Free to Air F1 TV: Are there any lessons for SKY and the UK in new French TV move?
F1 on TV
F1 TV Lewis Hamilton
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Sep 2017   |  6:05 pm GMT  |  164 comments

Viewers in France without subscriptions to pay TV are to have the curtains opened to them again next season under a deal announced today.

An agreement between F1 Group and leading French free to air station TF1, begins with the 2018 Championship and TF1 will show four Formula 1 Grand Prix races in exclusivity on free-to-air in their entirety, including the Monaco GP and the newly restored French GP at Paul Ricard in July.

Two additional races that have yet to be confirmed will also form part of the live race coverage. Meanwhile TF1 will also have the rights to show highlights of all rounds.

This deal is interesting because it rows against the tide of recent years which have become increasingly Pay TV focussed. While Pay TV undoubtedly pays far more for the live race rights than Free to air broadcasters can, it also takes the sport out of the minds of the people of that country.

In France F1 has been behind a paywall since 2013 and audiences have fallen from around 4 to 5 million on TF1 to 750,000 on Canal Plus, which renewed its contract in May to 2020.

Alain Prost

France was an early and extreme example. The UK is heading the same way in 2019 with a five year exclusive deal for SKY, which now charges for individual sports channels. The UK, like another key market Italy, has managed to hold onto a split rights deal until now, whereby the terrestrial broadcaster has half the races live and the highlights of the rest. This works quite well in Italy, which scored dry high ratings for the recent Italian Grand Prix on both the free to air RAI and the pay TV SKY Italia.

What the TF1 deal shows is that the new management of F1, under Liberty Media, realise the value of what is known in the business as ‘barker content’ – content on the big platforms that lets fans see the sport and have some access to it, so they can then pay for full access if they are so minded.

TF1’s CEO Gilles Pelisson said, “The whole group will mobilise to ensure that Formula 1 gets the biggest exposure. We are also very happy to offer the sport to the widest audience possible at a time when France will once again play host to a Grand Prix race on the legendary Le Castellet (Paul Ricard) circuit.”


The problem with the SKY deal from 2019 is that it is not only exclusively behind a paywall, but also the highlights rights are not in F1 Group’s gift, but in SKY’s gift.

And their obligation under that package is only to show a single live race, the British GP plus highlights of the others, on free to air TV.

So theoretically they can put that secondary package on one of their own channels which qualifies as ‘free to air’ by the end of 2018 and F1 will disappear from mass market view.

One could argue that on the minority FTA Channel 4 it is half way there already, with audiences of just over a million and a half, compared to the mass audiences on BBC and before that ITV, which had exclusive live rights from 1997 to 2008, where race audiences were between 4 million and 12 million depending on time of day.

However Channel 4 has struck notable success this month with the revamped “Great British Bake Off”, which it poached from BBC and which has pulled in audiences of over 7 million, proving that people can find that button with the right incentive.

So the TF1 deal clearly gives pause for thought and attention turns to SKY now to see what their intentions are. The SKY deal is worth around £170m a year to F1, more than double what the combined SKY/Channel 4 deal nets and it was clever of CVC and the previous F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone to do the deal in time for it to inflate the F1 sale price to Liberty Media.

For Liberty it is a double headache as not only did it mean that F1 cost more to buy, but it also has a potential backlash on its hands in the UK when F1 disappears from view behind a paywall, without them having any real levers to do a deal like the new TF1 arrangement in France.

In a perfect world SKY would do a deal with the BBC to give affordable access to F1 highlights and the British GP; this would be the most common sense approach as the BBC as a non-commercial entity, would not cannibalise SKY’s ability to sell packages to F1 sponsors, unlike ITV or Channel 4.

But BBC Sport fell out of love with F1 in 2015 and today has very different priorities in sport, including balancing out the gender gap, with widespread coverage offered of women’s sport, which satisfies political pressures from outside and is also very cost efficient.

What do you think of this story? Do you live in France? What has it been like with F1 behind a paywall? Do you welcome this deal? And if you live in the UK, what are you hoping for post 2018? Leave your comments in the section below

Featured F1 ON TV
FORMULA 1 ON TV Briefings
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

c'est la vie


4 free races is laughable how about 21!

Yep I wont be paying to watch races on sky unless we have a competitive field not just 2 drivers with the chance of winning a race. I dont pay for a shoddy product!
Liberty best get there finger out and sort this sport out


Jarv, haven't we already had four drivers win this year? Could be six by the end of the season...


I'll say 3 then with Bottas win in Russia. Ricciardo got lucky at Azerbeijan.
Be surprised if anyone apart from Hamilton and Vettel win another race this year now we have the number 2 drivers backing them up


Jarv, you never know, Red Bull could be competitive in Singapore, and Kimi could still snatch a win if the team allow it.


Out of interest which driver/team do you support?


James , in an ideal world as a UK resident I would like to see all races return to being free to air.

However , I think in era where money dictates a lot I think that wish is unrealistic . Therefore , to have have a continuation of the current arrangement between C$/SkyF1 would be the next best thing- certainly it is better than having all races behind a paywall . Liberty should be looking to renegotiate this shared arrangement for 2019 onward otherwise I fear the long term future of F1 is doomed in the UK .


I still think F1G is neglecting the internet audience.
Bear in mind in third world countries people are increasingly having access to internet throw smartphones.
But in contrast to 1st World countries, the cost of broadband is much higher.
So it would be nice and convenient to buy individual live races in a package of a 2 hour live stream and F1 content from the mobile operator.
The price could be even cheaper for recorded races and wi-fi downloads.
F1G should try to convince the cable operators that this broadcast stratification is paramout to the future of F1 and even offer a discount, since the revenue from internet stream can offset the discounts.
Streaming F1 races on mobile phones increases the access to the public immensely compared to a cable top box as we have more mobiles that individuals in some countries.
Mass consumption brands will only sponsor teams if they can reach a large audience.


Well said Deweb!
Liberty need to think about where their demand generation is coming from. Just because Bernie and CVC monetised the broadcast rights to max out their re-sale value, doesn't mean it should stay that way, particularly if viewership is dwindling. By re-establishing the fan base, they can dwarf the income they are getting in broadcast licencing. If they continue on the path that it's on, the value of their investment will only diminish.


I totally agree.
They should do like for the NBA or the NFL, give a yearly subscription at a couple hundred bucks, with all inclusive live streaming and on demand races, free practises, interviews,... Right now in Italy I'm paying SKY 40 euro per month but I only watch F1, almost nothing else.


FYI, Sky do sell a one week pass for £10.99 which is effectively buying access to one live race including qualifying and all the practice sessions via the Internet.
This is what I currently do for the races C4 don't cover. I'll probably have to carefully balance month and week passes to minimise the cost of full coverage in 2019.


There was a similar product here in New Zealand called Fan Pass - from memory it was $20 for 7 day streaming access to the Sky sports channels. The viewer they supplied was pretty mediocre. Then they cancelled the 7 day offering, offering instead a couple of longer duration products available e.g. $100 for 31 day access., effectively doubling the per-race price. At that stage I gave up on the whole process, getting sick of being treated as a cash cow. It'll be interesting to see what comes along over the next couple of years, I hope that Liberty media get Sky under control, but i the meantime I'm off to find something else to watch - too expensive, poor watching experience.


