Start, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2018

ESPN apologises to US viewers after first F1 broadcast attracts complaints

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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ESPN issued an apology to Formula One fans who watched their first broadcast since regaining the rights to show the championship.

The US broadcasters infuriated viewers by cutting their live coverage shortly before the race was due to start.

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikknen, Albert Park, 2018
2018 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
“We deeply apologise to Formula One fans for the technical issues that caused them to miss the first 20 minutes of the pre-race show for the Australian Grand Prix,” said ESPN in a statement.

“We are sorry that our first F1 telecast did not go as smoothly as we would have liked but we are taking steps to prevent those same issues from occurring in the future. We thank the fans for watching and for their incredible passion for Formula One.”

However many RaceFans readers complained about the quality of coverage during the race as well as before it. IndyCar racer Graham Rahal joined the criticism of the coverage on social media.

“I don’t want to be negative, but I tried to watch,” he said. “They need commentators here, the commercial breaks had awful timing, and leaving mid-sentence then returning from break without explanation of what happened was terrible.”

ESPN has taken over the live F1 broadcasting rights from NBC this year. While the previous broadcaster used their own commentary team, ESPN is screening footage from British channel Sky Sports F1.

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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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  • 143 comments on “ESPN apologises to US viewers after first F1 broadcast attracts complaints”

    1. Tapelra Mcbride
      25th March 2018, 15:03

      Bring back Lee Diffy, David Hobbs and Steve Machine , the NBC broadcasters were spot on , very knowledgable and hard plenty of oversight , these guys here just doesn’t cut it, Liberty is gonna ruin F1 and broadcasting through ESPNis a nightmare, that’s why the NHRA left them , bring back NBC

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        25th March 2018, 16:51

        I’m afraid it’s too late for that. Between the Halo and the travesty F1 has become, I don’t think they can save it.

        Charlie Whiting should have called off the race today – there’s no bouncing back from that. It was like playing Monopoly and the last guy wins a card to jump to GO o and wins the race when he’s 20 seconds behind.

        I won’t even get into the games that were played but if you do the math, it’s practically impossible that Vettel would have stayed out and Haas would have double car issues. The best part was watching Grosjean and Haas acting – at least Magnussen had the dignity to just walk away without saying anything at all (maybe he wasn’t a part of this).

        Anyway, onto funner and better sports!!! I would actually appreciate it if ESPN presented a quick version of the races with highlights, at least F1 returns to racing someday…

        1. maybe Magnussens issue was real, the sight of that mechanic slamming the door was hilarious too then MAYBE they decided to doctor Grosjeans issue, even Grosjeans reaction was weird the way he grasped his helmet hilarious!

          But how did Grosjean know it was going to happen? was it all planned before the race or during, if it happened during the race they had to be some communication.

          Another thing is that maybe the pit crew are probably rusty as its the first race of the season.

        2. … why should Charlie have called off the race?

          1. Because conspiracy, obvs!

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            25th March 2018, 23:52

            Because it’s a race, not Monopoly! You don’t get a card that allows you to skip to go and then win the race when you are last. They need to stop that!

            You send Better back to P3 regardless of regulations. This is a travesty of racing.

            1. @freelittlebirds Racing has always had a large element of luck. Should they reset the race of someone is taken out by another car crashing into them? If someone breaks down?

              We have had advantages gained by safety cars since they were introduced, or by taking gambles on tyres, fuel etc. Vetel took advantage of the situation well.

              Unless you think it was a conspiracy, of course, that the Haas team engineered their breakdown and Charlie toned the VSC to aid Vetel. In which case there’s probably no point in arguing with you…

        3. Yeah and UFOs were seen in the sky during the race. How come no one is talking about that?

        4. Get over the halo issue. If you put aesthetics over safety, F1 is better off without you. I don’t understand how you could want the car to look good over increasing racer safety. How small minded.

      2. Richard Oldfield
        25th March 2018, 17:34

        I have to agree, the coverage by ESPN was horrible!

        1. The best part ot the ESPN coverage was that the three stooges were nowhere to be seen. So refreshing not to have Diffey’s histrionics, Matchett’s pompous technical explanations and Hobbs’s buffoonish mumblings.

