Analysis: The numbers show why Formula 1 took the exclusive Sky deal
F1 on TV
Martin Brundle
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Mar 2016   |  11:55 pm GMT  |  456 comments

We have had an interesting response to the news that F1 in the UK will be behind a paywall from 2019 onwards with many comments from fans suggesting that this will be the point at which they disconnect from the sport.

But a glance at the numbers involved in this deal show why F1 felt it was a deal they had to take.

We always like to showcase the outstanding contributions our readers make to the comments section of this site, with many intelligent and considered points of view. We’ve picked out one reader’s comment below, which sums up the mood among a certain contingent.

This is actually a really fascinating situation, with F1 trying to balance the need to generate income from media rights with the need to maintain mass viewership. Like any media business the monetisation of the sport is based on its scale.

Where the UK is concerned, it’s worth remembering that the two recent TV rights negotiations F1 Management was involved in were ITV wanting to pull out in 2008, replaced by BBC and then BBC wanting to pull out in 2015. That’s quite a negative for the sport, but also shows how F1 needs to be careful with whom they partner, as both of those partners were unable to fulfil their side of the deal.

Webber and Coulthard

Balanced against that in 2015 was the will of Channel 4 to come in and take the BBC’s package of 10 races live and the rest highlights. The numbers on this are that BBC paid £15m a year for its package. They needed to exit because of a shortfall in the licence fee revenues and the need to find quick savings. Channel 4’s deal is worth £24m a year, reflecting the channel’s ability to raise income through advertising. The new Sky deal is a kick in the teeth to them, just days after they broadcast their first F1 highlights show and a week before their maiden live offering.

It means they will host live races only for three years. At best they’ll be able to subcontract the highlights from Sky after that.

Now consider that Sky has been paying £45m a year for its rights, during this time of shared rights. With the Channel 4 fee on top that has meant a yield from the UK for F1 of £70m a year. This is roughly twice what ITV was paying 10 years ago and about 80% more than the 2009 BBC exclusive deal.

With the Channel 4/Sky deals in place until the end of 2018, F1 Management wasn’t in any particular hurry to secure a longer term deal, but when the ongoing battle between Sky and BT Sport over rights acquisitions moved onto the F1 playing field, they were not about to turn that down.

Sky Sports F1

In recent weeks a bidding war has been taking place between the two broadcasters and it has led to a 150% uplift in the yield from UK TV rights for F1, taking it to almost five times what BBC was paying for its original contract from 2009-2011. Over six years that’s roughly a billion pounds.

Looked at in that context, you can see why F1 took the deal. It’s a business after all, one that shares 60% of net earnings among the teams (albeit in an unfair split). It is hard to turn down that kind of offer. Fans will have noted a deafening silence from the teams to this news; they realise it’s unpalatable to many fans who don’t want to pay or who won’t engage with Rupert Murdoch’s empire due to its distasteful activities in print media or other reasons. But it’s a rainmaker deal for the teams.

There is little consolation in any of this to the many F1 fans who have been used to watching F1 free to air, even with adverts. But with that kind of money on offer it’s not hard to see why F1 took the deal, just as the Premier League did with its £5bn deal over three years and the Champions League, which is exclusive to BT Sport and no longer live on ITV.

In 25 years no Premier League match has ever been shown live on a terrestrial channel in the UK, but the popularity of the series and the following is greater than ever.

But football is not F1; motorsport is more niche. Compare it to golf, whose Ryder Cup is only shown on Sky. The danger is that it diminishes in importance as the audience consolidates at a much lower level.

The UK F1 fan has been able to watch F1 free to air in some form for longer than fans of most other sports and it’s not surprising that they are unhappy to lose that privilege.

Murray Walker

The small consolation is that the new Sky deal obliges them to show the British GP live and all highlights on a free platform, available in 90% of homes. At present Sky does not have a platform that qualifies. So they may well sub licence the highlights to Channel 4 or more likely ITV, in the same way as Champions League is live on BT Sport with highlights on ITV.

This is what is know in the industry as ‘barker content’ – the opportunity to showcase the sport on a free to air platform that lets people know that the event is on and draws some to take up the pay offering to watch more of it live.

This is not to defend F1 Management’s deal with Sky, merely to provide some context. As TV fragments and declines in value, quality sport is one of the few things that consumers want to watch live. So there is a real premium on it. One wonders what events will still be free to view by the end of this decade.

Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Anyway, to our reader reaction piece. It comes from M Pinchbeck, who is one of many that grew up with Nigel Mansell racing on the BBC with The Chain as a theme tune and Murray Walker providing the soundtrack.

M Pinchbeck writes: I started watching F1 as a child in the early 90s when F1 was free to watch on the BBC. The uniqueness of an F1 car and the fact that one of them was driven by Mansell, with a big red ‘5’ on the front was what got me hooked. I went on to become an avid watcher of F1 and a fan of Williams to this day. I’ve bought F1 memorabilia, attended an F1 race, and exposure to sponsorship (on the cars, at the circuits, and on TV when F1 was on ITV) have subliminally affected my choice of purchases and influenced my products of desire over the years. I would say that the free-to-air business model has worked if I am example and especially if I am one of 10 million+ other people with a similar experience. It’s a shame that the F1 powers-that-be think otherwise.

Back in the early 90s F1 didn’t have the same money it has now. It was certainly hard for teams to make ends meet but TV rights and circuit hosting fees didn’t cost what they do now. Today, if an historic circuit can’t afford the latest exorbitant fee it simply gets dropped for another Tilke-drome in a country with no F1 following regardless of the views of the fans and drivers. Perhaps F1 has become a victim of its own success. Right now it can probably afford to sit itself behind a TV paywall with a diminished, but paying, TV audience. I’m not so sure it can afford to so forever though.

F1 fan

If, when I was a child, F1 had been behind a paywall, it would be doubtful that I would have had that initial exposure to generate a lifelong interest. To maintain the interest I did get as a child it relied upon being able to watch each race every couple of weeks which I was able to do. The opportunity to do that would have been distinctly reduced if F1 had been behind a paywall. I’d have been reliant upon parents paying for and choosing the right sports package. From 2019 onwards, where will the new F1 fans come from? Or does F1 no longer care?

It is clear from the other comments here that I’m not alone in not having followed F1 to Sky. Free-to-air works for me and I’m not fussed about the extra F1 content offered by Sky (I’ve got the internet and F1 Racing magazine instead). I don’t often watch the races live due to time of day and having a family but recording the races that are live on terrestrial to then play back later, or watching the delayed extended highlights programs, suits me. I’ll hold full judgement until we see what sort of highlights package becomes available in 2019. However, taking MotoGP as an example, I wouldn’t be surprised if F1 highlights on terrestrial end up becoming a condensed 1 hour program at 7pm on ITV4 on the Monday after the race. If so, F1 will end up a minority sport. And with such a reduced program package, I can see my interest in the sport, and certainly my religious following, waning when that happens.

If F1 does go ahead in sitting behind a paywall then that’s just something loyal F1 fans will have to reluctantly accept but surely there must be a better way than Sky exclusivity. Personally, much as I love F1, I’m unlikely to switch to taking out a Sky Sports package. Having little interest in other sports, I’d have to decide whether or not the fee for Sky Sports is worth it for just 20 or so events a year. At least for football followers they have 100s of games per season they can watch. For F1, I don’t think pay TV works but unfortunately the F1 powers-that-be think otherwise!

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In Australia FoxSport took over all the F1 GPs from Channel 10 including all practices. I only subscribed to Foxtel so I could watch all F1 races as we had become accustomed to over the years even sitting up regularly to all hours for the privilege. The race and qualifying were once ad free but that has now gone. In summary the total viewing has improved but the quality of the race telecast has gone back to the ad interrupted viewing of free to air.


Thats me done with F1 from 2019, may watch the highlights as i do with motogp on itv4......RIP F1


Highlights are rubbish. You'd expect to see highlights of the race but the few times I've actually watched BBC highlights ther han't been much race raceing. Lots of talking............................;;;;;;;


What a waste of journalism. Folding to the pressure from tight arse's that refuse to move with the times. Yes it was good having it free. I'm sure it was with football, cricket, golf, rugby etc... But it's 2016, like everything these days money is the priority. It costs me well over £600 to go to silverstone every year and I love it. If you love the sport then you should pay the price. F1is a million dollar playboy sport with drivers earning £25 million a year driving around Monaco. It's not a working mans sport, it's dream that catches the imagination. The speed, the fine margins this is what makes the sport. Aus was a great race bring on the season and a fourth world championship for Hamilton.


Very narrow minded. When the advertisers waken up to the numbers NOT watching anymore then the sport is history? When Liberty Media realise they've been sold a pup I see major changes!


I'm late to the party so this will probably not be read, but must vent... This view from Nightowl is now the problem with our sport.

I'm 33, have followed the sport since the age of 8. Circumstances have been kind to me and whilst I'm not part of the 1%, I am - apparently - part of the 2% after a lot of hard work. Because of this I thought nothing of adding on all of ordering 'all the channels' with my package. I have been to Silverstone and Barcelona several times and missed others due only to work commitments.

But, I've cancelled my Sports channels earlier this week because I will no longer be a part of this sick madness. I will no longer be attending races, a pointless protest perhaps - but a protest nevertheless.

10 years ago I could never have afforded even a Sky package, let alone watching live. I would have been discarded by the sport I had followed and like every other fan, helped grow. Presumably if you can't afford the money now, well, you're just not the 'target market' F1 cares about. Isn't that just lovely!

Historic races replaced by big Middle East paychecks, Hamilton 'loving the culture' of a tyranny. I've had enough. This isn't sour grapes, I have the money, but no longer will I encourage these absolute morons to tread over the people that have stuck by the sport through all these years.

Unless you were born into privilege, and do not know what 'struggle' is, how can you stand by and watch others be frozen out? Frozen out simply because of their bank balance...

Open your eyes people and vote with your feet.


I couldn't have said it any better myself. I am in exactly the same position as you. I can afford it but in no way agree with this disgraceful move. I would NEVER give a single penny of my money to Rupert Murdoch, that man is one of the biggest stains on humanity right now!!


Unfortunately Bernie thinks all fans are like you and and therein lies the problem.


It may well be a playboy sport with £25m salaries, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be a playboy (or non-working class) or on 25m p.a. to be a fan or a viewer.
Frankly, recent F1 seasons haven't been worth crossing the road to see, let alone paying for.

By the way, it's 'arses' not 'arse's'.


[mod]Our household income is comfortably over the average and we could well afford a Sky subscription if we wanted one. However i also like to think that I'm sensible with my money, and as such there is no chance on this earth that I'd pay the annual fee for Sky HD JUST for F1. It's simply not worth it for me, and I have no interest in anything else that Sky offer to spread the cost.

I say this as someone who has watched every single race of the season for as long as i can remember, through the ups and the downs. Fingers crossed there will be a way for this to continue past 2019, I'd gladly pay a sensible price to do so. The Sky fee is far in excess of that however.

If you feel you can justify that cost then good luck to you, I'll be saving my £60 a month though thanks. I guess everything has it's price and the cost of my F1 fandom has been exceeded here.

If in the eyes of some this means I'm not a 'true' fan then fine, I certainly won't be losing any sleep over that.


Maybe NowTV would suit you. I buy the Sports Pass for a day or a week and watch the events live. It works on SmartTVs, Smart Phones, computers obviously... Quite alright.


Sad to see a lot of judgemental comments on here of other fans and their circumstances; deciding the validity of other fans opinions with no knowlege about them.

Personally I just can't afford sky and it is as simple as that. That isn't me saying it isn't value for money, and I'm not I tight arse, I just have not got the cash to spend on this. I won't be able to watch F1 from then on. Perhaps you are right; it isn't a working mans sport, but this working man followed it since the mid 90's, and I think it is sad that I won't be able to, unless there is a drastic change in the government policy to towards the industry I work in!

Nightowl's conscience

Lol. Those working men should be working shouldn't they!

Quick, stamp on the little man that can't afford to go to silverstone for £600 and pay £300+ subscription every year.

Quick, quick, the sport needs to be more elite, we need less fans as long as they are the rich ones. Maybe we can also get together and spit at the poor people.

Torchwood Mobile

Sorry, don't see how F1 going behind a paywall is "folding to tight arses who won't move with the times."


To put it another way... one race into the season, and we are discussing a Sky deal and the qualifying fiasco. Time-permitting, we also discuss Halo and the 2017 regulations (quiz: does anyone still think they'll happen?)

No mention of the speed of the cars, as seen in the first race, of Merc's continued domination, or anything else actually related to racing on Sunday afternoons.

Well done F1. At least we can now stop discussing why younger viewers aren't interested in the sport: why would they be? It's not really a sport, is it?


Just a fair weather fan then. Do you make it past the start of a race at the moment?


Well.....i did for the first 20 years although i have to admit for the past 10 years i have nodded off after the odd start, not sure if thats because the racing is getting worse or im getting old 🙂

Either way i refuse to pay sky for their coverage......stubborn? Yes. Fair weather fan? I guess i'll find out from 2019.....


I agree with your comment. Look if you love the sport then you will sacrifice. You guys in the uk are lucky. Your'll have much better coverage and other side f1 shows we don't even get that. I pay 1/10th of my salary for a satellite package with shows and other sports i have no interest in just so i can watch the race live. Our only hope is that f1 in future has its own digital pay service like netflix. but in general the sport needs to advertise itself better. The sponsorship ban on cigarettes etc is ridiculous i have been watching the sport for years and i have not had the urge to take up smoking so there is no merit to that and even if i did it would only influence which brand i chose. Why i bring it up is because F1 was free to air when it had big tobacco sponsors. if it so bad then why does the governments still allow it to be sold and collect tax on the income from these things


"in general the sport needs to advertise itself better."
You can't advertise yourself from behind a paywall. Just as cricket, about to take over the world after the 2005 Ashes, has sunk back into niche since disappearing off our screens, so F1, in everyone's consciousness in the era of Mansell and Senna and Prost, is now off the radar. It's hip to call it boring.
And for what ? More money. To do what with ? Make the sport more complex, more technical, more separate from life. Is that really a good deal ? Or just more jobs for the boys ?


There's a free streaming service via VIPBOX. It's a bit blotchy and has been known to crash from time to time, but it does provide free access...............

The tobacco advertising ban came about from an edict from the EU in 2005. It may be one of the reasons why the shift away from the European theatre has happened, or at least the growth of grand prix "in the East". I don't know about tobacco laws in other developed countries such as Japan, Australia and Canada, but I would imagine advertising laws are the same as in Europe - very restrictive.


Or does he (like me) simply refuse to pay for a FULL SKY SPORTS AND TV package, just to watch F1? I used to have Sky, I've never had Sky Sports because aside from the odd game of football it has never been worth my money.

When Sky first got the rights for F1 and started the Sky F 1 Channel (which I enjoyed, aside from the tedious replays in the closed season) it was free to all Sky customers. Last season, Sky changed tack and made it part of the Sports package only. My inner skeptic believes this was a move to pave the way for the Pay TV exclusive bid. That and they talk to Bernie an awful lot.....

I will also, sadly be one of those fans who won't be watching F1 anymore, aside from the 1 race per season offering, once Sky have worked out what platform they will show it on as they don;t have one yet.


some have been done with F1 for some time now, like any addict it takes time to wean yourself off. I was roped into F1 in 2005, since then I have bent over backwards to catch all the races, now not anymore, F1 has been behind a paywall here in South Africa since the early 2000's, to be honest 2005-2008 was well worth the money, since then I've been a junkie who's chasing that original high, the product has been weak, boring, and lacks that original thrill.

With every new decision they are helping me kick my habit and it looks like after 2017 if the racing is still horrible I'll be cured (YAY). Enough is enough now.

In 2005 I was watching 0% soccer and 100% F1, now I'm 40% soccer and 60% F1, thats called progress.


I'm rather ashamed to admit that the original move from SKY to acquire F1 worked on me. I had previously ended my SKY subscription as I didn't have time to watch 100 channels and benefit. I railed and complained and wrote bitter responses on this and other sites about the greed and injustice of it all. Then I went out and re-subscribed to SKY just to watch all F1 races in full. I do not use SKY for any other purpose and it costs me around £600 per year. This was the end of me being able to afford to attend live races, I had to make a choice watch them all on TV or watch 1 or 2 (UK and Spa) live at trackside. So in my case, a greedy global conglomerate won out over these independent tracks. A deal with the devil to watch a sport I love - little or no other choice if I wanted to watch all races live.

And what have I go for my money so far? A pointless, neutered FIA with Todt doing Bernie's bidding. Greedy, self serving teams who cannot see past the end of their own noses for the good of their sport.