Nice to know it exists in some countries: F1 on demand.
But what I meant is a combo of content {on demand, race only} + data stream {broadband from mobile operator}.
Some houses don't have a fixed internet point, so internet is accessed by smartphones, which by its way is killing the LAN House business.
And pre-paid phones dominate the market.
The technological way already exist: YouTube, Netflix, Steam, etc.
The problem is territoriality... as always.
Its gonna take some years until F1G decides what to do and the current TV deals - with each single country - expires and the internet broadcast can be solved... unfortunately.


Unfortunately not available outside the UK. Any other options for downunder?


I would think that they can earn a lot more from advertising to a 5mm viewers population than revenue from <1mm paying viewers. But at the same time you'd think that the powers that be Would have made that same calculation so either I am wrong or decision makers aren't that sophisticated in their reasoning


I hardly watch the sport now, having followed it religiously since 1992! I could recognise household names as sponsors, now they are all motorsport related! Millennial's will not care from 2019 in following the drama and individual drivers. This will hurt the brands and sponsors! the real losers will be drivers who will lose followers and fame that the 90s and 00s drivers enjoyed!


So Tom, you started watching the same time as me, and as you say, I am hardly watching any races any more.... F1, and Bernie knew how to kill a good product off. Shame..... All this talk but nothing is going to change... I remember watching the Eurosport coverage avidly in the early days... Ironically Ben Edwards and Jon Watson, BBC coverage too... now unless you pay nothing.


I'm not sure what you mean by pay TV. Pay per view or cable, which you pay for but monthly.
Here in the USofA NBC Sports-cable-has the package and most races are on cable but 3 or 4 are on over the air. We get the world feed with local commentary, not by locals but Brits and Aussies. Well, I guess Hobbs is a local.


The only solution i can see and want, is that Liberty buy sky uk out of the 2019 exclusivity contract. They certainly can afford to, going completely behind a paywall will alienate the uk audience. Less viewers mean less interest in F1 and in turn, venue ticket sales will suffer. Its commercial suicide, stop it now before it's too late, the sky contract must be re negotiated !


Yeah, it's commercial suicide, that's why the English Premier League and UEFA Champions League have totally disappeared, oh wait ...


I don't generally watch football anymore but when I do, I enjoy it much more than f1. Different emotions, different sport. Also, there are thousands of football clubs around the world, dozens of thousands of games, it's much easier ro interact with football, get close to the players and so on. In comparison - there are 10 teams on the f1 grid, 20 drivers, maybe 8 of them really competitive, 21 races in the calendar.


If Sky F1 get exclusive rights to show all races live in the UK, then more people will just stream for free. I know I will.


What am I hoping for? A miraculous about-face, or more realistically something else to watch.


Abu Dhabi next year looks like it will be my last GP after watching since the mid 80's.
I wouldn't mind paying a a fee per race/season to watch online but not if it's heading Murdochs way.


The British rights were more like an Ecclestone poison pill for future owners. His association with CVC made my blood boil.


".....and it was clever of CVC and the previous F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone to do the deal in time for it to inflate the F1 sale price to Liberty Media."



This is Ecclestone's legacy.


I dislike Murdochs and his Sky Channels.
Disgusted that from 2019 it will become a minority sport watched by a few who can afford the Sky package or Now weekend deals.
Shame on Bernie.
Funny how Fox trying to get Sky back in Murdochs ownership maybe referred to the Financial Monopoly Commission.
I hope they put the Kaibosh on that deal.
Sad for GB and more money in Murdochs sagging cheek jewels.


Is £7 per day or £11 for a week of sky sports too much?


Yes it is for a pensioner who has been following F1 for over 50 years. The FIA have ruined World Rallying, now they are heading the same with F1. Sky have poisoned sport by they're greed. The advertising is pathetic on both Sky & C4. I don't think even with Ross Brawn Liberty will make much money from F1. The races have become more & more boring, many of the circuits are sadly featureless due to they're commercial design. Going forward F1 will loose more & more of it's identifiable advertisers. I mean who the hell is BWT? Good by F1 after 2018.


£7.00 a day £11.00 monthly too much, yes if you only watch F1


Wait - how much is a ticket to the cinema? For 2 hours (ish) of entertainment. I don't think 6.99 is too much in that context. (2hr feature race plus build up and analysis. Plus practice and quali replays. )


I think the point is that for many people (be it on a pension or on disability or on minimum wage and having to claim HB and tax credits just to make ends meet) yes £11 really is too much. As in literally cannot afford to pay that, do not have that much cash spare. I'm dreading 2019 because F1 is one of the very few things I follow and enjoy and look forward to. I know there will be many races when I will not to be able to afford even a 7 day "pass". I will be living off of bread and bran flakes for the week.


I don't mind paying, I'm (by far) not the richest, it is just a case of priorities.

All I want to see is a MotoGP styled livestreaming service. I don't care if that means paying €120. I also have a WBSK subscription, which costs me €80. Yes it is expensive, but they actually offer great value for the money.


Having F1 behind a paywall here in the UK has been a disaster, the current UK TV deal is rubbish (and has been ever since the BBC bailed on having live coverage of all events), and the next one is going to be even worse! The British F1 audience (once this new Sky deal kicks in) will plummet even further, and when that happens, the powers that be will only have themselves to blame.


If only I could get TF1 I'd listen to radio 5 commentary


You can, just get a Freesat box and point it to Astra1 - I watch all the races on the FTA German RTL channel with 5 Live radio commentary. Cost is about £50 to £100 on the box and dish.


Ah, But will radio 5 Live continue to cover the races live????

That's the question...


BBC showing F1 highlights at midnight on a Sunday, I think not. Especially if they only get to show 40 minutes of the race, with 20 minutes waffle by the boring Sky presenters. Should Lewis Hamilton retire during the next 6 years, viewing figures will fall off the cliff.

I don't know if following F1 has much of a future in the UK. I'm not paying £600 a year to watch it on Sky.


I don't blame you for not paying £600; I don't think it's worth it. My wife does though, which is why we have the Sky F1 channel. 🙂 To be fair, she does get a lot of usage out of it - she watches all the press conferences, practice sessions, build-up and wind-down of both qualifying and the race. Oh, and the F2 and GP3 as well, on the same channel. And when it's not an F1 weekend she watches re-runs of old races. All on the Sky F1 channel. But £600 a year is still a rip-off.


You don't have to. You could get the full season for about £200. Or - if you just watch races - about £140.


aezy _doc
It's builds up across the year.
I'm already paying for Moto GP.
I reckon if you've attended one live F1 race you get a free code on your ticket that gives you free access to view F1 on TV.
Or Liberty need to do something about the 95% drop in viewing after 2018 in the UK .
Plus I won't give Murdoch a penny.
He makes me wretch every time I see the SKY logo. The killer of sport.
I stick a dart hard in a dartboard.
Or I'd blow a gasket.


I don't think you can use 'I am already paying for motoGP' as an argument. That's like saying you should get a cheap Mars bar because you bought a Snickers.
How would the free code work? Would they apply to the next season? Interesting idea, could work, but open to abuse.
And, unfortunately, Murdoch has the contract so you will either have to pay him or not watch (or watch another way).
Personally I would like more than anything for the BBC to get the sport back because I thought they did a great job AND it was available on demand via iPlayer - but sadly the BBC are too busy pandering to political forces and the whims of whoever their director of sport happens to be at any given moment, with no discernible long term strategy for holding on to sporting rights apart from Wimbledon. No football, no cricket (just got that back I think but not until 2020), no motorsport, no Olympics, on the verge of losing international rugby - and even though they had rights to the Golf they chose not to show half of it! - just exactly why does the BBC exist now? I'd happily ditch the licence fee and pay to watch f1 instead!