      3. Boy, I’ll second the above comments. Where is David Hobbs? Where is Steve Machett? This is a Disaster for F1 in the United States. The Brits might like the Sky coverage, but the micro font graphics and hype-mouth commentators are a step down from the coverage we had. Liberty is trying to save money by giving us the Sky coverage, but if this is a sample, I might just have to sit F1 out. The commentators don’t seem to realize they’ve had a commercial break — maybe because they don’t have the same in Britain. This change is just a shame for those of us that have loved F1 broadcasts for many years here

        1. More like Liberty running off their broadcast partner and ESPN trying to cut costs.

        2. We currently have two broadcasters (although one only shows half of the races live and the other half are shown in highlight form). These are Sky and Channel 4. Channel 4 inherited much of their team from the BBC. Channel 4s coverage is generally seen to be superior to Sky despite Sky costing a fortune while Channel 4 is free… Channel 4 even have advert free race coverage for the live races which is excellent.

          So no we Brits do not particularly like Skys coverage. It is not terrible but it is not great either. Saying that, the graphics are generally supplied by FOM as far as I am aware so that is not the fault of the broadcaster.

      4. I miss the NBC broadcast already. The intro with the driver close-ups was especially annoying. I almost preferred the WWF style intros from Austin.

        The cable broadcast will be what introduces new viewers, not the superfan streaming service. F1 needs a US feed.

        1. If F1 wants to continue to grow the US. audience bring back Hobbs and Matches. My favorite part of watching every session was their insightful commentary. This team doesn’t even speak English! I almost find it unwatchable. Thanks for ruining my favorite event! Ross Brawn step in and fix this!

      5. Isnt ESPN using the Sky Feed?

        1. Yes.. at least when they’re not playing commercials. I skipped the ESPN hatchet job and grabbed the Sky Quali and Race coverage, same as what I’ve been doing for a number of years now. Much egg on Liberty and ESPN’s here in the US, crap ESPN handling and stillborn F1 TV Pro.

      6. I was one of those that didn’t really enjoy the NBC announcers, not that they were terrible, they just weren’t my cup of tea. I always preferred the SKY broadcast when I could find it, usually resorting to pirate streams and race replays from various sites. So of course I was quite excited that I could get the SKY stream in America, legally this time. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m back to pirating after that god awful debacle of a broadcast.

        ESPN, you lost a pair of eyes for your all important ads. Hope it was worth shoehorning them in there at the worst times.

      7. Yes!!!!!!!! I very much looked forward to David Hobbs and the others afterwards. I am just crying. Just crying!!!!!!!!!!
        And all the commercials and not even filled in on what happened, what the drivers were saying. Just all around Im so upset. Seriously.

      8. Totally agree, Lee Diffy, David Hobbs and Steve Machine are very knowledgable and connected well with the US viewers. The first two races this season were a disaster and coverage has only improved marginally. Liberty has pretty much ruined F1 for me this year. I hope Liberty feels the pain in market share and has the ability to fix this mess.

    2. They did seem to have commercial breaks at the least appropriate times. Does this apology mean they will actually improve the coverage or is it just lip service? I also wish the post race coverage was longer. I can’t believe the ratings for a rerun at 3am EST would be higher than race coverage.

      1. It was confusing and nearly unwatchable. I thought the first commercial break was a simple mistake. Then it kept happening and while most breaks where side-by-side, even the convoluted, mid-sentence cuts and returns seemed like amatuer hour at a vocational school.

        I am not a fan of Diffey or Buxton, but I found myself wishing they and NBC were back. Even their screaming and monotone voices would be a welcome relief from the ESPN announcers, (sorry didn’t even know who they were or which was lead or color since they didn’t introduce themselves regularly throughout broadcast).

        And as far as “lip service” goes? You betcha. Look at what ESPN/ABC did to IndyCar.

        So between the hideous halo and the horrible broadcasting, I probably won’t be setting my alarm to go off between 2-6am est to watch much F1 this year.

      2. Lip service, it’s ESPN after all. Nothing like British commentators when the US team is looking quick. We need NBCSN back and fast! They at least put some money into the broadcast!

    3. I will be switching to F1 TV Pro when it releases. I wont put up with ESPN’s pitiful broadcast anymore. Most of the important race effecting events, happened under commercials. You could see that radio chatter was happening, but couldn’t hear it over some stupid commercial. With no in house commentators to recap what happened during break I (and I am sure everyone else) was left clueless until we could work out what had happened.
      Absolutely embarrassing ESPN, absolutely embarrassing.

