the BBC had a peak of 6.1m for the live coverage.

That to me sounds like a considerable net loss. Good news for Bernie, as SKY/BBC revenues are up. Bad news for the sponsors as viewers are down. But most importantly, bad news for the sport as fans are walking away from F1. Multiply this to include Italy, then add any other countries on Bernie's to-do list and the sport will inevitably decline. Less viewers, less sponsorship, less media, less money, and thus probably less teams.

Would the last fans to leave, please turn out the lights...

Duncan Snowden

Interesting. You (or they) don't give Sky's peak, so the total might not be down by as much as it looks, but it's still, at best, static during one of the best early seasons in recent memory, with all the hype surrounding Sky's coverage.

Not good, surely.

One thing that struck me when the Sky deal was announced was that moving to pay TV seemed an awfully old-fashioned thing to be doing in this age of the internet. And perhaps that's what's showing in this apparent viewer apathy. Around 33% more viewers at peak compared to the average for the BBC: how many of those, like me, are fans who switch on five minutes before the race and off again ten minutes after the flag? Even if I could afford it, Sky's all-F1-all-the-time channel just doesn't appeal. I can - and do - get my news and technical data elsewhere, not least right here; I simply don't want all the bells and whistles Sky is trying to tempt me with, really I don't. I suspect I'm not at all alone. Besides, who has the time to devote every other weekend to watching TV? Three hours is plenty.


Yep, typical short-sightedness by Bernie. I'm not buying Sky as there's nothing else on there I want to watch so it's either pub or no F1 for me...


I agree Duncan, I'm also not interested in Sky's extra bells and whistles. 4 days straight of coverage might at first sound like a good idea, but who's going to sit infront of a TV for 4 days, and how much of that time is going to end up as useless filler?

To top it off, I can't say I've heard anyone raving that Sky's coverage is any better than the BBC's.

Mark in Australia

Another one bites the dust for the free to air viewers...

How soon will Australia follow...?


I wouldn't mind watching the races in HD again.


Although strangely enough, Channel 10 are really trying to promote F1 at the moment, and are showing races live on their primary channel. For the first time in the history of coverage in Australia, someone has decided to get behind F1. I wouldn't get that Pay TV subscription just yet.


Not soon enough in my opinion! If a move to pay tv meant coverage of free practice and more in depth analysis, I'll be more than happy to pay to watch the sport I love.


If the NZ experience is anything to go by, you might get practice and qualifying but you get the bare minimum of analysis. There is nothing on free to air TV and Sky's race coverage starts 5 mins before the parade lap and ends immediately after the post-race interviews. Thats why this website is so important to get a real understanding of what's going on.


Never mind free to air F1. Let's all just be happy air is still free. Isn't it?

I'll tell you a simple solution. Gather with friends, socialize, enjoy the race together in a spot of choice and support a local business if you are not enjoying paying just for F1. You'll make friends, meet new fans, etc.

It's way more fun to make F1 a social gathering than to watch alone. I've forgotten a few things about each of the races I visited, except for the fans I met - I remember them all!

James Clayton

Not many bars open at 2am to watch F1 where I am...

Not that many bars at all which will show F1 over football on any occasion. Luckily I have found one that will, at least for when the races are on at a reasonable hour.

I don't even mind paying to watch, but we don't even all have that luxuary.

Here Bernie, I'm waving doller/pound/baht/yen in your face. Give me an online stream that I can pay to see the races on!!!


I wonder if that's what that telecoms deal with Tata a few months back will be bringing us..


We live in modern times my friend,and the

legend says ( he who pays the piper it plays its tune )and never foreget the American way

of saying, no such thing as a free launch

thus the user pays.

Have a good one.

Tom in adelaide

Personally, i'll never pay to watch what is essentially a marketing spectacle.

If F1 in Australia moves to Foxtel i'll just use the wonderful free internet to get the races. Me 1 Murdoch 0.

Bring Back Murray and my 10 grand prix

It's been OK for the last 40 years....


ASAP I hope!!


We don't have the viewing numbers like Europe. I have always supported free to air but the way motorsport viewers are treated (against the larger sporting codes) i would certainly NOT be against pay TV taking coverage. Hard to keep up with which channel Ten Sports coverage of F1 will be shown on.


Agreed. I too would pay. Free to air coverage is not all its cracked up to be these days. Channel 10 don't utilize it's HD anymore because you as a fan are not worth it, but we will show you qualifying in HD. I mean how ridiculous is that!

Sooner the switch tp pay tv is made the better.

Can someone tell me when sky is broadcasting the race do they run it add free???


It's only ad free between the lights and flag. You pay to see ads during qualifying, pre and post race coverage.


What you would rather pay Foxtel $50+ to watch that look up a TV guide. Ten has put F1 on live since the new digital channels have been introduced. With the majority of the races starting at 10pm it's not too difficult to find, it's on one or ten.


You mean the TV guide that shows the F1 starting at 9.30pm but the actual broadcast starts at 9.42pm?. I mean we use to get an hour preview show and now it is 18mins (with ads) on 10. Free to air TV will die because of greedy executives pushing 'reality tv' shows.

By the way i ended up watching quali and race preview streaming on web....it is the future of broadcast i suppose.

Jonathan Kelk

This shows, yet again, that Formula 1 doesn't really care about the fans. But Bernie doesn't care, it'll be a few years before this bites back, and he will have sold up by then.


“We have a similar agreement in the UK, ” said Ecclestone. “It works really well, amplifying the quality and depth of the coverage and assuring the races are still seen free to air.”

Some success. Viewing figures are down. Sky's coverage is a pale imitation of the BBC's. The BBC's coverage is a pale imitation of last year's. Apart from the financial side, which I assume has worked out very well for Bernie, in every way it's worse.


I agree, a number of people I know who really enjoyed F1 last year have given up on it this year..I'm a mega fan, so I'm sticking with the watered down BBC coverage.

These Sky deals are the thin end of the wedge. If everybody who has Sky gives it up (as I have done) in protest it will come back to FTA...do you honestly believe that the UK would ever have no F1 covereage...once people fill their viewing/time with something else many would never return..and Bernie knows this.

Alternatively, keep paying Sky and watch it become Sky only in a few years.

I hope the Italians put up more of a fight that the Brits. We are a nation who enjoy paying through the nose for things as a status symbol though. 🙁


Also for him to say that the UK deal ensures that the races are still seen free to air is a lie. Only some of them are.


Or passed on to give the devil financial guidance!!


..owns or has a majority share in the devil already!


If it wasn't for the Olympic games, the BBC would have never gone for this deal with SKY but as it is, the BBC came to the conclusion, the Olympics are more important so F1 fans had to take a back seat.

Anyway considering the kind of economic trouble Italy finds itself, I guess the fans can't complain too much over this deal for in such times as these everybody got to make sacrifices.