Should Lewis Hamilton retire during the next 6 years, viewing figures will fall off the cliff.

That's a very interesting point on Sky's monopoly. For the UK I'm not sure there are any significant up-and-comers to eventually fill that Hamilton void.


Crom, Lando!


Lando Norris will be big.
Maybe not on the scale of Lewis.
But he will be up there.
Sadly this will be watched by only a handful of viewers. That were the magic will be lost.
Like Boxing there are only a few champs still remembered. The new boys are being the pay wall.
The big fighters like Triple G are watched by a few behind the pay wall.


Lando norris😉


Lando on a Sky station... maybe we should start calling him Lando Norrissian!
Then again, he's not black like Calrissian. Lewissian would be though.


Just watch out for McLaren protege Lando Norris.

He looks to be the real deal. Let's hope so.


While I am by no means a fan of having to pay to watch F1, you don't need to spend anywhere near £600 to do so if you are so inclined. You can get weekly NowTV passes for each race weekend, which would be about £230 for a whole season, and you could do it for less if you only wanted to watch the races.


@Andrew M - NowTV is cheap now, but when Sky have no competition you can expect a steep rise. There have been problems with NowTV not being able to cope with heavy usage. Eurosport Player is a similar video streamer, it went off line for hours last weekend. And, you can't record or pause NowTV, watch it and that's your lot.


The technical limitations are annoying I'll grant you, but you still get to watch the races. And I doubt there will be any swinging price increases as a result of F1 exclusivity, NowTV gets all the sports channels.

Like I said, I'm no fan of sports moving behind paywalls, but I think it's disingenuous to say "I won't pay £600 for F1" when there are much cheaper alternatives out there.


The coverage in the uk was at its peak for me when on the BBC simply because it was all sessions available (inc practice) and no ad breaks. I took up the sky package for some time but couldn't justify the ongoing price.

£5 a race would be ideal for me.

Liberty media should just create their own global F1 app (avail on smart TVs, iPads, PlayStations etc) which is a subscription based service. £5 for a weekend (and what ever that translates to in other countries) or deals if you sign up for full seasons or half seasons etc. Live and also on demand and ready to stream or watch again an hour after the race is done.

Sell the other rights as they see fit, keeping half of all races free to air.

Let people pick and choose how they get their content.


"Liberty media should just create their own global F1 app"

They might, but the problem is that by the time they figure that out (and if Sky lets them) we'll all have stopped watching it anyway 😐


And we can pay to watch races globally? How. Where?


Not sure when they will go to that step but the OTT platform is under construction now and will carry all kinds of supporting F1 content in the short term


Good to hear James, let's hope it's what we're looking for.


@James - I hope it's not been created by the buffoons who FOM used for their Live Timing app.


I think they want to but it would infringe on skys 2019 exclusivity contract.Sky have paid alot to become the sole broadcaster in the uk. The only answer is for liberty to buy sky out of that 2019 contract.


I'm glad you think SKY should sell the highlights to the BBC, James. That is what I have been thinking.

To me, it is a no brainer.

It is in SKY's interests for interest in F1 to be as high as possible. To achieve this, you need viewers to be as high as possible. More interest in the sport equals more subscribers for SKY.

The BBC would undoubtedly get more viewing figures for a prime time highlights show than any other channel.

The trouble with the others is adverts.

Yes, viewers won't miss anything because it's not live. But if a very casual fan turns on half way through a race and it's a bit dull and 10 mins later there's an ad break, they will turn off.

They might not if on BBC.

BBC1 has such a powerful place.

It's why the BBC put Malaysia on BBC1 to start with one year then switched to BBC2 for Easter Sunday service.

C4 do a good job but it just doesn't have the reach.

Viewers in Wales with Sky TV, for example, have to go to page 3 of their


Channe l4 do not have adverts during live races


Did you actually read my post? It is quite obvious I'm talking about highlights shows and where they will be in 2019.

Yes I know C4 don't have adverts in live races. That's not the point.

Tornillo Amarillo

What do you think of this story?

Too much complicated.

For me is simple: Paywall = I won't never pay. Never.

Look for publicity instead!


Yes, "won't never", my mistake again, sorry, and yes : not an native English speaker. I should pay...


won't never pay, not a native speaker but that's surely a double negation


If I can't watch live I just don't bother, I'll just read the result online and go on about my day, I imagine F1 will become even less relevant to me once Sky has it completely, shame really but plenty of other stuff I can watch FTA that's vying for my attention.


4 free air broadcasts is just a kind of commercial to get you hooked on a subscription. F1 fans want to see all races.
What I look forward to, is the ability to pay only to watch that sport, i.e just one race If i want to watch it at home when I don't go to the local sports bar.
Today I see in different countries with only the ability to have F1 if you by a pricey package including the football package.

Though some free broadcasts might get more young fans. Teenagers in my family don't know much about F1 since it is not on free air tv anymore.
If there was a paywall in my childhood, I might never be a F1 fan.


If there was a paywall in my childhood, I might never be a F1 fan.

I concur, it just would never have happened for me. Had I not been able to watch live freely I'd never have gotten hooked. Now we have a fraction of that: the true signal has grown very weak while the surrounding noise from the internet is drowning it out; the quality dimished. There is so much vying for the attention of youngsters now, and with the paywall monopoly it does make you wonder what the lay of the landscape will be in just a few years and the ramifications of that.


So, what has it been like in France with F1 behind a paywall ?
It has been years of watching the races on a laggy and blocky illegal stream of Sky.
It's quite a shame actually, because Canal+ coverage is top-notch. However, at a price of 40€ per month, the full package was still too expensive for me. Recently, more limited ("digital only") Canal+ offers at 20€ per month have become available, so I might consider subscribing to this. In any case, I can only welcome the return of F1 on TF1... even for a limited number of races.


What do the sponsors have to say about the collapse in viewer figures?


@Michael W - they don't sponsor F1 any more.

Do any of the teams have major sponsors?


Do any of the teams have major sponsors?

Phillip Morris, Petronas , Kaspersky, Martini, BWT.......


My humble opinion? Rupert Murdoch, SkyTV and all of the rest of them can burn in hell for stealing away my beloved sport. I watch and am thankful for the 1/4 screen replay on Youtube but it is quit ridiculous.


Doubt Murdoch or Sky would allow FTA F1 in the UK anytime soon.

Sometimes in the UK it feels like Sky F1 is a vehicle they use to pedal adverts for their football and relentless betting platforms.

You really notice how F1 has changed amongst the casual fans though. I remember just how many folk at work loved and watched the Canadian GP that Jenson took in the wet. Now none of them pay Sky Sports to watch F1 and none of their kids are getting into the sport.

Ok, it helps when it's not a predictable Mercedes PU borefest, but still, Sky Paywall is killing F1 audiences.


Gee whizz. France gets a whole four GPs on free to air. Whoop-de-doo. The idea this will produce a new generation of viewers is laughable. The disconnect between the sport and its potential television audience is truly astounding. Only a diminishing few anoraks will keep paying for aero-neutered processions. I guess the rich guys at the top don't give a ****. How any team attracts big money sponsors is baffling.


I hadn't realised the next Sky deal didn't include an FTA highlights package. Shocking.