      1. That ESPN coverage was embarrassing. I wish we could just pay for sky’s coverage outright. I actually tried to get around the country check stuff for almost an hour and then gave up and grabbed a pirate stream on reddit in about 1 minute. Filled in the commercial gaps (and missing pre and post shows) w/ the pirate stream.

        Any clue what they are doing for commentary on the F1 TV Pro thing?

        1. My guess is SKY coverage without ads. Hope it comes online before the next race.

          1. I hope you are right! I wouldn’t mind a second audio channel for world-feed audio only too from time to time…

          1. Yep, beat me to it.

          2. Done this for years. Annoying pop-ups, but find the right feed and you’re golden.

    4. NBCSN also had badly-timed commercial breaks but, usually, their commentators filled in the gaps. But for ESPN, last night’s broadcast was a sign of things to come from the House Of The Mouse(Disney). I almost believe the broadcast is deliberately bad just to drive American F1 fans to the coming exclusive streaming service.

      1. That tactic was adopted during the F1 Digital TV era under Ecclestone – suddenly free-to-air quality dropped in the hope of chasing F1 fans to pay-TV. After Digital TV bombed it was business as usual. To be fair FtA quality then improved markedly, but the tactic of broadcast deterioration in order to upsell is not new to F1. More here: https://www.racefans.net/2018/03/07/will-f1-tv-pro-succeed-where-f1-digital-failed/

        1. @dieterrencken The only thing that was held back from the world feed coverage back then was the in-car cameras. The local host broadcasters who were producing the world feed back then were only given access to in-car cameras from 3 drivers each weekend.

          In terms of now, All broadcasters get access to the same content & nothing is held back. The ESPN deal was done because NBC didn’t ant to compete with the streaming platform & Sean Bratches went to ESPN as he came from there & knows the people so did a deal that gave ESPN the rights for next to nothing. ESPN never wanted to produce there own coverage so did the deal to take parts of Sky’s which was always going to cause problems with ad-breaks given how Sky don’t take any outside of practice.

          The quality of ESPN’s output has been in decline for a while now, There Indycar coverage has always been bad & they put very little effort into it compared to NBC (US fans have a joke that ABC = Always Bad Coverage during there Indycar coverage). The coverage today was exactly what I would expect from ESPN, It’s on-par with there coverage of Indy & NASCAR & that is sub-par.

          They can fix the tech issues that saw them miss the 1st 20 minutes of the show, However I think the ad-break cuts are always going to be a problem given how the commentary feed there taking is ad-free (For races at least).

          1. Not true that only the in-car stuff was held back – there were 6 channels carrying stuff not available FtA like pig lane, like certain replays, like the battle down the order.

            Equally, at the moment not all broadcasters have the same access – the more you pay, the more access you get. Surely you know that.

            It is the peripheral stuff that encourages people to go PPV where they have a FtA option. Why pay the premium for the same stuff? Ad-free alone does not justify the on-cost.

            As for exactly whatever content ESPN or other contract broadcasters will receive once PRO is up and running, no one knows.

            1. They’re, there, their. If your spell check cannot handle those words, take a class.

              ESPN/ABC coverage of auto racing has always been terrible. That’s why sponsors fled. SKY is even worse. I suspected LIBERTY could find a way to screw a good thing. They have NO ONE who understands the racing community and they will do nothing to rectify the situation. They’re only in it for the bucks and will abandon ship while blaming everyone else when the holes get large enough to cause a sinking situation.

            2. Don’t mean to barge in and please, no-one in this sub-thread take offense, but just to clarify somewhat, there is NO free viewing.

              Understanding what you are all saying about broadcast on tv vs. streaming setvices and all, we pay over $150 U.S. a month for cable package that includes ESPN, NBCSN, FS1,2 (and whatever other number they have) and MAVTV, because we love all types of racing.

              Our choice to be sure but enough is enough and this cat isn’t going to be moved to pay more for a streaming service because they “dumb” down the regular broadcast. I’ll save that cash and go to my local shorttack at the expense of one less on F1 viewership numbers metrics.

            3. @dieterrencken I don’t think FTA ever gets 4K images and it looks like there’s some radio messages missing as well from main feed? I can ask at my work the signal characteristics we receive to transmit our FTA in Belgium and let you know if I get this info.