Yes thank God for sport, music & movies for entertainment has the ability to console the mentally tormented.

As for France, I believe TF1 will keep their free to air rights for France isn't in the economic wildness plus Al Jazeera isn't owned by News Corp = No deal with Bernie.

So oui, the French fans are safe.


Am surprised that Italy (the home and birth of the Tifosi) had only a mere 10 million fans turning in during the Schumi years.

Well it appears the majority of Ferrari fans aren't even Italian for the viewing figures in Germany were way more than 10 million.


The french may be free for the race, but the coverage is like the old BBC days. 5 mins intro and show ends after the podium. If you want more, which includes practice and qualifying, then you need to subscribe to eueosports!!


You may be surprised by 10 million viewers but you forget,

1) Ferrari dominating in the manner that Schumi required wasn't palatable to true tifosi. You forget that Italians love competition.

You ever watched Vale Rossi, he thrives on competition, not dominance.

2) The viewing figures in Germany were supporting a driver, not a team.

3) Unlike here in the UK, football has always been played on Sunday's in Italy. Whether that has changed with Sky schedules, I'm not sure, but football is better supported than F1.


It is a sad fact of modern life that sport is following the money, and the money is in subscription TV.


They can charge whatever but we are still able to see it for free on the web, and for every site they drop, there are 2 new ones coming up. All you need is a cable to hook your computer into your tv...

Thanks god for the freedom of the internet!!!


For the moment, but there are already plans afoot for governments to control what is available and written on the net.


indeed - here in the us, murdoch (and others in his ilk) is putting a lot of money behind proposals like SOPA and now its successor CISPA...

i would like to meet rupert alone one night in a dark alley.


He'd probably kick the brown stuff out of you, no man can achieve what he's achieved in a lifetime without being a bit of a tooth chipper


James from what I read in the Italian press Sky has the rights for all the live races and free to air TV will have 9 races live and the rest in delayed broadcast with Monza being live both on Sky and FTA

Seems quite similar to the BBC deal to me


No It's not similar, in the UK we get just highlights of races that are not covered live, If they were merely delayed I would not mind. We also miss all the practice sessions in the UK on non live races.

The BBC has just spent another £170 odd million on football, as if there was ever a time it was not on tv; on non live races it intrudes into James commentary in a very annoying manner.


I believe BBC has/had the option to to show full length delayed coverage - -it's not as if they're not sending the crews out to the races - -but chose not to.

They did after all, pay for the package deal from FOM in advance (although a FOI request declined to answer this) before 'opting' for a 'deal' with $ky.

I very much doubt that FOM said to Beeb here's a refund for what you're not showing live for the next couple of years, and $ky obviously paid top dollar to FOM for their coverage.

It is business now, not a sport.


I wonder how long before Murdoch squeezes us Aussies out of the picture too...

Typical Bernie: "...assuring the races are still seen free to air." 9 of 20 races is not an assurance. Also, we all know that when the current contracts (BBC etc.) expire they will be renewed with sky for the full calendar. If anything, we might all get our home GP's televised free to air.


Audiences are quite small in Australia. From memory, it's about 350,000 per race on average. The main issue is the timezone for most races, including three this year on a working Monday morning.

Is this enough to take the coverage to Hotel? Time will tell.


Before OneHD arrived, my frineds and I had to stay up to watch a delayed telecast usually between 2-4am Monday morning. You had to be a big fan to make the effort


There's cleary a huge difference between the cost of live rights depending upon the territory, the same as there is for circuits to host a race. Based on the above RAI have been paying around 35 million Euros a year.

The BBC have said that by going to Sky to offload their rights, has saved more than it would have saved, if it closed down BBC 3 or 4.

They also said that closing down BBC 3 or 4 would have saved around 60 million a year, and considering they still send the same number of personnel to every race, they must have been paying a seriously high figure.

If this isn't the case, then the BBC are being economical with the truth with regards to their numbers, maybe in an effort to deflect the fact that it was them who actively opened the door to F1 pay tv in the UK, and now in Europe it seems.

Maybe the BBC can be content with themselves having spent 22 million on The Voice!


Not seen Sky's coverage but "it works really well" is surely a translation for "it's good business". BBC coverage is OK but highlights aren't my thing so I've tried to slowly ween myself off of F1 this year - it'll all be on Sky TV when the initial contract ends.


I watch the Sky coverage for free on every single race...


How do you get Sky free, would love to know!!


There are ways, but none of them legal as far as I know.


...at the moment...cough...as long as you don't count the subscription to Sky HD.

I'm £60 a month better off and enjoying the far better picture quality on Freesat! 🙂


I prefer BBC from SKY having watched all races this year (some on BBC and some on SKY).

I could do without DC sometimes and in particular whenever he says anything about Schumacher. Other than that, I like the team.


I wish the BBC had only had highlights of Monaco.


Monaco race is never any different - After watching virtually all of them you watch for views, the glamour, the noise, the special location and knowing it's the one the Drivers really want to win.

Now .......... excitement ...... don't ever miss Qualifying at Monaco - you really see a massive difference between those with balls and precession and excellent reactions and those without.


Off topic, but I agree. Qualifying was spectacular this year.

Some are complaining that the cars need to be driven too conservatively in the race, but the corollary of this is that qualifying is absolutely spectacular because of the noticeable speed difference - just as I recall it was in the 1980's and early 1990's with Senna, Mansell and co visibly ringing the cars necks.

I enjoyed the Monaco qualifying session more than any for quite some time.


I agree. If you pick your races right, watching highlughts really won't ruin the experience.


Very clever, I hope Sky/Austar gets it in Australia, I am not a pay TV subscriber but I would get it for proper coverage.


I'm with you Alex. The sooner the better. One HD has already shown its hand by dumping F1 on race day or has nobody noticed.

Just on pay tv there is no austar anymore it's all foxtell, let's hope F1 comes across at some stage.

@greenmeanie... To say channel 10 are intune with it's fans is not true. Why do we no longer get race day in HD when they can give you qualifying in HD. Please!


What on earth are you talking about Alex W ?

Pay TV in Australia is a ripoff. Glad to see how thankful you are for all the years of loyal free to air coverage by channel 10 / one Hd.

I for one think they have done an excellent job and are in tune with the fans. A prime example is picking to keep the overseas provider that has Martin Brundle for smoother transition.

As a long term motorsports tragic,I can assure you that the day F1 moves to pay in Australia will be the day I stop following, just as I have with IRL/ Indycar.

Will I miss it ? Yes, but that will be the decision I will stand by as will many many others.


If you guys thought that Bernie loves money too much then wait until Rupert owns the sport (the float will allow that to happen). It is because of him that I stopped following rugby leauge here in Australia.

Gone soon will be the days of asking your mates did you see the race lastnight.