A mix of highlights on free to air, and full race coverage behind a paywall has to be the best realistic option. Top sport has been disappearing from terrestrial TV over the last few decades, and it isn't coming back, but the downside can't be ignored. Young people have to be attracted to replace older generations, this has to take place online, and on free to air TV. Years ago in the UK, the BBC would show the race live on Sunday afternoon, and then a highlights package in the evening. This would be the ideal solution, an F1 programme at the same time every week on a Sunday evening prime time slot, and simultaneously being released online, would bring in new fans, and those that like what they see might be tempted to pay for the full package. I would imagine this route to new subscribers isn't lost on the clever people at Sky


If most are like me with the current state of F1 I'm finding it hard to raise enthusiasm to watch the races that are broadcast live and have absolutely no intention of paying silly money to Sky to watch a flawed product, then like France, UK figures will fall off of the cliff.

This comes from an F1 fan since circa 1976.

Anyone know what is happening with RTL in Germany for 2018?


UK F1 fan. Not a Sky subscriber, never will be.

As it currently stands, 2018 will be my last year of following F1 having followed every season since the early 90's.

Perhaps it is time to pay more than a licence fee to watch our favourite content, but as a non-football fan and cricket following on the excellent TMS - each time I reluctantly look at Sky packages I find I am having to spend a bucket load of cash each month for stuff I don't need.

Having invested in Freesat, it is very difficult to justify switching and losing all that previous investment.

This is quite aside from my feelings about Sky, but that is another story.

F1 is a commercial enterprise. But forcing all customers to pay in order to view makes it a niche sport. Without FTA races - live or high % highlights - I will no longer follow F1 because the cost can't be justified.


Good news! You no longer have to pay for football and cricket if you don't want it. Instead of £23 a month for all sports channels, you can now pay just £18 a month for the F1 channel! Saves you £60 a year! You still have to pay £30 a month for basic Sky as well..... so it's still about £600 a year in total.


Do you still pay £18.00 a months there is no F1


I rest my case!


Oops. I put "sarcasm" in tags to make it clear that my "Good news" and "just £18" were meant in jest, but the site formatting means the tags weren't displayed.


It's really not worth that. And the money goes to Murdoch (a major drawback in my book).

I don't agree that things can't be changed to a more equitable deal. The teams need sponsors less when the tV money is good. So reduce the TV money, and watch the teams' sponsors start to put pressure on Liberty to open up the sport to a wider audience. Streaming live over the internet is the obvious way forward.


Thanks Bernie!!
You're a star!!!


All the four letter words available and you choose "star" - Shame on you 😉


I know😱 but I'm just thinking about the kids😄


Very thoughtful 🙂


For years f1 was always free for anyone to watch then came along Sky to ruin every true fans enjoyment of a sport they have been watching live for years, firstly I don't watch enough TV to warrant having Sky, secondly to be able to watch ALL live races it would cost me a minimum of £50 per month for a Sky subscription to do so, how in God's name have Sky managed to get the rights to view a sport that had been free to all for years, I never have agreed this to be right and never will do and even if I could afford to have Sky I wouldn't now out of principal, up until the time that Sky took over the rights I never missed a LIVE race since the very first race I ever saw on TV which was the fateful Dutch GP of 1973 but my viewing along with many thousands of fans have now been ruined by pay to view TV so shame on Sky and others involved in taking it away from the fans.


You don't need a sky subscription. You can pay NowTV. Also, I have an 18 month broadband deal with talk talk that includes Internet, line rental and all skysports channels for £28 a month. Deals are out there.


I live in Spain and since last year F1 has been behind the Movistar paywall with Vodafone also offering it this year. I pay my father in law 10€ a month with which he has added the motor package to his existing Movistar tv and I have access to it through the app. I have never paid for satélite tv in my life and don't intend on paying the 40€ a month for it despite being a life long fan and having attended 8 gps around Europe. My problem is with the quality of the access to the content, I don't know about other countries but here it's awful. I've sent a number of complaints to Movistar and it seems I'm the only one in all of Spain that watches the uploaded videos of qualifying. I think three times this year they just haven't uploaded qualifying and when they do, they upload the videos with a predetermined duration without checking. If there's a rain delay or extended safety car period i have a big problem. The race in Azerbaijan abruptly ended with 4 laps to go, Q3 in Spa suddenly stopped just as Vettel exited the bus stop chicane on the very last lap and the video of Monza qualifying was 1 1/2 hours of Pedro De la Rosa talking nonsense and the safety car lapping a wet track before it suddenly cut off without showing any of the running that came later. If i wasn't so frustrated I'd think it was hilarious but as I say, it seems I'm the only one complaining which says as much for the opinion here in Spain of F1 in 2017 than anything else. If Facebook or google were to start charging us they would see massive declines in customers but they won't, because the business model is based on advertising to mass public, F1 should clearly be the same.


I am in Australia, we get the Australian GP live then every second GP live, with the
alternate race highlights (1 hour) the following day. Why watch half a race ?
Tried FOXTEL , but at $1200.00 a year the value is not there .
The Moto Gp formula is MUCH more viable $80.00 a year and get unlimited
After 40 years of following, I am now slowly drifting away from F1.


You aren't drifting away, Mike, you have been backed into a corner and have no choice but to make a painful decision .... either pay (lots!) to continue to watch F1, or walk away.
The big-wigs of F1 see this as brilliant business strategy. I see it as a form of abuse.
I agree with you that F1 needs it's own reasonably-priced subscription model similar to MotoGP. But, as we all know, there are 'Berni-esque' exclusivity contracts with Sky etc that Liberty Media will have to honour for many years to come. What a mess!


The question I have is whether the free to air TF1 races will have commercial interruptions? In the U.S.. NBCSports has the exclusive U.S. F1 contract, available only on pay cable, except for 2-3 races that are free-to-air. However, all of it's F1 broadcasts have so many commercial interruptions that viewers miss almost *1/3* of the race action! Combined with mediocre commentating done from the studio, (not at the track) and you have an F1 broadcast that does nothing to create new interest in F1 in the U.S. Compared to the Sky F1 race presentations, NBCSports is a bad joke. IMO, it will be a litmus test for Liberty Media's commitment to the U.S. market to see if it implements a radical upgrade (including races without commercial interruptions) to it's U.S. F1 broadcasts in the near future.


it's still only four GPs, but they have to start somewhere, somehow. let's hope for the best!


I have said this before and will say it again, F1 behind a pay wall is not right, its just not cricket.

Its bad enough now but in two years time, its the end.

I was an avid follower for 20 years, watching every race, rain or shine, at home or away. But since the coverage went to Sky, I have found that I no longer mind missing races.

Why, because you just fall out of the habit and once out of the habit you don't mind how many you miss. And when you realise there is a race on and then find out its on after 5pm etc, the highlights you just think to yourself why bother. So thats why I have fallen out of love for the sport, and I am sure that I am not the only one to think like this, so but your sport behind a pay wall and more people will fall out of love and get out of the habit of watching......


"its just not cricket."

As another sport that has largely moved behind a paywall, it very much is cricket...


>In a perfect world SKY would do a deal with the BBC to give affordable access to F1 highlights and the British GP

I strongly, strongly disagree. How can this be portrayed as a perfect outcome when it is worse in every way than the existing state of coverage which is itself worse than what came before it?? Ridiculous.

I have zero interest in a sport that I cannot follow live. What's the point? There are plenty of other things in the world that I can preoccupy myself with instead. If F1 doesn't want me to spend that time watching F1 then I will happily oblige.

