BBC and Sky to share F1 coverage

UK: Just in case you were on holiday like we were at the tail end of last week, it was announced to much general surprise that Sky and the BBC will share the joint rights for Formula One coverage in the UK in a new five-year deal from next season. The financially-strapped BBC is terminating its exclusive rights contract two years early and will save an estimated £50m – £60m as a result.

It is perhaps ironic that the deal comes just as the BBC’s viewing figures for F1 hit a 10 year high, but perhaps more interesting though is how the deal will play out amongst the power brokers that cluster around Formula One. Its teams and sponsors have long been dubious of the series moving towards pay-TV and with the UK market still being an extremely important one to the sport, measuring their reaction over the forthcoming weeks will be interesting. EU rules barring alcohol and tobacco advertising have already shrunk the potential list of sponsorship suitors, and anything else that further limits the GP’s viewing figures will presumably be seen as rather unwelcome.

Anyway, here are the bare bones of the deal:

  • All races, qualifying and practice sessions live on Sky Sports across TV, online and mobile and tablet devices.
  • Half the races and qualifying sessions remain live on BBC TV, Online and Mobile including key races such as the British Grand Prix, Monaco Grand Prix and the final race of the season.
  • Extensive BBC highlights on TV, online and mobile, of all races and qualifying sessions that BBC is not covering live.
  • Build up coverage of each Grand Prix on BBC News, Sky Sports News and Sky News.
  • Extensive multi-platform coverage including red button, and
  • BBC Radio Five and Sports Extra will continue to cover every race live.

Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: “This is fantastic news for F1 fans and Sky Sports will be the only place to follow every race live and in HD. We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television.”

With thanks to Julian Clover on Broadband TV News for reminding us about F1 Digital+ – a service way way ahead of its time.

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