Take it off free to air? I never said that! It would be illegal for a start as we have Fedral laws preventing it in Australia, if it was free to air and full 100% coverage commercial free on pay, I have no problem with that, to remove F1 from free to air completely would be suicide for the sport.

PS: Channel TEN aren't doing it for "free" they get paid to put ads in that we have to watch, I'd rather pay an extra few bucks to avoid that as F1 is the only sport i watch.

Rob the Gardener

The only motorsport events covered by the anti syphoning laws are:

12.1 Each race in the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile Formula 1 World Championship (Grand Prix) held in Australia.

12.2 Each race in the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme Moto GP held in Australia.

12.3 Each race in the V8 Supercar Championship Series, including the Bathurst 1000.



Yeah, agreed. The coverage has come a long way in Australia. I was shocked to read Murray Walker's scathing criticism of the Channel 10 coverage in F1 Racing. I guess he had some friends at Channel 9, but the coverage has taken a significant step up since it moved to Channel 10.


Well said!


This is very problematic. As even though I may have payTV at home, often I like to watch a race at a friend's place. Or maybe I am travelling and staying with a friend. This is very bad, as what F1 needs to realise is, by keeping all the races on Free-to-air it maximises the potential to develop new audiences. It feels too short sighted in my opinion. What has happened in England is devastating for many, and now Italy looks like will be heading into this shame as well.

Bring Back Murray

So Italy are getting shafted as well then.

“It works really well, amplifying the quality and depth of the coverage and assuring the races are still seen free to air.”

Half of them, don't you mean, Mr Bernie?

To be honest this half measures business is doing my head in. OK so it's nice to still have the ten live races but what do you do about the others? Either wait for the highlights or try and go down the pub, which more than likely has got something else on which outranks F1 (Like the lawn bowling championships). Watching a live stream doesn't compare either.

If all the races were only shown on sky it would make the decision easier for the die hard fans like myself just to lump up the money for sky and be done with it. Just feel like I'm being kept hanging on in there at the moment.

Don't know if its possible for James to set some kind of notice board up. "Are there any F1 friendly pubs in ".


Keith Collantine provides just such a forum for F1 in pubs at f1fanatic.

Simeon Nechev

No! Here in Malta we only get Italian coverage for F1! Sky ruining F1!

Chris Cantrell

“We have a similar agreement in the UK, ” said Ecclestone. “It works really well,

Really Mr Ecclestone, it doesn't work for me as a fan. I feel for the Italian fans.


No Bernie you have got that very wrong!

You are killing off the tv audience for F1. You have already reduced it by several million. Soon sponsors will drop out since they are not getting the original OTS level, But of course you have more income from Sky so we don't matter.

Still, you are retiring very soon and hopefully your successor will care more about lost sponsors and rebuilding some credibility.


Me neither, now I just read news and reports here, haven't watched a full race this season, having watched every race for the past who knows how many seasons..... so "working really well" = less viewers?


Hey James,

This is looking like a trend, the rich get richer and the poor may or may not get the picture.

Any idea how long ch10 have the Australian rights?


Quite a long time, I think 5 more years


I hope you a right James. F1 is literally the only thing on television I watch. In fact my television is kept in the other room used as a computer monitor and I only move it to the lounge every fortnight or so to watch the races.

I understand the commercial realities of broadcasting and would be happy (enough) to pay to watch F1 but it is frustrating that these things are always bundeled with a tonne of other channels I'll never even look at.


Surely BE doesn't need anymore money than what he already has?! o_O


Correct. According to Wikipedia he has 4.2 billion dollars. Depriving supporters around the world to make yet more money isn't just a shame - it's obscene. But it's the teams and the sponsors who must push to give the sport back to the masses. And the likes of Brundle should stop bowing and scraping every time he's around. I'm retired and could never afford to pay for Sky in the UK but I've been watching and supporting F1 since the 60's. Ain't right.

Incidentally, Wikipedia also says: "Ecclestone himself entered two Grand Prix races during the 1958 season, failing to qualify for either of them."


After all hell broke loose in the UK over this last year, I'm not surprised its starting to happen elsewhere, I just don't understand where fairness in all this has gone? Why has someone not jumped in and stopped it....after all there are rules over competition and companies owning the monopoly on something. Sky now has the monopoly on most sports, which just shouldn't be allowed. It's not just about the money you have to pay, if you want to watch your beloved sport, you'll pay whether you want too or not. But it's like us having 1 supermarket, or 1 mobile phone supplier, the governments just wouldn't let that happen because of competition. So we have Virgin, but thats not competition, because The costs are no different, if not more expensive. And you get better broadband perhaps, but sky have more choice. So where is the competition?

We have to be careful here, before long Rupert and his dogs will own everything, and we'll have to pay a subscription fee just to go to sleep.


Nobody will stop it ...... until the sponsors stop it. So I wrote to Vodafone and complained and said that I can't see how htey or any sponsors of the cars were getting a better deal by getting fewer viewers looking at their cars. Because ultimately, it's the sponsors who even get the teams funded in the first place.

When the the sponsors just start leaving and not coming back then it will be obvious that the available money has suddenly shrunk and Bernie has shot the Goose that laid the Golden egg.

Oh Vodafone wrote back and said they couldn't comment on how viewing was controlled.


The problem is the only way to stop this happening is for someone else to stump the money.

It happened in the UK because the BBC were forced to slash budgets in the wake of the license freeze and they had already (over)committed to the Olympics.

Italy has its own problems.

Bernie (and any successor) is going to go where the money is and no government will put up the money to pay for it as it's not a human necessity.

The only way it was ever going to work was if the BBC grouped with another FTA channel that is not publicly funded, rather than the self-destructive short-sighted route they took. I wish that Channel 4 prospect had been given a chance 🙁


What about Spain? Antenna3 did a deal until 2013 if I'm not mistaken. Given the state of theneconomy how long before they have to sell off their exclusivity to Canal+?


I said all along that this deal would be the first of many, and pay tv is how F1 is going nowadays...can't imagine this would appease anybody though!


Noooo 🙁 Sky are taking over everything 🙁 No no no

Matt Devenish

Actually Bernie, I'd argue that the quality and depth has been reduced and viewing figures are backing this up. I ended up subscribing to Sky for the additional live races, but I find myself getting more and more annoyed with the banal celebrity driven rubbish that's being put out the more the season goes on. I honestly think Sky has dipped below some of the drivel ITV used to concoct (Sorry James, not aimed at you). Which is truly shocking because now I'm paying a premium to access it!? Who's the mug, I guess.


Being Australian I hate the lack of pre and post race coverage but I suppose I can't complain when we get every race live and on free to air.


I would happily trade pre and post race coverage for free live transmissions.

I don't think the pre race coverage has ever told me something I didn't already know. James has all the news worth knowing here and post race analysis benefits from a period on consideration too.

