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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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In many ways the Sky Uk deal was a test bed, that ultimately has been successful, based upon viewing figures which directly translates to the confidence of sponsors. The impact on sponsor exposure was always the key concerns with this model but now that has proved groundless it was bound to be picked up in other countries.

Welcome to the future!


Sky is trying to make out it is successful with this untruthful statement of increased viewers.

However there has been a massive decrease as this article shows

Lesson is don't trust anything Sky says!


When did I say viewing figures were higher in 2012 than in 2011. Where have I said that?

All I'm saying is that it was clearly popular enough to be commercially viable, there were enough people watching to make it work, to make it stack up financially, otherwise why repeat it? If New Corp had taken a bath on the deal they wouldn't be doing it again.

It's irrelevant whether that mean revenues from 2012 or projected revenues for years 2,3,4......

I'll freely admit my point offers no huge insight so I'm puzzled why I am defending something that should be filed under the heading 'the bleeding obvious'. Am I missing something?


Sky UK and now Sky Italy have said about the viewing figures being more in the UK in 2012 than 2011 which is clearly untrue. Why are they lying to people and saying the deal is good for the growth of the F1 fan base when clearly the opposite is true?

As you say they must have confidence in it's success for themselves whether it was or not this year because of the Italian deal.


Perhaps I should explain myself better. Whether Sky's figures are high based upon some arbitrary benchmark is irrelevant. What I said was they were robust enough, good enough to ensure that when considered with the free to air viewers (the model) that sponsor exposure and therefore the teams key revenue stream was protected.

For Sky the model clearly works in that revenue from their own sponsorship is enough to justify the fee they pay to the broadcast rights holder.

The evidence? The fact that Sky Italia, owned by News Corp, has entered into a multi million Euro deal to share the broadcast of f1 in Italy with a free to air rival. Now you can question a lot of things about Murdoch but you don't get to be as rich as he is by making expensive mistake after expensive mistake. The deal is clearly working for someone because we have another example of it elsewhere. I refer to my original point, the UK was a test that has clearly worked otherwise why would the same organisation replicate it elsewhere. I struggle to see why that has proved so controversial.


Why do they keep pushing the untruthful statement of more people watching F1 in 2012 than 2011?

Whatever way you try to manipulate the viewing figures this is completely untrue.

I imagine they jumped at the chance to get a grip on the Italian market whether the UK model was successful or not at this present moment as I'm sure they are looking long term.


WOW, Sky's PR company are working late !

No problems, many true F1 fans have already worked out how to find what we want on the Internet, there is no need to pay the [mod] Murdoch empire a cent.

The Suits and their Bean Counter friends still cannot get their heads around the fact that people will not pay for things they can get for free, with the Internet we can get it free, so why would we pay money to a company whose bosses spy on crime victim's phones and corrupt the Police and Politicians for their own ends ?


I never commented on the ethics of Sky Tv or the fact that viewers with Internet access can view races for free only that viewing figures on Sky are robust (crucial for sponsors and a fact) and therefore with that key concern addressed this model was bound to be rolled out elsewhere.

I didn't comment on the value, ethics or quality of Sky Tv????


So are you posting on the board under multiple aliases or what?


Less than half a million is robust eh? A fraction of the old BBC full coverage figures.


Viewing figures are robust??? Sorry rupert, but that simply isn't true.


To be honest James, I've found the Sky coverage in the UK to be very good. Yes, I'm paying for it and would rather it was free to air, but the likelihood is that it will be fully subscription in a few years.

I haven't found myself missing the BBC coverage, excellent though it is.


The German GP was aired free to Virgin cable customers.

I watched it as a matter of interest and found nothing in their coverage that made me think about paying for the service.

As to their repeated showing of a Paul De Resta flight over Silverstone, and we thought the Beeb was hung up on him!

The one thing that I did enjoy was an interview with Alan Jones. This sport has such a wealth of forgotten stars, it's almost criminal that the only time they appear on TV is on a grid walk.


If you take the Sky F1 channel then you DO get to see the stars of yesteryear in other programmes. There was a series of half hour 'an interview with...' Type programmes, featuring lots of past champions.

I don't actually enjoy Sky's commentary - can't stand Brundle, or Damon Hill - but it is better than nothing on weekends when the BBC isnt live. And as I said, for me having Sky is not just about the race, but also the other programmes.

If you don't like Sky you could always take it for the pictures ,hit mute, and listen to Radio 5 Extra?


yep - would be nice to reunite DC and Brundle as they were a good pairing.

I would instantly sack Lazenby and Thompson - add no value and generally a touch anoying for all the silly questions they tend to ask.

But overall, Sky are doing a decent job of it


I have to agree. Sky's coverage was better than the BBC's. I couldn't stand Jake Humphrey as presenter, although I think Simon Lazenby isn't exactly the best choice for Sky; however I got the sense that Lazenby understood the sport a bit better than Humphrey and he will probably grow into the role.

That said, Sky's coverage isn't perfect. The build-up part of the programme felt a bit limp because often it was longer than the race itself, but this could be tweaked a bit to go even more in-depth about the 'hidden' aspects of the sport.

Crofty and Brundle seemed to gel well together, whereas I didn't enjoy the occasions where I heard Ben Edwards's shouty commentary, and he and Coulthard didn't feel as much of a natural fit. Great coup for the Beeb to have Garry Anderson on hand to give technical insight, however.


Personally I think Croft and Brundle are the best pairing I've heard in a while, reminds me of the old days listening to Martin and James.

As for for shouty Ed, maybe you don't remember a gentleman named Murray Walker? Not a dig at you, but he was possibly the best F1 commentator i.e. very passionate and informed. The only commentator I myself could not stand was Legard, who seemed a little pompous for my tastes.

Again, all of this is just my personal opinion.


Yes, I couldn't agree more with your comments about Murray. Of course modern commentators would seek to emulate him, but I prefer to believe that all the shouting is because they're getting excited themselves - which is a good thing!


Yes, Random, of course I remember a certain commentator called Murray Walker!

But Murray just had an infectious, boyish innocence to his shouting, and you could not help but like it and indeed him, whereas I often feel that modern commentators in his wake seek to emulate the old master in one way or another, but always fall short.

I also felt Murray has this great love and affection for everyone in the sport, (maybe because he is not a former driver), which was very refreshing, considering the intense rivalry and at times bitter atmosphere that at times has plagued the sport.


I have not had the opportunity of watching SKY coverage, however I was heartily tired of Brundle at the Beeb, (I also found Crofty a real dose of earache on Radio 5 Live - far too shouty). By contrast I have found the current BBC David Coulthard/Ben Edwards pairing refreshing, light, well-informed and very enjoyable to listen to.


Shouty is the first thing I thought last year too. As soon as the race started he was just on at 100% the whole time, as if he were calling the horses or something. Brundle I like, and I much preferred him paired with the more restrained DC. Even Brundle in 2012 seemed to get a bit shoutier, presumably so he could get a word in over Croft.

I could really do without Simon Lazenby though. Frankly, I'd even prefer they got rid of him and just left awkward silences in his place.


Totally agree here.

Gareth f1 enthusiast

I agree too but I preferred bbc and johnny Herbert just winds me up but why do I have to purchase all sports I don't watch football and couldn't give a monkeys about rugby snooker darts also they need more in depth behind the scenes team talk and stop repeating the same old same old jackie Stewart was excellent but I've seen the same clips thirty times no exaggeration


I don't think I'd be quite so annoyed with the model if the BBC showed the races as-live instead of hilights. It misses things out and ruins the flow of the race. I've not heard anything to suggest that the Sky coverage is any better than the Beebs so I'm not going to shell out for it, not that I could afford it anyway.


100% agree about the highlight shows and I wish the Beeb had pushed for full delayed re-run rights. I also caught one of their condensed packages last year and found myself utterly lost during the race!