I do not feel that F1 ever, in any possible way, listens to me as a fan if they did listen to us there's be no DRS, double points would not have been implemented, qualy would not have been changed, Pirelli would not have been chosen as tyre supplier, radio bans would not have been implemented and the list goes on... In all of the above decisions fans were not consulted and were not even listened to.

Honestly, I feel let down and stupid for paying the money. I feel like an abused dog, loyal to its owner despite the cruelty. How long I and other will put up with the abuse is debatable. Perhaps most tellingly, I do not tell anyone I have SKY for F1 anymore because I'd feel stupid doing so.


I started watching F1 in the late 80's as kid on free to air on the BBC. I was grasped by Murray Walkers enthusiasm, I was drawn to the yellow helmet and personality of Senna.

I do not watch F1 anymore... its a poor shadow of what I grew to love. I went to watching MotoGP and WSB which to me is far more interesting from a Motorsport perspective. I just won't pay for F1 anymore and its not in my house. My kids simply don't see F1 and a whole new generation is lost.

I get more enjoyment from reading James Allen's site then watching the procession of the Best 'or the most privileged' drivers in the world do their thing.


I love the sport too since a child, I wouldn't pay for sky when they took the rights, gradually ive got used to only seeing half the races live, over time I would get use to not seeing it at all.... the sport is currently in decline and those in charge making rules as they go along which make the sport less attractive to watch or bother understanding.... so many needless rules.. its no longer 100% racing hasn't been for many years due to tyres, fuel regs ect....


Pretty much encapsulates my experience - I've avidly followed F1 for more than 20 years watching all live races.

Since Michael Schumachers domination in the noughties F1 has been a parade, with the odd exceptions. Ferrari followed by Red Bull followed by Mercedes.

I don't want to watch Hamilton stuck behind Rosberg (or vice versa) for a whole race because the 'dirty air' stops him from having a go.

It was these kind of races that made me happy to accept highlights

I've had Sky subscriptions in the past (but not for F1) and always felt short changed - more was not better

The move to Sky will be the final nail for me - I won't follow because I don't think the F1 product is worth it anymore.


I don't have sky sports, but I do pay for the sky hd pack and this gets the f1 channel in Ireland anyway. Makes it at least more reasonable pricing wise. Also I have ended up really enjoying the sky f1 channel particularly the classic races. It's great to see them on air.


Yup. ITV and BBC show that with ever rising production cost and rights costs the ability to generate profit from the initial outlay was not there. If F1 was profitable for BBC they would have kept it, no?


While I'm saddened by this news, I'm not surprised. Good Old Rupert and his organisation have been trying to get hold of the rights for years and Mr E gladly signed the deal.

Western Europe is one of the most developed and affluent areas in the world (and the home of most motor sport), and with powerhouse economies such as Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Norway et al Mr E and Good old Rupert obviously think: "Well those viewers [in Western Europe] have got plenty of spare cash [sic] why should they have free to air grand prix coverage? We'll make them pay, they can afford it..............."


RE Pkara:

I was being ironic! He even appeared on "The Simpsons" once saying: "I'm Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire tyrant........"

SKY Sports remind this author of Unicron from the Transformers animated series. Voiced brilliantly by Orson Welles, Unicron was a sentinel giant evil planet that consumed and devoured smaller planets to replenish his metaphor's go, it's somewhat accurate for an organisation that has already gobbled up Premiership football, British Lions test series, the Ashes of AUS vs ENG and now Formula 1......


I am not sure if I should be sad that I totally get your analogy! Lol... very well done!


Good old Rupert?!!!!
What planet are you from GazBoy.
The Man is Arsenic to sports. He bleeds the general public. Chucks everything on over priced channels. Murdochs a leech. No at least a Leech drops off after having its fill. Murdoch socks the marrow out too.


I suppose its easy for them if rupert drops them then they will take whatever deal the free to air broadcasters give them.


The BBC doesn't make a profit from anything. They have a fixed income decided by government. When this was reduced they had to cut some spending so had to decide what was most important for most of its viewers.
So no.
To add a conspiratorial note; the reason this government keeps cutting the BBC money is to allow its chums in private broadcasting an easier run so BBC probably thought competing less directly with Sky would giv it a quieter life.


the bbc paid 7 millon a year to Johnathon ross for years, they make millions a year from top gear,but then sacked clarkson,when he was top gear,(now we have chris evans who cant drive and talk at the same sick all the time...and joey from many countries will wanna buy that? they sold the rights to the telly tubbies for peanuts, the ones who bought them made millions ,and bbc lets the world watch bbc i player for nothing..why us mugs have to pay £150 a year.. they have just binned bbc3 and lost family guy to itv..
if the bbc wasn't funded by the uk public,would of gone bankrupt years ago ..they dont know what they are doing..


bbc iplayer is not available in the NYC or San Jose or Trinidad. i've tried its blocked


It works overseas if you use it on a device running an VPN - such as Spotflux


If ROI was there, they would have surely kept it.


Not really, the BBC is a publc service provider paid for by the license fee payers, although it does have a commercial department and does sell programs abroad it shouldn't really be broadcasting programs that only make a profit. Its remit is to educate, entertain and inform. Maybe if they reined in the spending by the world service (broadcast in over 28 countries in many different languages) and concentrated on providing a service to the people that pay for it we might get a better variety of programming, but that is a whole debate on its own.


Not sure anything is 'profitable' for the BBC, they perform a public service rather than generate profits.

What I do not understand is Bernie not considering that F1 is utterly different from Football. There are 20 events a year not hundreds, and those events take a considerable investment in time spent understanding the complexities if you are to get full enjoyment from them. I just think the timing is bizarre, I usually refrain from criticising Bernie directly but he really has lost the plot lately. Take the Qualy farce, he basically gave the teams two options a reverse grid or the Australian shambles, hey chose the lesser of two evils. Now he's just done it to them again in order to egt his own way and keep the Australian shambles in place for the next race. The net results is that they all come out of this looking ridiculous and arrogant to an incredible extreme. Now is not the time to lock F1 behind a paywall and reduce viewership. Maybe later when F1s current problems are resolved and its a product people would be more willing to pay for?


The other difference between football and F1 is that if I want to watch football, it's fairly simple to get to a game, every week. TV is the only way to watch F1 except for a couple of expensive opportunities if you live in certain parts of the world.


Its a real shame we're losing yet another free to air sport. As has happened to the champions league tv views will fall off a cliff. F1 is all I want to watch so a £40pm Sky package is not feasible. There are some very good quality streaming sites for Sky anyway and after this deal I have no quams in using them.


i know you cant just buy the f1 package, which is silly in this day and age with smart tvs..i would pay £10 a month for the f1 season.....i have free bt sport, i watch the motogp,dont watch football or rugby union on it.

robert christian

more like 60 quid a month


the robbing gits..


One of the many problems I see with the sky deal is how it will exclude innovation in delivery over Internet platforms. FOM have now basically said there will be no live stream of races before 2024. If this deal was running *until* 2019 and stifling innovation for only 5 years it would be bad enough, but 9 more years with the crappy linear broadcast model? Please....


A younger FOM leader would have, IMO, realized that 5 years from now, being a world wide online media company would have placed them in a much better position... And as for the teams, I have to think that the eventual loss in revenue from reduced sponsorship (ads need eyeballs, advertisers pay for eyeballs!) will reduce the perceived windfall of the Sky deal?
This is of benefit only to Ferrari and Mercedes and Renault, where the car itself is the ad, and the whole F1 thing is a big marketing campaign. They don't need sponsorship. Williams and FI and the like must be scratching their heads, meanwhile?
Big sports deals are risky for the broadcasters. It's true that for the cable dinosaurs, live sports is the last bastion of the old model. Everything else is moving to a "view at your convenience" model. I'm from Canada, and Rogers paid a gigantic sum for NHL rights in a bidding war, and they're finding that audiences are fickle when all Canadian teams can't even make the playoffs this year... They can't bring in the eyeballs to offset the eye watering sums they paid for the rights.
So I am disappointed because no one in F1 wants to take the pain to pivot the business into a direct to consumer model, which long term is the only sustainable one, IMO. But that would mean forgoing a lot of revenue from dinosaurs fighting over the last few coconuts, now that the coconut trees are gone. Given where BE is in life, I don't really blame him. Ten years from now, it's somebody else's problem. He can live out his last days on premium coconut water.


Quite the reverse. I think this deal means that will happen, it's just that it will happen with Sky rather than I competition with them. Probably sooner rather than later I'd say


2019 is some way off yet and if F1 bosses keep alienating fans they way they currently are, I can see Sky not having much of a product to sell.



That still means paying an extortionate fee to Sky. However, good the streaming service from Sky and their production is, it does not warrant the fees they are asking from the viewers, especially those who only interested in F1.

I would rather save my money and go to Silverstone once a year instead.


Right, the trend is already strongly towards streaming and 2019 is a long time away (I speak as someone from the US who watches the races on the NBC Sports Network, a cable (pay) and streaming service. NBC only shows a couple of races (like Austin) on live terrestrial TV partially because of the time zone issues. But I am also surprised to see low the UK rights fees are, even the new ones. Really just change compared to EPL (or the NFL in the US). Shows how much marketing opportunity there is. The fact that it is a bit of a niche sport (same situation in the US) is actually an argument for exactly what they've done, along with much more innovation. The challenge is to resist Bernie's desire to monetize everything (like charging for the smartphone app when they should really give it away as a promotion) which results in an overall sub-optimization of total revenue.


um.. that's because the UK doesn't have as many people..


Ok I get that. What I don't get is why the manufacturers and the likes of Martini or Tag Heur, Santander, etc are content to have the audience cut by two thirds. The exposure of their brand always seemed to be the main reason why F1 would remain on terrestrial tv. Is their influence less than it was James because it always seemed to be one of the aspects Bernie was fiercely protective of.


Well the other side of the equation is that social media etc has come along and the brands get massive exposure from that.

No one has done a comprehensive analysis of whether collective eyeballs today exceed those in the heyday of FTA TV



Here in Australia, the v8 Supercars scurried off behind their paywall (called Foxtel here) to count their new found cash. Funny thing is, the only people who think the eyeball count has increased is the v8 supercar management. I'm yet to see any convincing signs that the GENERAL viewership has increased. Of course the big races like Clipsal, Bathurst etc are up on free to air but as yet, I'm still struggling to find any evidence of the ratings post paywall....

Maybe a good test case that you could study to get some more background.... (And maybe with your media connections, you might be able to unlock the real secrets of the ratings here)


I agree Alan,

If you go beyond motor sport even there are many examples of pay tv killing sports. I think rugby is one of the best examples. Quite a few years ago it was looking like a major challenger to the other football codes here in oz. Nowadays it is struggling even against our A-league.

I am amazed the sponsors haven't been more vocal in opposing this. They will be asking for a massive discount from their teams if this deal goes through.


But at what price? Even Now TV is seriously expensive for one race weekend. Whereas Moto GP offer the whole season for £150ish with practice and quali included!!


A full F1 race weekend on now tv costs 10.99. X 21 races is £230 a season. In contrast motoGP is 18 races and costs about 8.50 a race. For the popularity of the product it's probably a fair reflection in the end. I misunderstood earlier and now raise that if this deal continues then I'll be OK with it. Sprouts included.


i get motogp for nothing from Bt, on the tv or live from any device..all the races all the practice and qualifying sections..


I pay £6.99 a month to watch The Walking Dead on NowTV. If F1 had a similar price point i may consider paying a monthly subscription. I did consider buying a Sky Sports day pass on Sunday, but decided against after what happened during qualifying. The treatment of fans who paid to attend the races wasn't right.


James have a new position with Sky come 2019? Or are you oiling the mechanism in readiness to jump on the Sky Train?
Seems you answers are rather pro Sky. Sadly the General Public especially the intake of youngsters will be very low as they are priced out the market. Satellites Cable are things that some families cannot afford.


No I never wanted to be on Sky team, never applied for it

This poet is called "context", but if you insist on seeing bias in every article I suggest you go spend time on sites which specialise in that kind of thing


what if he already does that james?


Sorry James but your site is the best with regards F1.
So as much as I'm feeling the hurt about Sky monopolising F1.
I'm going to stick with Jaf1. But you can understand the sadness that fans are feeling. It is a mass of Anvils, falling soundly on the heads of F1 Fans. My apologise & I'm glad you are not heading to Sky.
Funny on Sky website they are hailing it a big moment. But they don't want anyone to leave a comment. Too scared of the backlash.
At least you've given us a platform to vent our steam. So thank you for that.


To be fair James you would smash it on sky.


No, it will not happen. What sky does in their own means, is theit own business. Like bbc player is for bbc. It's simply beyound belief that media right holder does not understand that selling access via ppv internet access would bring more money. Give me an official fom video channel costing me 10 euro per weekend, I happily pay to watch every race. Hell yeah, I'll even swallow adverts in the same form as sky f1 does it. By the media right holder simply wants the easy way. Just flog it to somebody else. Enough for their rolex and a ferrari. Meh.


If sky are willing to pay 'x' fold, for an advertising platform that has been in decline, since the previous indendent broadcaster pulled the plug....what are they asking of Cvc in return (given that, as is pointed out, it's not even a full exclusivity contract)? Doesn't seem to quite add up.


The F1 channel is expected to be part of the full sports package, so they're being on those F1 fans who wouldn't otherwise buy that package now having to pay for all the other sport to get live F1 (even if you end up watching no other sports )

There's a fallacy in the industry that "exclusive content" is what the customer wants, but the "exclusive" bit isn't giving the customer anything, it's just preventing choice by excluding those on other platforms. It just means the provider is paying more for it, so they can drive more customers to them rather than to a competitor to acquire customers as longer term subscribers. Exclusive means they can (& may have to, to cover their costs) then charge customers more (especially via package deals and contract lock-ins) for it as they have monopoly over that content.

Could FOM make 4 sales of 1/4 the cost for access to all live races and give the consumer choice while making the same bunce? Maybe not... ... Maybe the F1 product isn't good enough to generate the viewing figures.

The exclusive model, given higher charging of customers can mean more investment in marketing and presentation, so if the broadcasters are not exploiting/promoting the product to its potential, you might drive up viewing figures through that model. But the BBC coverage for example, was good AFAIC, yet didn't generate the viewing figures without A) marketing budget and B) enough quality in the underlying F1 product.

Exclusive is one way to tackle A), but does little for B), and seriously, shouldn't FOM, as the "promotor" be the primary marketing channel anyway, rather than subbing it out to broadcasters?


The F1 channel is expected to be part of the full sports package, so they're being on those F1 fans who wouldn't otherwise buy that package now having to pay for all the other sport to get live F1 (even if you end up watching no other sports )

There's a fallacy in the industry that "exclusive content" is what the customer wants, but the "exclusive" bit isn't giving the customer anything, it's just preventing choice by excluding those on other platforms. It just means the provider is paying more for it, so they can drive more customers to them rather than to a competitor to acquire customers as longer term subscribers. Exclusive means they can (& may have to, to cover their costs) then charge customers more (especially via package deals and contract lock-ins) for it as they have monopoly over that content.

Could FOM make 4 sales of 1/4 the cost for access to all live races and give the consumer choice while making the same bunce? Maybe not... ... Maybe the F1 product isn't good enough to generate the viewing figures.

The exclusive model, given higher charging of customers can mean more investment in marketing and presentation, so if the broadcasters are not exploiting/promoting the product to its potential, you might drive up viewing figures through that model. But the BBC coverage for example, was good AFAIC, yet didn't generate the viewing figures without A) marketing budget and B) enough quality in the underlying F1 product, to justify keeping F1 to their trustees.

Exclusive is one way to tackle A), but does little for B), and seriously, shouldn't FOM, as the "promotor" be the primary marketing channel anyway, rather than subbing it out to broadcasters?


Good points made in this article. Can't help but agree with M Pinchwoods comments. I started watching Formula 1 in 97 at a tender age of 5. No one I knew liked the sport. No friends no family, I was just naturally attracted to it. Then my interest and enthusiasm spread among family and friends, before long I had been to Silverstone with my dad and Monza with a tonne a mates a few times. But since Sky took over, my family, and friends who liked F1, have lost touch. Couldn't tell you about the rule changes or who is driving or the form of the field. They'll see highlights of they're on and read a news article on the internet with a race summary.