Bring Back Murray and my 10 grand prix

That's what they always used to do on the BBC. They'd have Sunday Granstand on, swtich to the F1 about 20 mins before it was due to start and off they went. Perfectly exciting enough then - all you want to see is the race.


But remember that the coverage here is being bounced between OneHD and Ch 10 and that still a lot of areas don't get digital OneHD so they miss out. It's a little bit of a mess the way it is played with like a football at present.


In Perth it's all on OneHD now after the abuse ch 10 copped (and rightfully so) for showing Bahrain delayed. It show be on One across the country.


Well Bernie talks rubbish as usual. The Sky coverage hasn't added anything for the UK viewer aside from a subscription fee if you want to see every race. Their coverage, in my opinion, isn't at the level of BBC and more on a par with ITV.

If you want us to pay, ensure the quality of the product. Provisional results that frequently change after the event, inconsistent stewarding etc is an absolute disgrace when people are paying to see it.


If you want us to pay, ensure the quality of the product. Provisional results that frequently change after the event, inconsistent stewarding etc is an absolute disgrace when people are paying to see it.

What has this got to do with FOM or Sky? The FIA has the mandate for this stuff and whilst it's linked to the enjoyment of the sport, it's also related to a strict set of rules designed to govern a competitive international sport.


I also disagree. Sky has now become my default channel. Anthony Davidson is brilliant as always and the build up is very good. They have superb analysis and they were right there live for the williams fire. BBC were long gone.

I remember how we used to moan about Legard. The BBC is not the golden chalice you remember. (excellent 5live coverage excluded)

Well done to the great coverage Sky. 5.1 sound too! It's only a tenner a month and I get all the other HD channels too.

Matt Devenish

The Sky coverage of the Williams pit fire was nothing short of a disgrace. Second guessing facts, reporting inaccurate causes, injuries ect. and going as far as naming an injured mechanic live on air. Terrible broadcasting.


But my point is they weren't reporting on what was being put out, it was conjecture and hearsay that changed every five minutes. First it was KERS, then fuel, then fuel ignited by KERS. Lots of injuries, superficial injuries, severe injuries, man with legs on fire.

The BBC reported it was KERS related, but I think ending the broadcast when they did was the right thing - what were they going to add by hanging around and speculating on causes for hours afterwards?

I don't blame the reporters as such, it's the way reporting has gone since the arrival of 24hr news coverage -just keeping filming and talking, even if it's rubbish.

And then yesterday after FP1 there was a camera showing an injured HRT mechanic on the ground - why? What on earth has that got to do with the sport we've tuned in to watch. If someone is injured do we need to see it?


They were not second guessing facts, It was an unfolding story & they were simply reporting on what was been put out at the time.

Just before BBC went off-air they reported on what was been speculated as the cause at that time & that was a KERS battery explosion. Other journalist's were doing the same on places like Twitter, Hearing bits of information in the paddock & reporting on it.

Id agree that naming the injuried mechanic was unnecisary though.


Sky F1 does not cost a tenner a month. The minimum for someone to pay to get the station is £30 a month.

And the BBC were still on the Forum when the Williams fire broke out.

Armchair Critic

The BBC is around £12 a month compulsory subscription, and the Sky package is around £30. That's £42 in total.


"The Sky coverage hasn’t added anything for the UK viewer"

I disagree, I've got the Sky coverage & think its a big step up from anything I've had before.

Extra Pre/Post race, Tons of interactive Red Button extras for every session through the weekend, Live GP2/GP3 & a weekly F1 show. Loving it so far.

Matt Devenish

What has Sky added that the BBC didn't already offer? The Red Button was pioneered on the BBC so it's hardly fair to credit Sky with that. Of course you have the option of choosing onboard feeds, but that is a complete gimmick - who on earth is going to watch an entire GP using onboard cameras? In fact who has time to faff about choosing different angles, I spend most of my time looking at a timing screen on the laptop and the world feed of the race on the TV, which is the only way to really understand what's going on.

The world-feed for the race is the same on BBC and Sky, we could nitpick about HD and sound quality, but again I'd happily take what the Beeb offer, especially if it saves me £30 a month.

Build-up and post-race is quite subjective, if you don't like a presenter or commentator then it's understandable you may favour a different broadcast, but can anyone honestly say Sky has produced any feature or analysis that has been better than the BBC has offered to date? It’s not as if the BBC are left using smoke signals while Sky implant information straight into our minds – it’s just the packaging that’s slightly different. Ted has a 3D car and Gary Anderson uses a notepad and pen. If anything I thought the BBC explanation of Mercedes DRS (whilst primitive) was more digestible and informative than the whizzy CGI car Sky tells you is better. It was the same when Sky took over the football coverage, promising revolutionary coverage that comprised of flash intros and very little else. It doesn’t matter how many cameras/presenters/Georgie Thompsons/3D shots you throw at it, it’s the sport that matters and Sky show us the same as everyone else, but charge for the privilege.

The F1 Show is a nice touch, but if I miss it do I feel I’ve missed out? No (and I’m not talking about watching a later repeat). Nothing within the program is exclusive or that can't be found, very often days in advance, on websites such as this.

Anyone who thinks paying for something we already had for free, quite frankly is delusional.


I completely forgot about F1 on Sky in 2002, but technically wasn't it FOM piggy backing on Sky, rather than an actual Sky production as Sky Sports F1 is now? i.e. the same as MUFC TV, Chelsea TV, ESPN ect


"The Red Button was pioneered on the BBC "

Sky had the F1 Digital interactive coverage of F1 back in 2002 😉

Thats way before BBC had Red Button F1 coverage in 2009.

"but that is a complete gimmick – who on earth is going to watch an entire GP using onboard cameras? In fact who has time to faff about choosing different angles,"

I regularly switch between feeds during the sessions.

Few times this year where switching to one of the other feeds has given me a good view of a nice fight going on around the track that the world feed isn't covering.

The pit lane channel also provides tons of additional team radio which has more than once provided great insight into various things.

The extra angles avaliable on Sky's Red Button are a fantastic addition to the sessions for me.


Sky's post-race (including the ads) is often shorter than BBC with Forum!


I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt this year (BBC's output in 2009 was a little shaky for the first half of the season) but it's so dry and clinical it's just, well, boring.

Both TV crews have all this access, but they [Sky] are often just talking to each other in the paddock or crowding out a specific working garage, tripping over mechanics in the process. By comparison, the BBC are moving up and down the pitlane, adding context to what they're talking about. It just seems better put together.

Sky also have this stupid Sky Pad thing which serves no purpose other than to give Davidson something to do (I bet when he signed with Sky, he thought they'd let him attend the track!) and make Sky's product seem more high-tech, but it's just obvious filler, as is all the stuff shown 24/7.