In terms of Sky's coverage (at a friends or by *a-hem* other means...), they definitely do bring good things to the table e.g. the time programmed allows some pretty in-depth coverage albeit still a bit too focused on the big names, Brundle is of course utterly stellar and Ant does a very fine analysis job with his jazzy high tech touch screen.

Unfortunately, like you, I simply can't justify shelling out £38 per race(*) with Sky but I would certainly consider genuine pay-per-view for a more reasonable sum.

*basic entertainment pack + HD = £31.75, x12, /10 races – the rest I can get for free on the BBC


I think the reason what makess Sky f1 a pay tv apart from the desire for more subscriptions is they have extra content that goes out on weekdays.The beeb could not afford to do that.


True but other than the GP2/3 coverage none of it is of interest to me. The likes of here and Autosport's websites cover the details of whats going on in the sport far better than either the Beeb or Sky could hope to do.


Liked Villneueve a lot when he did the race in Canada last year. Very blunt, very straightforward. Loved how he thought DRS made overtaking lame, which it does. Like overtaking a lorry in a sports car.

Sky UK should have signed Villneueve instead of Johhny Herbert or Damon.


I think the change has damaged the fanbase, it's so much harder to get into watching the sport or to continue watching it if you are a casual fan. Free to air means that you may only be seeing 1 race a month live (and with this summer's schedule, maybe less!) and it just becomes harder to watch regularly.

I'm lucky, I have the F1 channel as I pay for the HD channel. Not looking forward to when they start to charge extra. Even so, I watch the BBC when it is live as preference.


Not a fan of the shared model. Was an avid fan watching every race live. Declining the opportunity to subsidise Murdoch's empire I have instead found myself slowly being weened off F1 in the same way as many people were weened off football when that left free to view tv.


So you suffer and Murdoch is oblivious. That makes no sense.


Just to be clear, my aim is to have enough money to feed the family without spending it on TV... not to upset Murdoch. We're very fortunate in the UK to have great terrestrial TV stations, some of which are completely free of advertising. I like to make the most of that.

The sad thing is that this approach puts the emphasis on getting the money from TV rights and not the fans. Understandable in the economic climate, and arguably this was always the case. Unfortunately this approach leads to the sport's grass roots being left unfunded.

I'd hate to think that F1 having to rely on pay-for-drive drivers instead of nurturing new talent through feeder formulas like F3 was an indicator that the effects of this change are already negatively influencing the sport.


If you can't justify the extra expense its not shooting yourself in the foot, it's merely a consequence of the choice you're being forced into. It's much more passive than you're suggesting,

What I'm highlighting is what Gunner has picked up on. It's the effect on previously keen fans who have to now decide what value they place on maintaining their interest in the sport. Faced with that choice, many of them will become increasingly ambivalent.


My point is that if you can 'make do' and feel strongly about voting with your feet, fair enough. My issue is whether you are gutted that you are missing all the races, and if so, why on earth shoot yourself in the foot?


I take it Murdoch comes round your house and personally thanks you for taking out a subscription does he?

You can't argue with people who wish to vote with their feet. I'm of exactly the same mind as Kevin. Last season I got to the point where missing a race wasn't that big a deal any more. I would never have said that before the Sky deal.

I understand that F1 has to be run as a business, but the fans should be at the heart of that, not at the periphery.


Sorry that should be is


F1 - the sport that couldn't care less about its fans. I really wish the sponsors would speak up, and start complaining about the declining viewing figures in the countries where this foul deal takes place.


I'd never subscribe to Sky because as a pensioner £600 a year is out of reach. The highlights are useless because I need the live timing screen to follow races properly and you can't record that. Fortunately I have an Astra 1 dish, so finding live pic's hasn't been a problem (so far). And the Radio 5 commentary is excellent. So the short answer to the question is that I've made do.


To get Sky Sports F1 you only need the basic HD package for £30 a month. Making it £360 a year, nowhere near £600. I loathe sky but I wanted to watch all the races live in HD last year without the hassle of streams so I pulled the trigger in joining the evil empire.


That's still £36 a race for the 10 non-BBC races. I can't justify that. The £600 figure was given me by a Sky Salesman, apologies for misleading anyone.


If you already subscribe to sky the f1 channel is free so its a bargain really. You get a dedicated channel that has loads of programmes not just the normal race and qualifying. I can watch the race in full all day long so no need to get up at silly oclock on a Sunday when in faraway places. I think it is the BBC that need the criticism as they are the ones who have sold us out but have not lowered the licence fee.


I preferred the 2011 coverage. I felt the team worked better together and James Humphrey as lead was great. They just needed an additional 40 minutes before the race and 40 minutes post race to wrap it up more completely.

As for the pay per view I had the Sky package last year and im not renewing it for this year im just going to be hiding from the news and watching it on repeat. Its a Shane its the one sport I can say i actually love but with cash flowas it is these days i have to be sensible.

I imagine a lot of people that tried it because it was new will not be renewing it. With Lewis leaving McLaren the bigger of the British Teams maybe you'll have less uptake there to? What do you think of those two points James?

Maybe it will return to freeview sooner than we expect?


Time will tell. Sky will certainly want to see a rise in subscriptions (they aren't bothered about viewer numbers, so much as driving new subscriptions and avoiding 'churn ' of existing ones)


Interesting that no one has mentioned the parallels with other sports. Premier League Football, Premiership Rugby, Super League and Major Golf Events are all pretty much exclusive to Sky in the UK. I don't think their popularity has dampened at all, if anything I think it's increasing. I think that's the way F1 will go too, because if you're a fan of watching Sport, Sky isn't a nice to have, it's bordering on necessitity.

I must say that Sky's coverage is very complete, yes it's not one show you can watch with 40mins either end, but that's because it also caters for hardcore F1 fans. You can watch the drivers press conference, the team press conference, then you get FP1 > Race day and everything inbetween. I don't watch it all, but some of the extra's included are interesting to dip into. I'd not pay Sky's costs for F1 alone, but if you like other sports it's reasonable given how much a trip to go and watch an F1 race is.


You make a good point.

Me? Other than F1 and MotoGP, I have no interest in other sports whatsoever. I would say the only time I'd watch football, for eg, is when Italy are playing in the World Cup, otherwise it's all a mystery to me.

Even other motorsport on TV like BTCC, rallying etc hold absolutely no interest for me.

I don't live far from Silverstone, it's an easy drive to Brands, Donington and Snetterton, and I would rather go to see races live than sit in watching TV. My wife and children prefer the "occasion" to the TV too.

Who knows, I may even get my race car out of the garage and return to competition.


It will all go to sky sooner than later and may even go to commercial radio who knows.


"* 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."

3 words: I HATE IT !


It makes the non-live races not worth watching, for me personally. Seeing as this is pretty much half the races of the F1 season, I am slowly trying to bring myself to overcome my life-long passion for (and obsession with) F1.

I quit smoking after 33 I know I can do this! Wish me luck anyway.


Spend your fag money on sky


When the BBC decided to share the F1 deal with Sky, I didn't hesitate in signing up for the Sky F1 channel. It was worth every penny. Not just for the race coverage, but 25 years of season reviews and other programmes.

The only thing I miss from the BBC is David Coulthard. With the obvious exception of Martin Brundle, Sky's ex-driver pundits are just a little bland. John Watson and David Coulthard would be my dream pundit pairing.

The terrestrial/satellite arrangement may not be popular with all fans, but it works well enough for football...


25 years of reviews?

That does not excite me, I have F1 races on DVD dating back to 1967. (Video to DVD transfer)

For anyone who believed that over-taking was impossible because of the modern curse of aerodynamics needs to watch some of these 70's races.

I think too many people wear rose tinted glasses about the past, it was not an over-taking fest at all.