Now that doesn't speak for loyal F1 fans, but these were at least people who had enough interest in the sport to make them enjoy it, look forward to the next race etc. With these changes coming up in 2019, I can't see how it will benefit Formula 1's fan base in the slightest. Even me, a massive crazy Formula 1 fan, I can't afford an extra 25 quid per month. Thankfully after constant social media bombardment I got a temporary affordable deal. What happens when that runs out though? Another fight to haggle a deal to see my favourite sport and passion?

If sky wants to win over fans and do good for the sports fan base, they could at least make an option available where you can access Sky F1 channel by paying for it alone. Fiver PCM? I reckon many F1 fans who currently refuse to pay the big bucks for sky sports package would possibly pay a much lesser fee if it meant seeing live Formula 1. Whatever comes of it, I hope love of Formula 1 is generated. I am sick of turning to Twitter to engage with strangers in order to come across someone with a half decent interest in the sport.

It's too special a sport to be missing from British televisions.


Firstly a very interesting article and insight to a true fans comments all of which I whole heartedly agree with. It is ashame now that new fans should pay a premium, there is a disconnect with the youth of today and F1.

In my humblest of opinions I would love to see F1 install a new online platform which mirrors what WWE has done with its network. for a flat fee you have access to scheduled live events (all PPVs), every past event and additional programs and features. This model would stretch for Formula 1's needs and would be more cost effective than pay tv.

As a fair comparison Wrestlemania 32 is on next week in Dallas which is the grandest event of the year, like Monaco for example. Sky let you order it on box office for £20.00 with repeats for a strict time. WWE network is streaming the same event for £9.99 and free for new customers and available anytime for any length of time. There's the rub on how to win new viewers, in addition to various hours of highlights on YouTube.

It may be scripted but wwe is focussed on customers, various live events fan interactions and charity donations in addition to a real value digital platform.

Hope Vincent McMahon takes over F1


W W E ????????????????????????
I haven't laughed so much for a while.
It's not a sport it's a costume comedy.
I can remember when they tried to force The World Wildlife Fund - WWF in court for using the abbreviation WWF. Not realising WWF had been going for donkeys years. ????????
But I understand you point. Perhaps you can the Rock to body dive Todt & put Bernie in a half nelson. Think Bernie would try & slip out out by detaching his weave.
Sad day for F1.


The sport I love . no longer wants me as a fan. It’s so sad.

I will have to get my motor sport from another source maybe WEC with the guidance of Radio le Man . Button seamed to enjoy his old mans sport perhaps that’s a goer .WRC ?

I was introduced to F1 by my late father. Watching it with him was a Sunday ritually. It feels like losing a connection to him.

But I can’t justify spending that much my kids come first .

Bathurst 12 h was great
Faultless live pics streamed to my tablet with RLM commentary.

Leaving a life long passion is very sad
But if I’m too poor for them to want me in there tribe.

I once scraped together enough to go once. Silverstone for qualifying i think it was the last year before the chicane’s went in . Mansell went past on the pole lap . it was breathtaking. The 2 btcc drivers standing next to me looked at each other and breathed bl##dy h#ll.

Goodbye F1
I love you but you don’t seam to want me any more.


I've got a kid and am happy to pay £60 a month for TV, broadband and line rental.

It's the modern world. I pay £35 a month for a phone contract and £12 on a TV licence as well.

£100 a month on modern luxuries is an opportunity many people in the world don't even have.


So, can we come round your place and watch F1 then? We'll bring nibbles and drinks. Just keep the kids quiet, send them to the garden shed or something out of the way. Thanks... Sorry, I didn't catch your address. It was?...


It's an opportunity many in the UK don't have. Wake up.


why should you pay £12 for something,that has nothing on? would you miss bbc if it went pay for view?


Hell yes! £12/month for the BBC is a bargain. Radio 4 is worth that by itself (and, yes, I know you don't need a licence for radio, but that's not the point).


Soundly put Bruno.
Sad powers that be prefer to alienate the audience rather than embrace the them. Instead they prefer to wrap themselves in profits & create a low audience & have F1 attached to the rear sphincter of Murdochs Sky satellite. I forgot one will go to will swap to another motorsport in 2019. Being a fan of F1 since childhood it's a hard & sad decision. But enough is enough. Channel 4 highlights were not exactly great the adverts just destroy the moment but at least it's available on Free to Air. Sky behind a Pay wall will be associated with its decline. 6 years from then Bernie (who will be long gone) Todt (who spends most of his time painting zebra crossings in Africa for no apparent reason trying to get his his dodgy hollow UN accolade) will be long gone. The most important generation "THE Youth "will have moved on to sports that are accessible & financially viable for their pockets.
Bernie & his cronies (& the defunct CVC) will be either 6ft under or watching the blame game being raised at meetings with F1 teams. Sad demise .


I thought "painting zebra crossings in Africa" was copyright Joe Saward?


James, how impartial do you think you can be when reporting this story when Wikipedia lists you as being one of the Formula One Managment world feed interviewers?
In which direction are viewing figures for F1 heading, up or down? The answer is down.
Are F1 teams finding it easier or harder to find sponsors in a climate of falling viewers? Harder.
F1 didn't make the deal with Sky, Formula One Management made the deal. The teams, their sponsors and the majority of F1 fans will be the losers.


I think James has covered both angles of this story, see the previous article about this subject, while it wasn't open criticism it was very good at highlighting the fan's negative reactions to this. That is what this site does best, its the best platform available, provided from a respected sport insider, to give fans a voice. The FIA and CVC certainly do not. I do not know for sure but I would not be surprised to find out that influential sport figures read the comments here with interest from time to time.


Well said Threep
Their is a conflict of interest.
F1 will end up an obscure sport behind a Pay wall that a huge percentage will not be able to afford. 6 years they would have lost a huge audience (youth target group, the future).


I like to think impartial, judge from the articles about governance, poor decision making, commerce etc on this site for years. I'm free to criticise where I see fault, but I also see my role in F1 as to provide context and background - this article is a good example.

The moderator role at press conferences and world feed interviews I see as a responsibility to the sport. It needs to be done well by a professional, and that's me.


When you say you're impartial, do we discount the ITV years, or when you were at ITV, were you told to be biased towards the brits, because i do remember someone shouting at the top of his voice "HE'S DONE IT! JENSON BUTTON WINS! YES YES YES! GET IN THERE!" lol


So what? A commentator working for UK TV doesn;t have to be completely neutral. Most of the audience are probably supporting a British driver or team.

The man often hailed as the best commentator ever - Murray Walker - admitted numerous times he was a massive fan of both Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell. It didn't make him a bad commentator, it just made him more human like the rest of us.


@ Jack P, "Get him lads, James Allen got excited when a driver won a race, get him!"


James Allen impartial? That's a really funny joke. The articles on "governance, poor decision making, commerce etc" prove nothing - everebody does them for years now. But this article above proves that you are as biased as possible because it is an attempt to justify the murder of this sport.


You must be new around here... I think you might be lost - perhaps you are looking for pandering tabloid nonsense, if so the Official F1 website or Planet F1 are more you speed. Just carry straight on, past integrity, keep going way past Fact, hang a left at pride and you're there!


Spot on display d_m_g
100% spot on.
Every cloud does not have a Silver lining. Especially the alienation of a huge audience.
Impartiality sounds very much like a sideways punch to a viewers gut. Take it or lump it.
I for one will lump it rather than taking hit after hit from Murdochs Sad Empire &:Bernie CVC & Todts sad grip on a sport I've loved since I was in shorts in the late 1960s.

Harry Snapper Organs

Can certainly see why you chose M Pinchwood's comments. Not much left to say except +1
Happy Easter to all.


They should have a rule that says if F1 is behind a paywall in a country, they should have at least two different providers so that there would be some competition between them. That way the price would be at least a little bit lower. Monopoly is never good. Illegal?


Not sure about that. As an example, see Sky Sports and BTs offerings over premier league football and how much you'd have to fork out get the two combined.


I have watched f1 since the early 80s. Never missed a race unless I was at it if you know what I mean. I've watched it on the Beeb, Eurosport, imola 94 is still played out in my mind with John Watson and allard Kalff. ITV and Sky, including their failed pay per view sercice a few years back. I take time off work to ensure I watch most races live. I have watched it on sky for years, rather than the free BBC because the coverage is simply better. And there is more of it. Plus it has the excellent Martin Brundle. I have to say that I wasn't a fan of the Sky pay per view, but the bottom line is that I will watch the best coverage, whatever channel it is on. I pay for a full sky package anyway. I don't have a problem with sky fees. The BBC is a dated and second rate TV company these days anyway. They show very little of any significance or relevance, particularly when it comes to sport. So bring it on Sky. I think you are great. It makes a dull f1 interesting at the moment.


While this deal will no doubt upset those who don't want or can't afford Sky, It doesn't change much for me because I have sky & enjoy there output.

I like there on-air team for the most part, Enjoy the commentary from David Croft & Martin Brundle & like not only having all the sessions live in HD but also having a ton of additional live video content for every session (upto 10 onboard cameras via the ipad app which is awesome).

so from a purely selfish pov i'm happy in knowing i'm going to be getting the same good quality coverage i currently enjoy for a longer period of time.

just a shame they couldn't work out something like in germany where the subscription based coverage is an additional more in depth option alongside live fta coverage for every race. germany has had that model since the late 90s & it works well, if all you want is the live race on fta you have rtl but if you want extra camera feeds & live ad-free coverage of every session with extra pre/post race coverage you have what is now sky germany (used to be called premiere sport i believe).


Happy for you. Will you be okay about paying much more for the same content when Sky have the monopoly?

"Their". Sorry.


What makes you think you will have the same good coverage? They have no competition now. There viewers will be die hard fans or those who have the package for the other sports, no need to try too hard.


They totally went the wrong way as pay tv is an old model now. Streaming I'm afraid is the future because a: it's cheaper b: nearly everyone has access c: you don't have to be at home and can watch it when you like d: finally F1 could have set it up controlled it and kept the profit from global coverage. I actually think that by time there Sky deal is done terrestrial tv will practically be dead with pay tv very close behind.


Considering the never-ending rules farce, amongst other things, I’m wondering where Sky is going to place F1 to make a return on its investment –
Move it from sport to the ‘premium quality‘ comedy channel?


Watching F1 on free to air TV was not ever a "privilege". It was the normal. Then it was taken away. And we get told it was a privilege, as its sold back to us.

This logic disgusts me in general. Its just an excuse to take what was ours and sell it back to us claiming "added value".

Which is a lie in its self. Barely anyone wants added value. We get it given to us while what was once ours is sold back to us. We can of course prove it. Let Sky do the added value version, and let any free to air channel show only the race its self live, start 5 mins before, end after the podium. Lets see if enough people buy in to the "added value" of Sky.

Im thoroughly sick of this vile con. Its not even slightly just F1. F1 is just the latest victim.


Excellent article.
I am no different to the hundreds of F1 followers on this site and i am sure the thousands of fans all around.
I understand the points of view in the article and they do make sense to the F1 management in a strictly short term financial agreement.
The bigger picture which so many have touched, is the fan base, following of the sport.
As i mentioned above, my story is similar to many. I started watching F1 in the late 70's and have not stopped watching since. But if there isn't a FTA to which a casual viewer might switch to and become interested over time, i don't see how this model is going to capture new fans all around the world. It is already a niche sport, no matter how much i try to argue this point with my wife and son whom i am trying to get into the F1 mode but losing the battle as he thinks it's boring just watching cars going around...Hum!!
As i see it, with my son who is a teenager, he just does not think F1 is cool, like i used to think when i was his age, and that is the problem. How do you sell the F1 coolness image to these youngsters when in a few years they will not have the access to it unless a dad like me is willing to pay for it (which i'm not).?
Bernie and the troupe will make a few more quid, the teams ( some anyway) will eventually get also a bit more money, but in the end it will see the F1 fan base slowly diminishing until it is so niche that all the manufacturers will think it will not be worth it.


Its like a CEO en-cashing stock before resigning from a Company, knowing whats gonna happen in the coming quarters.


Try "the hundreds of thousands of followers of F1 on this site" - 330,000 monthly unique users and rising


I actually think paywall in F1 could bump up the audience here. Keep in touch with good quality race review. Plus save time with. 5min post race read, still staying in touch. I think James should add ads to drive revenue from traffic. It's an opportunity.


i wonder how many of those regular contributors you will lose when F1 disappears behind the paywall. I used to be a very regular contributor but that dropped off when we lost more than half the live races. Put simply, I find better things to do with my time when I can't watch races live.

When we lose all the races I will probably give up watching altogether and even give up my Online subscription to Autosport.

All I will likely do is take a very occasional look at what is going on in F1 in the newspapers.


The same is happening to me. F1 was my soap opera and I was compelled to watch or else miss out. The half season of live races forced me to break my continuous commitment and then something breaks inside in terms of loyalty or feeling that you're missing out. You find other things to do. Finally you replace it all together. I only follow F1 on sites like this now. I no longer watch the races which is daft but I realise that they are generally poor entertainment. Perhaps one in three or four is gripping but when you only have a chance to see 50% of races live, the odds of catching a gripping race diminish to a point where it's not worth bothering because you could sit through eight hours of boring races to see a gripping one.


You are not the only one doing that


I am curious. what is your feeling of how all these broadcast changes will affect awesome sites such as yours down the road?
do you see potentially fewer eyeballs on the television causing more to rely upon you for coverage, or do you see the possible dwindling fan base as reducing your readership base?
are you vetting proposals to expand your capabilities or preparing to cut back a bit?
I think you could do a great headline article on your gut instinct (or initial formal study) !!


It's a lot less impressive when you realise 300,000 of those are just Sebee coming back to moan using a dynamic IP.


Try adding a subscription to your site and then see how the numbers fall. I stopped reading when money is required. Plenty of other free sites.


i pay £19.99 a year for the F1 site, you get all live timing,as i do live in betting(won £5000 last year) its worth the money..i wont pay for sky..i wouldn't pay for this site..


Yep if you add a subscription fee it would put the anchors on the visitors to this brilliant site.
Exactly what Murdochs minions will be doing come 2019!!


You provide one of the few websites which provides quality F1 analysis and gossip without being tacky. I'm pleased your readership is growing (I've been following you for a looong time now!) but with TV viewers on the decline it just shows that there is an appetite for the sport but not at any cost. How long will it be before you start providing a subscription service?


Well James, something has been bothering me for a while now . . .
JAonF1 follower numbers appear to be proportional to the increasing vagaries of F1 management.

Have you perhaps made a pact with the devil?

With your knowledge of the sport it would be easy to advise management on the best means of ensuring adverse reaction from the fans thereby increasing your site’s viewership. Furthermore, you’d be able to criticise said management with impunity – a win-win situation.

Just wondering, that’s all.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for any kind of strategy which supports online fan involvement and this site is succeeding admirably in this regard – so keep up the good work!


I don't h derby and what you are saying but thanks anyway!


Oh no... Please don't follow the same route as The Times and retreat behind your own paywall.

I enjoy the fans comments and articles. As no doubt do the third of a million visitors here.


Why on earth would I do that?

Last I heard Times only had 100kbsubscribets so a complete waste of time

Andrew Halliday

I don't know much about monetising websites but it would be interesting how much cash that would make for you!


But James, it won't keep rising if it's only on Sky.


Yep that will happen F1roborbob
2019 will be ok'ish. ..but the following years it will dampen as the dry rot sets in F1.


It's a global sport and only 38% of our audience is UK


I first started watching f1 in Schumacher years on free to air channel in India got seriously hooked to it...the likes of Kimi, Fernando were my heroes...I watch F1 on NBC at early mornings in america I highly doubt there are many people there who follow it point being, it was free to air coverage that got me hooked as a kid which likely won't happen to many others who don't know about it...F1 is not an easy sport to follow...I know hundreds of soccer fans but I can count the number of F1 fans I know in real life on my fingertips...If in US or India F1 went behind paywall they won't find new fans at all...but I guess maybe they will stay free to air in those countries just to generate new fans in where there's a lot more potential...perhaps this is the model they're going for...UK or European countries already have a saturated F1 following...people on here complain but still watch it...I guess the FOM doesn't really care about them anymore...I am not surprised with people wanting to switch with the amount of money sky's subsricption costs....


that's a slightly flawed argument James. The rise in users of this website is not indicative of a rise in F1 audience. That's just getting a bigger slice of a diminishing pie. What it does show is the quality of content on here is attractive to those already engaged with the sport. F1always's (and perhaps he should consider a name change!) son is probably not among those followers and is unlikely ever to be.


I want making that point

I was just pointing out to the reader that he underestimated the size of the consort here !