            4. @dieterrencken Yes, but F1Digital was based around an entirely separate core feed (necessitating different commentary as a result). The local-broadcaster produced “Analogue” world feed was never made available to F1Digital customers.

              But given only a single main feed is now produced, the core product is not different. The moment F1TV starts offering an alternate world feed only available via F1TV, and deprecating the previous world feed, if you will, *then* I would consider it a divide-and-conquer tactic similar to F1Digital+.

            5. @dieterrencken But as it stands, the world feed that will be offered on F1TV (barring pre & post race analysis, which the world feed technically doesn’t include anyway) will be exactly the same as what’s given to TV broadcasters, with the addition of Sky’s commentary.

              Anything else (Pitlane feed, driver tracker, data channel, onboards) are content separate to the world feed.

    5. Gary Gudinkas
      25th March 2018, 15:49

      Plus at least from where I was watched, the very first F1 show, Free Practice 2, was preempted, and qualifying was cut short. The commercial breaks during the race seemed to be ill timed. How things get better, or go back to NBC who seemed to know what they were doing. I get the feeling ESPN really does not care much about F1.

      1. ESPN doesn’t care about F1. I wish they would at least give us the full, uncut and unadvertised-to-death Sky feed on espn dot com’s “watch” service where they put FP1-3. But even the FP1-3 gets cut short on line!

    6. Incidentally Indycar have recently announced there dropping ABC/ESPN coverage from next year & been aired exclusively on NBC in part due to how poor the Indycar coverage on ESPN has been, Especially when compared to NBC.

    7. I agree. The broadcast was horrible from the point of commercials and following up to n what happened.
      It will not get better. Sky’s broadcast will not change since they have their platform which is geared towards zero commercials and non stop broadcast and ESPN won’t be letting go of commercial money for 1 1/2 hours.

      1. FTA has dealt with this issue over the world feed in Australia pretty well for as long as I can remember – they seem to keep them short sharp & infrequent but more importantly, when action is missed, the local commentator gives a synopsis and sometimes a replay of the action that was missed during the commercial break.
        I just keep live timing up and watch the action unfolding on the tables.

    8. This is what we have had in Canada for ever. TSN just used to use the Sky or BBC feed with their commentators and throw in commercials whenever they wanted. You were left hanging since the commentators kept on going and you came back missing 3 minutes of the race. Granted they started adopting a picture in picture of the race inside the commercials in recent years but the small screen never gave you enough details.

      1. TSN (and CBC before that) always used the British commentators except for the home Grand Prix. So no idea what your talking about especially since CBC would update you after a break.

        1. Hi Steve,
          It’s tough to look up when CBC lost the coverage, as it was before the consumer use of the internet, but ccolanto’s summary matches my experience with TSN since. TSN at least used Side-By-Side video most of this decade, but the BBC or Sky commentators certainly had no idea when TSN was cutting away. RDS used to have one commentator on this side and one on the phone from the track – I don’t thank that was a better option.

          I did notice today’s cuts to commercials were as merciful as those go.

    9. Lucky us …. North of the 49th, we get TSN. Not sure how it compares to other coverage, but it ain’t that great. Someon e is paying BIG bucks to run adds during the coverage. Naturally when the action is going on, you can easily develop a negative response for the advertisers. Why then do they run a 12 second add for a Mozzarella Turkey Melt ….. three times in succession while there is action on-track??
      Normal broadcast protocol is to show a listing of all the final driver placings after the race. Nothing this time. Waaahhht.?? Ask the sponsors of the 4th, 5th, 6th etc. cars and teams if they feel short changed… you bet they do. Besides, real race fans are indeed interested in who finished 10th and 11th ……. Maybe there really were only 3 cars in the race.

    10. Even if they aren’t on-site for all the races (or any of them…), it sounds like they could really do with a couple of decent commentators to hold their broadcast together. Obviously they still won’t be able to trigger replays if they keep the Sky feed, but they can at least let people know what has happened.

    11. I don’t expect Sky to change, nor should they. It is ESPN that needs to get their act together. And they do provide Soccer non-stop. Although those are 50 min stretches and not 90min+.

      The only problem I know they can’t get around are the occasional non side-by-side commercials. I believe they are legally required to air them for commercials in local areas.

