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SKY Italy launches TV coverage using UK model: Villeneuve the star
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Jan 2013   |  7:37 pm GMT  |  218 comments

The changing face of F1 broadcasting was illustrated again yesterday when SKY Italia launched its new pay TV F1 programming in a ceremony at Monza.

Italy is moving to a model similar to the UK, where SKY has every race weekend live on a pay channel while BBC covers half live and the rest highlights only, on free to air terrestrial TV.

The previous free-to-air incumbent of the rights in Italy, RAI, is expected to take the BBC-equivalent role in Italy with just nine races live and the rest on highlights, but it hasn’t come to the table yet, with less than two months to go to the first race.

F1’s TV numbers in Italy have been traditionally high, thanks to the nation’s passion for Ferrari, but the number of core viewers across the season is likely to decrease with this rights split. Sky Italia is not as well established in homes as its UK counterpart.

SKY Italia’s Jacques Reynaud said that the UK model had worked well, claiming more people watched F1 in the UK in 2012 than in 2011, but there were clearly some races in the second half of last season where that was not the case.

Nevertheless, with a greater penetration of pay TV into homes in mature F1 markets, the sport’s commercial rights holders are looking to strike a balance between licensing the TV rights to pay platforms, which have access to higher budgets for rights and production, against a drop in viewership. To increase revenues from TV rights, this is a path they feel they need to travel, while aiming to minimise a loss in viewership, which sponsors do not want.

Although they will not enjoy the high budgets of their British counterparts, the Italian SKY coverage will be comprehensive, with 30 hours across a race weekend and a dedicated F1 channel. It will be fronted by the experienced Carlo Vanzini, while Jacques Villeneuve, 1997 world champion and son of Ferrari legend Gilles, was unveiled as the star pundit, alongside one of Ferrari’s current reserve drivers, Mark Gene.

Villeneuve, who tried a bit of punditry with SKY UK last season, has always been outspoken, particularly since he retired and he said that he doesn’t plan to spare anyone’s blushes in his new role,
“I cannot change,” he said. “If I wasn’t allowed to say what I think then there would be problems.”

Like its UK counterpart, the coverage will be multi-faceted, with nine channels, from pit lane to onboards to choose from and the pricing was quoted at 33 Euros per month.

Murdoch-owned or operated TV networks now have the rights for F1 in UK, Italy, Australia, Pan-Asia and Pan-Latin America.

* What do you think of the joint Pay TV/Free to Air model? If you are based in the UK, how has it worked for you? Leave your comments below.

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Just enquired about changing packages with Sky. I currently have HD with F1 HD if I move packages (these are HD packages) the F1 will be in standard definition only, I would need to take sports pack if I want it in HD. So it looks like things are changing as we all thought they would when Sky took on F1.


sky tv has just cost blackberry a mobile phone sale ‘black berry sponser merc’


So the satellite-only channel charges for their service, and still pollutes the programming with advertising?

It’s little wonder they get so few viewers.


Just seen in daily mail website. Sky to offer pay per view via a website for f1 £9.99 per day


Really dont like the way beign asked to pay for stuff all the time. Sky want cash for Sky Sport then Cash for HD. The BBC coverage isnt perfect but its good enough.

If the Sky content is so good people will pay anyway. Stop th a nticompetitive practices and go free to air AND subscription, see which the majority of people really do want.

The Sky model is same for ALL their sports. make the Administraotrs of the sport wealthy at the expense of the fans. .

Sky is bad news. Period


Sky might be fine now as it’s a free extra on the HD package, but once you you have to pay an extra premium for it in a few seasons time like you do for Sky Sports channels will everyone still think it’s so great?

Someone at the BBC should grow a set and start dictating terms to Bernie. Tell him how much he is going to get and if he doesn’t like it call his bluff and tell him to shove it. He would soon be back begging once the sponsors and teams were on his back due to an 80% audience drop.

Terrestrial TV doesn’t need F1 but sponsors do which means Bernie does too, I refuse to pay anymore than the TV tax to see adverts on cars no matter how fast they are going around a track. Imagine how many sponsors would pull out if every country was down to Sky UK’s viewing figures, the sport would be bankrupt before you know it.


interesting comments up above but unfortunately, all those who invest their money into f1, do so with the aim of making a profit. many of them employ staf to dream up new ways of improving their profits. if they think fans who cannot afford to pay for the service are of no financial value to them, why should they want to provide them with a free service? another argument is that majority of the hard core fans are those who prefer to watch it on bbc.

so those who pay to watch the races trackside and those who buy the products and services advertised at the venues are of financial value to the investors. the rest are just passengers. will shedding the passengers affect their profits negatively?


