F1 in HD “not until 2011”

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The 2010 F1 season opener will not be in high definition

Hoping to watch the 2010 F1 season in high definition? Afraid you’re set for another disappointment.

BBC’s Lee McKenzie has said on Twitter that FOM will not be offering Formula 1 in HD to broadcasters until 2011.

Many other forms of motor racing have been broadcast in high def for years. This year will be the sixth season NASCAR has been broadcast in HD.

While F1 dawdles about catching up with HD technology, football is pressing ahead with the introduction of 3D broadcasts, starting with this year’s World Cup.

F1 broadcasting

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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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81 comments on “F1 in HD “not until 2011””

  1. Dammit! I signed up for Sky just yesterday – including the £10 monthly fee for the HD service – specifically for HD F1.

    Well done Bernie. Formula 1: 21st century cars, 20th century broadcasting.

    1. If that’s true, it wasn’t the wisest move, spending money on the *chance* it would be this year.

      As is is, knowing it’s next year is fairly fab news, no ?

    2. Even if the BBC did offer HD F1, you don’t need to pay Sky a penny to receive it via satellite. Just buy a Freesat HD box, arrange to have a dish installed with a local installer and you can watch HDTV from BBC, ITV and Channel 4 without paying a monthly fee at all.

      1. True, and they stream HD over iPlayer now don’t they?

        1. Yes, but the bitrate is less than broadcast SDTV so it’s a bit of a con.

          1. As the codecs are utterally different, comparing just bitrate is a bit of a con.

        2. Yes. Pete, you’re showing all the signs of being a Honda board member there…

      2. Freeview HD is also here now, but not many boxes support it.

        1. “If that’s true, it wasn’t the wisest move, spending money on the *chance* it would be this year.”

          Well in fairness it wasn’t the only reason we went for Sky – I’ve wanted to get on xBox live for months and the final season of Lost is just around the corner…

          HD F1 was how I justified the £10/month HD fee to my missus though ;)

      3. The sky dish and freesat dish are the same and point at the same satellites. To my understanding you just need another feed off the dish going into another box that is freesat (or direct to a freesat tv) there is no need for an additional dish). There’s a good chance you can get up to 4 feeds already from your dish.

        This would give you HD on those channels. However the Sky HD obviously gives you movies and sport in HD too, plus paying for a freesat box, addtional cabling etc. and making your whole set-up more complex and not so good is hardly a good solution to saving £10/mo. It would take probably over a year before it became cheaper than just paying for the Sky HD.

        1. The £10 a month for HD is on top of the regular Sky subscription.

          But yes, Freesat uses the same Satellites as Sky, so if you already had a dish ss I did when I moved into my new place, (the guy before me had sky, and left the dish and cabels), all you need to do is plug those same cabels into a Freesat box or HDTV, and you can get the BBC HD channel, and others soon, I do believe.

      4. You dont need to pay sky to get BBC Hd and Channel 4 hd on the HD box. I get them both for free and dont subscribe to the HD pack, just ask them for a free hd box and they are more than happy to oblige. Also you can add Itv hd with a little bit of inside knowledge.

    3. if you want to get your money back do what i do..pay another £10 a month for multiroom…that allows you to use the skyplayer from 3 different ip addresses a month…2 of my friends pay me £10 a month for the password…thats your £20 quid back!

  2. Dunno if you seen this Keith, but a few hours before Lee’s comment, I had an e-mail back from head of BBC HD Danielle Nagler, see http://forums.autosport.com/index.php?showtopic=121566 . She said:

    “I have had further conversations about this since our last contact, and indeed the BBC has had further discussions with F1 [Formula One Management]. But so far – despite some small moves by F1 which might suggest that they are moving in that direction – we have had nothing from them that suggests we’re going to be able to offer any of the grand prix this coming season in HD. There is a feeling of certainty that it will happen at some point – but quite when that will be remains very unclear.

    Sorry not to be able to respond in a more reassuring form, but don’t want to give you any more hope than I have as to when we’re going to be able to bring it to you in HD.”