      Aside from the commercials, my other issue is with the post race coverage. After the race, NBCSN would follow the cars around and watch them all enter Parc Ferme, we see the driver hop out and celebrate with crew and it would go all the way to the podium interviews. Go to commercial break and then they would come back discuss what happened, and we would get interviews from other drivers.

      Last night it was, driver cross the line, commercial, come back and Vettel is already out of the car celebrating. They do the anthems and the Interviews. The interviews happen to end at 3 a.m. US East Coast time, the feed is cut and now we are watching a 30 for 30 documentary. No analysis, no interviews, no what to expect in the coming weeks. Frankly I feel like I missing on more with this set-up then I ever did with NBCSN.

      1. The real Sky broadcast didn’t hit a commercial until ESPN was 2 or 3 commercial breaks deep into their next program!

    12. It’s similar situation here in Canada, TSN (a subscription sports network) carry sky sports uk coverage and commentary. For all pre and post race shows the ad breaks are lined up with those back in Uk, but during the live coverage of the race they’ll cut to adverts at random times during the race. They’ll often do picture in picture, but obviously the commentary quite often gets cut off mid-sentence, and for example, today Grosjean’s incident and Vettel’s pitstop all happened during ad-break.

      If the race is in early hours of morning local time, they’ll often rerun just the race coverage later in the day. (this joins coverage just as they had over to sky commentators before the start, and ends straight after podium).
      This is usually better as the ad breaks are better timed, and while they don’t do picture-in-picture, they rejoin at the moment they left off. However on the rerun program today, they cut to ad just after Magnussen pulled off the track, and they resumed coverage at end of safety car period with Vettel leading. Obviously the sky commentary didn’t explain initially what happened, and fortunately I also had the live program recorded and had to switch to that to see what happened.

      I’m hoping once the TSN deal expires here, that F1 TV pro will come to Canada. I pray Liberty also are sensible and don’t introduce any form of advertising during the race coverage. Although since it’s an OTT subscription service I think there should be zero ads, but I don’t hold out much hope on that in long run.

    13. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      25th March 2018, 16:26

      Too late guys – between the Halo, the commenting and the fact that the 3rd fastest driver was given a monopoly win over the 1st and 2nd driver, I think we all have better things to do. Can anyone recommend a racing series to replace F1?

      Don’t fret, I’ll fast forward through the races which is a lot better than the 80% who won’t even bother to watch. Forza ESPN!!! Forza Ragazzi! I was the slowest but I won!!! Ragazzi!!!

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        25th March 2018, 16:27

        Forza Nessuno!!!

    14. I watch it on Sky and it was awful to see the F1 coverage shrunk to see also-tiny Acura commercials. Who was the genius that suggested that display?

    15. I thought the ESPN coverage was not too bad. Be nice if the Sky people don’t feel they need to be talking all the time.
      It will get better for sure. I was able to watch the race from beginning to the end.
      People calm down and don’t be so hyper critical.

    16. Question. I’m in NY with Fios, and my ESPN2 was in standard definition, which was god aweful. Did anybody else experience this?

      1. I watched on the WatchESPN app on Android TV and it was HD.

      2. I am in the Los Angeles, CA area. In my area Fios/Verizon TV was taken over by Frontier Communications. I watched the race in HD on ESPN2 on for me Channel 574 without a problem…? Sorry to hear that so many people had problems.
        Just fyi.

    17. This was an absolutely horrible experience. All the work they claim to be doing to make F1 more appealing, especially for American audiences, and this is what they give us? If they thought NBC’s deal was “a popcorn fart”, then just what is this awful, regurgitated Sky sports feed? How much money did Disney pay to essentially deposit the fruits of a large bowel movement onto the American viewers?

      And for what it’s worth, as an American, I cannot stand Sky’s commentary team. I also cannot stand Leigh Diffey, however, the NBCSN team had something Sky doesn’t – pacing.

      I couldn’t pay attention to anything because the announcers didn’t shut their mouths for a single second. Just quickly rambling about things for the sake of rambling about things NONSTOP for an entire race.

      Will Buxton – monotone? He was energetic and sounded pleasant as well.

      Does anyone realize that the NBCSN broadcasters actually took time off from speaking to simply enjoy the dang race? think of how significant that was – when they’d all just shut up for a bit and just admire the view and the sounds. And they’re all just as British as can be. The difference though, is they seem to actually enjoy the races – whereas the Sky team seem to enjoy simply being commentators and hearing their own voices.