And that is without getting into the quality of the coverage itself. Sky has a big budget, but their coverage is sensationalist as all hell, and extremely nationalistic. Given the choice I wouldn't watch it even if it were free, I sure as hell aren't going to pay for that rubbish. With Sky having a monopoly from 2019 onward they will have zero incentive to improve their coverage, because they have zero competition. Instead I very much foresee them upping the nationalistic and sensationalist elements of their coverage in a desperate attempt to retain and attract viewers.

Thirst for profit and wanton disregard for the consumer will ruin F1, as it always does.


well... since F1 fell behind the paywall in France I started watching SkySports. Much better coverage and commentary than Canal Plus.
Good to see some free to air races next year! France now has 2 drivers on the grid and certainly 3 next year but they really need more coverage and recognition.


Bit of a headache for Liberty there. Good luck attracting new fans to the sport in the UK from 2019.... Thanks, Bernie!


France has had a shot in the arm with the long awaited return of a GP coupled with 3 potential home grown stars. So viewing figures are sure to rise, just like they did in Spain when Alonso came along. Its the drivers that command the viewers. Of France can build up a strong fan base with the birth of new drivers and track combo, then rest assured the races will disappear behind the pay wall.
Sadly for the UK. Without a new Jenson or Lewis, it doesn't matter what channel It is inn viewing figures will drop.


Lando Norris, Oliver Rowland.


Here in Australia Foxtel has put F1 behind a paywall. You have to buy a base package then add sports for around 40 bucks a month. Considering I only want F1 not all the other rubbish I refuse to pay and as a result have not seen a full season since 2015 when these parasites took over.


The antiquated business model of denying the majority of your customers access to your product (behind an unreasonable paywall) in the hope that they will just pay, is floored.
A recipe for disaster.
The bottom line is - the more people exposed to F1 (whether paid or free) the better.


I wonder if Trudeau got the bbc to make their format with more gender equality?


Thank God I can watch all my F1 races on 'free' live streaming.

I wonder how much % of viewership this represents?


Despite being a committed F1 fan for many years, I became less and less able to justify the Sky Sports subscription for F1 only. The cost vs entertainment factor has changed dramatically in the past few years.

I also can't bring myself to play a part in lining Rupert Murdock's pockets.

Why don't F1 have an app like the WEC?!


Me personally. I HATE sky sports having the exclusive coverage. For me the best times were with BBC, no ads at all and equally good coverage.

Furthermore, having to pay £18 per month for, whatbisbon average, 1 race a fortnight when fans of football have numerous games a week for the same price. To me, F1 is just a cash cow to Sky and the sooner it is taken from them then better.

The best pay for sport service I have come across is Superview from the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship. I pay $40 a year (or £23) and I can live stream EVERY quail and race LIVE as well as re-watch every session from the season.... I'm confident if F1 did the same, it would have millions more viewers virtually overnight!


i'm in the UK and I won't be following F1 after next year. C4 has done a good job, for several years, thank you.

There isn't enough close racing to justify Sky's high cost.

Other better quality, more exciting motorsports series are available.

I'll catch up with F1 on YouTube for free thanks. It's about 75% hot air at the moment, the real racing occurs for a fraction of air time anyway, Over time I think I'll probably lose interest.

Richard Stephenson

Post 2018, it won't really matter. Halo has finished the sport for me (after thirty years of watching and spending). Will switch support to Moto GP where I can see heroes continue to do the impossible - not a form of bumper cars that F1 will inevitably become.


Is TV as critical any more, I think most tv audiences for any show in any country are on the decline as we consume our media in many forms now with the instant access to data.

I was recently abroad and found it difficult to watch the F1 whilst away as Sky and Channel 4 are country locked and F1 has no real online platform yet.

What I am saying is Liberty would be, and I am sure they are, considering an online model going forward. One that works in a similar manner to other USA content such as the NFL network (which they previously owned) and the WWE network, both of which have shown increases in viewership. Obviously a delicate subject against the TV giants of the world


Post notifications seem to be working again james👍🏻...


This will be the death rattle to F1 in the UK. Since we lost full BBC/ITV coverage my viewing has pretty much stopped. I have not watched a race this year. I still follow the sport on various websites - but my viewing has stopped - thus my exposure to all the big dollar advertising has stopped. I must also add that F1 has been the only sport i have followed - since 1984. I cannot imagine many new youngsters getting hooked on the sport. Liberty need to sort this out or F1 will be long gone by 2030.


I don't live in France but I do live in French-speaking Switzerland. The concept of what is 'free to air' is somewhat outdated as I would suggest most people in Europe have a combined TV/internet package with many channels. Here in Switzerland, my package includes several UK channels, but when Channel 4 is not showing a race, I watch it on Swiss TV instead, which shows all the races with either French or German commentary. I suspect many French viewers will do the same - merely access F1 from another channel. That may not be an option for UK viewers, who will either want a UK commentary, or may not have access to a package of overseas channels.

What intrigues me is whether F1 will offer a live streaming of F1 races from its own website. I would be prepared to pay for that, provided I could have a decent English language commentary (the Swiss-French commentary is incredibly boring) and have access anywhere in the world.


From a purely personal perspective for me next year is the last year if F1. Nothe because I think it's boring (I don't), not because of the PU's (I actually like then - we are all different) but because I refuse to pay for TV especially SKY. Even with freeview I watch barely any TV. I would rather have control over what I watch and an YouTube alone I can stream hours of entertainment for free. Or I can pay 6 quid a month and have Netflix and stream hours of what I want to watch. F1 is something that I enjoy but not to the extent that warrants paying 50 quid a month for.

I won't say that putting F1 behind a pay wall in the UK will kill the sport. There is a world beyond our waters. But on these fair shires there is an industry built around F1 and the interest in F1. Part of sponsorships is having a recognisable face. Like Jensen cutouts standing in Santander windows telling us to bank there. Will that be relevant if we don't recognise the person because we no longer follow the sport? So perhaps now is the time for people power. Perhaps at the end of 2018 every person not willing to pay for SKY should write an open letter saying thanks for the memories but we have been forced out of your exclusive club so nuts to you, have a nice life. Let's boycott this thing visibly. Not on forums. Imagine being Christian Horner and getting a million letters all saying the same thing. His sponsors will find out and so will the world.

Perhaps it's just a dream. One thing I know is that positive action isn't our forte especially when angry whinging is an option.

Ricciardo Aficionado

That's how it works in Oz. It's ok if you have a life and don't have time to watch every minute of every F1 moment on track. And the occasional broadcast suffices for a fix.
It is, however, a second rate service. Kinda the beggars banquet. Enough to keep the masses hooked (on a drip line) but not so much to devalue the pay TV model.
Sad for the retirees and unemployed around here who have a desperation for more hours of content to fill their vacant lonely days but can't afford Fox. Although keeping up to date in the season is easy with all the highlights broadcast free on youtube within hours of the race.
I'm not surprised by this (token) move away from pay TV.


Good for the French viewers, I only watch F1 on free to air TV, I am not willing to pay Sky £60 a month since TV is hardly worth watching these days, everything is just repeats, and I don’t really watch any other sport on TV, except tennis sometimes so if it all goes to Sky next year with no free channels I will miss watching F1.


I live in Germany and hope RTL doesn't lose the Free to air right. Ok I have to put up with lots of ad breaks but all races are showing and we have Kai Ebel 🙂


I watch it on RTL too, with my radio on for the English commentary, good but man those adverts are very very long....