I think that the passengers are alright as far as the Internet exists.


Completely off topic but I’m glad that Villeneuve has finally shaved his head. He looked awful when he was still trying to style his thinning hairline into something resembling a full head of hair.


Villenueve ? Looks more like Greg Wallace to me!


I live in Aust and we currently get all the F1 races live (Quali, and the race) on free to air, and then also a repeat on the next day or so.

So far i love this setup. I never miss a race and the coverage is decent by the hosts and the commentating is fantastic by Brundle and the other guy he does it with via Sky.

I have no idea how this split coverage thing works, but by the sounds of it I don’t like it. I would hate for them to do that to us here in Aust. As avid F1 fan I prob would pay for the subscription, but then wouldn’t get my money’s worth out of it as I wouldn’t have the time to sit there and watch 30 (or whatever it is) hours of F1 coverage a race – all th info, replays, etc of the prac sessions and interviews can be found on the net on websites like this which I read all the time, don’t see why I should pay for something that i wouldn’t have time to sit and watch as good as it may be. Obviously quali and the race are important to watch which we have a good thing going on with that right now.

How does PPV F1 increase its fan base anyway? Real fans will buy the subscription, but anybody else who’s casually interested would not be able to just flick over to the channel on free to air and get totally impressed by the awesomeness of F1 these days…


Agreed. Let’s hope they maintain the status quo, but unfortunately I think the people who are making these decisions are blinded by dollar signs, so it’s probably bound to happen sooner or later.

Mind you, on second thought, we’re a small market (globally speaking). We get shafted half the time with everything else, so here’s hoping they don’t think it’s worth the effort! 🙂


It’s a little off topic, but from reading these comments I can’t help but get the impression that you have to have a licence to watch free TV in the UK.

If that’s the case, I can’t help wondering if they can send you to jail for operating one without a licence, or if you can get busted and have your licence taken away for operating your TV while drunk.

I know that will sound like a smart **** statement to a lot of you, but I just can’t get my head around the fact that you would need a licence to watch TV.

I’m in Australia. We just buy a TV, plug it in, chuck in the antenna and voila! Free TV!

Please let me know, I’m genuinely curious…


Yes, like many other countries the UK has a TV licence. Roughly half of countries in Europe require one.

“Television licence” is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, “television tax” might be more descriptive. It is a hypothecated tax to fund public service broadcasting.

In the UK you have to you have to pay it if you receive any television broadcasts, not just the ones funded by the tax. I believe this is the case in most other countries that have a TV licence too.

Often people who don’t watch the BBC raise the objection that they’re paying for something they’re not using, but of course that is true of many things that are funded by taxation. The reason for funding the broadcasters from a separate “licence fee” instead of general taxation is to make them less vulnerable to influence by the incumbent government; they are “national broadcasters” rather than “government broadcasters,” and the people who run them are not civil servants.

In the UK, failing to pay your TV licence is punishable by a fine, but failing to pay the fine is of course imprisonable.


Okay, makes a lot more sense than what I was thinking. Thanks for clearing that up. 🙂


I think we British can count ourselves lucky to have had free to air f1 for as long as we did other countries have to pay for it why should we get it free, because we are british? And its only a matter of time before they branch out into more sports and in time will have all major/ worldwide sports on their channels I may not agree with it but its how it’s going to be in the future like it or not. Some people who say how they love f1 but would never pay to watch it are you real fans because their are millions of football,rugby,cricket etc fans who love their sport that much think its worth paying a subscription so they can enjoy their sports if they can afford it.You don’t hear them going on about not wanting to pay we would all want our sports free to air but it ain’t gonna happen


What about us F1 fans in the US? Who is going to cover the race for us?


I figured it would be ESPN or something similar, but that’s just a guess…


I can afford sky but I will never watch f1 on sky EVER!

I have been a f1 fan for 27 years and I’d rather find another sport then watch it on sky.

I’ll watch on bbc for as long as its interesting, read jaonf1 and visit autosport site and buy their mag time to time.

It’s wrong that f1 is with Murdoch.


C’mon Sky, do it here in Brazil!!!

That’s fantastic! F1 Fans in Italy are in good shape…

Here in Brazil we the broadcaster (the same for 40 years I think), and the trasnmission is really bad. The host and the commentators are too much biased, and we are the country of Ayrton… so, the standard is high and we do not have drivers “not even close” our big times. And that kills the transmission…

Last year at least, they started to show pre-race, interviews, pit-lane and etc (just 30 minutes before), but nothing like the SKY broadcast!