    1. That’s cool Dave thanks for that. Not great news though :-(

  3. Does anybody know what lame excuses Ecclestone is giving for yet another example of damn lousy service ? Expect something as believable as….

    ‘Down to my last $20 Billion an’ I really can’t afford it ya know !’

    Time somebody stuck ‘past sell-by date’ label on his forehead.

  4. With to much money involved they can’t even provide HD broadcast. So lame and so much greed. I don’t even dare mentioning 3D.

  5. If F1 will defiantly be in HD from 2011 then I think that is at least something, unless FOM planned keeping it as a big surprise I didn’t expect it to happen this year anyway.

  6. but they initially said that the final race of 09 was going to be HD! So dont trust this prediction either PJA

    what a joke, esp as F1 is meant to be about technology!

  7. Well this is damn stupid, FOM have complete controll over the cameras an therfore arn’t forced to broadcast better then anyone else.

    What annoying is as the do own all the cameras it would have been so easy for them to upgrade.

  8. Bizzare, then, that we get F1 in HD (both on “pay” cable and a few races on broadcast) here in the states…

    1. Yeah totally. But that isnt actually true HD, its just an up-scaled broadcast of the original SD feed. Good enough for me though. I think that SPEED deserves major kudos for the quality of their F1 coverage, especially considering its lack of fan base here in the states.

  9. The funny thing is that I saw a hi-def broadcast camera up close back in 2007 in Monza in the first chicane. Weren’t the cinema broadcasts in HD?

  10. Go to hell, Bernie with your dollar$!
    This is more than frustrating! Other sports are several centuries ahead of F1.

  11. Pat:

    F1 in the US on Speed or Fox is not true HD. It’s an upscaled SD feed.

    1. ok I get it now. Thanks David.

  12. I would assume that it will cost FOM something to upgrade the broadcast to HiDef? And apparently there is no, or not enough, return on that investment for BE? What does he care? And by the way, I’m pretty sure it is broacast in HiDef on Speed channel in the states. How can that be?

  13. Maybe F1 could use some of the money spent on perks and such to buy some HD cameras…

  14. Ah this sucks, F1 would look so good in HD, guess we’ll just have to wait till next season :(

  15. All Bernie ever did was sell our sport up the river for his own personal fortune – he doesn’t have the first clue about what fans want, and we want HD coverage.

  16. Gutted!

  17. How long is Bernies contract with the bbc for again? – and wasn’t the last contract with ITV cut short?

    1. I believe the FOM supply the pictures to the different broadcasters. So changing broadcaster won’t result in any improvement, because the broadcaster doesn’t actually film the footage themselves, they get it from FOM, which Bernie is in charge of.

      I’m sure if BBC was filming the event themselves, it would probably be in HD. It’s Bernie and FOM that cannot get their act together. It is amazingly hopeless.

  18. Can anyone please explain why F1 puts up with Bernie Ecclestone?

    He charges the circuit crippling fees to host races that leave them with no chance of turning a profit.
    He siphons off half of the TV income, taking revenue away from the teams who the TV companies are actually paying to see – and therefore, preventing any of the teams from funding their exercises primarily through the racing.

    And what do we, the F1 fans, the one’s whose license fee money, ticket and merchandise purchases fund the whole sport, get in return?
    The inane (and occasionally offensive) ramblings of an old man whose only interest is to line his own pocket.

    I may have posted this before of here – but can you really imagine Manchester United, Chelsea etc. putting up with somebody who merely facilitates the broadcast of their sport taking half of their TV revenue? It’s laughable!

    Time for F1 to cast Bernie aside.

    (As you can tell, I REALLY wanted F1 in HD…)

  19. Not really bothered! It would be nice though.

    1. bizarre statement.

  20. It’s the same old story: somewhat paradoxically, perhaps the most technologically advanced sport in the world has the most archaic attitude to technology. And it’s a shame for all concerned: FOM could be making more money; the fans could have better coverage…

    1. It doesn’t follow that FOM would be making more money at all if they switch to HD. HD is actually a substantial step up in costs, and I’m sure the “HD-ness” of F1 is not going to increase the fan and viewership base by any appreciable amount.