      1. Steve Whitehead
        26th March 2018, 1:02

        The announcers were awful.
        Come ON ESPN

      2. Yes, exactly. To much talk, too little said.

    18. Agree that Hobbs, Matchett, and, to a lesser extent Diffey were worlds ahead in their commentary – their knowledge and humor made the race much more interesting than the constant grating prate of the Sky crew.
      I much preferred Buxton’s grid walk than Brundle’s – those interviewed by Buxton reacted with a smile rather than them treating Brundle like a pain in the ass (except for Max of course – but he was talking to Nico)

    19. I’m absolutely fine with TSN here in Canada carrying Sky, and of course there are going to be ad breaks. Advertising pays the bills. Racing wouldn’t exist without advertising. I’ll take the odd inconvenient interruption, while still being able to see the race on the left hand side of the screen, any day, compared to the complete coverage we are getting that gives us 95+% of it once ads are considered. TSN can be had with even a basic cable/satellite package, so I really think we are lucky.

      My experience with American coverage is that the commentators general sound like there’s something else they’d rather be doing, and what they used to do was to not necessarily cut coverage out, but they’d time delay it so that they could fit in many more ads, which would be frustrating. I discovered that tactic years ago when I’d be following the race with the live timing on my laptop at the same time, and before long they’d be behind the actual live action. The race would end and they’d be still covering the last 5 or 10 laps.

    20. Continuity is one of the most important aspects of any broadcast, be it TV, radio, movie, podcast or any other form. The ESPN F1 broadcast had all the continuity of being a passenger on a moving train shoved off the train suddenly at any moment without warning and alternately sucked back onto the moving train at any other given moment.

      I find the SKY F1 broadcast to be no problem at all. The constant discontinuous interruptions by ESPN are insufferable, but it’s not SKY’s fault since their broadcast commentary is continuous, as it should be.

      I knew there was a reason for my staying away from ESPN as much as possible for many years now. The utter lack of care for the viewer by their callous thoughtlessness or the even more egregious possibility of doing this by design complicit with Liberty as a way to attract more subscribers to their F1 broadcast package here in the states is unacceptable.

      If this is Liberty’s idea on how to grow US viewership it will fail miserably. I suspect this was the plan Liberty offered to NBC and they refused it. Good for them. When the free package offered (free to existing cable subscribers) is so poor and hard to follow it will drive potential new viewers away, not attract them. It most certainly will not entice them to spend any amount of money for a premium package.

      As it was I was planning on opting in for the premium package when available. Probably, I will still get it because I am a long time F1 fan and want to have a watchable broadcast for the only sport I really care about any more. But now it will be with a bad taste in my mouth.

    21. As someone who has watched F1 in America since the early 90s, I have seen F1 coverage bounce to new networks quite a few times. The Sky coverage and broadcast team is better than anything we’ve had in America in that time. Period. And those who are calling to bring back the NBC broadcasting team are living in a delusion if they think they provided better commentary. From Matchett’s fawning over Ferrari, to his anti-fun (don’t do victory donuts Seb, don’t go into the stands Alonzo, etc. Oh wait, people liked that? Oh that was ok then.) and anti-progress comments (if you don’t have the budget to race in F1 don’t bother entering, never mind the huge disparity to team payouts), he was awful. Hobbs’ senile comments and out of touch commentary on modern F1 cars and driving were equally off-putting. Diffey’s excitement level always seemed to be out of step with the race itself, trying to interject excitement where there was none or completely glossing over pivotal movements in the race with a ho-hum comment. The only bright spot from the commentary team was Buxton. He was consistently on target with his analysis and insight from the pit lane. His pre and post race interviews were tough but fair and his genuine excitement for F1 was tangible across the world and through the TV. If there was a place I thought Sky could use improvement, it was in the pre-race grid walk. While I enjoyed Brundle’s race commentary, his grid walk was pretty cringe-worthy in comparison to what Buxton usually produced. I also thought Sky could use more coverage from Kravitz, although maybe there was more that had been cut off by ESPN. His commentary during the free practices was quite good.