It's a product that just seems geared to the layman who doesn't understand Formula One, but it's not like televised foot-to-ball - the majority of the fans aren't laymen (or at least know where to get better information from elsewhere).

I also agree that Jonathan Kelk (above) has it right - Sky will use the low cost of entry for existing HD subs to get people on board, then move it to Sports only, then a bolt-on, with a heightened service for PPV. It's Sky's MO.

Jonathan Kelk

Enjoy it while you can. I strongly suspect once they have got people drawn in they will move it to the top sports packages only, and then in a few years probably put some races onto pay-per-view.

Even if you are still watching then, not many others will, and the lack of sponsorship will dramatically reduce the number and quality of teams taking part.


Great point and something I want to add to your sentiments.

I went to see Prometheus the other evening. A 3D viewing cost £10.25..

The programme started at 20.10 and until 20.38 I saw 5 trailers for upcoming films, so what 10 minutes? and the remainder was all adverts.

When I'm paying money for anything, I despise advertisers or the cinema group forcing me to sit through this.


Ain't that 28 minutes?

And who the hell goes to the movies anymore?


Apologies. The next time I read a post of yours I'll be sure to do so with care.


You completely missed my point.

If the trailers equal 10 minutes, therefore I'm watching 18 minutes of adverts!!!

I still go to the movies but only for "big" films.

The dark knight was the last proper film I saw, but I also had to experience Senna on the big screen. Anything else I watch on a big screen in surround sound at home, but even then it's not all bluray because it doesn't offer a huge difference over DVD.


Problem is, adverts and food are how Cinema's make money. First run films often cost the cinema 95% of box office receipts to show.


Yes! That is another of my pet hates, £10 to watch a movie and then you have adverts! Its not like you can arrive late for most showings either as you don't exactly know how long the ads will be or whether you will be able to get a decent seat.


Yeah but come on, what was the film like? It has mixed reviews. Pity it's not Ridley doing what Ron Howard is doing now with "Rush" (which seems an odd title for an F1 film)


I enjoyed it, it was a better prequal than the phantom menace. Problem is Ridley Scott has two ground breaking sci fi films behind him, Alien and Blade Runner, and it just can't compete against their 30 year rose tinted histories.


I suppose it was fairly inevitable that this model would be rolled out throughout Europe following it's 'success' in Britain. I understand all the reasoning behind it; it is a business and the powerbrokers have to make the best decisions for the sustainability of the sport, but from my point of view, and I am sure for many F1 fans throughout Europe, it is simply not financially viable to pay a minimum of £30 and up to £60 a month to watch a few races. Pay-per view would be a far better option in my opinion as I would gladly pay for the F1, but JUST the F1.


Another bad day for F1

Sky (UK) are only averaging 701k viewers per race and only 381k for qualifying, with the combined BBC/Sky unique viewer count down by over 1.3 million per race ... Italy will no doubt suffer a similar decline in F1 viewers, and the teams a subsequent decline in AVE sponsorship brand awareness too.


Where are you getting those figures from?

The official figures are much higher than that & the drop in overall viewers has been nowhere near 1.3m.

Sky/BBC combined Monaco drew an average of 5.4m viewers, Down on 2011 (By 800k) but still higher than any year prior.


Sky's official figures are the combined PEAK viewing figures from 2 or sometimes 3 broadcasts of the same race.

My figures come from BARB, and are the season average figures so far, and are NOT peak viewing figures, as peak figures can be for people who watched less than 2 minutes of the race.


Do you have any figures if these are new subscribers or merely F1 fans that happen to have the Sky HD package already?


So, Sky want to charge for something that has been free for years and is still relatively easy to get free. Wonder how that's working out for them?


Very well actually from our point of view.

We have seen an increase in subscribers to out sports & HD service since we announced the F1 deal. We have also had a jump in SkyGo subscribers where you can also watch Sky Sports F1.

Were very happy with the amount of viewers our coverage has been getting, We have regularly seen peak figures of above 1.5m & on F1 weekend's the total viewership share of SSF1/HD has been above out other dedicated sports channels.

We have also seen a good number of viewers use our interactive Red Button, Online & mobile offerings.

Something I would also remind people about is that we never actively went after the Formula 1 coverage & were never actually approached by mr Ecclestone. It was the BBC who came to us about the possibility of the coverage share deal, We worked the deal out between ourselfs, agreed on terms & the BBC took the proposal to Mr Ecclestone who signed off on it.

I get why people are disgruntled is they don't subscribe to us, However from our point of view having the F1 rights has been a success. There was talk that we would get so few viewers that we would be looking to offload F1, Not so, Were very happy with where were at & fully intend to honor our current contract if not extend it.


Thanks for the answer. I agree that the BBC are the 'bad guys' here, but only because its willingness to split the coverage is what enabled the deal to be accepted by F1.

I wonder if Sky will be able to continue with far fewer viewers where ITV and the BBC have failed?


Assuming you are who you appear to be... Spot on, BBC are the ones who sold out the fan. And to my surprise, have to say I like Sky better.


It's unusual to get a corporation offering opinions to the layman, but thank you.

Although I do have cynical views on the whole Sky/ BBC agreement.

Doesn't it seems odd that RAI also made the same approach to Bernie and no doubt FIM for the MotoGP coverage for next year too.

Or is that an assumption too far?

I have no interest in any other sport, I have no interest in watching a channel showing films 24 hour a day, whatever their format, etc, etc.

So why doesn't SKY offer just F1 alone to the fans?

Why should we pay for all these additional channels which we will never watch?

There's only 2 I watch, F1 and Top Gear. I would refuse to watch Top Gear on Dave because of ad breaks.

I believe that SKY doesn't earn huge amounts from their subscription services, but from what advertisers are willing to pay.

Also, whilst I'd like to believe your integrity and honesty in your answer, I also remember that the Sky overlord has been in court recently answering questions relating to the phone tapping scandal that caused the closure of one of his newspapers.

As I said, I'm somewhat of a cynic.


In the UK Sky can't even get over 1 million viewers.

Why aren't the sponsors making a fuss about the huge reduction in viewers?

I didn't bother with Sky. Spent the money on a trip to Spa and a few BTCC races instead. Sky can do one.


Where can I find out how many have watched the SKY races and how many watched BBC races?


http://bit.ly/Kez2QM that's where the monaco ones were, don't konw about any others.


"In the UK Sky can’t even get over 1 million viewers."

Not true, They have got over 1m viewers fairly consistently for there race coverage.

Bahrain for instance Sky had a peak of 1.6m, Average of 1.4m.


But for the same race in 2010 the BBC achieved a peak (for the live broadcast) of 6.1m with an average of 4.8m.

Even the BBC highlights in 2012 achieved more than Sky managed for the live broadcast. Which I think begs the question;

Are enough fans interested enough in the sport to pay for and subsidise a dedicated PPV channel?

