FOA want more F1 on pay-TV

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Moving F1 to pay-TV reduces the number of fans who can see it

Formula One Administration plans to move more F1 coverage from free-to-air television to pay TV channels.

The details of FOA’s plans for international coverage of F1 are explained in a submission made to the British government in its review of which sports should be aired on free television.

The F1 rights-holder lays out several explanations for why it is moving more F1 broadcasts to pay-TV (see below for the full document):

With greater pay-TV penetration and digitisation, pay-TV operators are increasingly providing broader coverage available to a greater number of viewers […] the uptake of pay-TV services by UK consumers has been steadily increasing year after year, with 49.5% of UK households subscribed to a pay-TV service.

In other words, moving British F1 broadcasts to pay-TV could mean cutting F1’s audience in Britain from over four million to just two.

And the 49.5% are not all subscribed to the same service: so if F1 was offered on Sky it might not be available on Virgin Media. The same applies in other countries, though pay-TV is generally more popular outside Britain.

In Britain at least, the pay-TV market is not as mature as FOA suggests it is. And it should know this from experience. It moved coverage of GP2 from one subscription service (Eurosport, on Sky) to another – Setanta – at the beginning of this year. Then Setanta went bust halfway through the season.

FOA also said:

Services such as pay-per-view have also become more widely available, which means that consumers do not need to subscribe to an entire package of pay-TV channels should they wish to view individual sporting events.

In Britain it is quite unusual to be able to pay for just the event you want to watch – ordinarily it’s a case of subscribing to a channels package to see the event you want.

It is an equally bad solution for broadcasters as it is fans. The popularity of boxing, for example, suffered after moving from free-to-air TV to pay-per-view.

FOA adds:

Finally, even those consumers not subscribed to access pay-TV services can still view major sporting events in local pubs.

Whoever wrote that never tried going into a pub and asking for a football game to be switched over to an F1 race…

FOA’s aim for F1 coverage

The most illuminating part of the document is the explanation of FOA’s goal for how F1 is broadcast:

Formula One’s overall aim is to ensure broad coverage of each of the individual races comprising the championship.

That’s it? Where’s the commitment to quality coverage? Where’s the commitment to uninterrupted coverage?

In short, FOA wants to get as many people to buy the rights as possible and it isn’t concerned about the quality of the end product.

There will probably come a point at which pay-TV saturation or the increased use of internet broadcasting makes a move away from free-to-air TV realistic. For the time being FOA seems to understand that is not the case in Britain yet and won’t be for some time. In a separate submission Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch told the panel:

Bernie Eccleston [sic] has stated that so long as he is in charge he wants free-to-air coverage.

But viewers in other countries where F1 broadcasts have already been moved to pay-TV services are not so fortunate. Here’s two comments from F1 Fanatic readers in Portugal:

Here in Portugal it was on RTP1 (kind of a Portuguese BBC) for free, but since 2007 it is on SportTV, which you have too pay for. It isn’t cheep! I watch F1 on Justin TV ever since.
David Pedro

Here F1 used to be in the state TV (RTP) but since a years back its on a paid sports channel (As much as ??50 per month). And that has hurt the sport’s image here, even though we have drivers with a chance of entering F1 (like Alvaro Parente).

We still don’t hear that much about F1 on public TV. In the mid ’90s there was even programmes on it. The day after Senna’s accident the Portuguese parliament held a minute’s silence.

I followed F1 this year through FilmOn HDI which broadcasts BBC.

I have nothing against the idea of paying for an F1 broadcast – as long as it’s good enough to be worth paying for. FOA should add these criteria to their aims for F1 coverage:

  • It must be a quality production (e.g. HD coverage, which is years overdue)
  • It must be live
  • It must be uninterrupted

What do you think of the state of F1 coverage in your country? Do you have to pay to watch F1?

Read more: Why the government must protect live F1 broadcasts on free-to-air television

FOA response to free-to-air list review

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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96 comments on “FOA want more F1 on pay-TV”

  1. Bad idea. Not content with pricing the fans out of the venue itself, the powers that be are trying to price us out of watching it on our own TVs as well.

    1. where is the spirit of public sport gone? isn’t supposed to be for the people. The great public spectacle that we can all talk about, and remember the big events later on in our lives.

      People trying to eek out more and more money when f1 makes “enough” money already, saddens me.

      Having said that, it’s the way of the world: Marketing over Meaning?