      Think of how many of us are saying “It’s not in HD, so I won’t watch!”

      That’s right, none.

      1. Curling Tournaments are broadcast in HD these days so the “step up” in costs can’t be that substantial. While there may be many of us who will begrudgingly watch another F1 season sans HD there are potential new viewers of the sport who may chuckle and say “no thanks” when they hear that the most technologically advanced sport in the world is still SD.

        Last time I checked Bernie was losing viewers with his night races experiment… and he certainly will have a hard time gaining new viewers if he continues to shun HD.

        Sheer stupidity.

  21. Better late than never, I guess. I bought a new Panasonic Freesat TV earlier this year to go with my new house, so All will be fine and dandy come 2011.

  22. Prisoner Monkeys
    7th January 2010, 23:44

    I actually prefer not having HD beause I don’t have an HD television. When Abu Dhabi was broadcast in HD format last year, half the screen was cut off.

    1. At least it still gives you a year to save up for one. Not that a decent HD TV costs massive amounts of monies any more.

      1. A HD tv is cheap… its acquiring the HD signal that is expensive.

        1. Get a Panasonic or LG TV with Freesat built in, a dish, and some cabels. ‘Tiz the cheapest way.

  23. Keith, you miss on the most ironic part of the F1/HD not happening. It’s there :


    If you do manage to make enough noise publicaly around this, maybe that would force LG to actually do something more than add their logo and make adverts. Facebook group to start with, anyone ?

  24. Formula 1 is one of the most popular sport in the world,but it’s not offering HD.It shows how far back we are.

  25. I really don’t understand what Bonkers Bernie’s problem is with going HDTV. Pretty much every country that hosts a F1 race has gone HDTV with its domestic outside broadcast facilities infrastructure, so if FOM were not so insistent on increasingly trying to produce the coverage themselves (for the 2009 season, only the Monaco and Japanese Grand Prix were not produced by FOM), FOM would be able to contract the coverage to a local OB company with end-to-end HDTV kit. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Formula_One_broadcasters )

    However, for some strange reason, Bernie has increasingly been shutting the door on this and bringing the whole production in-house. How inefficient must that be!! Shipping cameras, OB facility trucks and 70+ personnel around the world, only to output a mere eight hours of F1 coverage just 17/18 times a year (plus a bit of GP2 coverage). With such a low utilization of his own facilities, no wonder he finds it hard to justify the investment in HDTV kit!

    The IRB or FIFA don’t have their own facilities for rugby or soccer, and both televise far more hours of their respective sports. Memo to Bernie: Save some money and contract out the facilities part of the TV production to the local host broadcaster who can deliver an HDTV feed.

    Oh, and in case you thought the 2011 date for HDTV had some legitimacy, think again. I just came across this written by a FOC employee: “I have recently returned from Las Vegas where I attended the NAB exhibition. The object of the visit was to assess new broadcasting technologies with a view to FOM’s move into HD production.” Yippee!!

    But not so fast – he wrote this in June 2003……. (See http://www.trevor-turner.co.uk/CVResume.htm ). Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

    Yet more reasons (as if we did not have enough already) for Bernie to go.

    1. One advantage resulting from FOM producing the majority of the races is that the coverage is consistent from race to race.

      Although, surely FOM could enter into some arrangement with the local broadcaster for each race, where the local broadcasters provide the gear, HD cameras, lights, audio, OB facilities etc, and FOM provides the camera men, producers etc.

      It would mean that we get consistent HD coverage, and would save FOM from having to ship tonnes of gear around the world every year or upgrade their current gear.

      1. Not sure about the “coverage is consistent from race to race” bit. At some races (e.g. Japan) the Director seems to dwell on local talent, even if they are circulating by themselves playing tail end Charlie, thus missing the real action happening elsewhere.

        Of course only the cynic might say that the real reason Bernie wants full control of the production is that if – hypothetically of course – a race were to take place in front of just a handful of spectators, then this might not make for a good look. Let’s take a race completely at random, say, um, err, Turkey.