I think the answer is probably not based on the current numbers watching. But I have no clue as to how much Sky is recouping from additional subscriptions, sponsorship from Santander ect vs the outlay of setting up the channel and paying FOM and all the advertising they used in the build up to the new season. But what is worrying for all of us, regardless if you're a Sky subscriber at the moment or not, is what's stopping Sky from moving the F1 channel to a separate pay monthly subscription, rather than being part of the current Sky Sports package or HD pack, if the viewing figures don't add up at the end of the season? Could we face an increase of another £5-10 per month to access the additional 10 races?


My sentiments exactly.

I wonder what the viewing figures for the Canada race will be? As the BBC highlights are at 10:30pm, this will hopefully hit the overall viewing figure pretty bad.

I would rather sleep for work the next day. Although, sometimes, the "racing" is quite a good cure for insomnia.


I listened to the JA on F1 podcast recently and it was very obvious from the interviews there that watching F1 will become more and more expensive. Of course this was positioned as "great added value for the fans" - I've never heard such rubbish.

Regrettably, as was evident in the podcast, I think most broadcasters and journalists do not wish to give their own view on F1 selling TV rights, whether for their future career prospects, or perhaps because they are in their own bubble and out of touch with the normal fans.

F1 is a sport which has no need to make money from TV (whether it be to Sky, or by charging the BBC a ridiculous fee) and is easily sustainable in it's own right, as it has been for many years. Sadly, sport no longer seems important, the only view now is as a business.

You can certainly say that Bernie has grown F1 to what it is today. But to essentially take it away from the armchair fans is a disgrace, for which he should hang his head in shame.

F1 could have taken a long term view that free to air TV is for the long term overall benefit. Instead, the clear aim is to extract the maximum possible short term revenue from the TV viewer. Sadly, it just shows the type of people involved in F1, and for me is a real turn off.


"...most broadcasters and journalists do not wish to give their own view on F1..."

And rightly so. When they start giving us their *opinions instead of just the facts, they cease to be "journalists."


Sure. But they are in a good position to ensure both sides of an argument are put forward and debated, rather than listening to and accepting just one side, which in this case is the one everyone is so irate about.


I am pretty sure that this is all about Bernie maintaining his own income level. With the new Concorde Agreement rumoured to be giving more to the teams plus seats on the board (of we guess, Delta Topco but not Prefco)for him to keep pocketing the same gigantic dividend amount with a smaller percentage share obviously the size of the pot has to be bigger.

He has already screwed the circuits so hard that many have given up and cannot afford a GP any more, many use all their year's income to pay the Bernie fee. Only by going to new venues with sovereign funding can he hope to keep demanding such huge fees. So whether we like it or not, he has to take F1 where the money is and most european circuits are not able to continue annual race. The other major income source is the tv rights in each country, with each conversion to Sky the audience falls by at least half if not 80%, but the money in pocket goes up by several times. It is only a matter of time before sponsors start to disappear, they were guaranteed FTA coverage. This half and half is a very "Bernie" kind of deal. How will his successor cope?


The only irony I see is James fighting the corner for sky and then working for the bbc


Hi James

You point view of view once the sky deal was announced was very pro sky and like it or lump approach. When in reality we could of done with someone of your reputation and cailibre fighting on the side of the fan. I was hugely disappointed in you as individual as you could see that money wasn't an issue for you and you werent prepared to stick your neck out for the fans. Then to sign for BBC after that stance I thought was very hypocritical. I appreciate journolists are afraid of bernie and on that occasion it was clear you were afraid to speak your mind just in case you lost your position within f1, whilst the rest us had to loose f1 to some degree altogether.



If its not your job to fight for us, then who will? Your voice is louder than most and you have a lot influence, it would of been nice to have you on the side of the fans. It would of carried a lot weight.


I've got to agree with James; you're talking nonsense.

The irritation with Ecclestone (can we please stop calling him "Bernie" ?) is quite understandable - greedy and unpleasant are epithets that spring to mind.

Quite how James is to blame for any of this escapes me completely.


This site is the best there is largely because the author does not get caught up in fanaticism. The articles available here are not available anywhere else, and the author creates fascinating articles for fans who really appreciate and understand the sport. Leave the sensationalist, favour-seeking garbage to Sky Sports where it belongs.

This site has maintained my interest in F1 during the past couple of years (which have been difficult for me to continue liking F1 after 20 years to be honest) and I have entered competitions that any real fan of the sport would dearly love to win rather than the usual win a t-shirt crap you find elsewhere.

I can't image that this site makes the author huge piles of cash, so it must exist for OUR benefit rather than his in some sense. I am grateful for that.

I argue and criticise here and there on this site, but at the end of the day there is no other F1 site to compare to this one, no better source of knowledge and understanding and very few people who take such time to engage with fans as JA both does and facilitates.

We are all closer to F1 because of JA.

P.S Can I have that t-shirt now James? 🙂



I think these comments are unfair, although I do feel you could question more strongly re these TV deals.

For example, on the recent podcast the promoter being interviewed was clearly stating that F1 was going to cost the fan/viewer more over time. What he really meant was "the dan is going to pay a lot for for pretty much the same, to line various rich peoples pockets". A fair argument against that would be to say that the fans already pay indirectly through BBC licence fee, as well as essentially paying for all the advertising on the cars and trackside. Hence why F1 is already a conmercial success. But the guy concerned was just left to state his case unchallenged.

F1 is and always has been a business. I understand that. But it is going too far.


That's the opposite of what he said: he said that he thinks the costs will not go up, but that there will be more stuff for fans in terms of online feeds, mobile etc, more ways of interacting. But he's careful to say that he thinks the prices won't rise.


One of the strongest replies I've ever seen from you, James and I'm sure almost every regular visitors to your site will agree with every word !

It's just a shame that the BBC insists on continually interrupting your excellent R5L commentary with reports from Football matches etc.

With digital radio I would have thought they could provide a second, uninterrupted feed for you.


To be honest, I'm glad of the odd chance for a breather and to take stock of how the strategies are unfolding!


I've no idea what you are talking about.

I wasn't pro Sky in August last year, I reported the news objectively using my 20 years of F1 TV background knowledge.

It's not my job to fight for fans, it's my job to entertain and to inform fans and to help them get more from the sport, not fight crusades. I've done more for fans on this site in 3 years than most of the others in F1 put together - eg invent the Fans Forum..

And there's nothing hypocritical in signing for BBC Radio 5 Live, which is a fantastic institution in the UK and which has nothing to do with the TV deals..


Whatever they do it can't be worse than what Astro is doing in Asia.

THey have good coverage and stuff, but all through the race, every 10 mintues or so. I would rather watch a BBC highlights any day and at least get it uninterupted by commercials.