@ james...those are very interesting numbers that you posted. there appears to be a reason why they are what they are and climbing. IMO it is because you provide complete comment mid stream, pre race and great post race analysis. that is one way fans who either do not attend or pay for race coverage to get their F1 fix free from your site thus enabling them to stay in contact. if that is so then you are a great success story in a field of broken dreams for those that can ill afford the ridiculous sums asked for by pay tv companies.


They wont be rising after 2019 James people will lose interest


Yes James but you will see that figure decline as F1 goes dark behind Murdochs pay wall.
How ever much you gild the lily the proof will in the wilderness years starting in 2019. Sadly it will decline especially in GB.


I visit your website 290,000 times a month 😉 ( 'cos it's good )


Although I can see how the numbers work for FOM in the short term I can't see how this works for the sports sponsors or the teams. They pay incredible amounts of money to be sponsors and there is going to be dramatically less viewers to be influenced by their spend. Surely this will result in reduced revenues for the teams from sponsorship making them even more dependant on the unequal distribution of FOM payments. In addition new teams get none of that so the reduced sponsorship money will deter new entrants.

Although clearly FOM thinks the Fans are powerless perhaps now is the time to email all the sponsors thanking them for their support of the sport but explaining the impact of this decision on your likelihood to view their ongoing sponsorship and the likely impact on the return on their investment.


I would pay BT to watch F1, i wont pay Sky. Not sure what that means in the larger context, but im sure im not alone in that sentiment.


That's exactly my sentiment.
BT I would pay a small fee.
Murdochs squeeze on sport is awful & destructive globally. So Sky can blow a gibbon for all I care. Poor Gibbon ????????


Yes, me too.

I like the WRC approach for a reasonable fee you get live feeds, for a few stages, and scoring data.
FOM wouldn't do it for a reasonable fee, of course.


Murdoch really doesn't care if you want to cut off your nose to spite your face though!


he is to busy doing jerry hall ha


It's interesting to see the reaction to F1 going to PPV in the UK. In Aus. we have never had the luxury of F1 shown ar a reasonable time of day. European races usually start at 10:30pm in Eastern Australia but that coincided with the end of the Subpnday night movie so was usually delayed telecast until 12:30am. This meant that F1 never had the chance appeal to the casual viewer.
There's no such thing As a free lunch, and Free to Air TV has paid for F1 by selling ads. However, factors such as the Internet and binge-viewing mean that TV advertising revenues are falling dramatically. Even Mr Pitchford says he records the races and watches later - I bet he fast forwards past the ads.
In 2015 companies spent more dollars on worldwide digital advertising than TV for the first time ever.
I'm happy to pay my subscription to view the sport I love - I don't expect to roll up to Albert Park and get in for free.

James Clayton #fixf1

I don't think people are necessarily against the idea of having to pay for F1. What's annoying many is the excessive price they have to pay. If you are only interested in F1, and no other sports, and you've tired of the countless X-factor, Big Brother and I'm a Celebrity clones that pollute the other channels then a Sky + Sky Sports subscription is a big expense and poor value for money.

Still, I think Sky do a 24 hour online pass for a small fee. Considering how hell bent the FIA are on destroying qualifying that means you'd only need to pay up for 20 passes a year to see all the important action.


I'd be happy to pay for a subscription to watch F1 too. What I'm not happy to do is pay a whole bunch more on top of that for content I have no interest in and am never going to watch, just because that's how the single provider insists on selling it.

I paid near enough to $600 for my turn 3 seat. I'm not against having to pay for things. But I'm not paying $50-60 a month for a whole package of Foxtel nonsense just so I can watch F1 on less than half the weekends of the year. And it's not even like they're really doing anything; they're just taking the Sky F1 coverage from the UK.

In a world where exclusive deals in media are becoming increasingly idiotic and problematic, Bernie continues to sign F1 up for just that. Because in the short term it's more money. Good luck extending those deals in a few years when no one's watching anymore.


Hi Alex,

Always had to record the race mate just in case....its amazing how Murray's voice and 20 odd screaming banshees could send me off to sleep mid race.

I have had cable for about 10 yrs so am pretty stoked with all the extra F1 coverage we get now on Foxsports, but I can understand how other fans are p'd off that they don't have access to the whole season on free to air now, particularly the younger audience which is where the focus should be.


It's all about cost and access. Would you expect to pay to get in to albert park and included in the ticket price (which is now much much higher as a result) have access to 10 other attractions that you have no interest in and would never visit? I don't have an issue paying for a product I want, but see little point in paying a much higher premium because it includes other products I don't want. I don't expect to pay £10 for a banana because it includes £9 worth of sprouts, when all I wanted was a banana that is worth £1!


That analogy sums up the situation perfectly for me!


I agree with Mr.Pinchwood, having followed F1 since 1977 and the telecast that I think started in Australia in 1981 (Thanks to AJ)
As a loyal fan , suffering the late night telecasts and knowing I would be having 3 hours sleep tops before getting to work I was happy to do it.
Over the years the sponsors of the telecasts and F1 sponsors did well out of me,with various watches ,cars,tyres, petroleum products etc,
The last year or so with the pay TV infuence has been rather sad for viewer,
(yes I know its not the only sport ), we in Australia now only get "selected" races
live, and then getting a one hour highlights package 24 hours later.
Its like getting only half a race,
It is a compromise, but unfortunately I am not a half hearted fan.
I have taken up pay TV this year, but I will not be renewing it as the value is just
not there, I use about 5 channels and thats it.
Finally I understand why F1 chose its route, everyone likes to get payed, but long term I fear as Mr.P pointed out , younger fans may not be introduced as hoped.


I agree that paying for a sports package to watch 20/21 races a year is not ideal. I would consider paying per race or for a season of F1 if the price is right.


Well said Mr Pinchwood.
Thank you James for the article.

I believe that putting F1 behind a paywall will significantly reduce the number of people watching F1.
Australia has also been 'lucky' enough over the
years to be awarded F1 on free to air.
Last year I watched the Australian GP live. I got very excited about the season ahead only to find out I could only watch half of them on free tv live.
My interest waned as, like many people, my age (50) i'm a non beleiver of paying to watch tv with adverts in it. I watched less than half the GP last year. I became confusing to follow.

F1 got to where it is now thanks to free to air tv not despite it.
Are the tv feed rights not set by F1? If they are too expensive for fta tv then it is so because F1has made I
it so.
I was chatting to a friend who knew nothing about F1 and had never really watched a GP. He later watched the Australian GP and asked if we wanted to watched the next GP over a coupla beers. I explained for half an hour he will only get 10 GP this year and thr next one is on pay tv which we cant watch live. Neither of us were interested in watching a recorded event.
so F1 will now only attract new people if they have sky tv and the right package.
F1 isnt football. Its not played in the school yard.
When F1 realises it will have to go back to its poor cousin I think it will be with diminished ranks.


Most people who have Skysports do so for football, and if F1 is on at the same time as a football match I can't see footie fans watching F1. We at present have Sky HD which included F1 but the cost of Skysports is out of reach to us as we only watch F1! Kids play football and cricket at school this creates their interest, they don't race cars so where will F1 interest come to air TV is where F1 interest is generated!


We have had an interesting response to the news that F1 in the UK will be behind a paywall from 2019 onwards

Yeah, the sound of grown men crying.


James I understand the genuine concerns about future fans, my quetion is, I've read various articles on your site about the digital future of F1 broadcasting and can't help but think that by 2019 high quality online official streams will be available, at a premium of course, but I wonder if this new deal blocks that kind possibility for UK users, or we will have some kind of choice in how we consume f1 by then.
People seem to thinking about this from a pure old fashioned TV perspective and forget that online will be likely the normal distribution network for our shows, live or recorded, and our options may well be wider than we think right now, unless you know better hence the question! Thanks


None think that the Over the top services you refer to are very much part of the future but this deal means that F1 is going to do them with Sky, rather than in competition with them


You would think FOM would want to do it globally to a common standard rather than variable quality depending on the local provider.


Will that be an international FOM branded platform?


At the end of the day, long gone are the days of free entertainment. As James pointed out F1 has lasted longer than other sports. The F1 teams provide me with entertainment which has running costs which in part is paid for by TV rights, so why should F1 be any different to other business model!

M Pinchwood states that he is a passionate fan that has followed the sport for a long time, as have I and like M Pinchwood it is the only sport I follow. But unlike M Pinchwood i have excepted that you get what you pay for in the end. Nothing good is free any more so suck it up and enjoy the Sky coverage its much better than highlights and the odd live race.


I think you misunderstands the TV licence! I was paying for F1 through that thank you very much and through watching adverts on ITV, now CH4, and then buying the products displayed on the sides of the cars. Now we have to sit through adverts during build up and pay for the privilege! Maybe you like funding Mr E's bambino fund?


Thanks for the insightful article James.

It proves the commenters right though; F1's audience is no longer the fans. F1's (the business venture) audience is the highest bidder.

Sky may find itself with a billion-dollar property and no (paying) eyes to view it. Unlikely for sure, but at least plausible if things continue on the same path with the regulations and governance .


If they have 1 million viewers at 10 pounds each, that's ten million in direct income per race, plus the advertising revenue. Not sure any FTA broadcaster gets that much, so I doubt sky care!


From a US perspective I don't understand what the brits are all the whingeing about. If you had the coverage we have in the states you would be really have something to complain about. I'd gladly pay for the Sky broadcast as it's likely to be infinitely better than what we get here.


Our whinging is more to do with the amount being demanded, the fact that we have to pay for sports in which we have no interest, and that the payment is to Sky, which we identify with Murdoch. This is a man widely perceived to have used the power of his vast wealth to buy his company and favoured employees out of criminal charges of phone hacking and bribery, in much the same way that Ecclestone is perceived to have done in the German courts. Many of us here don't like him for this reason, whilst others don't care about such things 'cos getting their sport fix is more important to them.


Well I guess if you are looking to make a political statement that's your business. Personally i think that if you want to make every purchase you make a referendum on your belief system you would find no business to transact with. F1 itself props up all sort of nasty people around the world.

Paying for sports you don't have an interest in is fairly normal now. I just think the Brits have been spoiled. There's no sport I can think of where you get 100% of all the events for free over the air. Yes ideally the cable companies could unbundle everything so you could select what you want al la carte, but that's not F1s fault.


Well, think of it this way. As an American living in the US where things are reasonably priced - affordable, and you move to the UK where things are generally quite expensive, living with NMW (National Minimum [working] Wage) which is just under £12,000 at 35 hours a week 'excluding' taxes, paying high rent, high bill(s) rates, high living costs for food, drink, clothing etc., providing you want a decent life you're not going to get much change out of that wage and what you do get you're probably going to want to save up for a little cheap holiday with cheap flights, cheap hotels in Spain once a year... Would you be willing to pay £480 a year extra for the F1 (cheapest package Sky offer) which will go on top of your internet/TV/phone package £480+ a year? (Virgin Media's Medium Package, which is their cheapest and most basic, is £43 a month and that doesn't include any of the Sky Sports channels).

That's the situation with a lot of British people in the UK, and that doesn't include those with families etc., and that's why a lot of us are so unhappy about Sky F1 being the exclusive live broadcaster from 2019.


Lol. Things are reasonably priced here? My cable internet phone package for 2 TVs with F1 is probably £1500 annually.


Nothing political about my stance. It's a question of morality. I can do nothing about the presence in F1 of the Mallyas, the Ecclestones, the Briatores. But I can make a tiny, insignificant, gesture by refusing to pay money to a man who leaves behind him a slug-like trail of allegations of corruption and bribery. And in a couple of years I will reinforce it, in an entirely unnoticeable way, by turning my back on the sport, in the same way that I walked away from my life-long love, cricket, ten years ago when the ECB sold out to Murdoch

As for paying for sports in which I have no interest, that may be be normal in your world. It isn't in mine.


If you felt that strongly about it you could boycott F1 entirely. There is something you could do about it. Not being critical. Just pointing out the F1 itself can be just as bad if not worse in some regards.


Yes, I could. And if I were consistent, I would.But I'm a flawed man, and a life-long fan, you see. I became hooked on this sport when we thought it really was a sport. When there was no internet to divulge the seamier side of the characters involved, and we thought it was just about glamour and glory. The corrupting effects of money on the sport have crept up on me slowly and insideously. I try to persuade myself that they're just jack-the-lads. Loveable rogues like Bernie. Entrepeneurs like Mallya. Sporting chancers like Briatore. Nothing terribly dreadful about them, right? Wrong, but with that mindset I can continue to watch.

Murdoch, however, is beyond the pale to me. I won't enumerate here all the ways which make him so. Accounts of his dubious ways, and those of the companies he heads, are easily found. This is where my not-quite-moribund moral compass finally kicks in. I won't give him money or support and if that means giving up F1, then that's what I'll do.


As an American whose lived in London since the 2011 season I can assure you the Sky coverage is indescribably superior to the cr-a-p coverage in the USA. And that's despite having to listen to Crofty instead of my old favorite David Hobbs.


the usa only like racing in a circle for 250 laps ,give them a bend,they dont no what to seen nascar? god its boring..goes on for days ha


NASCAR is awful, yes. There's been years where it has preempted F1 when there are scheduling conflicts.


Sky used to offer a £10 a month deal for the F1 channel (I have a lucky friend who still pays that price), I'd probably pay that. But now they are making viewers pay for the full sports package. I don't watch football, darts, tennis and whatever else they it's a bit of a waste of cash for me to fork out. I know what you mean about the US coverage though, I've watched a few while visiting my brother in the States, it'd pretty bad compared to the UK coverage.


My experiences with f1 is exactly the same as
M Pinchwood only I started watching in the early 80s in Australia and that meant getting up at all hours of the night, but I never missed a race. 2015 was the first time I didn't watch every race because of the pay tv deal.
A lot has happened in my life over 35 years and f1 has been a big part of it and it's sad, that I think it's coming to an end.
PS Our family went to the Australian gp and loved it.


So many people say they have never missed a race. I don't know how you do it. I count myself dedicated and have been watching since the 60s but I have missed loads, especially before video recorders, life keeps getting in the way.


In Australia if you are a dedicated fan all you have to do is get up in the middle of the night and that's what you did


In Australia if you are a dedicated fan all you had to do is get up in the middle of the night


Hi James

A few questions....

So how much are Sky paying a year for this new deal? You said about a billion pounds over six years..

Also, I would be fascinated to know if ITV or Channel 4 were even given the opportunity to bid for exclusive rights beyond 2018. I get the sense Sky came to Bernie and said "we're only interested in exclusivity from 2019 onwards and we're prepared to pay £XXX and Bernie took the offer". Do you think this is what happened? If so, why? Why would Bernie not establish whether Channel 4 or ITV would be prepared to pay up, or even share the rights with half the races live each?

Finally, why do you think the highlights are more likely to end up on ITV rather than Channel 4? Is your hunch that this is likely to end up as prime time highlights on ITV on a Sunday evening or ITV4 on a Monday?




I think it was a war between BT Sport and Sky, they've battled over football, rugby and now F1

I think the highlights model may work better with ITV but we'll see how F1 goes on C4. Not the obvious home for it


To be honest, I'm not sure if you've seen the C4 F1 highlights coverage James, I thought the C4 F1 team done a fantastic job. The production by Whisper Films is sleek, modern and streamlined especially with the on screen graphics they're currently using and the team, which in Australia featured DC and Ben Edwards on commentary, Mark Webber, Karun Chandhok, Steve Jones (done a great job presenting) and Lee McKenzie were utterly fantastic and we are yet to see the rest of the C4 F1 team.

I do hope C4 F1 carry on beyond 2019, I'd be perfectly happy with the highlights on the Saturday and Sunday. Even Martin Brundle has recently stated F1 can both exist on FTA TV and pay/subscription TV.


maybe C4 is appropriate. Is'nt that an explosive used in all forms of demolition.


its a pity BT lost out, the channel 4 courage is very bad(was last week) on the highlights, that steve jones is terrible,come back suzi perry all is forgiven..


I will not pay separately to watch F1 unless already included with my cable package as is now the case in the US. I see FI as unable to do a good job of marketing to the masses. With recent qualifying elimination missteps and the constant rule race changes,I will most likely br opting out. F1 is certainly not moving in the right direction for the fans.


It's a money grab pure and simple. Does it have to be that way? People have died for the spirit behind this competition. It's more than a commodity it's a human endeavour. And like so many others, greed has got hold of it and prostituted it for all it's worth. Corporations are hijacking our own heritage and selling it back to us. Some people have no shame.
Who wants to build their own car and come racing with me?


There are lots of forms of motor sport not tainted by greed you could join in with.
I'm particularly fond of hovercraft racing which has a lovely friendly feel to it where people do it because they love it and you can chat to the world champion by the burger van.