They don't come a whole lot more bland than Coulthard...


I meant Jake Humphreys if you can correct it for me oops my bad. . .


And shame instead of Shane.


Well it doesn't work for me. Just because the outrage has died down doesn't mean we are happy! I don't believe, as is often stated, that if sky hadn't taken it we would have no F1.


"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."

That quote shows he's either thick or being 'disingenuous', the actual figures are:

BBC viewing down 33.4% on 2011

Combined BBC/Sky down 16.9% on 2011

And the crucial unique viewers down 22% on 2011

A loss of almost a fifth of UK viewers.


I've always wondered how TV broadcasters could accurately measure figures?

Sky obviously has their equipment in peoples homes, but how have the BBC or ITV been able to say how many people were watching a signal broadcast around the country from different transmitter stations?


It's done by BARB who have boxes in a set number of households... These record who watches what, and upload the stats overnight. BARB then multiply this up to get viewing figures.

See for more info.


SKY UK keep saying the same thing but as you say it's disingenuous at best and I'd say it's more like downright lying.


I was going to say lying, but I thought the comment wouldn't be published if I did, and it's probably important that someone somewhere publishes the accurate figures.

I have Sky, and I use it for the non-live BBC races, but some people are just burying their heads in the sand if they think a loss of a fifth of viewers is not a problem, and remember 2012 included an extra race over the 2011 season, so the figures are even worse than published above.


These two pages below give a good simple account of the viewing figures difference between the two years.

Canada and India added alone had 11.9 million viewers on BBC in 2011.

20 races for Sky in 2012 yielded just 12.9 million!


I prefer what SkySport Italia is doing with the mosaic than what SSF1 did last year.

Loved JV when he sat in with SSF1 and should be even more outrageous with the Italians..

Here's their blast for the service.


Sky Italia had a practice at F1 in the past for two seasons, but they broadcast it alongside the state provider.

Dedicated channels with the in-car view for Kimi and Felipe.

Commentary of Carlo Vanzini and Marc Gene was top notch. (Love the way Vanzini sometimes decides to be quiet and turn up the sound of the engine).

Full coverage of the weekend and not just quali and the race.

It was clearly very expensive, now they have all the infrastructure travelling with Sky UK they can share the costs across both services and make both the UK version and Italian version more profitable.

Bentornati SKY!!


I dislike the Pay TV/Free to Air model and would prefer F1 to be live on terrestrial TV. However, as the BBC have been battered by the current government and have been forced to make cuts then I have to put up with it. It seems unfair that some of the other print media organisations that have been assisting the government by bashing the BBC have parent organisations that benefit from this arrangement.


How have the bbc been battered by this current government? They had a licence fee freeze which has left the poor dears with only a mere billions of pounds to spend from a compulsory levy without having to worry about their actual performance.

Perhaps if the bbc cut out the rubbish like strictly come dancing etc in an unecessary chase for ratings against itv and dropped the unbearable bbc3 then they might have the money free to pay for coverage of key sports and tv programmes that commercial channels cannot take a risk on.

Perhaps even if they cut some of their ridiculous lines of management on crazy salaries and the huge taxi bills they might have been able to afford to keep F1.

And all that before spending billions on the move to Salford to bring a more"northern" feel to the bbc..... Great use of funds.....


its not so much the pop culture programms on a saturday (they prob make money due to phone line revinue) - but the fact that the BBC moved location and then set about a massive Olympic programm of coverage.

Was that needed or worth it - who knows, but the BBC is run by committee these days, so either way you're gona be screwed with a sport like F1.


You must work for the Beeb (or Guardian). I think it's quite clear that it's the Beeb bashing the gov that's the problem ('cuts, cuts, cuts' when there aren't any). That's what happens when the supposedly unbiased national broadcaster is infiltrated by Common Purpose activists...

On the question at hand, Sky's coverage was very good last year, more than enough to keep me on board. Watched the Beeb's highlights offerings too, sometimes, and they were also good, though obviously suffered through editing. I think everyone's well served by the status quo, those who are strong enough fans pay the little extra, those who aren't get a decent service from the Beeb. Personally, I guess the future will see everything going to Sky, which will be, er, interesting...


I'm afraid all your assumptions are incorrect. My opinions are shared by people that do not work for either organisation, and there are many "strong enough fans" that cannot afford to pay the Sky subscription. If you haven't noticed cuts then you must be in a more fortunate position than many and perhaps have a rather limited view.


I think it's wrong to call the BBC 'Free To Air' when it is funded by a compulsary licence fee.

Personally I think the UK model is a good one, people have a choice and you need competition to improve the quality of coverage.

When ITV took over the coverage from the BBC the quality of coverage improved no end. Yes it had adverts but it was better than what the BBC had broadcast previously.

The BBC are also backing out of full coverage of other sports, so the hope of any future full coverage is diminishing. The remit of the BBC is such that it will never be able to cover sports fully and comprehensively, which in some respects is a shame.

Didn't Kevin Eason run a story about Sky maybe taking over from FOM as the host broadcaster, as Bernie wanted 3D.


It's wrong to call it free, in the same way that it would be wrong to call the NHS free. But it's not wrong to call it "free to air", which is a term with a specific meaning.


"Like its UK counterpart, the coverage will be multi-faceted"

Does that mean the viewer will get an informed opinion of the other F1 teams besides concentration on Ferrari? Or is that multi-faceted about Ferrari?


Pay TV is bad, drivers earn a fortune. Something the average f1 fan does not.

And sponsors want their product on television, this is a very bad development.

I follow the F1 since 1981 and hit stop now.

Shame that my hobby was murdered.


Don't watch a great deal of TV myself however, I got the sky HD package last year in order to watch the F1. The sky coverage was good, but on the cheesy/tacky side at times, however as this was one of the only things my wife and I would use it for, it's been cancelled this year. Shame that I won't see the races live but we are out and about half the time anyway so it won't be missed to much.


"claiming more people watched F1 in the UK in 2012 than in 2011"

That is not true, only 4 races had higher viewing figures in 2012 than 2011 and 16 with lower with some massively lower -


Hi James,

Really interesting that it's going the same in Italy after the very poor figures SKY are getting in the UK.

I do think this split viewing idea is a real betrayal of the fans. I've not missed a race for about 20 years & felt the highlights last season were pretty poor.

I had SKY & could have afforded to pay for the F1 channel/HD package but chose to save myself the not inconsiderable sum of £70 a month I was already paying SKY and went over to freesat as a protest against something I feel could damage the sport that I love.

The sponsership situation in F1 is only going to suffer with this kind of deal/falling viewing figures...see this article

I'd love to know your thought on this James?


How likely is it that Villeneuve will be polite towards Ferrari??

Speaking of outspoken drivers... what is Eddie Irvine doing these days? Is he commentating anywhere??


Isn't Eddie living the good life on his own Eco-island in the Bahamas these days?


IF we got Villeneuve, Irvine and Montoya commenting there would be more drama in the studio than on the track.

Irvine has properties over the world and is managing them. I would imagine commentating is below him.


silly question, but is villenueve fluent in italian?


I was hoping someone would ask this. I did wonder if the Swiss connection would help with his Italian but at someone said above it's not a given that they'd be fluent.


Yes he is.


I thought that too, but he must be. He grew up in Monaco, and has lived in Switzerland for years, so I'm sure he does.


Obviously. He grew up in Switzerland when Italian is one of its languages. JV also started his career in Italy. And French and Italian are very similar, both being latin languages.


I speak English and Italian fluently.

If I travel to Spain or Portugal, there is some semblance of language, but French is nothing like Italian.

Then again, non is similar to no..


'French = Italian' is like 'English = German /Dutch,etc.'