      1. You’re so right. The lack of public spiritedness, and common sense, it just kills me. If you’re trying to make more money, why would you cut yourself off and make yourself even more of a niche? It’s really incredibly stupid to assume that every single one of your viewers is going to follow you over to your new platform…

        Keith’s point about going into a pub sums it up really.

        If this is a hint of the future after Bernie goes, it’s not good.

  2. Pay per view or cable/sattilite??? If it’s pay per view I’d be ******. If it’s cable I’d laugh that it’s even considered a big deal. Come to the states. Nothing good is on “free” tv anymore.

  3. Nobody serious will pay for boring races like all the “new” tracks

  4. This is so bad! If it moves to PPV I don’t think I’ll watch! :0(

    Bring on Moto GP

    1. Bring on Moto GP…

      You could say that about any number of things relating to both series, including the TV deals perhaps.

  5. Aren’t we technically already paying for it on the BBC?

    1. well said k, i (have to) pay a tv license which is well over a hundred quid, and i pay for my sky pack which is around £40 a month, the only thing i watch on normal television is f1 and maybe eastenders for the missus, so going pay per view is actually a 3rd payment, if it will be per race, isnt the pricing in the region of £15.00 per event (wrestling, boxing etc.) so over the course of a year that would cost me nearly £1000!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. £15×19 does not equal £1000.

        Anyway if it went say paid TV on Sky it will most likely be included with the sports package, its not really an “event” like one off boxing matches are. Its a season of races.

        For those of us without Sky if it went to sky it would be £40 a month to get it … which is outrages but hopefully that is soon to change as Sky may be forced to sell Sports separately rather than requiring consumers to have the basic sky package, so many customers have no desire for any of the other channels you have to pay £30 for and then £10 extra for the sports.

  6. F1 on cable is how we have to watch it in the US, $50 a month for the pleasure of getting up before the sun to watch F1.

    1. Right on Mike, I pay for it to watch speed. and thank God for DVR so I dont have to get up at 4am to watch qual and the race.

      1. I could only get that paying around 130 dollars and having to wake up at around 7AM just to watch the race. It’s sad really, I can’t even regular cable anymore, so I am stuck watching it on this website through the internet when the video quality is not that great. But at least I get to watch the races.

  7. hence why I download the races to watch them. I am not paying an extra 30 dollars just to get the right channel.

  8. Sounds like FOA have very short term thinking. They are looking for the quick buck now, rather than looking at the long term. If you alienate enough people you may not have much of an audience left. I love F1, but if it went to Sky or whoever, I would not be willing to subscribe. Keep it on the BBC, and give them an HD feed.
    Bernie is a perfect example of knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

  9. I live in brazil and i can say we’re fortunate enought to have f1 broadcasted for free since early 70’s.

    Globo TV has been the monopoly of the broadcast since then, it’s been quit good coverage, despite from time to time we’re forced to watch a delayed qualifying session, or even a race (indy 2006, there were a footbal game in the same time).

    Nowdays with internet we’re able to download races broadcasted in another countries, and i think BBC done a excellent job this year (compared to brazilian’s coverage), but as Keith stated, not worth a subscription for all this money…

  10. I don’t mind paying for a product… I even paid for a season of F1 Digital on Sky back in the day.. but as far as I can see the only reason to move to Pay TV is to bring in more money for CVC.

    OK, if this was part of a long term plan to bring in more money from the TV companies, to offer circuit’s better deals and therefore cheaper deals then that would be great but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    Oh and fair point about getting pubs to change the channel from football to F1. I once tried to get the channel to the inagural A1GP race…. all I got was a totally blank stare from the other side of the bar.

  11. This is a bad idea – a potential Lose-Lose for everyone.

    If less people see the races, less sponsors will endorse the sport, meaning less money for the FOM and the teams.

    Part of me could understand paying for Football as they do a good job of providing excellent extra coverage, but seeing as F1 is yet to even address High Definition, FOM better provide a much better package for the TV viewer than it does at the moment.

    1. Exactly my thinking regarding sponsors. Imagine spending x amount of money to be a sponsor of an F1 team, having your brand shown on the car, and then told the number of people that you paid to have your brand exposed to just got cut in half.

      Do they have Pay-Per-View in the UK? At first I thought that this was what was being proposed.

  12. HounslowBusGarage
    3rd December 2009, 15:34

    I think this is a fundamentally bad idea, but I take issue with this part of your article.