As a Brit that now lives in Australia. I would love to see F1 launch their own channel (at a reasonable cost). At present I have to pay for FOXTEL and F1 is the only program I really watch. The problem for me is the cost is bundled up with local sports content (expensive due to demand) which I don't watch. Channel 10 (FTA) has some GP's but no qualifying. For me I want to watch the whole Friday/weekend action so end up paying through the roof. Regarding FTA coverage in Europe, F1 has to be on FTA. Growing up watching F1 with Murray walker on the BBC is a fond memory. Without it i wouldn't pay for it today. I am a lucky as I can afford it now but many others can't and I doubt my parents would of been able to, if it was on Sky when I was younger. F1 needs to make money and hence the French tv deal is the way forward. Die hards fans like me will pay to watch FP1, 2 etc but not your average fan. They will only watch it tye GP on FTA. There is a sensible solution for everyone out there.


Nigel!!! C4 do quite a good job for the F1 to fair and I can't knock the quality of coverage that Sky produces but a combination of less interesting (as in action, not technical) races and less viewers means that the sport is falling out of public consciousness. My folks don't have Sky so on a Sunday, eating lunch with them means no F1 whereas before we could all sit and watch. No I have to choose (free!) food or watching a potentially dull race at home instead.
I've seen people comparing the pay wall for F1 to Football but they really are not comparable. In the UK, you could go to every home game in a season and rely on highlights for the others and that is fine. There's only one race in the UK and that's damn expensive to see in person. Removing the ability to watch all races live on FTA TV simply removes viewers, future fans, future potential drivers and advertising revenue for every track and team involved in F1. Less viewers means sponsors will pay less. We see McLaren struggling for a principal sponsor already, how much harder when UK viewers drop by 80%?


Also there are 38 match weekends with 20 teams competing in the Premier League, which is the national sport

F1 has about 40 hours of racing action per season and is a niche sport.

There is no comparison, except that there is the model of live matches on Sky, highlights on BBC which works very well.


I live in Australia and the only way to watch the F1 season is with the local pay tv provider Foxtel, who has Sky's coverage. The cost is $50 per month. That's just too expensive in my opinion for 9 months worth of racing.

Netflix etc have proven that people will pay to access content providing the access is easy and fairly priced.

I would love to see F1 move to a model like the UFC has. All the content is streamed through their own app (or various online services) worldwide and the user pays an annual subscription fee to access the content.


The Murdoch model, put everything behind a pay wall. Liberty group wants to put most of it behind a pay wall, The French deal has been made probably to try and stop the bleeding of numbers. But only four races....motor racing is going through some big changes it's expensive it does not want to become exclusive.
It needs followers in numbers...big numbers. More free to air not less.


As it stands, at the end of 2018 Grand Prix racing will cease to exist for me. Being deliberately excluded from it I will take no interest whatever and that after a lifetime's involvement in Motorsport and interest from the days of Jim Clark's races on radio through gp's where I could wander the paddock and touch the cars, even sitting with Carlos Pace for breakfast in the greasy spoon cafe at old Silverstone.
A shame but for me it's gone steadily downhill, ok great that drivers generally are not killed or maimed any longer but it was .....really......much better before the celebrity driver and 'fans' when race people went racing either in or out of the cars.
I'll get myself up to Cadwell once a year to the HSCC meeting and watch some great drivers on it through Hall bends !

Ricciardo Aficionado

Onya Ken. You're probably right, you've seen the best of it anyway!


I used to watch every quali and race live. Since only half the races are live now i watch all the races, live and highlights, recorded. And i fastforward until i see a position change or what looks like close racing. It takes me an average of 15 minutes to watch a race now. So, no, i will not pay an extortionate fee for 15 minutes actual entertainment every two weeks when football fans get far far more entertainment for the same money. So frankly im not worried about losing F1 altogether in 2019. You raise a good point about womens sport on BBC. It would be great to have a televised single seater motorsport series that would fit right in with the BBC and its excellent coverage.


After 52 years its 'goodbye F1' from my viewing habits.


"And their obligation under that package is only to show a single live race, the British GP plus highlights of the others, on free to air TV."
At present there is no British GP after 2019 so there will be no live race. In July this year the Premier League won a blocking order that means that UK Internet Service Providers will be required to prevent people from watching illegal streams of Premier League matches. If this is upheld then that spells the end for Kodi boxes and other such devices. With Sky pumping the most money into football, then F1 will come under this restriction too. And your average Joe Public doesn't have the knowledge to setup a proxy to hide behind so you can stream illegally.


I think Liberty are stuck because of the already agreed TV contracts. I'm sure they'd love to set up a subscription streaming service, but that would rightly anger the existing TV contract holders. Also, the $600M or so existing revenue from TV is a huge risk to replace by live subscription streaming in one go.

Only way out? Piece by piece subscription streaming as existing TV contracts come up for renewal? So when contractually allowed it's introduced into new pay tv or free to air tv contracts. This can technically be done country by country. Of course there are always ways around the country streaming blocks, but that's allowed for in the revenue predictions.

Any other way out for Liberty? They strike me as playing the long game. Clearly they want maximum long term profit, so new viewers need to be found for the future, which isn't going to be found by a few well off dads sitting watching with their sons every other weekend. It can of course be mums and daughters, etc before the PC brigade get on to me! I watch 90% of my "TV" on an IPad by streaming or downloading nowadays, and I'm an old fogie of 49. To get the next generation they need to stream cost effectively (Now TV from Sky is streaming, and has potential, but it's way too expensive on a race by race or monthly sub). As an example Amazin Prime is £80 a year for free package delivery, music, tv, etc - its spectacular value for money at present.


", including balancing out the gender gap, with widespread coverage offered of women’s sport, which satisfies political pressures from outside and is also very cost efficient."

ROFL, wonderful James.

Basically, the world will not pay for F1 in pay per view, Bernice and the Beancounters greedy grab failed.

The BBC, a joke, so wrapped up in being Politically correct, ethnic, female etc. That they are broadcasting rubbish nobody wants to watch, AKA "cost efficient".

I believe that you just invented a new euphemism there mate. "Cost efficient" AKA cheap rubbish nobody wants to watch..


The BBC is a joke, I can hardly bear to consume any of their output these days, the vast majority being tedious overly diverse drivel.

Given the choice I wouldn't contribute, maybe then for many pay per view might be more affordable...


Now TV is £6.99 for 24 hours - so we don't need to subscribe to the whole SKY Sports package on a monthly basis for £££'s (never thought I'd be advertising for Mr Murdoch...) That would be £70 per year while C4 shows it and double when C4 stop. That's not so far away from what other people have mentioned as reasonable. Its also not far away from what I pay for MotoGP - though whether I'll carry on paying after Rossi retires is a question for another day.


I don't have a TV in the house any more. I am a MotoGP fan and I pay around €20/month during the season to stream straight from the MotoGP site. The commentary is good and I can see the practice sessions if I want as well as the qualies and race. I can stream live or watch later.
Why does F1 not offer something like this? I would happily pay.


Hopes for post 2018...? Hoping Lewis chooses to retire at the end of next year (with five world championships to his name) so I can switch off guilt free and remember the good times while F1 becomes ever more an obscure minority sport....