F1 has been broken for some time.

The thought of paying Murdoch to watch sixteen flatulent cars fart their way around soulless Tilke designed circuits in some nameless dictatorship country with (allegedly) state of the art pit facilities, driven by bored, robotic drivers is a step too far and has killed it for me.

I'm off to ride my bicycle on Sunday afternoons instead.


I live in the USA wher nothing is free.... Except for the NFL almost everything is on Pay TV, where by cable or satellite you have to pay. The fees are usually between $50 and $120 and most homes subscribe. Currently F1is on NBCSP network which also has hockey and othe minor (in the US) sports, so it is available to most folks who have disposable income. I gather that the current arrangements in the UK has some free and some pay. This new arrangement will be 95% pay, the UK race being free. With the higher fee structure in the UK, there certainly will be a drop in viewership, the question is will F1 continue to have widespread support. I personally doubt it will and thereis a serious probability the contract will not survive its full term as happend in Germany in the 90's.
The whole basis of F1 support in the UK will be eroded and within a decade will be as popular as say, hockey...... Not an attractive prospect for long term planning. By then Bernie will have passed and probably CVC sold the rights to someone else, so the declining future of F1will be someone elses problem, not that Bernie or CVC care about anything other than immediate profits...


I go back to the days of Moss racing, and actually saw his career ending crash live on the Beeb if I remember correctly. In those days it was pretty hit and miss watching anything but a snippet on the evening news of who had won. Then in the nineties coverage was live, and living in California I would get up in the early hours to watch any race. In the 2000's there wasn't anything covered in America if you didn't have cable, and I didn't have it. So it was scrambling around on the computer at 4:30am looking for a bootleg feed of a race feed....which sometimes would be blocked by Bernie, so another search would ensue......and I knew people around the world doing the same thing. Of course the point of all this was to get it free, and we did most of the time. I didn't mind paying for cable if I could choose what I wanted to watch....but I didn't want gardening and cooking and instructions on how to watch paint dry! Just give me what interests me....but of course that wasn't possible, so I voted with my wallet.
Now I live in SouthEast Asia and watch all races live on Sky. I am paying for this these days through some third party, but includes all the sports, movies, TV, and more stuff than I want to see. But I am retired now and that gives me time and money to see these things. Is racing better now than fifty years ago....not really, but I like seeing my drivers still alive at the end of their careers. The cars Prost and Senna drove at McLaren would be a good reference for changing the sport. Remove all the winglets and any other appendages and have just a simple front and rear wing. Then cars could pass each other on the straights at 200mph....that was thrilling and a spectacular sight. Do I still love the sport? Yes, absolutely. Do I like the political correctness of the drivers? No, they are not robots. Can I follow all the changes and rules that are made each year? No, I don't care about how many types of tyre are available. I just remember Mansell at the British GP going in for new tyres and storming after Picquet and passing I remember what the tyre bloody clue! Will F1 survive? I think so, but with maybe only with a hard core of fans. Why do we love sports? Because it is one of the few things that will surprise us in our day to day lives, the outcome is unpredictable.....most of the time. Thanks James for a great website. Yours is quite different to the rest of them, and I am sure that is the aim. Always stimulating articles with many thinking outside the box. Keep up the good work.


Hi David,

Well said mate, I also remember grooved tyres and fast cars being stuck behind slower cars with little or no option to overtake. Do you like DRS? Or see it as artificial?


"The UK F1 fan has been able to watch F1 free to air in some form for longer than fans of most other sports and it’s not surprising that they are unhappy to lose that privilege."

Here is how that sentence would read in a sane world:

"F1 has been able to access UK audiences of 5-10 million in some form for longer than most other sports and it’s not surprising that they are unhappy to lose that privilege."

Because, to be sure, that really is a privilege, and one that is at the heart of F1's success in this country. Football and cricket have a deep-rooted cultural significance that doesn't depend on TV coverage, but F1 doesn't.


Or.... "F1 has been able to access UK audiences of 5-10 million in some form for longer than most other sports and it is surprising that they are happy to lose that privilege."


I wonder how much consideration was given to the value of that free access to viewers for the teams. From the point of view of FOM it certainly seems to make sense in the short term, however I find myself wondering how this will affect team budgets. As F1 moves behind a paywall in more and more markets will sponsorship become less and less attractive? We already have several teams lacking a title sponsors, and I can't help but feel that in boardrooms plans to spend millions to put a logo on the car that only viewers willing to pay $100 a month will see will become harder than ever to justify. But I am sure the CVC will be dispersing all this increased income to the teams to compensate ;).


Sadly the sign of progress as distasteful as it may seem as we lose our free-view access to F1 races. However the up-side of pay-to-view is the ability to record races and watch them at one's leisure especially in Aus where most races are on at inconvenient times. For $80 pm it is well worth it when there are other sports to watch like rugby, cricket, tennis etc. Here in Adelaide we pay $40 to watch a live T20 cricket match at our wonderful Oval and if one gets roughly two GPs a month with all the angles and commentary I reckon it is very good value.
Perhaps I was conditioned to accepting a pay-TV access having lived in Zimbabwe for many years where the only access to F1 was pay-TV via Super-Sport.
Hopefully F1 won't lose too many potential fans with the latest developments however, all sports are competing for a fan base so it will make it very competitive. That said F1 has always been a bit of a niche sport and comparatively few followed the sport in the 60s and 70s when I started out. I well recall being introduced to the TV medium in the mid-late 80s with Murray Walker's commentaries. Was it that we were all rather spoilt by that free-access?


I'm from Australia and while F1 hasn't gone 100% paywall yet it is certainly heading in that direction, with only a handful of races on free to air.

I've been religiously following F1 since Senna's JPS Lotus days, but since the move to pay tv over here I rarely watch races.

The problem with this move is the timing. To be honest the last couple of seasons the racing has been the most boring I've seen and certainly not worth paying to watch. Problem is even if they fix the racing so its worth watching again no one will know because its stuck behind a paywall.


I think there are two big problems with the move to exclusive pay TV deals. One is that it reduces the opportunity to draw in new fans, and the other is the turn off to existing fans who won't or can't pay. The latter is exacerbated by the way that the pay TV companies package content. In Australia the only way to get F1 on Foxtel is with their sport bundle, which is $50 per month. I'd happily pay a reasonable fee for good live coverage, but not $600 per year when I'm not going to use the rest of the channel.


My my how the mighty will fall.

F1 fan: already paid for the tv, electricity, tv licence, subjected to the the advertising plastered all over the cars and circuits, and ad break advertising - now they expect fans to pay for the veiwing privilege? Hahaha...


Often read the comments but never write any but have to totally agree with this. Here in Australia Channel 10 sold their rights onto Foxtel. The result only some races being shown live. Most of the race times work well here with the race starting at 10:30pm after the rest of the family has gone to bed, leaving me to grab a drink and settle in to watch the race. Apart from the Canada/America etc races which start at 2am, I have watched every race live for many years until last year. With often over a month between races shown on free to air live, my interest slowly declined over the year. Till even the ones which were on free to air I didn't watch as my interest in the season was lost.

I have started this year keeping up to date with testing and the first race but will see what happens given I won't see a race for another month.

Similar to the article, given that most of my subscribed watching is now netflix, I can't justify foxtel simply to watch Formula 1, so the sport will slowly lose another viewer and attendance


I think it fair enough to pay something for sporting content - however if paying a premium price you would expect a premium product. At this point in time F1 does not classify as a premium product in my opinion - pay drivers, DRS, tyre manipulation to create temporary excitement etc. as such will not be watching if have to pay for F1 viewing but probably won't be watching if free to air also.


Its simple but sad really that I feel I have to do it but do what I do get a free sat box tune to another european sat stream and put radio 5 live on for the Commentary it seems like a pain but it is very simple.


For some reason I am in the lucky position of being able to watch SKY F1 as a legacy channel when it was bundled with the HD package. Since then I've switched from watching it on the BBC, where I liked the presenters, to Sky for the more in-depth coverage and as SKY do the do it well.

My dilemma will come if I lose the legacy access to Sky F1 and have to pay the full price for Sky sports. Will I pay, probably not.

I could watch it via Now TV on a race by race basis but is that cost effective for SD quality, not really.


I think a good few people are in that position. (The many casual viewers who just watch highlights will just disappear.)

F1 fans will not pay to help some English 2nd division footballer to replace his written off Maserati with a Bentley with gold and black wheels whilst treating women and girls he meets like dirt through greed and arrogance.

Going from a licence fee + Sky fee to a licence fee + massive increase in Sky fee will not be tolerated. They will either quit, or look at things like streaming sites, tor browser, tpb torrents, diy sat receivers for rtl etc with 5live radio, or even using a friend or relatives SkyGo login.

F1 will never sell internet rights itself, it would never stream races at a reasonable price to hit a big audience. It's too backwards and would want way too much money up front. It could never be the app seller that sells millions of units at 99c/79p, it would want $50/£30 a go. A bit like the expensively poor annual cost for their data app while they stop the website data being as good as it was. F1 is a greed dinosaur, the music publisher that wants £19.99 per album and would never sell the mp3s individually for 79p.

NOBODY cares that F1 gets more money from the exclusive PPV Sky monopoly as NOBODY cares for a CVC fatcat's holiday mansion, or for Tamara's new swimming pools, or for whoever's new nose-job.

Sad days for F1 indeed.


Wonder if it would be possible to have a 'pay per view' idea from either the TV rights holder or the F1 corporation itself? For any given race, no matter where you live, you can go to their website, pay a fee and be able to live stream the race. No mucking around with a yearly package which includes all sorts of stuff you don't want, just pay a reasonable amount with your credit card and watch either the race or get access to the whole weekend - whichever one you choose to pay for....I would go for that but probably wouldn't buy a yearly package.


Well i'm sorry to hear that for all the UK fans, I think we will get that as well in Australia in the future, they are only showing half the races live and the rest is only highlights, and I really dislike highlights.

To everyone saying they will stop watching you can always download the F1 sky coverage torrent the next day, I know this is probably illegal but hey... everyone does it!


You can watch SKY F1 HD torrents live quite easily, there are a number of feeds easily available. Take you pick.


Typing on a phone keyboard ain't easy 😉


Missed an opportunity. BT sport would have made a better partner even if the offered slightly less money. They have a larger consumer base than Sky. There is long term planning from Ecclestone since CVC are only interested in a " Pump and Dump".


I am reading this and realizing: I do not even have a TV!


Well goodbye F1 then, that's a shame, such a waste of a great sport

Edward Valentine

Formula 1 has become a race to the bottom. It is beginning to show all of the hallmarks of a bubble. I'm a sky sports subscriber and enjoy the coverage but F1 needs to be live on FTA. Fingers crossed that there will be a breakaway series for FTA that listens to fans with Ferrari, Williams and McLaren singing up. I really hope F1 goes bust if a breakaway dose not happen.


Soundly put Bruno.
Sad powers that be prefer to alienate their audience rather than embrace them.
Instead they prefer to wrap themselves in profits and create a low audience package & have F1 attached to the rear sphincter of Murdochs Sky satellite channel. I also will swap to another motorsport sport in 2019.


My main problem with Sky Sports F1 is that you cannot just subscribe to it as a standalone channel but are forced into the Sky Sports package at roughly £30p/m. I have no interest in football and will not be forced into paying their wages!


This isn't the first time that all live sessions and races have been behind a paywall, remember FOM's F1 channel!
Pay TV provides one thing, access. The BBC, who backed out of two contracts not one as mentioned above, and ITV never provided the same level of coverage as Sky. Yes things evolve over time, but terrestrial broadcasters do not have the air time, or the commitment to provide full coverage.


What M.Pinchwood said regarding the value for money for 20/21 races is spot on.

I live in Australia and to date our FTA deal has very much mirrored that of the UK.

I myself would enjoy all the extra behind the scenes and interviews during the whole weekend, as a F1 race is so much more than the 2 hours on the Sunday.

However the Pay TV offering on Foxtel here just isn't worth it for me. Always said that I would not get Pay TV as it's not worth while, UNLESS, Sports.

Over here we're asked to pay AUS$50 a month for the basics to get Sports, PLUS AUS$10 a month to get it in HD (don't get me started on that one) Plus any other initial install cost.

To me it's not worth while paying AUS$720 to watch 21 F1 races.

The V8 Supercar series here in Australia took the same path in the last few years, airing only 5 races on FTA out of the 15 Race weekends (I'm excluding the non-championship race at the Aust F1 GP Weekend that is FTA) Which I guess I may watch more of if I payed for Foxtel Sports.

For me, I would love to see F1 with an online streaming Pay Per View system. I'll easily pay $30 to watch everything on a race weekend. Paying for only the weekends I can watch the race live. (notably missing Canada, US and Brazil).

With social media these days, once I know the result of a race, it's hard to then sit and watch a race, even just highlights of a race, I don't see the point. In 2015 I often stayed off Social Media, TV, and radio to avoid spoilers on the Monday of a non FTA races, till I was able to watch the full race in, shall we say, less official ways.

I do understand the business side of F1 and the huge lump sum SKY deal is certainly more attractive to an unknown pay per view system. But time will tell if this will work or not long term wise. Otherwise it will either be like a "father son" thing for new fans, or a slowly dying sport.

WEC anyone?


I think you hit upon some key points right at the end of this piece: is the incredible cost of a Sky Sports package (for someone without any Sky package, that's several hundred pounds per year) worth it for 21 events per year? Absolutely not.

And, like you, I think a lot of UK F1 fans grew up watching Mansell and Hill, are now at an age where F1 is still enjoyable, but has to be balanced with family and other lifestyle commitments.

Football survived the translation to pay TV because it is given wall to wall encouragement in the media (several pages of print every single day in every single newspaper) and culture, to the point where it excludes sport. Again in the 80s and 90s, football was just one of a range of sports to follow. These days there is football and everything else.


I do not have sky, as a household in a he uk we are happy with Freeview and a 2 device Netflix subscription. Plus rent and stream the odd movie. To get Sky F1 I need the basic package plus sky sports, £546 per year. As the British GP will stay free to view the other 20 races will cost £27.30 each. How many people who like F1 and do not have sky will take on this expense?


Having been an avid F1 fan since the mid Seventies I have surprised myself in how quickly I have become disillusioned by F1 -'to the point where I cancelled my (ever increasing) Sky subscription at the end of last year. It is clear that "the management" are only interested in making as much money in the short term out of the business before it dies in their hands. The teams just keep quiet and hope that some of the extra revenue trickles down to them as they can no longer attract mainstream title sponsors (I wonder why that could be?). Meanwhile the fans and drivers are in despair over what is happening to the sport they love, and traditional tracks are getting pushed out in the relentless pursuit of a fast buck. What happens when the manufacturers that now dominate the paddock can no longer justify their investment due to cost, silly rules, loss of fan base, lack of exposure etc. I think if talk of a breakaway series resurfaced now, it would have a greater chance of succeeding than ever before.


I just can't imagine paying £550-£800 per year to watch live races. Or whatever it will cost in 2019. I would not mind if the subscriptions were reasonable (rolling contracts + maybe £20 per month?)

Currently it is £546 for the whole year, so will no doubt be further price gouged in 2019 when Sky know its the only way to watch races live in the UK.

Plus the contracts are a minimum 12 -18 month!?

This is terrible news for UK viewers.


The post from M Pinchwood at the end of the article nails it for me. It describes me perfectly. I have children and if I decide not to go down the sky route will my child be a follower of F1 as I have become it may happen but is much more unlikely without the exposure I had as a child!


Money talks. Everyone already knows F1 is a business not a sport. In other sports you don't have paying athletes,or championships won thanks to the machine. Fans are disappointed and threaten to end watching F1 but why didn't they do it before when Ferrari and a few top teams ruled the whole sport with their vetos and money? Or when tobacco companies were allowed for so many years to still advertise their deadly products on F1? I mean the fans who are still watching this boring F1 will still watch it on Sky sports. The ones who had the will to stand up against F1(if any) have already stopped following F1.


I'd like to see the average global tv audience figures for an F1 race.
Forget selling the rights to Television..Why don't FOM produce their product in-house and sell it direct to the end doesn't get much more niche if a website is the only place you can see it live.
$5US per weekend could earn over half a billion dollars for one race weekend. x21


the pay tv deal is just another battle in the f1 war that is engulfing the sport. basically the sport will end up being owned by a large media company and the road car manufacturers. there will be a number of different brands like alfa romeo, aston martin etc but they'll be basically badge engineered a bit like haas or even more so. with the sport in the hands of powerful conservative corporations i don't there's much future for f1 as we used to know it. all the neweys of this world will shuffle off and do something else. there will be no room for engineering innovators. the whole thing will be a bit like one of those super expensive elite golf clubs. just another place to do business. the boring conservative dark grey managerial suits like to rub shoulders with f1 drivers because they think they can bask in the reflected glory of the gladiators. it's that pathetic.