    “With greater pay-TV penetration and digitisation, pay-TV operators are increasingly providing broader coverage available to a greater number of viewers […] the uptake of pay-TV services by UK consumers has been steadily increasing year after year, with 49.5% of UK households subscribed to a pay-TV service.”

    In other words, moving British F1 broadcasts to pay-TV could mean cutting F1’s audience in Britain from over four million to just two.

    This would only be true if the same percentage of FTV viewers were F1 audience as Pay-TV. And I think you have to accept that people who do not have Sky/Virgin/Setanta type Pay-TV access are probably less interested in sports coverage in general and F1 in particular than those peole who do have Pay-TV access.
    I suspect that if F1 was to switch from BBC to Sky tomorrow, viewing figure would only drop by 15% or so. Hovwever, I agree that viewer satisfaction would drop by 50% because of the blasted ads in the coverage.
    I’ve never bought coverage of a specific event from Sky (such as a boxing match), do they screen ads in the middle of those too?

    1. I have watched ppv boxing matches in pubs before and ad’s were present unfortunately

    2. I think 15% is mega off the mark.

      I’d say 90% of my friends who watch races don’t pay to view any other sports on TV.
      They are either
      a) Primarily football fans who actually go to games or watch games live on terrestrial tv, Match of the Day or highlights.
      b) People who don’t really watch other sports regularly. I think it is the uniqueness of F1 plus the race frequency compared to other sports that makes F1 watchable for them. Many of them are still semi-casual about F1 and some (especially the women) have only really got more interested in the last few years.

      Of the sports junkies I know who regularly pay or subscribe to watch stuff on TV, they are interested in Football, Cricket and Boxing. F1 comes quite down the pecking order for them and they are not devotees who watch every race.

      Most of the petrol heads I know are Moto GP nuts above anything else. They watch F1 but it is not their first love.

      None of the above would pay per view or pay for a subscription if they don’t already for another sport and even I wouldn’t and it is the only sport I seriously follow.

      Nationwide I would guess the audience would drop 40 – 60% in Britain. F1 just doesn’t have the mass passionate following here compared to football and F1 in other countries like Brazil. F1 nuts above everything else are just not as common here.

  13. Just wondering, why did F1 Digital fail? Was it just because it was still airing free on ITV, or was the coverage not up to scratch (or rather, not worth paying extra for)?

    I realize it was, technologically speaking, a long time ago and not the most relevant comparison, but with the relative ease you can watch F1 for free online now, they might well be in danger of repeating old mistakes.

    In Britain it is quite unusual to be able to pay for just the event you want to watch – ordinarily it’s a case of subscribing to a channels package to see the event you want.

    Yep – I’d love to follow Indycar and NASCAR on TV, but seeing as they’re the only four wheel motorsports Sky Sports cover, I’d be paying for channels I wouldn’t even watch during the winter months.

  14. It seems Bernie is fast becoming the most hate man in F1. This guy has no love for the sport but the money he can make from it. In India Star Sports is the rights holder and let me tell you the advertisements are sickening. Every 7-10 minutes there will be advertisements for about 3-5 mins.

    He’s gone mad I tell you. This guy does not want to keep the British GP and that too in Silverstone which I love, by the way. Bring back Magny course and A1 Ring and please remove Bahrain and Valencia. I’m not sure even if the Indian GP will be any good. If they have high speed corners and overtaking opportunites then okay, or else a strict no no.

  15. From a British perspective, the BBC still has 4 years (I think) on it’s contract, so we will have at least that much more free coverage before they can switch right?

    1. ITV still had a year on its deal before the coverage moved to the BBC. Which I’m not complaining about – we’re better off with the BBC in every way – my point is every contract has its price.

  16. It’s simple. I just don’t have the finances to pay for PPV TV ergo I won’t be watching it, but not out of any choice i’ll be making. I think Bernie and those vultures at CVC have forgotten that the world economy went to hell not too long ago, and that luxury items such as PPV TV are normally the first to go.

    Obviously not much business sense going on at FOM then. They didn’t learn squat from the failure of the F1 channel on Sky.

  17. We are watching the slow death of the sport.
    1st Honda, then BMW, next Toyota and now it looks as if Renault is looking hard for someone to buy them Sauber probably wont get in as a privateer team and now they want it on pay tv.
    Another sad say.