Here in Canada F1 has been on "pay" cable for the last few decades. I'm sure Canada's F1 viewership numbers speak for themselves- for instance: less people watched the 2010 Spa race than the final round of the Ladies Pro Golf tournament later the same day. When a good night of Hockey playoffs will attract 2-3 million Canadian viewers (free on CBC) and a typical F1 race only attracts 250K, you know where the money will go...


You can't compare *anything to Hockey in Canada. No chance.


I had the displeasure of viewing a race on sky whilst visiting a friend, and I have to say it was pretty awful.

Female presenters hired only for their aesthetic qualities and the abonxious commentary of David "Crofty" Croft made for a truely Murdochian experience.


"Murdochian experience" lol


That monthly fee will really sting in August...


I hear yeah......


I just wanted to speak up a bit for the UK Sky coverage since for the most part it seems to be getting a bit of a bashing!

Yes it is an incredible shame that F1 went to Sky since the BBC coverage was not only free (or as good as, im not counting the licence fee!) it was also the best coverage we have ever had in the UK.

And Mr.Murdoch is most certainly a dubious individual and I fully understand people boycotting Sky for that reason (I admire your moral fibre! I'm not as strong!).

But as someone who is lucky enough to be able to afford the extra £10 a month (I was already a subscriber to Sky's basic entertainment package) I have to say I have been impressed with the Sky coverage.

The commentary team are well informed, professional and accessible (albeit mainly pinched from the BBC!). The adverts are relegated to only show in the first half hour of the build up show (which is an hour and a half long) and after the race which is fine by me. The presenting team are at least as enthusiastic and knowledgeable as the BBC team (after a shaky start I think Damon Hill is really coming into his own and with Johnny Herbert they have their own slightly more coherent version of EJ!) and as someone else already pointed out you get coverage of all the support races, practise sessions, review programmes covering past seasons and a number of magazine shows - some of which at least are interesting!

Yes its not fair on the hard up fan to have to pay for it now, and yes Murdoch is a swine, but I don't think you can knock the actual quality of the product.


I have to disagree with you.

Last years BBC coverage was excellent,Brundle/Coultard and humphreys/jordan/. This years is not as good but is still alot more fun and still far far better than Sky's.

And if I watch that Paul Di Resta vid or the Legend' vid on constant loop between races I will destroy a television (and my home insurance just ran out) I swear.

The actual pre race coverage is woe fully poor on sky and the race commentry is not the pairing sky had hoped for with Brundle and Crofty, which is almost as grating as the dark days of Legard.

As for the after race 'forum', it does not work - moment of hilarity at the last GP the BBC lads walking past the Sky lads into the Redbull after race party....Brundles face was a picture.

That said - F1 to go the way of boxing, cricket, football etc with no one knowing who the world champions are and "the stars" only being known for off field antics.....


I guess it's a case of each to their own! I watched F1 from when the BBC first had the rights before going onto ITV then back to the BBC and I honestly believe that the coverage now is on a par with the best we've had (which for me was the BBC's last tenure).

Are there niggles? Sure, I'm not too keen on their anchorman and they've inherited the BBC's love of overblown dramatic 'mood' pieces (the Beeb's Sean Bean voiced intro's last year were just cringe worthy - and don't get me started on EJ's poetry!) but on the whole the race coverage is just as good as last year (but I couldn't say better Matt!), I like Crofty & Brundle!

Where Sky surpasses the BBC is in it's supplementary programmes. I love having coverage of the support races to watch and believe it or not Thompson I enjoy the 'Legends' series!

But again, that's just my opinion!


Accepted, to each their own, I have to confess I love those cut scenes, with filters, pumping music, moody voice overs on the BBC (obviously shot and edited by the Top gear back room boys). The edited race summary after each GP I thought was superb.

but personally the Brundle/Coultard commentry was the pinnicle imo - for 1 season they got it just right.

But I'll be watching on Sky this weekend.... 🙁

Matt Devenish

But is it any better than what we had and what we're now paying for now?


Everything else aside I think the coverage on Sky has been fantastic this year.

I really love all the extra feeds they provide, especially during practice when you can go to one of there onboard feeds or the pit lane feed to hear extra radio transmissions.

all the extra analysis tools they use are also great & provide extra insight you dont get on bbc.

if i got to pick where f1 stanyed in future years i would pick sky over bbc purely because there coverage is more in depth & far better overall.


BBC has the best analysis tools. A pen, a piece of paper and Gary Anderson.


forgot to add that sky also provide live gp2/gp3 practice, qualifying & both race as well.

they also started showing the driver/team press conferences live recently which is something no other broadcaster does.

we also had 1982/1983 monaco gp highlights & 2007-2011 monaco gp shown in full.

great stuff.


A little perspective. Here in the US, we've paid to watch Formula One for YEARS!!!!!

Welcome to reality. Just because you got used to something of high value for free doesn't mean you deserve to receive it forever for free. Oh wait a minute, you're Europeans. That's what you've "entitled" yourselves to expect.


In Great Britain we have something called a T-E-L-E-V-S-I-O-N L-I-C-E-N-C-E F-E-E - -ergo those of us here have ALWAYS had paid to watch not only F1 but anything else on on our few mediocre terrestrial channels.

Still beats 57 channels and nothing on!



Better get your flame-proof underwear on!


Nobody ever got F1 "for free". Who do you think pays for Vodafone, Canon, Pirelli etc to sponsor the cars, trackside etc?


Not to mention the BBC TV license fee.

Which reminds me of another grievance I have with Sky coverage, the obscene ammount of commercial breaks. I have never understood why Sky thinks it is acceptable to charge viewers a relatively large ammount to subscribe to their service and then feel that it is ok to exploit these subscribers for additional advertising revenue.

We have a competition commission in the UK to restrict distorted market power (and the expoloitative behaviour this creates), it's a shame that the commission's guidelines are so ineffective when it comes to broadcasting rights.


I don't know what the system is in Italy for "FTA" tv, but in the UK we pay a substantial licence fee to the BBC for our supposedly free tv, so it is not free at all. That is why some of us may seem somewhat angry that the BBC has chosen to spend such vast amounts on football and the olympics. The latter being a commercial bandwagon for sponsors and a huge drain on our taxes.


In Italy we pay 212 Euros per year to subsidise the state run broadcaster, RAI. For that we get wall to adverts on state run channels, heavy political bias and exceptionally poor technical service. Even in Italian and on live tv the lips rarely move in sync with the voice. F1 coverage is OK, including James (occaisionally!) talking in Italian with his English accent.


Finland in 2007 was an experiment for Bernie to see how pay-tv works. F1 was the first really interesting pay-tv product here and was used to sell a whole new package of channels showing boring series and old movies. Indeed after 2006 all the live races have been on pay-tv.