SKY and other pay-channel providers are 'for profit organizations'. They don't care if the profit comes from 200.000 ppl watching the transmission or if its from 2.000.000 ppl. As long as they have maximized the profit from any given event/transmission. So its not a question about maximizing the numbers of viewers watching it.
Reality is unfortunately that SKY and others having purchased these F1 rights, have increased their profits by putting these transmission behind a pay-wall. When it started out some years back, aka in 2014 when another 25 million viewers were lost F1’s annual global media report still reported an overall increase in media sales. Btw, the F1 media report measures the number of unique viewers of F1 as anyone who watched at least 15 non-consecutive minutes of it.
So this viewership drop is (surprisingly perhaps to some) not even bad news for the teams, as they have still cashed in more despite the falling numbers.
The pay TV networks are paying a premium for rights to sports events since they drive their subscriber numbers. And the teams benefit from this as they share 63% of the sport’s profits as prize money. It compensates for the fact that a reduction in the number of viewers could in turn reduce the sponsorship rates available to the teams to sell. I recall that Ecclestone revealed that the SKY deal boosted his F1’s TV rights fee in Britain by a massive 110% to an estimated $105 million! Moreover, SKT boosted the total coverage when launching the dedicated F1 channel. (loosing around 25 million casual viewers in that step alone when going behind the pay wall). But the profile of the paying viewers is very different than the casual viewers. So despite fewer viewers, those that do have in average a much higher disposable income, are more intense and committed followers of the sport, which in turn makes them more valuable to the F1 sponsors!
And the F1 business reports for both the rights holders and the teams backs this up. I am not defending their actions, simply just stating the facts that the 'for profit organizations' involved have all earned more money by doing so.
It is an unfortunate reality for the still committed fans out there that do exist in reasonable large numbers, but that do not have the disposable income available to pay for it.


Just look at English cricket in U.K. since it's gone more or less pay tv. Yes the sport made a lot of money out of Sky. But most people don't know the players any more and more importantly don't even know who they are playing. Just observe the fervour for the Ashes in 2005 and compare it to next summer. Apart from the biggest sport (football) perhaps, it just can't be good for the long term future of any sport to disappear behind a pay curtain, can it?


I will not pay for F1 while Murdoch and his cronies are trousering the money. Even paying the BBC £5.00 per race, which seems a good idea at first glance, means that some or all of the cash will find its way into Sky's bank account. This man, who in my opinion, is responsible for phone hacking, Millie Dowler and her poor family and the despicable treatment of the people of Liverpool in the time since Hillsborough, is more slippery than Bernie was......and that's saying something!! I've been following F1 since 1976 and have hardly missed a race, whether that be live or highlights, so I shall be extremely disappointed come 2019, and radio is just not the same. However. In this case, my head will rule my heart and I will not pay while this parasite has anything to gain from my cash.


I guess I'll continue to scramble 30 minutes before a race starts to see if I can find someone streaming the race online in potato quality with lots of lag and constant breaks and page refreshes. It's a lousy experience but at least it's I the only one doing this?!


Not at all. I'll either do that or not watch at all. There's no way in hell I'll EVER pay Murdooche to watch anything.


I guess we're going to see a lot more people streaming some races with French commentary...let me see if I can find my old French-to-English dictionary somewhere...


James, is there a way to convey our fears to the powers at be at Liberty? They've responded to the fans fears of losing traditional tracks but what about this pay wall travesty?

The fans that comment here are more than your casual fan and a quick scan of the comments tells you how many will be turning off after 2018 if Sky get the the full cake to themselves. Imagine what it'll do to the casual viewers of F1 and the affect on attracting new viewers. There won't be any.

I'd settle for the continuation of what we have now, half live and half highlights on C4. Not ideal but a lot better than nothing/paying £30+£18 (?) For sky.

As others have suggested even going online with an *affordable* streaming package, perhaps from Liberty themselves would suffice, again not ideal for everyone.

Not Liberty's fault but they must address this, this was done to line Bernie's pockets, one last knife in the f1 community's back before he was toppled, fans shouldn't have to pay the price and unfair for Liberty too either I suppose but a compromise should be reached. £50 for Sky isnt the answer for hardcore fans and it certainly isnt for new/casual fans. Once it dissappears from FTA, there's a chance it'll never recover even if it became FTA again in a few years time, the bridges would be burnt and has been mentioned many times, it's a domino effect on F1, the British GP etc.


Good news for France, questions for Great Britain. Is there any word on future plans for the United States? I currently have to either buy an unlimited data plan for my phone/computer or pay for cable or satellite TV PLUS a 'sports package' to watch live Formula One races. Since I must put up with adverts as well as paying for the privilege, and noting that apparently the Italian GP had a TV audience here of about 680,000, it seems apparent that there is at least some widespread discontent with the current packages. Free to air in the States would surely have a wider audience though I know not how wide that would be. Seems worth a shot though.


Locks just keep out honest people hence I live in France and watch F1 FTA via german satellite when not live on C4. Search hard enough and you will find an internet site streaming the race. Liberty Media know all this and need to find a low cost way for everyone to watch the race.


I won't be paying Sky to watch F1 as I refuse to give that evil empire a single penny. My interest in F1 will vanish if Liberty do not do something to ensure F1 remains on free to View TV. F1 will suffer from going PPV only.


Very interesting thread indeed.

Knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated fans who are abandoning F1 in droves, and will quite literally switch-off in 2019.

Its a damning indictment of the situation, and there's clearly still a lot of anger all these years later.

I too echo many of the sentiments here. A lifelong fan with, at one time, an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport, reduced to not actually caring anymore.

Yes I read the newswires and watch a race if its on, but I simply will not commit to the pay model for various reason relating to the rights holder, not to mention a general sense of injustice! Don't even get me started on the notion of having to pay to watch heavily ad-filled content (double-taxation!).

Highlights don't work either. As several posters have commented - what's the point unless you can watch live, or at least on-demand?

Enforcing a digital black-out to maintain any sense of suspense also cannot work. My social feeds are full of F1 related content, and ignoring them (as well as TV and news sites) for 6-8 hours after a race doesn't work for me, and I suspect many others.

Barker content - what a loathsome phrase - is not the answer. It just exacerbates the problem, not unlike Carey and Bratches going at it with their unintelligible management speak.

What is needed is a modern digital approach; subscription-model, on-demand, ad-free. See Netflix, Amazon Prime, and a whole host of other services that are redefining how we digest content.

While we'll (unfortunately) never return to the salad days of FTA, let's hope innovation and technology can be applied beyond the racetrack to appeal to the many disenfranchised fans that share the same hopes and fears.


I can't afford sky and it's going to hurt not watching f1 anymore. I don't watch any other sports too. I think a lot of uk f1 fans will miss it.


Know it's late coming to the party, at the same time not much to offer in the discussion(s) relating to how F-1 is or isn't available in Europe. The quote below from James' story summary above ring a bell regarding probabilities for an expansion of the U.S. audience.

The observation about how the viewing audience dropping from somewhere between 4 and 5 million to a number of 750,000 since going 'behind a pay wall' looks pretty staggering. The drop in event attendance, one surmises, is directly related to folks' attention and interest migrating to other offerings or pursuits. because of their perception of value and/or ability to pay the price. There's lots of stuff out there to do when you really think about it and taking any activity off the wider stage (through cost or availability) will, most likely, shrink interest and opportunity to retain or expand fan participation at events themselves.

Here is what tells the tale above: ". . .affordable access to F1 . . . would be the most common sense approach. . ." If easy and affordable access is available to a viewing public, then their interest will be supported and probably increased. The opportunity to attend a "live" event when it is also 'affordable' to attend will generate increase attendance. The economics of the situation relate to stimulating elastic demand for events. Elastic demand, simply stated, is the condition observed where total revenue increases more than in proportion to lowering the cost of both viewing and event attendance.