  18. In Italy we’ve always had Formula 1 for free. And the coverage is quite good.
    I know that Sky offers GPs on pay tv, also, and my friends tell me it is a very good coverage (they also show morning free practices), but I think our old RAI service is good enough.
    If they put on pay-tv I think I’d look for broadcasting on internet.
    Some years ago we had similar situation with tennis. 15 years ago all the Grand Slam moved to pay-tv…nowadays nobody watch it, too expensive. This should teach something…

  19. Andres Menacho
    3rd December 2009, 15:55

    I live over in the Americas, therefore every race is extremely early or extremely late at night (in exception to Brazil, Canada, and Indi when it was part of the calendar). Clearly I would not be at the pub at 6-30 or 7-30 in the morning and neither would i be able to achieve these at 2 or 4 in the morning. More over since I move a lot (im a student) i tend to only buy a basic cable package. anything including speed tv, or fox sports latin america (which i would argue is our version of the bbc, they are that good at the coverage) is expensive to say the least. I have however been able to follow motoGP easier thanks to their online tv subscription service. I have also seen a couple of american lemans on Speed’s online service and i was amazed at how you could follow normal coverage, or choose to follow your favorite driver. the technology is there to enable fans access to their sport. i would argue this is the only reasonable way to charge fans, as it could clearly be a premium service. yet i find it reasonably priced as a yearly subscription is usually far less expensive than buying the monthly TV packages.
    oh, and yeah its been so difficult to track f1 in the US that i have resorted to web streaming as well.

  20. Here in Canada we have to pay for TSN and we don’t even get any pre race coverage or post race coverage. Plus when we pay for TSN we have to pay for an entite package of other channels that we don’t watch. It is ridiculous. And we don’t even have a Canadian driver right now, and we should have Robert Wickens to cheer for.

    1. Yeah… totally sucks. Rogers used to have Speed TV on their basic cable package but that’s gone too. I’m not ready to pay $75 just to watch a channel broadcast the race, and nothing else… Heh, thank god for streaming.

  21. no!!!, more PPV no!!!. In Chile races are live on cable (with interrumptions) from 2001 and it’s a shame.

  22. It is funny people saying, “I do not mind paying to see a programme, but….” Why are they writing on this page then if this is the case.
    I mind paying for F1, I have never missed a race since 1998 (except this year’s Japanese and Brazilian – anyone got?), but if it does go to PPV, that is me done. I pay my TV licence and I subscribe to SKY, and now they want me to pay to watch a programme on the TV I am already paying for twice? No way! Schumacher has retired (hope he comes back with Mercedes, though), it is now boring, so they can do whatever they like with it. The less things are free, the less people want it anyway.

  23. I can only hope that F1 remains free-to-air in the UK and preferably on the BBC. If anything would be likely to make me stop watching F1, it wouldn’t be splits, drivers leaving or boring races on new soulless circuits it would be F1 only being on pay-TV, I just couldn’t justify subscribing to Sky on my current budget, even for F1.

    With some of the comments on this website from around the world I realise how lucky us F1 fans in the UK have it, with F1 on free-to-air and the quality of the BBC coverage.

    I know Ecclestone has said in the past that he would keep F1 on free-to-air as the Chief Executive of Sky is quoted as saying in the article, but with FOM and CVC looking to squeeze every last penny possible out of F1 I wonder how long this will last.

    When they genuinely think that they will make more money overall from pay-TV regardless of the quality of the coverage or the audience figures I think that will be it, teams and sponsors may not like it but then they wanted F1 to stay in North America and especially the USA but that didn’t happen did it.

  24. Here in India F1 is already being forecasted on Star sports which is Pay TV.

  25. HounslowBusGarage
    3rd December 2009, 16:25

    I think Invoke and Andres Menacho have made two important points.
    Firstly, there is another four years to run on the BBC coverage contract. Secondly, web coverage could be totally different in four year’s time. In 2005, BBC i-Player wasn’t available and broadband was still a bit of a novelty for many. By the time we get to 2013, broadband speeds will be universally enabled to provide good quality (if not Hi-Def) on lie access, and CVC will (if they are clever) be packaging an FIA licenced (that pays money to FIA and FOM/CVC) product that provides coverage via the phone line/satellite broadband.
    All that apart, I think the original intention of FOM’s submission is to raise the price of its coverage packages to terrestrial broadcasters. BBC renewal might still be four years away, but what about the contract renewal for German, French, Italian, Spanish TV coverage? I expect one of them will be renegotiated soon and this is Bernie raising the bar just a bit.