HAHA! Oh, OBVIOUSLY! Dude, I know more than a few people born/living in Switzerland who can understand Italian, but definitely aren't anywhere near 'fluent' in it. Plus, French and Italian aren't similar enough to automatically make one proficient in the other. I'm fluent in Spanish and French, but it doesn't mean it's a go-to pass for other romance languages as well. I mean, do you expect Villeneuve to start whipping out the Catalan and Portuguese too? I'm not saying Villeneuve doesn't know Italian, I'm saying if you're going to be condescending to someone asking a fair question, at least use logic that holds. Better yet, you could just be polite.....


I wasn't being condescending. I used "obviously" because why would Italian TV hire someone to comment if they couldn't speak the language? In bios of Jacques they mention he speaks Italian. When I was taking French courses all the Italian and Spanish speakers had a lot easier time than me (mother tongue English) because of the similarities of the languages. All the Swiss I know or have met have been multilingual. Living in Quebec I have many Francophone friends who speak Spanish because it was easy to learn as they already spoke French. I was just trying to explain why it's not surprising for JV to speak Italian. I wasn't trying to diss anyone. Sorry if it came out that way.


At a time when teams are struggling and the well

documented issues with the business model is it really the time to go for the short term cash cow that will lead to even greater losses in the global audience?!


It is if the man in charge of FOM is in his eighties and is obviously not looking long term. It's a pity no one else can see this.


Definitely it's worse now - I don't need all the extra channels to watch a race (only one pair of eyes!). I know Sky justify the price by saying how great the bells and whistles are, but if they were that great they wouldn't need to be taking it off free-to-air as well. Obviously the added value isn't enough on its own.

Such expensive pay-per-view is bad news for us - the viewers - and the f1 teams as viewing figures will never be as high.

No matter how the Murdoch Empire sugar-coats it, it's never good to be forced to pay so much cash instead of free as it was.



1) I haven't subscribed to Sky. Apart from F1, there's nothing on their programme listings I want to watch.

I watch very little TV apart from F1, MotoGP and Top Gear.

More than this, I remember the early 80's. Watching Sunday Grandstand for snippets, literally, of F1 racing.

You would see Arnoux lead off during the 1983 German GP at Hockenheim, maybe watch the second lap, then it would be off to watch cricket, snooker, golf or Badminton Horse trials for about an hour.

Back to the F1, maybe 2 or 3 laps this time then off elsewhere, only coming back for the chequered flag.

In the evening, we would have 45 minutes of highlights and that was it.

If it was a race in Canada or Detroit, we'd see the first laps then have to watch the highlights that evening as the programme was ending at 6pm.

It was with Mansell's ascendency that F1 became a feature of the main programme.

I suppose I come from a different angle regarding viewing the sport.

The highlights have served me well, leaves out the laps behind pace cars and at around 2 hours, has most of the significant action.

2) I remember on this website, someone from Sky defending the company moving into F1 and saving it, because the BBC went to Sky to work out a deal rather than the other commercial channels.

I replied at the time, thanks for his reply but did RAI also approach Sky because they couldn't afford to keep F1 on the Italian screens?

Unsurprisingly, there was never an answer.

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time" Abraham Lincoln


Since F1 went to Sky I have watched less F1. And I count myself as a passionate and avid fan of over 20 years. Sad but true, the paywall makes it impossible for me to watch the sport I love as much as when it was on ITV or the BBC. The highlights are good, but I can't get rid of the feeling that this was a backwards step, and it is utter rubbish for Sky to claim viewers have increased, the numbers are clear that they have dropped over the whole season.


I was horrified when this happened to the bbc back in 2011, I know money is a big issue but to have it go to a pay tv broadcaster during these hard times is ridiculous, it's just another thing Murdoch has now got his grubby hands on. I must admit though that the bbc's highlights coverage is brilliant! Fits nicely into my schedule, would still prefer the whole thing though. Ecclestone, I hope this bites you and sky in the arse sometime, GREEDY! Oh and the viewing figures for sky compared to bbc are shocking, come on bbc lets smash them again!

unF1nnished business

SKY Italia has JV as their star-pundit? I feel sorry for Italian F1 fans and I say that as a Canadian.


Wow... I only just realised that was Jaques in the picture... man does he look different!

There is no way viewing figures were up.... I would also never believe Sky saying 'oh yes.. it was a big sucess'...

Of course F1 is weddedto the idea as they get paid more money, and do not care about the average pundit now having to watch only half the races.

It will all come back to haunt them in 5 years when Sky says it was a mistake.... to expensive etc, and by then the FTA viewers will be a fraction of what they were...

Still a plague on alltheir houses


All this talk about viewing figures disguises the real increase in overall popularity. F1 through sky and the bbc jointly will promote the sport. Whilst this doesn't translate directly to race viewings because of sky it gives sports fans a lot more coverage and understanding. This in the end will result in greater popularity even if the races are not available to be watched by everyone.

If you doubt the above remember they said the same about football, cricket and rugby when sky bought the rights!


Well, they were right about cricket etc.

Sports fans don't need more understanding, thay are fans! It's the casual viewer that needs more understanding and they don't casually spend £100s on sports packages.


The casual viewer will never properly invest. You need to target a real market and that is sports fans who will then follow F1. This is the new market that is being tapped into because most sports fans already had sky for years. Now all of a sudden it's on sky with the full treatment and interest increases.


I was disgusted last year when Sky announced it was taking the majority of the races away from the BBC. But I swallowed my pride because of my love of F1 and signed up for Sky's HD F1 channel.

During 2012 I still perferred BBC's coverage - so I watched BBC's Live broadcass and only watched Sky when they had exclusive live coverage.

I was tempted to drop the Sky F1 HD channel this year... but I can't see myself waiting for BBC to show race highlights a few hours after the race is finished...

So I'm stuck with Sky baahumbug!



I am pretty thankful that F1 is still free to air on OneHD/Channel 10 in Australia. Foxtel is pretty expensive compared to Sky in the UK.

I think that the schedule of races covered by the BBC is a disappointment with them missing the first race and Monaco, which surely is the most visually appealing. I hope that the Italian coverage is theatre.

James, you did some work for Italian tv if I remember correctly. Any chance of you being involved with the new Sky coverage in a similar capacity to your role with OneHD?


It hasn't worked at all for me. I don't subscribe to Sky, and it seemed impossible to subscribe only to F1 (and therefore not pay too much and not have to pay for other stuff I'll never watch). My enjoyment of F1 really suffered last year, when I couldn't see some of the races. I HATE highlights - you just don't get a proper feel for how the race unfolded. You miss all the subtle nuances. Plus I like to run the timing app while I'm watching live and I often notice pit stops etc. which don't get mentioned by the commentators when there's a lot else going on, and of course that isn;t possible with later highlights. I felt remote from the races I could only watch by highlights, and it spoilt the whole season.

I bitterly resent the fact that Sky bought rights which the BBC already had, and then made it difficult/impossible for ordinary fans to see the races. Will Sky have a subscription which is solely F1 and reasonably priced this year? Will pigs fly?


Sounds like it might be a laugh.

For one or two races.


We are lucky enough to just about be able to afford to subscribe to Sky F1, but have found we've watched races live on the BBC when they are on, purely because we prefer their coverage. The Sky F1 coverage is impressive, although you can easily lose an entire weekend watching it, sometimes its just feels like its trying to hard with so many presenters and pundits. We are still only one year in, so lets see how it beds down, but we all need to get over the fact that this is now the model for coverage and that is the way it is going to stay.


I assume Villneuve speaks Italien?


Yes, Villeneuve is fluent in Italian.


I don't have Sky, so wasn't too happy overall. On Sunday evenings I'm generally out or the wife has control of the TV. Also some highlight shows finished far too late for those of us who have to work 9am Mondays!