The difference in Finland is that commercial FTA channels and pay-tv channels belong to the same companies, so there's an incentive to make the free-to-air coverage unattractive. For the ice hockey world championships the law requires all matches of the Finnish team to be shown live on a free channel. But they had the best commentator only on pay channel. They paid another commentator so they could have worse commentary on the free channel.


Pretty sure that license fee for the BBC (which even non-users of BBC services have to pay) means that their coverage, like Sky's (which one has to opt in to paying for) is not "free". In fact, it is the only coverage you do pay for even if you don't end up using it.


I can't imagine F1 will end up only on pay per view. It's not like football, it's no country's national sport (even in Italy) and it needs to be easy to access to maintain public awareness. Look at boxing, it used to be massive, who cares about it these days? F1 would end up the same, especially, as with boxing, politically correct factions have F1 in their sights, and I'm sure the F1 powers that be are well aware of this.


I bit the bullet and signed up to Sky HD F1 back in March.... the coverage is only average - I much prefer the BBC coverage - so when the BBC have the live races I still watch BBC HD F1.


I think Sky is doing a fantastic job. Great to have different live feeds,press conference etc. Martin Brundle,Anthony Davidson,and Johnny Herbert. Not to mention all the practices,qualy and races live, and the F1 show(live) When has the BBC ever had all of this. Ok we pay, but well worth it.


Hi James,

Are you able to do a piece on how (or if) the teams are compensated for lower viewing numbers when a portion of the live coverage in these big F1 markets are switching to pay tv? Assuming they are, this must also lead to a significant extra bid price from a pay tv operator to get the right, compared to what a fta operator would pay?


Nice, so when all countries sign up to pay deals, all the F1 fans will be truly catered for (in Bernie's logic).

Will the sponsors/teams react at all to the dropping viewing figures? Or are they satisfied with money from tv deals?


Unfortunate developments, and not just in Italy.

I see that Bernie is quoted in the Guardian Newspaper as saying that Free to Air coverage in the UK no longer matters to him and he will be happy just to go with Sky.

I'm sure that Sky are doing a good job but how many terrestial TV viewers who don't want extra TV channels are going to pay £25-£30 per race just to watch F1 ? My entry ticket for the whole LeMans week only cost me £55 !

It might be different if we could sign up just for £2.50 per race.

Bernie's argument is that Sky reaches 10m people in the UK but the BBC audience never reaches more than 7m

He's obviously no statistician :

For a start, the figure of 10m is probably optimistic and will include babies and toddlers, secondly he assumes that everyone in the vast majority of Sky households will sit down and watch F1 !

Like many enthusiasts, I now watch the non-Sky races on German TV with an extra LNB on my Freesat Dish. It cost me £30, less than one month's subscription to Sky and it's perfectly legal.

I used to watch cricket until it left the BBC, now I just listen occasionally on the radio.

If F1 leaves European Free to Air TV altogether I will simply stop watching.

Is that what your sponsors want, Martin Whitmarsh and Co ?


Bang on cue Bernie pipes up with this


Better start saving now!


I think that's a classic Bernie quote designed purely to ruffle feathers. He talks to the press about figures that bear no correlation to the facts he or the journalist is trying to back up, but it gets reported like the ten commandments. So what if Sky reach 10m households, there are over 25m licence fee payers in the UK (therefore more than double the number of Sky subscribers with access to the BBC coverage), plus lord only knows how many additional viewers there are who watch the BBC without paying for a licence and are therefore not included in this statistic.

Graham Clarke

It is mainly bluster, the contract isn't up until 2018 unless the BEEB change their mind again.

But he knows in order to get his 10m viewers on Sky F1 would need ti achieve a 100% share in the raings, and I don't think many Sky subscribers also pay fir sports anyway. (that's the cue for someone from BSkyB to correct me over this 'key metric' 🙂 )


"The thing that TV stations want to buy most is live sport. People don't want to watch delayed stuff because nowadays it's hard not to know the result if you don't want to," said Ecclestone.

Really Mr E? How blinkered is he?

It's true what they say of F1, they live in a little bubble which nothing of the outside world registers with them.

F1 is entertaining, sometimes, but it's not life defining.

I go out with my children, or I get on and work or have a family BBQ, you get the drift.

I watch it later.

For the last 7 years, I have routinely recorded every race on a DVD recorder.

If a race starts at 1pm, I will watch the start whenever I get to a TV and I'll be watching it "live" in my own time. If I want something to eat or drink, I pause, then press play on my return.

This was actually a God send during the ITV years because I'd be watching the live TV feed from an hour before but could fast forward every ad break.

I have watched the Australian GP like this at 8am, or watched the German GP like this at 10pm, after a wonderful day with friends and family, BBQ and beer.

I also won't spoil my entertainment by looking on the net for the results.

Hey, I see it this way, there are 1000's of speed cameras around the country, and Jeremy Clarkson wants them all destroyed. I hate them myself, but there's an easy answer.

How long do you think the police forces would keep their money making project going if they were not raising funds from them?

I haven't been caught by a speed camera since 1995.

It's not because I want to drive slowly, I have passion for speed, but I choose to drive slowly, because it's a finger in the eyes for the Big Brother regime.

My fix for speed, my motorbike, a go kart or my Formula Ford.


I can't afford the UK sky package and even if I could, F1 would be the only thing I'd watch (as much because I'm not in the house enough to watch TV as I'm really not interested in anything else Sky broadcasts)

I'd much prefer FOM to move everything in-house and have an online channel dedicated to the sport, just as Major League Baseball does in the USA (or in fact ManU TV here in the UK).

As it is, I watch Sky's coverge in a pub for the cost of a few drinks (and maybe a couple packets of crisps)

Brian Morrison

Well I have not watched a race since Hungary 2011, and I only watched that to see what the BBC had to say about their perfidy.

Looks like the Italians will be screwed over the same way, but then given that what I read about the racing seems to indicate that the drivers have to spit on their tyres and drive below the limit a lot it does beg the question of how many people actually want to see racing of this nature.

I hope Bernie and his mates enjoy counting their increased spondulicks, and that they've picked a bank to put them in that can survive the coming economic cataclysm.


Its reassuring to see that Bernie and Rupert are still seen by denizens of this blog as 2 of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

So, who would the *other 2 be? Charlie Whiting? Jean Todt? Tilke? 3-Car Monte? Marko?

We should take a poll!

The Floor is open for Nominations!


Helmut Marko & Flav!


I have been a F1 fan for years I even went on my honeymoon to see Sena in Jerez, This year however I have not seen a lap and find I dont really miss it, so I think I have given up for good.


The 1st 11 live F1 races got 45.7 viewers in 2011 on the BBC.

The combined audiences for the 1st 11 races on BBC and Sky in 2011 dropped significantly to 24.1m.

Good going Bernie!


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