  26. In the US we watch F1 via cable, (pay for package),on Speed TV. Frankly, after watching the Indy 500 each year on free TV, I can’t imagine how bad it would be if it were on free TV. Having said that, a few F1 races actually are on free TV each year. (Fox channel) Fortionately they broadcast the Speed broadcast on Fox channel. The free networks in America in earlier years have done a really bad job of broadcasting F1. The announcing crew is totally not up on their F1 knowledge to do a credible broadcast. Really embarrasing. Speed on cable does a very good job. Excellent announcing crew. It is done with adverts throughout, but really not that bad. A chance to get more coffee ’cause the majority of the races are on pretty early. The cable broadcast has a good pre-race show, (1/2 hour), as well. As I saw in comments above, free TV in the US is pretty lame. Good football, baseball etc. and of course huge NASCAR caverage, but thats it. So…I guess, we in America are used to the pay for view thing.

  27. If it was on Sky Sports I wouldn’t watch it any more. Simply because I have no interest in the other sports on there so would be paying out too much for something I wouldn’t use that often.

    If however, we get to 2013 and they offer an online service so that I only have to pay for F1 coverage, then I would consider it.

    Also, here’s a thought, if it did go PPV and it was a race by race payment, it would be interesting to see what happened with viewing figures for the races that are panned as being boring…would it trigger a move back to more exciting circuits if people simply stopped watching the boring ones???

  28. Most people I know have either Virgin Media or Sky anyway, even as students we have Virgin Media. I don’t think it’s a massive problem, more of an annoyance. If it was only on Sky I’d just change provider.

    It’d be very very annoying though as I’d have to pay for the sports package as well, and I only really watch motorsport, I hate football and gold and stuff. But I’d pay it, guess it just means one less night out a month.

    1. It’d be very very annoying though as I’d have to pay for the sports package as well, and I only really watch motorsport

      I know what you mean I think a lot of people have that problem but the sports are just all lumped together in one big package. I would much rather pay less and only get motorsport channels.

  29. FOA should redirect there energy to helping improve the website but without any hidden or other costs to fans. With reports of up to 500m viewers of F1, and it being the official site, I’m sure a sponsor could be found to pay for the very necessary and well overdue enhancements…

  30. F1 is covered by Speed Channel, which costs extra to get be it cable or satellite, here in the United States. The do a great job with the coverage and give great commentary. It will be a shame to see Peter Windsor go, but hey a US F1 team in exchange, I can live with that.

    In years past a few races were shown on “free” stations, all tape delayed, and very poor quality. Over that last two years or so Fox, parent company of Speed, has held the coverage. Its been better then the likes of CBS, but it’s still tape delayed.
    By it being on Speed, though, I have a hard time getting to watch all the races live. I have to have friends tape it many times and watch it later, or go over to a fellow fans and watch it, which is fine. But in a way I guess the quality is well worth it.

    As for watching it at a pub. Well thats right out. One, the races are to late here, and there is no way of getting the station change for any race that isn’t Nascar.

  31. Sportsmanship of F1 is already weakened enough by commercialization. If they gonna milk it for more many I won’t enjoy watching it anymore.

  32. I’m from Portugal too and when in 2007 I tried to watch F1 on RTP I realised that it had passed to SportTV. Now I only can see it on It’s frustating

  33. I will not pay to get Sky just to watch F1. What other options are there really in the UK?

  34. Pay for what? If I want to watch processions like last year I can go stand on bridge over the Hollywood Freeway for free.
    (Speed’s just part of a package here.)

  35. I won’t watch. Just a money grab by greedy people.

  36. I will say let’s say NO!!! to those greedy XXX and watch F1 on internet streaming.

  37. They used to have a bigger PPV F1 package, when you could select your views.
    Now SKY has the cockpit channel and the main feed+ some extra’s (sky germany that is, don’t know about UK).

    The premium feeds of the old days weren’t succesfull because digital tv wasn’t around in most places.
    Now that many places do have it, it might be a good id to bring back the interactive views.

    Then they can do a Free to air broadcast and a Premium PPV broadcast. Where you can select wich driver to follow, or what camera angle to watch.
    Then the f1 addicts can get something extra and they will pay for it!