        If the FOM officials arrived at the Turkish circuit and were confronted with an alarming number of empty grandstands, then they could position their cameras in such a way the empty stands would not show on TV. Furthermore, if FOM were able instruct their cameramen to always go for really tight shots of the cars, thus showing minimal background, the sponsors and advertisers would be completely in the dark as to the truth and Bernie would thus not be made to look like he was forcing the circuits to screw the fans for tickets at exorbitant prices. All completely hypothetical of course. I’m sure this could never happen.

  26. Not too disappointed by this. We’ve just started HD broadcast in Malaysia this year, but ESPN Star is not available on HD just now. So by the time F1 catches up, hopefully ESPN Asia would have as well.

    Looking forward to F1 HD in 2011.

  27. Indeed Miha! HD is already over for me. Bring on the 3D! If ESPN can broadcast World Cup games in 3D why not F1??

  28. While this is a shame, from a selfish point of view I’m not that bothered – don’t yet own a HD ready TV nor can I afford one at the moment! Personally, I only intend to buy an HDTV when F1 starts broadcasting in HD – it’s the biggest motivating factor for me. I expect HDTVs will be a lot cheaper in January 2011 than January 2010 – not least because the upcoming World Cup will be pushing up demand at the moment (and hence prices)

    So not all bad for thrifty F1 fans?

  29. It doesn’t really bother me, personaly I don’t see much difference between SD and HD. If you can see the cars going around the track then you should be happy.

      1. I actually have a 106cm flat screen TV smartass.

    1. You are kidding right? Can’t see the difference?
      “If you can see the cars going around the track then you should be happy.” Thats pretty low expectations for someone who is watching the “pinnacle” of motorsports.

      1. I grew up in a small country town with crappy TV reception, so anything is good to me know.

      2. lol if you cant see the difference from sdtv to hdtv then crickey get to the doctors and get an eye test immediately!

        The idea behind bernie controling the footage was to stop the italians focusing on only ferrari or the british just focusing on their driver same and etc etc.
        But that hasn’t really improved the footage, with commentators almost in the blind as much as us at home.
        They need to feed the broadcasters a range of feeds so they can atleast allow the guys commenting to be able to follow a battle after the official feed is swapped to focus on LH driving by himself, or a tiny inside wheel lock up slow-mo replay.

        If they did contract local tv crews to hire hd cam’s and broadcast unit then the implementation should be very very easy, and be a lower cost than lugging around all the gear all around the world.

        The reason why it’s not in HD now…is totally beyond me, maybe it has something to do with a future deal to supply f1 to paytv only????

        1. and the thing to remember is they tv stations that cant broadcast in hd can always downscale to suit their own market…

          It’s a win win situation…
          F1 need to pull your heads out of your ars…behind

  30. If, and that’s a big if, it happens in 2011 then that’s fine by me.

    I’m probably moving in the latter half of this year so will be buying new tv etc and will look at getting HD TV then (whether or F1 is on HD I figure if I’m buying a new TV, might as well go that way) so would then be able to watch F1 in HD next year…that said, I watched most of the 2009 season on the iplayer stream so even SDTV is a big improvement for me!!

    1. You should look at buying one of those new 3D TV’s that they are making now.

  31. Kind of ridiculous that in the US we can watch .5 mile dirt track oval racing in HD, but we can’t watch F1 (the pinnacle of motorsports) in HD.

    Some other people have said that SPEED in the US broadcasts F1 in HD. It’s not true guys. SPEED does broadcast in an upscaled format, which makes it better looking than regular SD. THe only way F1 can be broadcast in HD is when FOM films the races with HD cameras.

  32. Here in Portugal there is no free service if you want to have channels from all over the world. Here in home I just have the four principal portuguese TV channels (RTP, RTP2, SIC, TVI). The first broadcasted Formula One until 2006. The second is seen by no one. The third and fourth are privateers and just have a little information about motorsport(although TVI is broadcasting Dakar resumes every day). Until 2007 I had Eurosport, RTL (I saw F1 there in 2007)free signal until they change it to codified signal. And if almost all portuguese channels have HD cameras why FOM has not that cameras?