I did find a few under-the-counter websites that did stream the Sky coverage, albeit with lots of popup ads and poor quality... it wasn't as good as watching on TV but better than having to try and get through to watching a recording on Monday evening without seeing the result!

Too much was edited out in the BBC highlights, and there should have been more race and less post-race analysis in the highlight show. Put the interviews on the red button and the internet, and just give us more race!


This is a very good point. If the BBC is restricted to highlights, then it should show the absolute maximum it can and dispense with the punditry. If it is already showing the maximum then that deal was definitely very poor.


Sky's coverage is a load of pants compared to the bbc


Yeah I hate watching every race live 😉


I understand the model, however it hasn't made me buy sky in the UK. I just watch the live races on bbc.

If it all went to sky, I would watch highlights only. Unfortunately the sponsors get less exposure in my house because of this. It's not that I can't afford sky, I just refuse to pay for tv, other than my licence fee.

I buy many f1 branded products because of the free coverage I receive on the bbc. Should this stop the sport would lose a fan, but no doubt I would find something else to enjoy.

Fingers crossed bbc keep the status quo as I think it worked well last year.

Similarly I used to use autosport until they limited the number of articles you could view for free. That lead me to the JA website where I'm exposed to the sponsor here and bought the season review book at Christmas.

The free coverage bbc offered bought me into the sport, where I now spend my disposable income, including silverstone tickets for this year and last. This exposure will be lost on the next generation of fans unless the sport is easily and cheaply accessible.

My two cents Anyway.


I agree about autosport.


I don't, at £5 a month for some of the best coverage of motorsport anywhere I think it's a great deal.


How has the switch to Sky worked for me ?

It hasn't :

I bought another new satellite kit for £30. This lets me and watch the races not live on the BBC on the German RTL with Radio 5 Live commentary from James and Co.

The coverage is not as good ( far too many adverts ) and therefore I ended up keeping some of the weekends free and just watch the highlights of the less interesting races ( mainly those on the Tilke circuits other than Austin)

As a result my household watches quite a lot less F1 and doesn't contribute towards Sky's profits.

Is this what you wanted, Bernie ?


Last year, the USGP was not live on free to air TV in Brazil, because the time difference meant it was simultaneous with football (soccer), which always has precedence.

Since it was only one race, I went out and watched it on pay TV somewhere else, but it was a taste of the UK deal. If there were more races like that, I'd just not watch.

Even if it became the only way to watch F1, I wouldn't sign a TV package because:

1) I'd probably just watch F1 on it,

2) Pay TV companies in Brazil are comically unreliable (how many times can someone hear "the signal is out because it's raining" before he cancels his package),

3) I hate the limitations imposed by the crappy decoders used around here,

4) Years ago, when I had a strange Sunday schedule, I'd tape the races to watch later. I wouldn't go back to that, specially in an age I could hardly avoid getting the result from the Internet.

For Indy, this football-simultaneousness is a big problem, because it happens on too many races. When it's shown online, I watch it, but when it's mutilated on TV, I just don't bother. Sometimes the first half of the race is shown on free to air and they just switch to football when it starts and tell the watcher to change to the pay channel from the same owners

The saddest thing is that many times, there are two channels transmitting the same football match and that leaves no room for other sports (not only racing). That's just how ridiculously importan football is for these TV companies.


Sky did wonders for football, and the success of the premier league owes Sky a debt in some respects, but I don't feel Formula One coverage has been reinvented, simply not enough races, and the 2 hour build up or whatever they do, does anyone watch it? On race weekends they keep playing practice sessions, during the week they repeat whole races (boring) and they do that F1 show (sometimes ok). With all due respect, I don't think any sport has enough about it to have its own dedicated channel.


It's ok on sky, which I had to have to watch live, but the pre show is average. I would prefer Suzi Perry, Brundle, Coulthard. Shoot Jordan!! To be honest surely F1 would be better for sponsors and fans if was globally free to air? I don't understand Bernie's thinking but on the other hand I'm not privi to the financials.


It's awful! I work 60hours a week and still can't stretch to sky subscription even if I wanted to. I am an F1 junky and would love a sky subscription but the way things are economically it just ain't gonna happen for me. For 2013 Sky have got the best races live and the BBC highlights are poor at best. I believe they have the choice of completely re-running the races on their non live weekends but don't. If it ends up with BBC only showing highlights for a full season then I will reluctantly turn my back on F1. I have watched since I was a child with my dad and now I'm 36 but I just can't stretch to a subscription. The highlights just don't cut it for excitement and I really enjoy the practice sessions as the commentators often discuss topics in depth that you couldn't cover during race commentary. I feel it is just not fair on the everyday Joe who is struggling to make ends meat, especially in the uk, the historic hone of F1. If I end up unable to watch any live streaming I won't bother watching any F1 at all. It makes me sad to think of this situation but I know it's coming, just when. I will have more time for fishing on weekends tho!


The joint Pay TV/Free to Air model is bread for today and hunger fot tomorrow


I upgraded to Sky HD for the start of last season - something I would never have done if they hadn't stolen my favourite sport. As a massive fan of F1 I simply had no choice - I couldn't accept delayed highlights on the BBC.

I can't argue with the coverage on Sky - it has been excellent. Currently you get the F1 channel in HD by just having basic Sky package with the HD addon (£32 per month) - i'm worried that this was just their way of getting F1 fans to sign up though... in future they'll probably change it so you need 'Sky Sports' to get the F1 channel (£40 per month standard definition) and then in order to keep it in HD you'll have to spend another £10 for the HD addon (£50 per month in total!!). That would be very bad, but I have to say i'm surprised we are getting the F1 channel without paying for Sky Sports at the moment.

Shame about Villeneuve joining Sky in Italy - I thought he was excellent when he filled in on UK Sky at the Canadian Grand Prix - I wish they could've signed him up permanently.


Watched F1 for over 20 years and never missed a race, stopped when it went to sky as I felt watching half the races was pointless.

The thing is I would have paid but not to sky as I only want the F1 not the rest of the sky package so it seemed a rip off and I dont like beeing taken advantage of.

I was a die hard fan but now I don't really care. As each year goes by I recognise the drivers less and the chances of me going back reduce. I don't expect bernie et al to care but it is a shame. Still life goes on so I found other interests.


Tim -

I've been following F1 since the 60's, although unlike you, I have missed a race or 2 (life does tend to get in the way). I too dislike getting ripped-off, be it financially or otherwise!



I found that this happened with World Rally Championship. I used to watch every minute of the TV coverage when it was on terrestrial TV. I knew the drivers and the teams, and it's the reason I bought my first Subaru (I wouldn't have been aware of them without WRC). Then the TV coverage stopped, and now I don't have a clue about who is driving in it. I'm a long-time F1 fan, but I can see the same thing happening. The highlights are so frustrating that I'll stop watching them, and then start to lose touch with the season as a whole and stop setting aside the time to watch the live races.

It's clear from all these comments that the fan base is being whittled away. I'm surprised that the drop in viewers last year hasn't forced the issue with the sponsors, but it seems that lies are being told about them.


I subscribe to Sky F1 through Virgin Media. Content great [particularly like Croft + Davidson in practice sessions] - delivery cost + implementation into my home is pants... I buy the whole sky sports package and don't get HD. Telly, phone + t'internet all bundled into a blob with no sky extras. It's not working as intended... due to the last mile.

I'm looking to unbundle as much as possible and would be interesteed in hearing readers comments exclusively using the SkyGo package through their existing broadband package for LIVE viewing...


As someone who has sky it doesnt affect me so much personally but I don't think its been good for f1 and certainty less people got to watch races and missed out on a classic season, despite them trying to tell us otherwise.

I sampled watching races on sky and bbc but in the end stuck with sky mainly for croft/brundle commentary, davidson's analysis and the ease of of the series record feature on sky boxes.