  38. I wonder how many of the 49.2% simply have a slot in their Freeview box (which would enable them to have pay content through that service)? Given that last I checked, the definition of a viewer was “watching F1 for 15 continuous minutes” (leading to a potential of being classed as six or seven viewers per race, let alone the other sessions), I can’t rule the possibility out. In which case someone should tell the FOA that a lot of people with such a slot don’t use it because it costs money.

    Personally, if F1 moved to pay-TV, I’d be stuck with following it on the internet only; my house doesn’t even get all five analogue channels at the moment!

    1. I wonder how many of the 49.2% simply have a slot in their Freeview box (which would enable them to have pay content through that service)?

      Good point!

  39. I already pay £11.63 per month to view F1 on the Pay To Watch BBC via my TV Licence !

    I hope Bernie doesn’t make the same mistake as Cricket have done where viewers of live test matches have plummeted on SKY

  40. It has been a few years since I watched in the UK but as David said here in Italy it is all on RAI and all free. They also have a weekly prog about F1 and all news. It is a sport for the masses and should be available to all.

  41. It won’t be so bad if works like actually in Brasil.

    We have only the qualifying and the race on free TV…

  42. not paying to watch F1. Especially when a race will get red flagged (like malaysia 2009 or china )and it got stopped.

    If it does become pay tv i wont stop watching F1. Its a great sport and im sure its worth the money to watch it but some people are living on pennys from the ground. Ill probly just watch highlights on websites/youtube etc.

  43. I’m not surprised to see Bernie is against PTV. The man runs a hard bargain, but he knows where his bacon ultimately comes from: the tracks’ and teams’ sponsors. No audience, no sponsors. The current economic climate does not favour quick-buck tactics… FOA should be consolidating its audience rather than alienating it.

  44. Pedro, you’ve got it. It sounds to me as if they’re floating an idea for when Bernie goes. To his credit, he has always realised that if it’s not on free-to-air the sponsors will leave in droves. At a time when there aren’t many about, it would be lunacy.

  45. omg, y the hell wld they go to pay-tv. Its gonna bring in less fans to watch it and its just a really stupid idea. Please i hpe this dsnt happen..

  46. Most people here have short memorys. SKY had F1 a few years back and charged people to watch it. They asked you buy a season ticket, which actually got more expensive as the season went on.

    It was a crap service and BERINE pulled it from sky. If F1 goes back to SKY or pay tv, they can count me out. It is idiots who say that they’ll pay who ultimately make it go PAY TV. If everyone hung on to their money it would stay as it is. People have the power, but are brainless. If all of the UK stopped subscribing to SKY, the sub price would go down instead of up EVERY year.

  47. Perfect time to bring this up again:

    a petition to number ten to make F1 a protected sport within the UK.

  48. Pathetic money-spinner. Glad to see Bernie for once on the side of the fans.

  49. A surefire way of killing the sport, methinks.

    Obsessives like me might be prepared to watch it on pay-tv (though as I don’t have Sky or Vermin TV I’d really rather subscribe to watch on the net, assuming the technology is sorted out for this in the next few years) but the sport would lose its casual fan base (there are an awful lot of people who are F1 fans but not in the way that football or cricket fans are – they enjoy watching the racing, but wouldn’t really miss it if it went) and still worse, through that, it could lose the next generation of hardcore fans, because how will the kids ever see the races if their parents aren’t interested? Football might be able to get away with this because it is so deep-rooted in UK culture, but I think F1 would die a death. Unless, of course, all TV coverage starts moving towards PPV. As a big fan of the BBC/licence fee system myself (far better value than Sky) I hope that’s not the way we’re going

    1. totally agree most of the people i talk to about f1 only watch it cos its on.There is no way they would watch on ptv.I have watched f1 since early 80’s and to be honest the new tracks are boring and would not make me pay extra.

  50. In the USA, I have to pay about 60 dollars a month to get a package that includes F1 coverage on Speed. So this would be nothing new for me. That being said, Speed TV’s F1 coverage is surprisingly good. 4 races per year are broadcast on Fox (which is free-to-air), with the Speed TV commentators, but they arent live, and they shorten the broadcast to 2 hours for each race(with commercials), so you miss a lot.

    1. From California here, and I hate to say it but I loathe Speed TVs coverage compared to BBC. PreRace coverage is really much better. I did like Peter Windsors coverage, however, but the race cometary was too much. Anytime there was a bump between cars or a DNQ, they “Oooohhh!” and “Whoaaaa!” every time like three old guys on a roller-coaster. I wish they would do the race coverage commentary on site at least.

