Canal+ commences Formula 1 broadcasts
For the first time since 1992, French audiences who are interested in Formula 1 racing will have to pay in order to see races on television. On February 14, Canal+ announced that it had wrested the broadcasting rights for the following three seasons of the World Championships from TF1, which had been airing races for the last 20 years. “Negotiations turned out to be an epic battle,” pointed out Rodolphe Belmer, second in charge at Canal+.
Canal+ only had one month to form its teams and create its editorial in time for the first Grand Prix of the season, which took place in Melbourne, Australia, on March 17. M6 and especially BeIN Sport had also responded to the call for applications.
Everything has come together rather rapidly for the channel in this regard, and for the Formula 1 coverage it wants to incorporate methods it has used for football, rugby and handball broadcasting. Established journalists assisted by renowned consultants (Alain Prost, Jacques Villeneuve, Franck Montagny) will cover the races.
“For each of the 19 Grand Prix races of the season we would like to have a similar set-up to the one we have for the PSG-OM football match,” reveals Cyril Linette, sports director for Canal+.
François-Charles Bideaux, the director of sports production at Canal+ (and previously in charge of the Monaco Grand Prix production), will orchestrate the technical aspects. The channel has developed a flight-case production unit (with almost 4 tons of material) that will travel round the world and cover all the races of the season.
Canal+ is also currently negotiating with Formula One Management, the company that promotes F1 racing, in order to acquire footage from the 50 on-board cameras and the other thirty sources that line the racing circuit to supplement its own feed – thereby allowing spectators to immerse themselves even more in the race. Audio production will also be given particular care in order to create an additional sense of close proximity.
Before even taking into account technical production expenses as well as salaries for journalists and consultants, the pay TV channel is said to have laid down 29 million euros per year in order to obtain the coverage rights for the championship from Bernie Ecclestone, the boss who controls the promotion of F1.
Last year Canal+ lost about 80,000 paying subscribers. The group is betting on its sports coverage to help reverse the trend.