But there are so many things that the leaves me underwhelmed with sky. Whereas in previous years I would be glued to the screen for the full works (quali buildup, quali, race buildup, race + post race) I find it impossible to do that on sky... things are repeated several times over the weekend, there's usually an extra 30mns build up which they havent got anything decent to fill with, annoying prerecorded VTs and adverts galore in races where they have exclusive rights, and showing the points standings at least 10 times per show.


" 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."

Well it's only joint if you can afford Sky, which I can't.

The BBC live coverage was ok on tv though I often preferred the R5Live radio commentary. Very disappointed to hear Legard let back in. But Jake the peg and co did a good job, though EJ needs to be indulged less as he is becoming a pain.

The highlights of races not properly covered were as disappointing as they were bound to be. In fact I listened to them live and watched the timing and text commentary on the FOM site

We look forward to Suzi, who has been sadly missed since MotoGP and TGS. Welcome back our leather girl and Ginge.

But mostly we are angry at the BBC for selling out F1 in favour of the Olympics and football. Even the R5Live commentary is interrupted every few minutes for football scores. If there was a lack of air space this would be just about permissible but there is another channel unused which the football people can have to themselves and not bother us.

Basically if it gets no better the audience will fall still further.there was a dramatic drop last year barely justifying Sky to put it on air, they had a tiny fraction of the previous FTA BBC audience, Sponsors must be well annoyed.

Still the money is guaranteed, audience or not, Bernie is smiling all the way to the bank. However things are being geared up for huge changes, with CVC now being only a minority shareholder and no CA signed, Bluewater and bribes.

Tornillo Amarillo

Is Villeneuve behind Scorpion? Don't know...


Before 2012 I had missed about 5 races "live" in the previous 15 years. Last year I only watched 9, with three of those via a German friend's RTL.

The new deal broke my desire to watch every race live, although the Bahrain GP early in the season also helped there.

I wouldn't mind giving Sky some money - I strongly dislike Murdoch's politics, but I approve of his sponsorship of British cycling, which Sky's money seems to have transformed. But saying that, it would stretch the budget for the sake of 10 weekends a year.

Also, I would like to reiterate the point above about no longer benefitting from the live timing. That was excellent when available to me.

Maybe I should listen to 5 Live more?

Mike from Colombia

Do you have to job share with Legard again? Would like to know so that I can have Sky on standby.


James, I noticed that one of the 10 live races the bbc has picked for 2013 is the mystery 20th race which looks almost certain not to happen . So does that mean bbc tv would only show 9 live races?


I would imagine so. The BBC F1 launch is in early March and all will become clear then


Last season I watched the BBC coverage when they had the race live, and SKY when they didn't. I loathe the SKY coverage. I think the pre-race show is too long and rehashes things too much, I think Brundle and Kravitz are the only good personalities on the team, and I can't stand all the flashy CG VR swooshy segments (watching Ant and Georgie wave their arms around a giant touch screen - argh).

Lazenby perpetually has an iPad strapped to his hand, making it impossible for him to shake hands with or take a mic from an interviewee. Crofty spends half the race SHOUTING HIS COMMENTARY. Is this what their football coverage is like too??


Foxtel (roughly Australian version of Sky) doesn't have rights to F1. Also Murdoch doesn't control Foxtel but has a significant shareholding.

Here in Australia we're stuck with horrible coverage which hasn't improved much for 30 years. We get live quali now for most races which is a pleasant change. Local commentators talk and talk and talk and send you to sleep and adverts every 5 to 7 minutes.

F1 seems to show no interest in how its product is presented by the media rights holders in each country.


Indeed, 10/One's coverage is frustratingly average. The presenters go on and on, seemingly not really knowing much about F1 other than what they've heard the guys in the UK talking about, and seemingly have no interest in it anyway. JA's inputs are of course always a welcome addition, as someone who's actually able to tell us something rather than just waffle on regurgitating stuff we already know. Glad they have the Sky commentary for quali and race, as I'm pretty sure the local guys would put me to sleep. They still get their pointless bits in every few minutes when there's an ad break though. And satellite problems where they lose the Sky commentary are just plain awkward.

Seeing the HD quality they get overseas compared to our SD rubbish is somewhat depressing too. Mind you, so was seeing 2012's Bathurst in HD compared to the usual garbage 7 give us for the V8s.

The other great thing with V8s is moving the coverage from channel to channel. So when I can't be home for a race but I have it set to record automatically anyway (or so I think)... only to get home later to find that quali recorded, but the race was on another channel, where they ran both together anyway. What?

A tad woeful, but at the moment the thing I'm looking forward to most in the new V8 season is Matt White's first attempt to call a Watt's linkage failure on the new COTF. F1... well, at least (for now anyway) I don't have to pay for some bloated Foxtel package just so I can watch it. So I try (not hard enough, evidently) to refrain from complaining too much.


Better the devil u know rather than channel 7 or 9. Can u imagine...awful. I stopped watching the v8s because of 7's coverage


Granted - we've been through the Channel 9 years; races hardly ever live, no quali, truly awful commentary (Who was worse Jones or Eastlake? Discuss.) , way too many adverts. What we get now is live races and quali. Thanks, Channel 10. The rest is still there after all these years.

James, why does no one in F1 seem to care how their product is presented on TV? They go to so much trouble about a whole bunch of stuff but don't care what the end user actually experiences.


James, thanks for confirming the suspicion. But I don't think this attitude is limited to team bosses. One could be forgiven for thinking that it applies to FOM as well.


No, I think they know a lot and spend a lot of time studying camera positions, techniques, new technologies etc.


I've always been amazed by how little the team bosses know about the TV output, seeing as it is the shop window for the sport and is scrutinised by their sponsors


Rough equivalent? Its exactly the same, same box, same remote, almost all the same channels. The only difference is that like everything else in Australia, it costs twice as much.

I do agree about the poor FTA coverage, channel 10 has upped their game, but the races are still broadcast in SD, which looks just horrible on a decent sized television, I wish they just took a native sky/bbc feed instead, so we could watch the real pros at work, Rusty aside, the Channel 10 presenters are terrible. [mod]

Scuderia McLaren

Schumacher is lucky he is not racing anymore I guess. Would have been Brundle and Villeneuve mic bashing him.


+1 LOL

controversial Jacques is gonna stick with his controversial opinions.


I think people think he's controversial because of how PC we have all become. Yet I have always found him completely refreshing to listen to.

One example, when the FIA decided to bring in treaded tyres to F1 in 1998, he was the only person who spoke out against that decision.

It wasn't about how badly they felt, or how little grip they gave.

His points were, it was artificially being done to increase over taking and it was far more dangerous in the event of a spin as less rubber was on the road to slow the car down.


On the one hand we have team bosses talking about bringing fans closer to the sport. The need for social networking, realtime apps, etc. Realtime apps and social network are all very well but redundant (or worse, spoilers!) if the fans can't watch the races live.

Apparently we should understand this due to the tough economy, the BBC can't afford races. Excuse me? Tough economy? Then why does Bernie think he can continue to push extortionate prices??

The BBC coverage is excellent. But if they dropped the whole lot for just studio based commentary so we could have all the races live, honestly I'd go for that. The BBC F1 Forum is good entertainment but I don't bother with it if the races were a boring procession. I wouldn't really miss it if it were gone. 2012 didn't have many of those processional races though- by luck or by design? Time will tell.

F1 must not get complacent. The coverage offered by Sky is actually not as good, in my opinion, as the BBC so I'm not prepared to shell out for a sky package. I don't bother with the highlights either since invariably you can't avoid the results. So F1 has actually lost 50% of my viewing and with it 50% of my potential ad revenue. I wonder how many people are the same as me in this respect?