  51. F1 is a bit like google!

    They bring quit some nice things for free for everbody!
    But sneaky as they are they of course get the money from showing us ads! and those bring in the big bucks.

    Like some mentioned, Bernie knows this and protects this.
    Free for all TV broadcast is what the sponsors want!

  52. get ready for an explosion in illegal downloads of f1 races FOA. Big big big mistake. i just hope it stays on free to air in australia. i bought my tv recorder pretty well just for f1.

    1. …And you’re already supporting F1 if that tv recorder is a Panasonic, Phillips, Kenwood, or anything with Intel or HP chips =)

  53. I think bernie is only doing this because he is greedy and can make more money out of it, I think it would be a sad day when it moves to the likes of Sky Sports/Sky Box Office…

    I know when that happens I will be watching the streams off the internet, due to the price we will have to pay and that fact that I am a student means no money and moving around every 10 months or so…

  54. If they want to expand the money earned from F1 viewing I think they should make the PPV more of a viewer’s choice and leave the standard programing the way it is.

    I would definitely pay to watch some races not only in HD, but why not have the ability to switch camera views. Personally I’d rather view an entire race on TV through the on board cameras. Why not make that an option where the viewer can choose the driver/camera angle to watch.

    I’d pay extra for that opportunity, but also understand it’s not realistic to expect every viewer to pay up. So leaving the free to view coverage is a must.

    1. Here in Portugal we already have that choice on some football matches, though in truth a) most people never bother to change cameras and b) the reggie work is already very good. Still, in F1, it’d be a huge plus. I’m planning on subscribing a PTV package for this season, so I’d definitely go for something that gave me HD and the ability to alternate between the WAGs and the onboard cameras.

  55. going to Pay-TV will be a massive error, whats wrong with going to pay as well as keeping free to air!
    tho free to air is thw major thing they should look at improving!

  56. We have Virgin Media, so I’m already paying twice (Licence fee) and if Formula One was to be on PPV only, I wouldn’t watch it.

    And if everybody in Britain did the same it would soon be back on FTV (Free to View)

  57. Another Bernie joke.

  58. Pathetic money-spinner. Glad to see Bernie for once on the side of the fans.

    Bernie is NEVER on the side of the fans, unless we can make him money, that’s all he is, that’s why he’s the commercial rights holder, he’s simply a businessman. He doesn’t care about the fan being able to watch for free, he just sees it in ££’s and $$’s.

    PPV, would be rather silly, the whole show needs to get SO muvch better before I would even consider it, never without HD, too. Bernie needs to wake up and realise F1 is in a hole.

    The BBC is ‘forced to pay to view’, so we already pay per view.

  59. Horray! More good news from FOM.

    Well, capitalism is alive and well it seems. Nice one Bernie. You are an amazing person there can be no doubt. Can I have your autograph please?

    Bernie and CVC… you are my heroes!

  60. What’s the problem? FOA has a need for a government bailout we don’t know about? FOA not getting enough money from the promotors?
    Here in Canada we get it over the air on TSN un-edited at the time it occurs or sometimes a later heavily edited version in which 9 times out of 10 some critical event in the race is lost. We used to have a local pre race show including Gerry Donaldson a well know writer on F1 who was at the tracks but that got cut and we do not get the BBC feed.
    If there is a major golf or tennis event we may get the race at midnight but it gets bumped.
    Speed TV has it in the states but we get blocked out from their telecast except occassionally and it is rife with extra commercials and is on a delay basis.
    So how much more are we supposed to absorb here FOA and BE? You put F1 on pay per view and you can count on losing a huge fan base here that even an F1 in Montreal will not recover.
    It’s all about money. Always has been once FOA got the rights. For my money I would like to see Ferarri, Mercedes and Renault out of F1. The privateers can form their own series and leave BE et al with an empty shell of F1.
    I am fed up with this crap!
    So it is bad enough the TSN trea

  61. we have to pay for it n NZ, it’ on sky sports, but its the BBC’s coverage. Im used to it and don’t even think about it. But it would be a bitter pill to swallow if you are used to it being free.

  62. I’m South African. Years ago a friend suggested to me that I should watch a F1 race, because I would probably enjoy it. The next day, having nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon, I did, and was hooked.

    If it had been on DSTV or even MNET, I simply would not have watched.