As M Pinchwood alludes to there is a strong element of instant gratification in the deal. CVC are trading the entire fabric of the sport and th fan base it has grown up upon to reap big dollars. There is no such thing as a free lunch and while they obviously find the money attractive in the short term (remember CVC have already received their initial investment back many times over) the business model is fundamentally flawed with no tangible fan base beyond 10 years from now. Bernie will be dead soon and not long after that all those that care about the sport will be gone too. That is what happens when you take the sport out of F1


I wont be paying for F1 races unless the money was distributed fairly between teams, FIA actually listened to drivers views like making it easier to follow a car in front so we can get rid of the drs. At least 26 cars on the grid and for lap records to be broken again


I will likely switch off from F1 in 2019 with this new deal. I've no problem paying for sports as I do with BT sports. However the costs of that are significantly better value for money than Sky sports for me.

Moto GP went behind a pay wall a few years ago. However you can watch it online for around £160 a season, which is a bit expensive personally for one sport but obviously cheaper than taking out the relevant TV packages for many. The highlights they put out on itv 4 seem short at 1hr but are essentially a full Moto GP rerun (the races are a lot shorter). Moto 2 and 3 get reduced to news bulletins and you lose any build up and post race analysis. Ironically it was those highlights that drew me in due to the little time investment I needed. So for the more casual viewer Moto GP hasn't done them over so much.


Naturally I'm upset by this news too. I'm interested to know how live streaming and F1-only PPV might roll out. I don't mind paying a fair amount for a decent product, but I don't want to pay more for content I have no interest in.

The teams' perspective is interesting. There has been a deafening silence, presumably as they look at the pay off they'll receive as a result of Sky's deal. Offset that against potential sponsorship income, though, which is largely predicated on eyeball views. Already teams are struggling to justify the value to sponsors. In tandem with the shift to pay TV, the profile of team sponsorship has shifted from mass market goods and FMCG brands (cigarettes, booze, foods, drinks) to more abstract service providers (insurance, banking, online services) and now to B2B deals related to the motor industry. Red Bull, Force India and Williams are about the only teams with a 'sponsorship' profile of mass market consumer brands. The rest are either locked into B2B deals, or trying to project a high-end premium image, or simply don't have any sponsors. This is significant because I think it shows F1's shift away from 'the man in the street' and more toward a sense if it being exclusive and orientated more toward deal making inside the paddock as opposed to having a mass popular appeal. Pay TV simply propigates that - fewer overall viewers, but better likelihood of viewers of the Rolex-wearing type.
Accepting this quietly will simply be the teams taking a further short-sighted step toward F1's popular irrelevance.


Whilst we all accept the reasoning behind accepting the Murdoch shilling, there are ample examples of sports that have gone behind paywalls in the UK and not thrived.
The buzz surrounding the 2005 ashes was in no small way due to the fact that casual viewers were able to follow the last few hours play on C4.
The Ryder cup has gone from essential viewing to also ran - the Masters and Open following hard behind. Golf clubs memberships are in crisis and exposure is in decline - coincidence.
British boxers used to be household names but you would be hard pressed to name more than a couple nowadays - and not really for the right reasons.
And we can all hold football as the shining example but that is to forget that before Sky and the EPL there were only a handful of non-internationals and FA cup games on every year. Sky invented the live football concept, they didn't adopt and improve it.
Cricket, rugby league, golf and others all accepted the big money offers to go non-terrestrial for the good of the sport at all levels. All are left scratching their heads and wondering where the audience and sponsors went.
I am not left filled with vitriol, just an extreme sadness that the boy who grew up with an cutaway view poster of Niki Lauda's MP4/2 on his bedroom wall should now feel so disillusioned by a sport that doesn't feel any of the loyalty to me I have for it.
1988 MP4/4, Red 5, May 1994, Japan 1996 and so many other past memories but I'm not sure how many future ones.


Formula 1 is getting a lot of attention from an average sports lover mainly because of excellent TV coverage given by Star Sports,

This is a great boost to our Sports Company's efforts to popularize F1 GP races around the world from the point of view of Sports Tourism.

Kirti Patel
M/s. Sanver Sports Private Limited
Mumbai, India

Matthew Cheshire

What is the affect on sponsors and manufacturers? They provide a huge amount of funding for the sport and must be alarmed at the sport becoming invisible to so many consumers.

The other angle here is formula 1 isn't the only form of racing. Unlike football, there are serious alternatives like moto gp, WEC, WRC, even NASCAR. GP2 isn't much slower now. Will formula e become a threat in a few years?

If you wanted to sabotage F1 there are numerous ways to do it. Kill the spectacle with less speed and noise, change the rules in confusing and random ways, ditch traditional venues, add bad ones, allow costs to spiral and short change the competing teams. Ignore new media and Hike up fees until venues go broke, and if all that isn't working fast enough, get rid of the fans on free to air?

Has there been a single positive from F1 management in the last decade?


It easy to see why they took the money. Yes they are greedy so and so's who couldn't care less about the people who actually enable this beast to be called a business, namely, us, the fans. We sit and watch the adverts we buy the memorabilia etc etc. Now the sport is saying 'we hate you poor people go get a job and buy a Rolex'. Well go fund yourselves Bernie and Rupert as I certainly won't be.


" is a business after all...."
No it's not. It's a sport and simple greed is taking it away from the fans.


James, all far too reasonable. Real anger is necessary !


Well let's look at the evidence. Boxing, Cricket, Champions league all in decline in terms of audience figures. Cricket in particular is dying at grass roots and ticket sales except 20/20.
Sky have a very large ball and it's their game and they can and do as they please. Golf has sold and Wimbledon is next, but we still have bowls and snooker!
Let me throw a suggestion to all terrestrial channels, boycott all sport for 2 years no sport at all don't even show highlights results or even acknowledge anything. Then let's see what the sports sponsors do and how the sport is affected. Hard as it will be to take for us, better a punch in the face instead of a series of stinging jabs.
As for Formula 1 never has so much been taken from so many by so few, the pinnacle of motor sport is on the edge now and I can see the smaller teams breaking away which will be a good thing. Just leave Mercedes Ferrari and Red bull to have a six car series.
A very sad day so good bye F1 I am switching off now, as for Bernard E at 85 Are you really upto it and as for Murdoch .........!!!!!


Socialism socialism socialism. To hell with the capitalist accumulation of wealth, by the few, at the expense of masses and masses of people. F1, constitute a portion of the enhancement of existence for me, but I can't pay sky this damn money; I must consume my fruits and vegetables. Truly, the capitalists art thou but a dunce, and dost not know the garment from the man. Every harlot was a virgin once; now how can we change Kate back to nan. Revolt Revolt Revolt. Bring me my bow of burning Gold; Bring me my arrow of desire; Bring me spear, o cloud unfold; Bring me my chariot of fire. I am so full of pain inside; there can be no dancing for me today. You don't worry about me, I have taken my medication. He he he.


Hi James, I have read elsewhere that the cricketing world are gnashing their teeth over this very thing that F1 is about to embark on. Cricket went exclusively to sky, and the extra funds have paid for fabulous elite facilities and all sorts of other things, so huge upside in the short term but there are many in cricket that are seeing the long term downside, falling membership at every-day cricket clubs. Now it's up for debate whether the two are strictly connected, but I firmly believe that if any sport is to maintain the needed constant renewal of its fans, it has to have access to the casual viewer, it's in fact crucial! The enthusiast (your fans connecting with you here) are not the long term problem, the long term problem is attracting the casual viewer to become a enthusiast, and that will never happen with the sport behind a paywall! Remember housewives and all other casual viewers getting entranced as Kevin Pietersen battled the Australians in the ashes? This connected cricket to the casual viewer but this will now never happen again, and this is why, I believe as do many others, cricket club's memberships are falling...there's now no way to remind the casual viewer to take their son/daughter to the cricket club because it's a fantastic sport! This will happen with F1 too, short term this is great for the coffers of the sport, long term it's consignng the sport back to being a niche....!


F1 has been over run by greed.Its nature as the pinnacle of motor racing as been sadly undermined by the greed of individuals.It was not as such an industry but simply a sport.Now it is a very niche heavily commercialised activity which has become a vehicle for treating money for many.The insane pay levels of many drivers amongst other things are responsible for the demise of the sport.There is no way that many of us fans will pay any part of Murdoch's empire for F1 viewing.I remember Milly Dowler and the abuse the parents suffered at the hands of Murdoch and his acolytes .Somewhere we have to make a stand.


It really is a shame. I thought I'd continue to watch the MotoGp when it went highlights only on terrestrial, but I've found myself just looking at the results online. I got tired of being annoyed that I'd accidentally seen the results before the highlights. And you know what, as much as I love the bikes...I've found that after years of watching live I can actually live without it, I watch the odd highlights package, but generally not. It's going to be much harder to avoid seeing the F1 results before any type of next day highlights package goes to air. I'll still keep up with whats going on via the internet of course, but I can't afford Sky Sports...too much cash for just two days a month of racing. Hope the BTCC stays free!


One point that needs to be looked at with the comparison with the Premier League is how important that is to the Sky business model. Without football on Sky in the UK it would lose many, many subscribers. The amount they've spent on F1 is just a drop in the ocean to Sky and is quite the reflection on how little F1 is actually worth.

We're all passionate fans on this site, I'm guessing with a heavy weighting in the UK. So we're not going to like this move.

Soon Lewis Hamilton's social media followers will very much outweigh the amount of UK fans engaging with F1. Now I wonder who's promoting F1 and the sponsors more effectively?


WHAT?! They are idiots or what?
We make kneejerk decision, we decide to ditch it, no, we decide to stick with it.

I have no words to express my disappointment!
Mr.E must go. If he wasn't there, the governing would be a step better


For me, it's like a long time friend saying "sorry man, you're not rich enough to be friends with me anymore". Sayonara F1.


Let's try to look at it from another point of view.
I've never been to UK nor watched Sky, as I live in Poland.
Until 2013 we've had FTA coverage on a private Polsat channel.
In 2014 and 2015 we didn't know until last hours, whether we would be able to watch F1 at all, as F1 deal was announced around the beginning of the first racing weekend. It wasn't FTA anymore, as it was shifted into Polsat Sport channel, available on various platforms in bundles starting from something like 5 euro per month (including a legal stream).
This year F1 coverage moved to Eleven Sports channel, which is available on various platforms (not exactly the same ones as last year, however) as an additional offer for about 4 euros per month; it's not available yet thru CP - the largest satellite platform, which offers plenty of channels in their standard bundles ranging from 5 to 40 euro per month (well, prices in Poland are still somewhat lower in UK). I've watched Melbourne on 4euro/month stream...
I am aware that Poland ain't as big F1 market as UK, with some 300-400k viewers last two seasons and at least twice as much under FTA (can't remember the figures from Kubica's seasons). I see Sky acting in a similar way to CP - and I think there is some light ahead for UK viewers.


I don't understand why manufacturers and sponsors don't raise their voices as they need a broad audience to justify their marketing investment.


The problem I have with Sky is that they will not allow anyone to take just the F1 package, you have to take the whole sports package for £30 or thereabouts. This is either on sky or virgin. If I could have just the F1 for £8 or £10 per month, which must be about what they are charging, I would do so, but there is nothing on the other sports channels, most of the year, that I have any interest in.


My views match that of M Pinchwood.
I started following F1 in 1992, was (and still am) a Mansell fan.
Now in my 40s with a young family, I don't have the luxury of watching every race live so highlights/full length delayed broadcast on free to air suits me.
Are F1 and Sky etc. putting too much emphasis on the value of the live product. specially as the live consumption will drift to web/mobile/social media etc.
Also I don't think F1 will drive punters to the pubs on a sunday afternoon (or 6am in the morning) to watch F1 on Sky's platform, like in football.


Brilliant article as always. I'm glad to see you refer to the Murdoch empire's unsavory practices as a reason why fans might feel inclined not to follow F1 onto sky - i thought i was the only one that had that issue!

Similarly to M Pinchwood, i've been a fan of F1 since childhood and I would definitely not have been hooked if it had been on pay TV as i wouldnt have had access as a kid. It seems to me that the F1 community is mostly indifferent to it's fans as long as the bottom line remains healthy in the short-term.


I'm 19 years old, started to watch F1 in 2013. That year was the last year of F1 free to air in Croatia. If I haven't started then, I would never have started because where would I see F1 for free. I go to high school and from 1000 students there are maybe two or three that watch F1 including me. In my cousin's primary school nobody is watching F1.Everyone is watching football and nobody is talking about F1.


Well I'm 20. But there's no surer way of p*ssing off a lot of older users by making a big deal about your young age.

But I agree with your sentiments. I'm not sure anyone from my former school would have got up to watch the Australian Grand Prix's qualifying and race.

I guess using your feet to put a ball in a net is much more thrilling than modern gladiators travelling around the world and racing wheel to wheel at speeds near 200mph.


Shalan, thanks for the reply. I am glad to hear that I am not the only rare jewel around 20 on this site. I agree with you, maybe we shouldn't mention how old we are...
James, any ideas on the age structure on this site (I know, it's impolite)?


Yes, the majority between 25-34 and 35-44.

Andrew Halliday

M Pinchwood makes some good points and I thought I'd add my own views to the topic.
Until 2003 I watched all my F1 on TV in Australia. Back then we had Daryl Eastlake and Alan Jones sitting in a studio on a Sunday night chating for 5-10 minutes before crossing to the UK coverage just before the lights went out. After the (ad interrupted) race, we'd get the FIA driver interviews then it would be game over.
When I moved to the UK I was amazed by the ITV coverage. The commentary was provided by the happily familiar tones of James Allen and Martin Brundle and I was also able to watch a proper build up to the race that was live from the track. The fact that qualifying was also on TV was an added bonus!
Fast forward to 2016 - I have the F1 channel through my sports package on Virgin Media, which I would have regardless of whether F1 was on Sky as I watch a number of other sports. It's great that I can watch every single session of F1 live and that there's a lot of additional coverage (in some ways there's too much coverage - an hour and a half before the race and a couple of hours after can sometimes seem a bit long). I've still got Martin Brundle's expert commentary (which has been a constant since I started watching F1 in 1997) and my favourite driver of all time, Damon Hill, is part of the team. It's also great that Ted Kravitz is still around with his knowledge and wit.
I'm lucky enough to go to 3 or 4 races a year so I spend a fair bit on F1. I can easily justify the cost of Sky Sports F1 as I'd have Sky Sports anyway and I'd agree with M Pinchwood that I've probably been a bit brainwashed by F1 advertising (do I really need Pirelli tyres? Or Shell fuel? I guarantee if I was a smoker I'd be on the Marlboros!) So the new TV deal isn't going to affect me as I'll be watching anyway. My main concern is that other people who might only have a passing interest in F1 or who are not yet F1 fans will no longer have the opportunity to engage with this sport. Also those that don't wish or can't afford to pay for Sky Sports.


Spare a thought for the poor husbands out there married to frugal wives, who have tolerated their mans F1 interest on TV while it's been free.

Not an ice cubes chance in hell of getting approval to buy a TV subscription to watch F1!


I have been a fan since before TV coverage of F1 started (we may have had the odd British GP if there was a leading British driver) and worked in the business part time from 1971 and full time from 1976 to 2009.
I don't watch TV much, so have no interest in a general Sky subscription. When they first took on the F1 coverage I tried to get a "just F1" package but it isn't available.
Their coverage is good, I have seen it when giving a talk to guests at Williams conference centre and watching a few times at a friend's house.
I will not be buying it though, it would be like having to buy one of everything in the supermarket and discarding everything except the leg of lamb I actually wanted.
I understand why the F1 promotor takes more money, otoh for the teams, who's sponsorship income is audited based on the tv audience, this is a catastrophe.
At the moment the promotor already gets a disproportionate slice of the F1 income in my opinion. Screwing the teams and fans for even more is understandable but forgive me if I think it stinks big time.

Andrew Halliday

Great to hear from Frank, the man famous for his love of tea. I remember reading an interesting article about you in F1 Racing a few years back when you were working for Williams. Great stuff.