I wish this was open to the world! In South Africa we have The Supersport channels but it is very expensive! I would like pay per view and I would like to have the sky coverage. Don't het me wrong the guys who do the show here in SA are doing good job i just wish we had the option of paying for the channels we would like to have. I would welcome sky any day in South Africa.


I think this is scary- I dare not contemplate what will happen in Australia . Just hope it's stays on TEN/1 HD- otherwise it would probably be goodbye F1. How can anyone justify pay prescription when so people are struggling to put good on the table !


I've always thought Kimi Raikonnen to be quite similar to Jacques Villenueve. They're racers, whether that be on snowmobiles, or F-1 cars.

Here's to hoping they both stay in the sport a long time.


Have to agree with Brad. Lost all credibility for JV in recent years as all he talks is BS. He was very critical of Kimi at the Canadian GP saying he will be replaced shortly, bla, bla, bla...

How long did JV take to re-establish himself on his comeback to F1? 3 races, 4? Oh wait, he never did...


Are you serious??? Villeneuve talks absolutely rubbish most of the times, and constantly have criticized Kimi (a quick search on Google will confirm this). I don't know what you meant with both being racers for he could never touch Kimi in terms of racecraft, they are worlds apart.

The guy pops up now and then with the most mind-boggling nonsense just to cause controversy, I really don't know how he got this job, just glad I don't have to listen to it....


With so much talk of F1's future being somewhat precarious at the moment (no Corcorde Agreement, diminishing interest among the younger generation, growing political antipathy, recession), the wisdom of short-term profit over the potential for long-term loss has to be questionable for the sport.

I say for the sport because all CVC cares about is a quick buck before selling. Long- term issues are somebody else's problem and, at the end of the day, F1 is totally expendable if it doesn't generate sufficient millions.

The quality and quantity, fine though both may be, of pay TV coverage is not the issue to my mind.


Quote lifted from Dominic Coles, chief operating officer of the BBC news group,

“In terms of licence fees we have saved hundreds of millions of pounds over the whole period of the contract.” (up until 2018)

The saving is understood to come to £150m over the lifespan of the deal and although the BBC lost half of the live races its fee has reduced by more than 50% because Sky is paying comparatively more.

So, can those of us in the UK paying for a terrestrial tv licence expect a rebate? Nah, thought not!

Mike from Colombia

They have freed up money to shower on "national treasures" and gravyboaters like Anne Robinson and Alan Yentob.


I've been sitting on the sidelines watching with great hilarity since the Sky F1 deal was announced at the outpouring of absolute nonsense about 'free to air' (the BBC charges, just not as much as Sky) and folk, including you James, bandying Total Viewing figures as evidence that the current arrangement 'doesn't work for F1'.

I know you work for the BBC James but you really should be more impartial and apply your usually very good analysis skills to the arrangement.

The fact is that sponsors won't necessarily care about the total number of viewers - they will focus on the number of their Target Audience who are watching. I've not seen any breakdown of the Sky F1 audience by demographics but it is entirely possible that although the total number of viewers in down, the numbers of 'Target Audience viewers' is the same or even higher. It could, of course, equally be fewer.

As I say I don't know what the situation is in relation to this but a calm, rational analysis of this by James and an objective reporting of it would be far preferable to the hysterical ranting you see on here and other sites about the current arrangement.

Personally I think the Sky F1 coverage is excellent and superior to the BBC coverage - the only thing I'd change would be to bring Coulthard over to Sky F1 and reunite him with his buddy Martin Brundle.


Give it a few years and the pinical of motorsport will only be accessible to top earners! You will need the budget of a back marker team just to view. So much for expanding the viewing reach. Highlights are no good, no flow to the racing and I wanna see I driver spend 8 or 10 laps realing in the guy in front, not JUST the over take. Can't justify almost £500 a year to watch.


If you compare it to Premier League, it's booming, the rights fees are off the charts and it gets talked about all the time. And it's been on Pay TV for over 20 years with limited BBC highlights.

The question is, does F1 have the appeal and staying power to withstand a reduction in viewer numbers? The sponsor model doesn't work with that.


One thing stands out regards football coverage. You pick up any national newspaper, here or any other country and the back pages are full of football.

In the UK, at least, you can pick up any hello or OK magazine and once again you have these uncouth multi millionaires promiscuously working their way through their careers.

They are celebrities beyond their athletic prowess.

F1 just doesn't garner that sort of coverage. During the off season, you barely read a snippet of F1 information, but when the football season ends in May, we still have all the media reporting football stories


I think football is a different sport entirely. As far as I know, Murdoch practically invented the PL, but it is Bernie who built F1 into what it is today. I am not sure if Murdoch really understands F1 in the way he does football.

Murdoch is not immune to self-criticism, (he tweeted in 2012 that he screwed up MySpace 'in every way possible'), so perhaps he might recognise that you can't always apply the same business formula for each and every sport either.

In the case of F1, instead of just high subscriptions, how about multi-tier subscriptions - e.g. plain vanilla (just the race and quali, minimal race build-up) and then the full monty (24-7 full-depth coverage).

With easy upgrade paths to the full package at any stage, the barrier to entry to existing fans, (not to mention new fans) would be lowered significantly.

Surely this would make sense, as there is a clear demand from fans (as opposed to "viewers").


The F1 fan base is massively casual, so if it went all pay-per-view then I'd think you'd see a massive drop off. The sport requires a free to air component to survive.

Maybe if CVC spent some money turning those casual fans into hardcore fans that wouldn't be the case. However, if they are charging Soft Pauer so much in fees that they have to charge us £25 for the official timing app then this suggests that they just don't understand the issue at hand.


The thing with football though is that you can, if you wish, watch different matches virtually 24/7 from the Premier league and from all around the world. F1 is just those 20 weekends a year so represents poor value for someone who is only into Formula 1. If there were races most weekends, midweek races and different formulae showing when the F1 was in close season then I would pay for it as football fans do!


I don't think football is a valid comparison to F1. Football has a fan base in this country which just doesn't compare to F1, and because the lower leagues are available to watch and because people play the game themselves at school and afterwards, the fan base gets renewed. That just doesn't happen with Formula 1 (I don't think other motor sports feed the fan base the way lower leagues of football do because each motor sport is quite distinct).


Reading all the comments, there's a mixed reaction, although mainly on the side of 'don't like it'. Having experienced enough coverage in other countries, the UK is absolutely blessed with what we have, 2 Tv channels and full radio coverage, with before/after programmes etc. Brilliant compared to most!


I was surprised that the viewing figures for Sky are less than 1 million per race.

This is very low.

Eventually Sky will charge extra for F1.

At the moment , I have had Sky HD for 2 years , so do not pay extra.When the extra bit comes , I will cancel the whole package and go Freesat HD and forego F1


With all this buying of the TV rights, do you think Murdoch is trying to buy F1 on the sly?


The FIA own the rights, they were forced byt an EU commission to separate themselves form the commercial side. They achieved this by renting the rights out to Bernie and co on a 100 year lease.

Things are getting murky, with the sale to CVC now being questioned by Bluewater, who say they put in a higher bid than CVC. Bernie is under investigation for possible bribery. Meanwhile CVC have quietly been reducing their holdings. The ownership is complicated with layers of holding companies four or so deep. Share distribution is no the same as dividend or power distribution.

Homework:Look up Delta Prefco, SLEC, Delta Topco and Bambino and try and find out what they own. Good luck!


As an Italian fan supporting McLaren I really don't know what to do!! There's no way I am going to pay just to know that Alonso broke his fingernail, so he will not be able to drive at his super-ultra-mega speed and beat the [mod] RedBull. I had the chance to watch the UK version of Sky Sport F1 last year and I've found it very pleasant indeed, I wonder if it's possible to subscribe to that from Italy...the only big con I found is that it tends to be less technically deep than the Italian counterpart of BBC, RAI.