    Putting F1 on pay-per-view only will not only result in losing many casual (and even a few hardcore) fans, it’ll also result in greatly diminishing the numbers of new fans.

    Here, it’s only on DSTV. I thought of getting DSTV but then realised that paying huge monthly fees so that I can watch a race every fortnight for 6 months of the year was simply not worth it.

    As for watching it in pubs, I’ve tried that. It’s impossible if there’s rugby/cricket on. Even when you do manage to get them to put it on, often they’ll have the sound down.

    I watch by downloading the races (which takes a day or so) and then watch it (avoiding all news in the meantime). If I lost that option, then I simply would stop watching, much as I love F1.

  63. So far in Spain it’s free, but if / when we are charged for it I will take my leave and either watch it online or be done with my unhealthy obsession.

  64. The end of free coverage would destroy F1 in the UK.

    If F1 wasn’t on a free channel, a vast majority of viewers would simply forget about F1 and watch a different sport.

    People talk about F1 as “the pinnacle of motorsport”. But what is the most obvious symptom of that? It’s live on the BBC! On Sky, it would be no more of a “pinnacle” than touring cars or rallying or GP2.

    If F1 switched to pay a channel, it wouldn’t get half its current audience. It would get less than a third. Look what happened to the cricket. Channel 4 averaged 3m viewers for the Ashes in 2005, while Sky averaged 800,000 for the Ashes this year.

    When sports go to pay channels, their fanbase shrinks to a core of die-hards. Sports never acquire any new fans this way.

  65. im an f1 fan and i cant afford sky, and it really annoys me that these fat cats or money creatures couldnt care about the satisfaction of their f1 fans. i am actually really worried now that they will move it that i wont be able to watch it. sorry FOA if i cant afford pay tv!!!!

  66. FOA wants mo’ money from PPV? Well, then the best solution would be to copy the German model, which sees the rights for F1 coverage with both a free and a PPV channel. Of course, this would, at first, lead to the question of why would anyone pay for F1, if he could get it for free? But seeing as PPV has a few advantages, it would work. In favor of PPV would speak a theoretical lack of in-race-advertising and the option to hire better announcers. And for FOA, that would even be better, as they could take money from both companies which may even be more than you could get from the Pay-TV company if it would get exclusive rights.

  67. I totally agree that moving F1 to Pay TV would be a big big mistake. I do not have, and would not even consider paying for cable or satellite TV while I already pay a a TV licence. I think the TV licence should be scrapped and then more people might consider subscribing to pay TV. Also there are numerous “Freeview” channels which most people can receive and so why would you want to subsctibe to Sky or one of the others when all you get is all the “freeview” channels and then loads of other channels which show either rubbish or repeats ad nausium. IO say kept F1 on the “Free” (and I use Free advisedly here) TV.

  68. It never ceases to amaze me just how many different strategies Bernie can come up with for alienating F1’s fanbase.

  69. You got to love Bernie,he can con Gov. around the world

  70. Fine, I just wont bother watching…. Clearly the powers that be dont give a toss about us, the fans, so why should i bother.

  71. Cricket! Remember that?

  72. A1 did well didn’t it….not!

  73. Remember the Champions F1/Football nonsense…… apparently its happening except no one watches!

  74. Oh yes and does anyone remember that thing called Rallying – do you remember the whole Sunday watching the RAC rally – all I saw of it this year was a sign saying “City Centre Road Closures due to Rally” as I drove into Cardiff to work.

  75. great
    paying for adverts!

  76. First of all, thanks for showing my comment, love your blog!

    Secondly, you are right about one thing: paid TV provides better servicen than the free one. I’m speeking about Portugal, of course!

    In the last few years of F1 coverage by RTP, only on two occasions they showed the Press Conference after the Race (Tiago Monteiro’s podium in USA 2005 and Schumacher’s retirement on the Italian GP 2006).

    And they never showed the Practice Sessions!

  77. Really, arguments like this…. the only thing that will solve them is the passage of time and the implementation of new technology. We’ll probably all be watching this and everything else on a giant (tidal?) Google Wave in a few year’s time :-)


  78. john stewart
    10th May 2011, 15:38

    I really hope they try PAY AND GO for a race to see what back feed they have 000 I would NEVER EVER pay to watch F1 as there is more team rules under passing and all the rest I think free viewing is the best option for this sport same as the rest of the sports as they are all bent in some way to much to loose be it a driver or what ever there will always be a way round the rules

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