I can see Sky paying itv & C4 lots of money to move Pick TV to their PSB group so they can pick up the extra viewers and keep hold of their sports and do a BT. So they can choose which matches/races/games etc are simulcast FTA and how they're shown etc


F1 coverage in Canada has always been an additional channel/package purchase. I gave up cable TV a long time ago. Even then the coverage of a race started just before lights out and ended when the chequered flag flew. Sometimes you didn't even get the post race interviews.

I think it's fair to say that if F1 still had the same pull as it did for me in the Mansell days I might have kept cable to watch the races but it doesn't. I can't really put my finger on what changed but old men trying to make as much money as possible is part of it.


A cogent analysis, James, which nails the financial reason for the change. However M Pinchwood is spot-on when it comes to the long-term ability of F1 to attract children. The habit of watching F1 will be mainly inherited from parents and fewer non-Sky kids will latch on. Whether this is a significant factor is impossible to predict.


Paying for a service is all well and good, but I need to feel I am in control regardless of time, device, medium or location.

Take the music industry. We've moved from an ownership model (records, tapes, CDs) to an access model (subscribe and fill your boots). Now, F1 was never about ownership per se, but the access model is the new world order and sport in general has been slow to pick up on it.

Imagine now a Netflix for F1 (or any sport for that matter), where I can watch everything I want as it happens (live), or at my leisure (replay - either streaming or download). I have access to all of the great behind-the-scenes content, but also I can go back and relive the rich history of the sport by replaying entire seasons if I wish (and I wish!) - all for a flat access fee.

Actually, there could be a free/low-cost 'light' version with ads, and a premium all-singing package ad-free (for me paying a hefty amount for a service and then being subjected to incessant advertising is a fairly annoying aspect of the current TV model).

I appreciate the business model for F1 as sport is niche, and that makes the model somewhat harder to implement/generate meaningful returns, but the viewership potential is significant if you could (re)capture even a slice of the worldwide viewership numbers from the salad days of the sport.

I'm sure this access model will come; I'm just rather hoping it will be in my lifetime.


By the way James, can I change this name for instance, haven already posted with this email.


Fans clearly don't like reduced access to F1 because of the Sky paywall. Maybe F1 management could (partially) placate the unhappy fans by using the incremental revenue from the Sky deal to reduce the inequitable revenue sharing between the teams. For example, if all of the incremental revenue was distributed to the weaker teams, it would improve their competitiveness and strengthen the F1 show - fans would like this and maybe feel slightly less hostile toward the Sky deal. Sadly, I have no doubt F1 management wouldn't do something this constructive.


Fox sports au trying to that here in Australia but is network ten rally a team up that willing enough to travel with Formula one It could derail fox sports plans to take-over the motorsport. But Nine network derail fox sports plans to aired the ashes last year nine was smart I sent they cricket team to coverage all the ashes series in UK


What about the other factor in this, i.e sponsors and advertising. Teams make money from sponsors, and with PPV decreasing the viewing figures to a third or more of it's possible reach that comes with FTA; how will these PPV deals impact on both the teams, and circuits?

It's good that the teams will get more money from TV deals like this, however it comes with a negative, in that any effort in increasing the appeal of the sport will be much more difficult, and surely sponsor money will decrease further.

The more I think of this, the more i'm of the belief that this is just another deal that has been done; but like all deals they change. As you say Sky are competing with BT, and this puts them in a stronger position. However, Sky have been reducing the cost of their F1 production for the last years haven't they. Sky wanted to enact this exclusivity sooner (this year or next?) but were stopped from doing so.

I would not be surprised to see another highlights deal agreed between Sky and another channel, 2019 is a while away. What should be noted is that this is really bad PR for F1 in UK, in the short term (i.e does this motivate people to take less interest in F1 and stop watching now).


Interesting article and a great comment from a guy I really identify with.
Looking at it from a business point of view and this is my own personal opinion based on the quality of service fans receive. I believe the problem is that F1 is being greedy. There is no problem to ask for money to watch races on TV, but there has to be value for money. I believe that by eating from both sides of the cake (taking money from broadcasters and charging circuits large race fees) the quality has gone down. Our historic circuits are replaced by others with a sterile feel to them and often held in inconvenient time zones (it is still fact that the F1 fan base is majority European). Add into the mix the problem with rule making and changes, fiddly aerodynamics that have no direct impact on our road vehicles, gimmicks to create artificial overtaking and F1 ends up with an overpriced product that fans rightly say is poor quality, predictable and as such not value for money.
If we want to keep referring to our sport as a business then these issues need to be addressed.


Why will F1 be a product worth purchasing in 2019?? As of today its not worth purchasing through any media, streamed or on sky. The sad reality is F1 is boring. The other reality is you walk out your door and theres a Ferrari or sports car on every corner. 20 years ago as a kid seeing a Ferrari could only be done via F1 on the BBC...And then when you did see a road going Ferrari you could make that link between that car and F1

I've loved F1 ever since the 80s but its easy to see why its so boring these days, currently too many rules, too many changes to those rules and too complicated to understand, let alone the procession you can get on some tracks. Its not difficult or too late for F1 to go back to man vs machine, danger, speed and interesting characters that compete against each other every other weekend, and on the odd occasion wouldn't it be entertaining to see a driver in a punch up like Schumacher and Coultard, well almost.. Add some excitement and you may just have a product worth purchasing, and as much as I don't want to pay for it, like all the other fans if it were an amazing show I'm sure you would forgo that pint and go pay for it.

As of today the personalities of F1 aren't that entertaining, we rarely get to see the real F1 driver personality. Ban the PR Coaching, let the drivers say what they want, let them create a feud with other drivers, thats what drew us all in in the Prost Senna days and thats what we await to see every year.

What Sky might want to think about though is just offering a Sky Motorsport package, not everyone wants to see football and golf etc so why pay for sport we don't want to see. Half the price, increase your viewers...?

3 years to get it right...


Like your contributor M Pinchwood, I have followed F1 for many years [since 1968]. For a short period in 2000 I subscribed to Sky. However, being an electronics tutor and previously experienced in satellite dish installations in the UK, I quickly realised that I could also view F1 races free and live via an RTL satellite feed. I still do to this day, and use Radio 5 Live for the commentary.


James, very interesting point about the deafening silence from the teams. I wonder at which point is their share of the revenue outweighed by the lack of sponsors due to vastly reduced viewing numbers.

We are already even now seeing a great team with long history such as McLaren suffering from lack of sponsors, what on earth would entice a sponsor to join the series then. As is usual with F1 teams, they cannot see the big picture, only what is waved in front of them.

It reminds me of the exact same story I once read about Muhammad Ali. Don King offered him $1m cash to drop a $30m lawsuit. The sight of the cash in front of him blinded him to the bigger picture and cost him far more in the long term.

I would not mind Sky's coverage if it were any good, but it is very tabloidy and apart from Martin Brundle there is no one with a clear incisive point of view. If it were of a decent standard I would probably still pay for it.


My first memories of watching F1 are as a small child of about 7 or 8 seeing the likes of Stirling Moss, Fangio and Hawthorn racing on the cinema news reels. I saw Moss win the British GP and he became my hero. I read everything I could about him and have followed F1 by radio and then tv ever since. The closest I have ever been to a race is when I first came to the uk from Africa in 1969 and along with a friend decided to hitch hike to Silverstone. Suffice to say we arrived at the track as everyone else was leaving and had to turn around and go home to London. Fortunately we got a lift! Over the years F1 has been a deep rooted part of my life and I have been fortunate to have been able to watch it as and when I can. I have an in built resistance to subscribing to sky tv for a number of reasons but mainly because of the cost. I don't watch any other sport nor films except at the cinema. I might consider sky if they came up with a dedicated F1 channel without other options that I could subscribe to for 9 months of the year. All the other news I could garner from the Internet etc. I was deeply disappointed to hear of sky's new deal, but I guess for me it will be like going full circle and just seeing clips on the news. Sadly future generations without the necessary disposable income will be excluded from the all consuming excitement and fascination that F1 has been for me.


I started following F1 in 1970, eight years old. I was in USA. F1 was not on TV, excepting highlights from Monaco. I got my F1 new from Auto Week and Road & Track. Is TV necessary to fall in love with F1? It certainly wasn't for me.
Perhaps my example is not relevant as my parents were SCCA officials and I went to Can Am, Formula 5000, Trans Am and countless club races.
I think more fans will stick by the sport than reaction to Sky suggests.


From this I understand the money side of things and how it's a deal hard to resist, but the deal doesn't look at the bigger picture of the future of the sport. I am female and have been watching F1 on free-to-air for over 40 years. I remember James Hunt winning the championship. I can't actually afford to watch on Sky even if I wanted to, so I'll be hoping a decent highlights programme package will become available otherwise I will not be able to watch the sport I love and have watched without missing a season for the majority of my life. The drivers and others say the sport is in crisis but without the support of the fans where does it leave F1? The popularity of the sport has waned in France - the home of The Professor, Alain Prost, and the fans that followed him to victory. Why? Because of pay-to-view... This sport came about because of elitism, people with money wanting to push the boundaries of technology, but it survived and became popular because of the people who watched the races, those people who became fans. With this pay-to-watch approach taking hold, not just in the UK but across the world and especially in Europe, it is turning the sport back into an elitist field and whether I like it or not I won't be able to follow it in the way I once did if this exclusive rights deal doesn't get amended. It breaks my heart to see the sport I love dashed on the rocks of greed and commercialism without a proper look to the future. The death knell tolls...


Big issues here are the number of fans (consumers) engaged and the difficulty of achieving sponsorship.

Test cricket is a great example. It felt like the whole county was caught up in the excitement on the 2005 Ashes. Cricket immediately went to Sky and I think it's fair to say only real officiandos follow it closely. They earned money but did the sport itself great harm here. Except in the minority of houses with Sky, most boys don't get enthused by cricket and don't want to play it. Same with F1, many fewer boys will grow up passionate about F1. This will massively diminish F1 as a sport going forward. So while there is short term cash, pay-to-view dramatically reduces the value of a sport like F1 beyond the short-term (football is universal and accessible, boys will always be able to put jumpers down and have a kick about).

And sponsors aren't going to pay teams big money for a sport with dramatically fewer viewers. It's already hard enough for teams to get big sponsorship deals. Pay-to-view will have already impacted this but surely it will only get much worse as exposure and engagement continue to reduce across many countries.

James, surely the driving away of sponsors is costing teams more than any extra TV income that may reach them after CVC have taken their large cut. Are the teams not incensed about this, what are they doing about it and how far would it have to go before they take serious action.

A value for money streaming proposition may eventually resolve this and the Sky deal may help that in the UK but how much damage will have already been done. A good streaming proposition intelligently shaped and introduced would not have been difficult and would have been a great way of maximising revenue, while giving fans a great value product and maintaining exposure.

Sadly, this is all clearly a quick buck today, at the massive longer term detriment to the sport AND business. All about CVC maximising revenue in a sale in the near future. Yet, surely all the short-termism and wider mess they have created will compromise this, price will be compromised by the medium to long term weaknesses. So CVC are unlikely to ever the the price they want. Unless The Bernard is ultimately positioning - we n
Know CVC have to sell in due course because of the nature of their fund. They may end up having to take the only offer anyone will make for the whole mess - a cut price offer from a certain Bernard J Ecclestone. Surely CVC aren't so stupid that they've let themselves be manoeuvred into that position.

Whether that last bit is true or not, it is sad. They are slowly destroying F1 - and the pace is increasing.


Team sponsor income down for $950m a year to $750m in last couple of years


After reading some of the comments above I just want to add my voice to the majority who believe your commentary, on this site and elsewhere is the best available, remains unbiased, and is head and shoulders above in terms of technical, strategic, commercial and racing analysis. Well done and keep it up.


Thanks. Appreciate that.

Hopefully we will still have some F1 fans left to speak to after 2019!


That's a big income reduction across the teams. And it will continue to go downhill, partly because it is generally harder to get big sponsorships (difficult financial times, competition from other sports), because Bernie/FOM are competing more and more with teams for major sponsors and because the show is appearing both shambollic (eg qually) and seedy (Bernie/Germany, Bahrain, Russia, Baku etc). But the major reduction in passionate fan engagement the pay-to-view will lead to across the major markets will crucify teams sponsorship ambitions, and over time their cut of higher TV revenues will not offset this.

James - do the teams not agree with this and feel strongly about it? And do you expect the teams to really flex their muscles through 2020 commercial deal renewals?

This is a great site - I think the people who are questioning your impartiality a) don't understand balanced journalism, b) are not recognising that this site is your world and that you give us it for free (we get the benefit without having to directly give you anything in return) and c) they are bloody rude ????. So I'd like to take the time to thank you personally for the pleasure I get from this site. Much of the time it is more entertains than the races (esp the last mins of q3) not to mention the site is much more professionally managed than F1 itself! ????


David, agreed ... in the long term this is bad for teams, and especially any new (or potential new) teams coming in, and a death sentence for any team below 10th in the championship.
Remember they don't get any share of the revenue, so for a two year period they will need to survive on sponsorship alone ... which with this system is impossible.

As for changes in the commercial deals ... We've seen that play out too many times already to know what will really happen.
Teams may initially stand together, but Bernie will be as underhanded as he usually is and make special deals to get the agreements signed. One by one they will start to cave, until they all rush to sign before being last and potentially getting the least benefits. Part of those deals will be bad for the sport as a whole, but that's how Bernie works ...
The fact that these contracts are so secret is a major problem. I doubt they would hold up under scrutiny if the EU had a close look at them.


Thing is James, you speak about "F1 earning" but this money is not going to F1, most of it is sucked out by CVC Venture Capital and Bernie Ecclestone into their own pockets ?

What exactly does that increasingly batty old man want to do with it anyway ? Get buried with a billion or two ? Buy more Lamborghinis for his daughters and their extremely shady partners ?

F1 as we knew it is in an awful state and has, via Bernie's greed, got hobbled with a leeching "owner" we never needed or wanted. If Ferrari especially had not been so duplicitous, selling out the other teams in order to grab an advantage for themselves, we would have been rid of this shower of clowns long ago, they bring nothing and take far more than the sport can give.


The 'posted directly without moderation' fault continues to dog my submissions


And me, after a good run I lost another yesterday. Frustrating.


we always get told by governments and 'experts' that competition results in a better deal for the consumer.
Not here though as SKY or BT are willing to outbid each other with the result that deals worth 10s of millions are now many 100s of millions.
All cost's passed on to the lucky viewer .You know it's better cos it cost more lol.


Like many, I have grown up watching F1 on free to air, and have refused to buy a sky package just to watch the races as have little interest in other sports (and try not to give the Murdoch empire any money!).

There is the ability to watch through Now TV at a reduced rate 24hr for £6.99, 7 days £10.99. I have resisted this so far as I do not enjoy the races so much. In these times of limited testing, tyres, engines etc teams do as little running as possible and when in a 1/2 team race position, they call of any racing etc. If the money raised from this went into the teams to allow more engines etc, to make more fuller racing weekends and hopefully the race weekend would improve and you would feel like getting value for money.

ps is there any chance of teams offering a stream of races- they could have their own channel like some football teams do. I would more happy give money to a team than Murdoch!.


I stopped watching MotoGP live when BT wanted £60 a year for it. Doesn't sound a lot until you consider I get the whole of the BBC output, without adverts, for £145.50. So I'm not going to pay over £300 a year for F1 with adverts.
The problem is that these sports are effectively monopolies which are purchased by the media outlets and milked. Ok, they complete with each other but which F1 fans consider it a toss-up between F1 and Premier League. They are not competing in many people's minds.


The choice is between growing audience and "cashing out" and like other sports businesses F1 has chosen the latter. I suggest that it does not say much about the confidence of the sport in its capacity to generate new revenues for its participants (and their sponsors) by growing the fan base. If I was driver, team or team sponsor I would be concerned. But heck, I reckon they have been worried about the sports governance for some time.


A really disappointing turn of events... I never thought actually going to a GP would be cheaper than watching it on TV!! But when this new deal starts it seems like the the best bet would be to save your cash and go to some far flung race, cheaper and you get a nice holiday as well!

On another tack the comparison with football is a moot point. Motd works because there's a dozen games a weekend... No football fan, however passionate is going to watch all those games live/on catch up/recorded. So to use this as a model for F1 with one race every fortnight is short sighted and in my opinion lunacy.

Good point about the silence from the teams. It's an understandable position, however the silence from the drivers isn't forgivable, very disappointing that just a day after their letter this decision was made and not one of them has had the balls to stand up and say "this is what we were talking about"!!


I think the silence of the teams says a thousand words. They are more concerned about short term money gains than their loyal fanbases or their sponsor's concerns.