Just tossing it out.


Here in the U.S. I get all the races, all the qualifying and most of the FP2 sessions live. Of course, I have to pay $100+ monthly for my TV service and I get a boatload of commercials on each broadcast. Odd that this occurs where there are perhaps 300,000 total viewers per race...


I'm a long time fan of F1 but in my opinion it has become technically controlled to such an extent that the excitement of watching has fallen dramatically. If it were to go totally behind a pay-wall then I'm afraid I would no longer watch. I'd certainly not pay to see what I regard as a largely artificial and manufactured 'spectacle'


i can't speak for anybody else, bu i have no intention of EVER paying for F1 viewing.

whether that is via Sky or an app or any other source, it's not something that i will prioritise within my family budget. If F1 goes behind any sort of paywall, then i'm gone as a viewer.

i don't mind adds the way that channel 4 are showing races, and my wife would prefer me to watch highlights anyway due to the prime weekend family time lost to watching TV.

I never watch the coverage at the time of broadcast anyway, i just have a series record setup and avoid the web until i have time to watch, which means it's sometimes Tuesday before i watch certain races if they are broadcast later on a sunday evening.


Adding my view but it's a common one. I've been keen on F1 for 40+ years. I've been happy with Channel 4 coverage and will miss it. I won't be a Sky subscriber so will miss watching either live races or highlights. It won't take long, however, for my attention to move to something else and my interest in F1 will likely fade pretty quickly. Shame.


I live in France and am a long-time F1 fan (over 40 years). Since F1 disappeared from FTA TV I've watched far fewer races. I only watch when I can find a decent stream on the Web, and even then I often drop out, as that experience is so poor. The loss of FTA TV has catalysed a distinct loss of interest in the sport for me. And I'm a hardcore fan! I can only imagine how casual viewers feel.


The sky deal is like being mugged at £18 a month and you must sign up for minimum of 18 months even though there are periods where there are no races. When it was shown on BBC everybody watched and on Monday a great discussion point but now because of the cost nobody watches the live broadcast and it is not even mentioned on Monday [ know someone who works in sky and they inform me the viewing figures are a disaster one month they went below 600,000] even though the UK is the centre of F1 sky for the public have destroyed it for the public


I'm french and live in France. I'm a F1 fan since I'm young in the 80's.
For me, pay to see a F1 race is a nonsense. I just can't imagine that !
Since F1 is on that pay TV I don't want to name, I can't see races live... such a shame ! I must see it later when I can have it elsewhere on the web... with all the frustration it caused.
The return of the F1 on TF1 is a good news for me as we will see the next french GP. But it is very frustrzating that it's only for 4 races !
F1 must be free on TV, that's my opinion.
You said it : "In France F1 has been behind a paywall since 2013 and audiences have fallen from around 4 to 5 million on TF1 to 750,000" : Isn't it stupid !?


It is a no brainer to have F1 on free to view because a lot of fans cannot afford Sky so viewers will ultimately drop and now sport is any good without people watching it


A good move but if F1 wants to really build it's audience instead of build it's audience a little but really just focus on pulling in as much race fee and and PayTV money as they can, which is the reality of the product Bernie built and Liberty bought, then it's got to be the start of a trend, not the drop-in-the-ocean it appears.

With Paul Ricard coming back on song, Ocon, Whinejean, Renault-McLaren, Renault factory team, Alesi and Prost poking their heads in at Ferrari ... the French flavour to F1 is returning. However you can take it from this Australian: patchy/absent F1 on free-to-air is the single biggest fan-killer for the sport. Liberty should focus on reclaiming all the TV rights for themselves and look to a future where FOM provide the pictures, Liberty distribute them globally, and fans opt in/out on a global internet-delivery model. If you want commercial-free, you pay $5 a race to stream it over the innernets. You want commercials interrupting your race, but pay nothing? You get it 'free' to air. That's the only model that makes sense. If Liberty can't make more money out of that than selling the rights to regional pay TV players, then they're not trying hard enough to really promote the sport and attract all these fans they claim to want. If every person who watched it streaming paid $5 (or whatever) instead of a pay TV monthly subscription where they're forking out around $40 for a whole lot of bullshit content they don't want (and can't possibly watch), it's cheaper/easier for the fans, and Liberty would make a tonne of cash.


I have the sky f1 coverage in the UK as part of the HD package, they now offer it as a seperate channel @£18/month with a minimum 18 months. As a long time sky customer my HD deal is better value, but why would sky think £18/month is good value when the sport shuts down for 4 months over the winter. At £10/ month they would get lots of interest but they have pitched this at the same price as their other stand alone sports channels.
If my HD package increases again, i will probably drop it as i get fed up with skys annual increases when no one is getting pay rises, i dont get more on my pension either. Sky need to stop paying silly money for rights and give people a fair deal


I think one of the things that the promoters and broadcasters forget is, aside from the monetary aspect, F1 fans INVEST into the sport in terms of their valuable time! Especially in places like the UK where the weather isn’t so good it’s actually quite a big commitment to dedicate the prime time of your precious weekend to watch F1 on TV!

I’ve done it, and been an avid fan for 30 years, but in the modern era of ‘watch when you want’ media I find myself less inclined to sit in front of the TV for several hours on weekend afternoons.

We need MORE ways of watching F1 not less! The audience drop off is a very real thing as far as I’m concerned – a few years ago I used to meet up with mates to watch every race, and I am the last one standing – and I’m starting to waver. I’ll pay for an app but I’ll certainly not pay for SKY, and I’m not the only one!


I'm only able to continue watching all the races on Sky F1 via skygo because my daughter let's me use her account on my laptop. Should she decide to close her Sky Sports account I will lose my access, simply because I could not afford my own account.....


I think Sky and BT in the domination of live sport in this country have caused so much damage. Cricket ,Golf and no doubt Wimbledon will follow all thinking it's good commercial sense. F1 in its typical arrogant stance thinks it's above everything and bullet proof. I have watched it avidly for 45 years but once it goes full time live with sky it's a goodbye from me. Even if F1 and sky relent and allow highlights which I seriously doubt they are collectively on a ship of fools. Coverage in Britain is crucial for sponsorship and lost viewers will make a difference. Couple this with a dominant 2 horse or worse a 1 horse championship makes for a very worrying future. I think F1 will be back on free T.V within three years of sky 2019 because of losing sponsorship and falling subscription. As for me thanks for the memories but I am off to touring cars snd formula E. As for formula one never has so much greed been taken by so few from so many. RIP F1 and for heavens sake don't let Ecclestone back in any form lol


Australia has this week gone backwards, The deal for network 10 to broadcast free to air 10 races a year has been revoked and the only FTA F1 race will now be the Australian GP, as an follower of over 40 years who I am totally disgusted by this. without subscribing to Foxtel I will have no choice but to watch very poor highlights packages 24 hours after the race is completed. I thought Liberty had said they were going to try and wind back these deals because the F1 survey showed they had dramatically reduced the viewership. So much for that. so here i was getting ready to watch the Malaysian GP and instead I am hit this. what an extremely poor way to treat your fans and they wander why they are in so much trouble of falling ratings.



I genuinely believe that we'll see races on facebook and YouTube in years to come. If you want to win/win back a younger demographic you've got to work with portals/media they use. Subscription or not the current format is dated. Hopefully liberty media inject some pace into this over the next few years.

Top Tags
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!