  33. I’m surprised by the number of comments claiming many F1 fans don’t really care whether F1 is broadcast in SD or HD, “as long as you can see the cars circulating” and that Bernie no economic incentive to go HD.

    Try putting that argument to the myriad of small sponsors who pay megabucks for postage stamp sized logos on the cars – an HD signal would dramatically increase the legibility of their logos and thus the value of their sponsorships. It’s surely a no-brainer for Bernie?

  34. If all the F1 teams bought HD onboard cameras for there car will BBC take footage from them ? i noticed some cars had it in 2009

  35. I agree with those that express dismay at FOM’s tardiness in introducing HD coverage. It does some rather incredible in 2010 for F1 not to have HD coverage.

    That said I am *personally* not to bothered. But that’s because I have no depth perception so the impact of HD is somewhat lost on me and 3D is completely lost on me. In fact all 3D films give me is a blazing headache – I had to walk out of watching Avatar after an hour because I felt nauseous.

  36. Here in Portugal, from 2 years ago, the F1 exclusive jumped from the public channel RTP1 to the cable and paid SportTV – I must say – I see it all now – from friday 1st practice until the end of the prees conference at the end of the race (the information is nothing compared with BBC broadcast – we don’t have anybody on site, only a guy that know the same that we do – liking at a monitor and a PC with the Live Timing in the FIA official site like I can do. I don’t know when that rule from FIA ou FOA or whatever changed – I remembered the in all countries the chanel that has the exclusive to F1 broacasting must be open and no paid… We have RAI, BBC, TVE… and here for now… something changed that rule so we have paid F1 broadcast – who doesn’t have cable and the decoder box, plus that channel (SportTV) signed and payed at the end of the month together with the base cable pakage… doesn’t see F1… – I really would like to know from all the countries in Europe if there are more like Portugal and more in and open channel – It would be a nice discution topic.

    1. Hi Net Sticks – we did discuss that fairly recently as it happens, see here: FOA want more F1 on pay-TV

  37. The Australian free to air ‘oneHD’ had HD studio pieces and HD track interviews – surprisingly often with Mark Webber!

    However they don’t always show live qualie and never show practice, for that I use justin.tv and that defo isn’t HD!

    I would think F1 branding would require (demand) a cutting edge broadcast technology, such as 3D and multiple feeds (ie all in car cameras and pits) on the internet. Instead it’s piratefeeds, nothing or SD.

  38. Simply ridiculous.

    The ‘pinnacle’ of motorsport, the most high-tec subject, and SDTV.

    Ecclestone you are absolutely clueless.

  39. JimmyBurnWorld
    12th March 2010, 13:17

    Apparently all the cameras used by FOM are full HD, with all the paddock footage being in HD. Only when the feed is released from the paddock by FOM for use around the world is it down-scaled to SD.

    Rumours were that Bernie was looking at his own pay-per-view channel allowing customers to access the full HD feed.

    1. Tom Chiverton
      12th March 2010, 16:27

      They tried that years ago remember, failed totally.

      1. That wasn’t a HD channel though, that just digital, at a time when digital take-up was far lower than it is today.

    2. Jimmy – really? Where did you hear this?

  40. But the video on the F1 website is at a much higher resolution than we get on broadcast. Doesn’t that suggest that FOM kit is HD capable but they just aren’t releasing it?

  41. We are currently watching F1 in HD via ESPN in Malaysia & the picture quality is 1080I. (not upscale)

  42. You have certainly been very busy writing up this great blog, It was very interesting to read. Can’t wait to see what you write about in the next week

  43. F1 sessions are all filmed in 625 and 625 exclusively (including in Canada and Brazil as it is produced by FOM).
    The Japanese GP is produced by Fuji TV in 1080i but provided to international audience exclusively in standard definition.

    Yes, there is Dolby E but picture is SD.

    Bernie has announced HD for 2011.

    Any HD in 2010 is/was upscale.

  44. At least it’s actually available for 2011, better late than never :)

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