F1 is broken. It's been broken for years now and consistently shoots itself in the foot, time after time. The running of the sport is almost comical under the current regime. The thought of being forced to pay for a sport that is fundamentally without direction, not knowing (or wanting) to create a better spectacle for the fans, and now making it LESS accessible is too much for me to bear.

I'm a total petrolhead, an F1 fan since a child for 30+ years. It seems so sad that I will not be passing this enthusiasm on to a future generation, but perhaps the sport will only realise this grave mistake in the years to come when this effects become fully apparent, and when it's too late to turn back.

I've stumped up the cash to go to Silverstone this year (mainly because it might be Jenson's last season so wanted to see him one more time). Had I known this news earlier I would not have booked the tickets. My time as a devoted F1 fan will end, and I will most likely start to ween myself off the sport before the point it becomes pay to view. They'll probably end up pushing it through earlier anyway.

A sad day.


I whole heartedly agree with Mr Pinchwood, albeit I am a Sky subscriber - I too will probably ditch Sky in general as they are increasing prices, again ! and the coverage of F1 is poor, boring in the least, so it's a "Good Bye" from me !


I'm not against paywalls as the content delivered is great and there's lots of it. Magazines and such are, even for me at 36, part of a bygone age - but probably still appealing to very young and new fans.

The only thing I am against is having to have F1 as part of a full Sports package on Sky. I've no interest in Football or whatever other sports they show, purely F1. Sports fans in general are happy to have the full package, but they are probably casual f1 observers as opposed to purists (hate the word) who also travel to events, buy memorabilia etc.

Therefore, the ideal situation which o would welcome is a reasonably priced subscription to the F1 channel alone.

Say £5.99 pm and I would love to have the F1 channel and no other sports and I think this has to be the solution going forward, long term.


Look at my sums a couple of posts down... Sky is paying £8 million per race. If they charge £6 per month that's £3.42 per race, and they'll need over two million subscribers just to break even.

I reckon they've bid too much.


There is new subs, subs retention, advertising, OTT services, licensing to other broadcasters and kick backs from FOM.

Im sure they ran the numbers.


My wife wife will be a lot happier in 2020


£1billion over 6 years is in excess ~£165 million per year?

In which case Sky are paying about £8 million per race, or £8 per viewer?

Actually, in most instances you've a few viewers in the same room? If F1 is getting a million viewers I imagine they're doing that on ~400,000 Sky subscriptions, in which case Sky is paying £26 per race per Sky subscription. Or £45 per month.

If I've got that right they're mad. It'll only pay if they hike their prices or switch to some sort of Box Office arrangement?


Price hike? Now there's a shock. When they have the monopoly, the pips will be squeaking.


This is something that will have an effect over many years rather than an instant catastrophe. F1 doesn't have the appeal of golf, where fans can enjoy their own round before watching highlights, or Cricket where highlights generally are the prime time show due to the length of the matches.

This will be a slow burn, as exposure drops and F1 gets relegated to seconds of coverage on the news and hardly any column inches in the papers due to dwindling interest. Sponsors will drop out and teams will end up relying ever more on the prime time TV money.

It wouldn't be so bad if they went ppv at a point where they have an outstanding product. But we are off the back of the worst season in years and in a position where they can't decide on the format of qualifying and one little old man is making blaise decisions at an increasing distance from his audience.

They want people to pay for this? They are having a laugh!


I am hugely disappointed that F1 seems hell-bent on chasing lucrative 20th-Century Pay-TV deals while it turns its back on the fan base, but I accept that there is no free lunch, and I would happily pay for a decent 21st-Century live-streaming option. What I won't do is pay the exorbitant annual subscription fee for a 20th-Century Pay-TV service when I only want to watch a couple of hours of F1 every two weeks or so.


I have watched every F1 race on FTA TV in Australia since the late 80's. I've also been to a few races in Aust and overseas and bought a fair bit of merchandise over the years so I guess you could say I'm a fan! As of 2015 only about half the races were on FTA here with half on pay TV. The same will apply this year with many of the best races (Spain, Montreal, Spa, Singapore, Suzuka, Austin & Brazil) only shown on pay TV. I try to limit how much TV I watch in general so paying for a cable TV subscription of any type does not interest me or represent value.

I do understand that F1 is ultimately a commercial entity and my views sadly are of little or probably no consequence to the bigwigs running the show. Perhaps if they listened to the true fans a little more there wouldn't be so many dumb decisions being made but I digress...

Pay TV has never really taken off in Aust and our current primary provider (Foxtel) is haemorrhaging customers with talk that their business model can't survive the onslaught of Internet Streaming. They have slashed monthly charges in an attempt to compete but are still losing customers.

Even FTA TV watching is on the decline as shown by the ever decreasing viewer counts and declining advertising revenue. More people in Australia watched the Australian Open Tennis on Internet devices than on TV.

F1 is a unique sport with a diverse and unusual fan base. I believe that only showing races on Pay TV will damage the sport irreparably over time.

Given the above James, can you please shed some light on why the relevant F1 organisations do not yet offer a pay-per-view live stream option via the official website or something like Youtube? The business model and technology has existed for years and there is clearly a market for it (as shown by the large number of illegal and sadly poor quality re-streaming sites available online).

To be honest I think this is a disgrace! The most technologically advanced sport in the world is at least 10 years behind when it comes to coverage and promoting itself. Don't get me wrong, I would prefer FTA coverage any day but those days are long gone.

Your article essentially asserts that F1 have made the best decision available to them for primarily financial reasons. I understand your point but I believe it is a short-sighted decision and yet another sign that the F1 powers are on the wrong track.

To me the best decision is one that gives fans options. That supplies high quality coverage with ideally no adverts. Allows people from any country to watch whichever races they choose to whenever it suits them (no more late nights!). Provides easy access to coverage (ie) not requiring fans to commit to annual cable TV agreements, and does all the above at a reasonable cost.

Only PPV streaming meets all these goals. It's a huge and untapped market that has been ignored by the F1 dinosaurs for too long. If they had any nous it could be run in parallel with pay TV and they would rake in the dollars (that's pounds to you!).



Will not be supporting Murdoch's empire!


Indeed. Sky TV = Pay a subscription to watch adverts. And people are doing it. They are paying to watch adverts. Mental.


This is a mistake. But also a massive win for WRC, touring cars, rally cross and who knows; even truck racing.

I've no interest in football. I'm 37,so unlikely to start. And I don't watch any other sport either. I'm not alone in being a bit of a loner, but because of these factors I'm not even considering the sky option.

I've seen sky 1, an ex had it. She got rid in a year because we weren't using it enough. It was too expensive. There is no way £50/mth is reasonable.

Subsequent to the half and half deal there has been a rise in viewership of the WRC and as there will be more tuning in to the touring cars, maybe that'll get more money and grow back to the brilliant spectacle of the early nineties. It's already not far off. All the lower ranks of motorsports are going to benefit from this. They are usually less predictable and riddled by rules anyway so although I'm upset, I'm comfortable with getting back into more forms of the sport's wider family.

Two ✌ fingers to Bernie and Murdock. You've lost.


Yep WRC could be back ahead of F1 like in the 80s. Plus Rally Cross Touring & WEC. By 2019 the top drivers in F1 will be moving over to other motorsports. So we may see them on the other modes of motor sport. Hopefully Murdoch will keep his filthy paws off these modes of motorsport. Meanwhile F1 will sink into the doldrums.

robert christian

the real problem F1 has is the cars and this hybrid cr~p its turned F1 fans away i stopped my sky sport sub last year because i was bored stiff with the racing and until F1 changes back to real engines im not too bothered to watch and i have been a fan for 40 years i get my racing high from motogp weekends now and its well worth the money i do understand that cvc and bernie need the money but until there is a change in the engine department they are not getting any more of mine


The BBC's part in this should not be ignored. £15m per annum to them is peanuts, yet they prefer to pay overrated 'talent' and have an abundance of digital radio stations that only one man and his dog listen to and excessive TV channels that in the main show nothing but repeats and reality rubbish, such seems to be more important to them.

The first 'B' in BBC is stands for British and F1 is a sport that the British excel in with most teams regardless of nationality being based here.

Shame on the BBC.


To line Bernie and CVC's pockets that's why it has happened! Even if the teams do get 60% of the money that's still 40% for Bernie and his cronies who effectively do nothing (or even actively damage the sport with their hair brained ideas). How did we ever get into this situation? We have people creaming money off the sport while teams are struggling and historic tracks are losing (the obscenely overpriced) contracts and falling into disrepair, half the drivers are paying (or their sponsors are) for their seats. It's just ridiculous.

Racing driver 1

It's the same as any sport or entertainment series. You always get a talent who brings in the interest, then some deviant, talentless old fart like Bernie Ecclestone or Simon Cowell comes along and gets them to sign a contract which allows them to sit on their derrière while the show goes on and they get the money for it too.
It's basically a big 2 fingers to the world, and they laugh all the way to the bank.


Lets not forget that F1 on ITV/BBC had viewers from outside UK as well ... Being in Belgium, I got hooked on F1 in the first place thanks to the incredible show .. with live itell from the pit-lane/pit-wall/track-side ... how good is that, compared to just 2 blokes sitting in a studio in Brussels talking non-sense all the time ...
So it's not just UK audience they must fear to lose.
To the ones in power, I'd like to say ... some things, money can't buy.
So F1 in the future will be like this: cars going round tracks with no sponsoring on them ... 1% of current live attendance ... (only the wealthy people that visit F1 just to see and be seen). 5% of the current TV-viewers will be watching, cuz at least some will bother to pay or some will have the montly margin in their family budget.
It'll be an exclusive sport for a select few ... not the pinacle of motorsport which "normal" people fancy and dream about and watch in awe.
Ow and compare F1 to football ?? I can go watch the local (belgium top league) team for 15 euro per match ... I doubt I can enter a GP F1 venue for that price, can I ??


ive read all the comments ive watched F1 since they had steering wheels that where big and round and the engine was at the front of the driver seat belts dont think they had em listened to murray walkers commentaries prac all is career so i think i can class my self as a F1 fan i,m dead against this paywall but thats only my thought its one of them history will decide who was right and who was wrong but dont think ill see the answer to this one


I'm confused.
I thought that one of the problems that F1 currently had to deal with was the fall-off of TV viewers, resulting in a lack of ticket sales and the resulting 'empty grandstands'.
How is this deal likely to address that concern?
I don't see any sense to this deal apart from the never ending pursuit of more dollars upfront, which is surely a bit of a short term view.
No doubt the extra income will be wasted on more gimmicks and less than interesting new venues and circuits.
F1. More tragic story lines than 'Eastenders'.


In Canada we get F1 with our basic tv package, although they have now switched practice to a secondary channel. This year, for the first time, we get the pre-race, grid and post race shows and I wouldn't pay for any of it. I'm interested in the on track action, qualifying and the race, the rest is just fluff. I might be convinced to pay a couple hundred dollars (100 pounds) a year to watch qualifying and the races, but I'm not sure. I've been an avid fan since I was taken by my Uncle to Mosport, but the family tradition will not continue as my son, now in his 20's, couldn't care less about F1. I am of the firm belief that the end is insight for F1 and many other racing series, the generations that supported their existence are aging and the next aren't interested. And good for them as, although I love it, it truly is a complete waste of human endeavor.


I couldn't believe I was watching Sky's coverage on TSN last week. Can't speak for UK audience but what a difference one can see between BBC and Sky coverages here in Canada. I tend to pay some extra bucks if TSN streams races commercials-free.
I believe Infinity is a nice car but when it pops up on the screen during the live coverage I must say you are p***d off to say the least.


I wonder if this deal prevents F1 selling directly like MotoGP does. I have Sky Sports for the F1 but I pay MotoGP directly for Videopass, as I did not want a BT Sport subscription. It works pretty well and avoids paying for things I don't want.

Or maybe Sky will offer some sort of F1 only package. I'm quite keen on UHD, too, so that aspect is a draw.


I wonder about this too. I'm guessing Sky have exclusive rights to stream in the UK and will (slowly) evolve their online service. They wouldn't have paid so much otherwise because the threat from an online direct service would have been too large.


The thing that annoys me most is that while ending F1 for me in 2019, Bernie carries no burden for its continuance. He or FOM get the tv money whether or not a single viewer actually watches, that is all tied up in advance. He or FOM also get paid by the circuits, no matter how many fans turn up to watch. In other words while the sport can be dying on its feet Bernie and co remain laughing all the way to the bank.

But is it dying? Well the viewing figures certainly indicate that it is. Take a look at another blog ,the F1Broadcastin blog for the figures, the pay tv figures are a tiny fraction of the old FTA volume. My generation, the baby boomers grew up with tv as a wondrous new device, We learned about F1 from Murray, James Hunt and later JA himself, we are the core fan demographic, but we are dying off, we are pensioners now, who cannot afford pay tv, so thanks Bernie! This means that the sport and in particular the teams are now far less worthwhile to advertisers, thus sponsorship money, which has been in short supply in the last few years, will continue to get scarcer. This in turn means that the teams become more reliant on the prize money dished out by Bernie in a grossly uneven manner. Expect more teams to disappear.


F1's main man is old. He doesn't have a 10 year plan. Most people in his place would probably be concerned more by their legacy and what they would leave their children and grandchildren, rather than the future of the business. He lacks vision now and that is quite clear to see. He has always been brilliant, and he has made a great success of F1, but perhaps he needs to let go now. A new man needs to develop a future vision, which makes young people put F1 posters back on their walls. F1 also needs to fully embrace social media.


Sky get terrible viewing figures for F1, less than a million per race, Sponsors will not be paying what they do now for viewing figures like that. The Sky deal is a huge mistake and will kill off F1 in the UK. I for one will not be switching to Sky and will find other things to do with my Sundays. If F1 does not care about the fans then I will no longer be watching F1.


Loads of comments I agree with here. What is the future of f1? In the last decade or so we have moved off to new venues that unfortunately have very few fans in attendance. Chuck in reduced audience figures from tv and what will sponsors achieve from backing the series. If they don't leave then it will be reduced ££££'s for teams. McLaren, a massive team, seem to be struggling to get a big sponsors just now.

In chasing the quick buck I fear long term the sport will lose any future fans. When I grew up watching the sport in the early 80's the cars were awesome, loud and on the edge. There was a danger and excitement to it that had me gripped. Fast forward to today, cars ain't as exciting or loud. My son finds it boring and he won't watch a race.

Maybe it's an age thing but I miss the old cars, mansell in that Ferrari v12. Epic. While I am off on one look at a YouTube clip on him in that car, see how on edge it was, listen to that engine scream. Then switch to any footage from last weekend. No brainer which is more exciting to watch.


An American Perspective
As an F1 fan here in the US following this story, I wanted to share some thoughts regarding your situation.
First, thanks to JA and crew for providing the BEST news and analysis on F1! I've enjoyed every bit for years now. And also to the fans here with really insightful comments.
Here in the colonies we haven't had over the air coverage of F1 regularly since Sir Jackie was still driving and the word 'hybrid' was reserved for plant breeding. I'm exaggerating slightly of course but... Many of the years in between we haven't had any TV access at all.
Being an American motor sports fan who really disliked NASCAR and was quite bored with Indy car was pretty tough. Around 2002 an obscure new cable channel started carrying a strange and fascinating sport called WRC. I was in love. I also found an equally intriguing series I remembered from childhood in F1. I followed both regularly with a great sigh of relief as the racing itch had finally been scratched.
However, my small slice of heaven lasted only a few years before the WRC coverage disappeared without warning nor apology. Several of us frantic US fans took the forums screaming in panic but to no avail. Contract had not been renewed so poof.
We feared F1 might be next but luckily a much larger network with deeper pockets picked it up and has aired it exclusively here since. They play a few of the major races on their major network channel which is available free via antenna but the majority are broadcast on their sports channel which is cable-only.
Which brings me to the heart of this particular matter. Most American tv viewers are cable or satellite subscribers paying I suspect around $120/month. NBC sports channel which carries F1 here I believe is available on virtually all of them at no additional cost. That gives us access to the entire season.
I also have an Apple TV with streaming services which is what I'm most interested in seeing the future of.
There is a large movement of 'cord cutters' here in the states that are moving to streaming tv only and a few companies beginning to offer ala carte programming options (pay per channel or small niche packages etc). Within a few years, I see this phenomenon growing much bigger here giving people much more targeted choices to pay for just what they actually watch.
My hope is that F1 audiences here will continue to grow and that will help give more flexibility to viewing options to fans or at the very least not let suffer the same fate as the WRC did here!
Thanks again for all of your great input, thoughts and stories about this sport we love (although it may infuriate us so sometimes). Cheers.