We do not have even the pos-race interview with the drivers… very sad! But Brazil is going well and TV subscriptions follow the wave, I think we have what is needed for soon to have this option too. We have Fox and other channels taking out some of the monopoly of the actual sports’ broadcaster here, so I have hope.

ps.: The pratice we can watch just on the pay TV and more than the half of the season the pratices are not HD. It’s a shame for Brazil handling F1 like this. And we have a great history on the sport, and many talented people involved. We need some competitors to end this monopoly…



Yeah ‘F1 fans in Italy are in good shape’

especially those that wish to support Italian F1 drivers.


SkyF1 is a poor substitute for a dedicated channel. Totally confused how they can offer a “natural sound” option for the On board Red Button option but not for the main channel? I don’t want commentary, just live timinbg and a bit of concentration. I used to subscribe to Premiere but when Sky Germany took it over, things went downhill fast.


Wish I could receive Sky UK in the Netherlands, where I live 🙁


I don’t understand it anyway why we can’t receive it, I heard David Coulthard say this year that there were quite a few people from Holland who watch Formula One on the BBC, I decided to switch the dutch coverage for the English one halfway in 2009, during that time, the BBC team amazed me of how good they are, and how bad the dutch coverage is lol.


I am personally extremely happy with the sky coverage primarily because i love all the additional red button feeds we now have access to.

watching a practice session riding onboard with drivers or listing to the team radio on the pit lane feed is simply excellent!

i had to watch 1 race on bbc last year while on holiday & while it was a live race i really missed having all the extra feeds we now have on sky.

the bbc coverage is still great, however i will be sticking with sky for all the extra stuff which we dont get on the bbc for every session or on the tv now as there down to a single red button feed.


All this fancy “switching to on board cameras” and whatnot is something I’d definitely like to have here in Australia, but obviously we wouldn’t get it on FTA.

Especially frustrating when the normal feed cuts away from a great battle at the worst time and you hear Croft mention you can push the whatever button to keep following that battle. Yeah… thanks for reminding me we don’t have that here… haha.

Would also like to actually see the FP sessions, rather than just hear brief summaries of who did what before the quali broadcast.


I personally love the model as F1 is not a cheap sport and costs a lot of money as a show to put on. I also like the fact I can skip the adverts with the remote control as well as auto record each show. The only risk I see is that fans who can’t afford it will be alienated as the pay model has the tendency to stop people talking about the sport. This happened in Boxing but at least the risk for F1 is mitigated by the BBC option. A better model in my opinion would be to have full coverage on ITV where adverts can be shown during races for free viewers whilst Sky views have uninterrupted coverage and full pre and post race analysis.

Mike from Colombia

I’m sorry…but shame on Bernie for selling out F1 and not leaving a legacy of free to air F1 in major markets.

Instead he has cashed out for a very unworthy cause in the form of two spoiled divas who will slowly fritter away his life’s work and will do nothing to continue his legacy.

I can see why some of the team owners must be seething over the state of F1.


I watch F1 to see the races, not hours of build up and post race analysis (the latter is provided for so much better on this website) so I could never justify a Sky subscription. I suspect that a very limited audience actually has the time or inclination to watch all of this filler (I would lose the will to live after watching 30 hours per race weekend, and I consider myself to be a pretty hardened F1 fan).


I remember when Villeneuve was in his 96/97 pomp he said that when he quit F1 he wouldn’t be one of those drivers who hung around the paddock for years afterwards. How times have changed. Pity.


Well, I can’t justify Sky so I stayed with the BBC.

I’ve changed my viewing habits. I now watch all races in the evening – recorded if required. It’s not hard to avoid the results. And watching “live” a few hours late is not life-threatening!

I thus get more time during the weekend day to spend with my small children.

Not what I planned, but I’ve made a good job of what I’m dealt.




I have access with my 2 daughters at weekends. I’d rather be out with them, than sitting there watching the race, slap bang in the middle of the afternoon.

Sometimes they watch, but generally I catch up in the evenings.

Kids grow up so quickly, it would be very easy to wake up one day and they are young adults and you wonder where have the years gone.


This is the same Villeneuve who complained not long ago that F1 was boring, right?

Yep, okay.

– – –

Like a lot of other people, I tried Sky last year because Brundle moved there. However, save for the commentary itself with Brundle and Croft, the Sky coverage is poor in my opinion. They’re too much about fancy graphics and not enough about content. If you watch any Sky TV you’ll notice their ads for F1 feature mainly crashes – that shows you where they think the entertainment value is. As is often the case, Sky just doesn’t “get it”. I’m cancelling and will make do with highlights.

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