Sorry James but I did not quite get it. It will cost 33 Euros per month just for the F1 channels on Sky Italia or for the whole package?


Loved Sky's covereage of F1 and all there sports. As a fan who loves all sport really happy when Sky got F1 and gave it the treatment it deserved. With regards to paying for it, I make savings elsewhere. Much rather watch Sky F1 than wasting money in pubs drinking beer all weekend. Few cheap beers from Tesco and Sky all day Sunday. Lovely


James, when you say there were races in the second half of the season which didn't have as high audience figures, which were they? I wouldn't be surprised if they were the races which were inevitably going to be won by a certain S. Vettel...


Belgium Germany and Canada had low figures, Belgium traditional bumps along the bottom as the least favourite race on TV, (in a EU convenient time slot). Canada lost around 4 million viewers in the UK for not being on the BBC


Only 4 races that exceeded 2011 were:





But that's none unique viewers, all unique viewing figures were down, and if you add 2011 BBC highlights to 2011 BBC live races, even all none unique viewing was down, but with clever statistics you can just make those 4 race a little higher with viewers, but in reality it only works if you add BBC and Sky 2012 together, but ignore the fact that the BBC had multiple broadcasts of races in 2011 too, and conveniently don't combine these broadcasts.


I think James is comparing audience figures across the season, rather than with 2011, hence I'm asking which races in the second half of 2012 he refers to.


The real problem with the coverage is the monthly subscription for a sport which only runs 20 weekends a year. I would pay for F1, but I am loathe to pay £31.75 per month (the cheapest way to get F1 is with the basic HD package and I priced it up yesterday...). I would however pay per view on the races which the BBC doesn't cover live and would be happy to pay the seemingly standard £14.99 that they charge for boxing and MMA for example. This could easily be done as Freeview carries an encoded SKY Sports 1 signal and a quick call with a credit card could get something switched on, much like the adult channels on the Freeview band. The only way it would become good value to get SKY would be if the BBC lost it's coverage altogether, which I feel is what we are inexorably moving towards, but in the meantime £150 notes for 10 races would be manageable and a fair price. I don't watch enough TV to justify a SKY contract, but until any sort of PPV comes along I might have to try 'F1 in pubs' - fortunately there is a bar in my area which does it, but I didn't manage to get along to any races last season as I have young children, but I might make an extra effort this year...


It is on pay tv here in NZ as well, on another News corporation owned network. We get all races and qualifying life and usually practise live if there isn't a clashing sports thats deemed more important. No pre race coverage or anything just the world feed plus bbc commentary.


I managed to watch the Sky coverage a couple of times last year at a friends house. The quality of its broadcasting was excellent. Unfortunately I, like many others, simply can not afford the £400+ annual fee. Last year I had to spend most GP Sunday's avoiding news programmes so I didn't hear the result before the 'highlights' show late in the evening on the BBC.

I have followed F1 (and other motorsports) almost fanatically for many years, but did not feel anywhere near as enthusiastic towards F1 in 2012 even though by all accounts it was a great season. I can also see that in a couple of years time my interest levels may be reduced to just a passing interest!

I am not bitter about this shift to Pay TV, as I realise it makes financial sense to FOCA, but F1s growth in popularity over the past couple of decades in the UK has been largely due to freely available TV coverage and I fear that in the longer term the viewing audience will reduce quite significantly if they have to pay - it will only take one boring season to see a downward shift in viewing figures

But here's a thought, without reasonable TV audience viewing figures there will be not be any sponsors nor car manufacturers and the sport will revert back to the way it was in the 70's, and then I'll get really enthusiastic again!


After the rule changes of 2008, F1 just became so boring to the point of being unwatchable. I used to love F1 from the early 90s until then. But since 2009 I have watched every race in fast forward and only stopped for the interesting bits, i.e. when there was an overtake or when Schumi was, which was very rarely.

And now with no Schumi and the same stupid rules I wouldn't even watch for free let alone let Murdoch and Bernie charge me £600 or whatever for what is effectively a product marketed at 12 year olds with short attention spans that need to see some DRS mumbo jumbo


When the sky deal was announced, I went out and bought myself a cheap satellite system from LIDL (80 quid) to get the RTL feed from Germany. I get the same pictures plus the added benefit of JA commentary on radio 5 live without paying a penny to Sky. Although I hope this will continue, I'm starting to think it is only a matter of time before Germany adopts the same model as the UK and Italy and I start watching BBC highlights in stead of live races.

Whilst everything I have heard about Sky and what little I've seen has been very good indeed, I don't want to pay for something I've always enjoyed free. If push came to shove I can find better ways of spending £400 a year than getting Sky just for F1.


I would not mind paying to watch F1, but the sky deal means you have to pay for content you don't want. I have no interest in Football and basically to get F1 you have to have football. I will not subscribe to Sky because I feel as if the money will not go to support F1; most of it would go to fund the lifestyles of racist and self-centred footballers.

Why can't we have a pay per view system or pay for F1 only? I am left with streaming content over the net, which means F1 in the long term F1 is deprived of revenue.


What rubbish, you don't have to pay for football AT ALL to get F1, where on Earth are you getting that from? Don't base you opinons on the biased speil from disgruntled F1 fans on fourms like this. I'm not happy that F1 was lost effectively free to air but Britsh F1 fans are so up themselves it's unreal, we've had it good for so long that we've developed a sense of entitlement. The BBC has a huge remit to cater to all tastes, you can't just expect it to fund F1 and scrap off programmes which go to bigger amounts of viewers (ie SCD), it doesn't work like that. Lots of viewers in many countries pay for their F1 coverage at levels that'd send half of you lot to the grave through a heart attact. Typically armchair fanbois, all mouth and opinion but zero substance. There's always a reason 'why' someone else should pay but the 'hardup' British F1 fan. Here's a thought, coming on forums to complain about the coverage other providers give after you've robbed via a Euro satellite feed gives you zero moral high ground.


If you can tell me how I can pay for live F1 coverage in the UK WITHOUT having to subscribe to the full Sky sports package I would be very pleased to know. Sky themselves it is not possible to have Sky F1 without Sky sports. In other words you have to pay for all sports to watch F1 on Sky and the primary reason for subscribing to Sky sports is to see football.


No criticism, I was just clarifying based on my own subscription. I remember others on this website reporting similar misinformation from Sky when F1 HD was launched. Hope you manage to get it sorted.


I did speak to Sky and I was told I needed Sky Sports, so please don't criticise me if Sky sales tried to bounce me into getting a package I didn't need and I walked away. Thanks for giving me the correct information - I will have a another go.


Iceman HAS told you. Sky HD subscription includes Sky F1 HD. No football.


Ring sky and subscribe. SIMPLE!


Not really, F1 on Sky is not on the Sky Sports premium channels (not so far anyway). A standard HD sub gets you F1 but no football.

You certainly end up paying for a vast amount of rubbish like "Jersey Shore", but no football. And to balance it out, you do get loads of other motorsport on Eurosport and Motors TV.


As a Non Sky Subscriber, I have to say I don't mind the BBC change to 50% of the races live. I'm often out on a Sunday and used to record the live races and watch them Sunday night anyway. So I'm already skilled at avoiding all sources of news on Sunday afternoons (CDs only in the car, no radio!).

For all thats its a shame to not have the whole of every race, I actually find the 90-120 minutes highlights package pretty good, and its a really good way of watching F1 for those who are really busy at the weekend. I won't be subscibing to Sky F1 as I just don't have the spare time to make the most of it. Provided the BBC continue to get at least half the races live plus highlights for the rest, this model will continue to work for me.


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.


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.


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.


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).

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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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


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 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! 🙂


Villenueve ? Looks more like Greg Wallace to me!


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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