      ESPN’s rebroadcasting of Sky’s coverage was abysmal though. The constant interruption by commercials and the failing to break out of commercial when something pivotal was happening, the lack of a recap of what happened during the non side-by-side coverage, etc. Just a really poor execution that anyone who has broadcast a race from any series before should have seen coming. I don’t know how they are going to fix the commercial problem. Sky clearly isn’t going to change their broadcast to fix ESPN’s problems. Will ESPN go to a banner ad system instead? Doubtful. With all the F1 graphics already taking up a lot of the screen real estate there is really no where to put them. We’ll see what ESPN comes up with for the next race but I may be looking at alternatives to watching races in the future.

      1. @leroy. Perfect commentary, mate. I would be a little bit more critical of Martin Brundle’s pre race grid walk through. Terrible all around. Actually, the idea of trying to get drivers and tech people from the teams to give an interview minutes before the start is nonsensical, in my opinion. You end up with senseless sound bites that have no depth. Just time fillers.

      2. @g-funk +1 very well put

      3. ” Matchett’s fawning over Ferrari, to his anti-fun (don’t do victory donuts Seb, don’t go into the stands Alonzo, etc.”
        Er that’s called subtle humor, sarcasm, a jab at F1 management..but if you didn’t get it..as for him ‘fawning over Ferrari’, I never picked that up.

      4. Totally agree Leroy. Well said.

        1. If it helps, Ted Kravitz has an entire F1 show on Sky after qualifying where he pretty much wanders around the paddock making awkward conversation. It’s the only bit of the F1 weekend my girlfriend is willing to watch.

    22. I say, I was dreading watching coverage on Channel 4 today (Star Sports India leeches off C4 coverage for those interested), but now I’m just thankful for what I’ve got. We just had one commercial per break and that too only those of DHL and Vodafone, as far as I can remember.

      1. +1 to this, @pratyushp276

        The nice thing about Ben Edwards and Karun Chandhok is their relatively straightforward commentary – they focus mostly on the track action, and don’t go moaning over some things the way I’ve seen Crofty (in particular) do.

        That said, there are times I wish for a pure race soundtrack, with no commentary overlaid. Let’s see if/when F1 TV Pro reaches our shores, if we get such an option.

        1. Disable your center speaker. Most Tv’s have a built in equalizer. All commentary is through the center speaker and race action comes through L/R speakers.

          1. Wow, I didn’t know this, will try it out the next time.

        2. Hearing Crofty shout his lungs out on the highlights reel does grind my gears a little.
          Watching a race without commentary, however, is something I wouldn’t be able to do, personally. Commentary is an integral part of me following F1.

      2. @pratyushp276
        Agreed. The ads were the only upside but i suggest you hold on to that thought. Last year, the only ad that appeared over and over again during the first race was for Apache RTR. An if my memory serves me right, the ads appeared once in 9-10 laps. I was happy–just like how you are now.
        As time went by, ads started appearing once in 7 laps–out of nowhere–sometimes even when the race leader pits without a big lead in front–would be very excruciating. Apart from RTR, Castrol, JWalker, Blenders Pride, then a host of other brands joined in. Fingers crossed for the Indian viewer in 2018.
        Lot of negatives from the FOM production though…very little information.

    23. ESPN gets the rights for free and they’re too cheap to hire US commentators, I’m done. I’ll just read about it.

    24. It also occurred to me that this is probably a tactic for pushing people to the F1TV premium service once it comes out. I remember NBC’s statement after they lost the rights being something about how they “did not want to be in direct competition with the commercial rights holder”. That now makes much more sense. At this point I guess I’ll take what we can get here in the US, but to see F1 let the quality of coverage take such a giant leap backwards is both frustrating and surprising considering all of the lip service that Liberty (an American company) has given to growing and expanding the sport in the US, including adding more races here. Hopefully they listen and this is a short-term problem, much like the knock-out qualifying debacle. Unfortunately, I don’t see them quickly putting together a studio and broadcast team any time this season. If they could work out an uninterrupted soccer-style broadcast with popup add banners or if they just paused the broadcast during commercials I, for one, would be much happier.

    25. Neil Bannister
      25th March 2018, 18:30

      I think we need to break down what was going on. The SKY content was quite good, Martin & PDR did a great job.
      The packing on the US end of this was the major issue. No team in the US was a huge impact, when we had a commercial break, things would happen and we would not get educated about the incident. More worrying, if that grand prix had gone long, I lay money that we would have missed the end of it. ESPN is just managing a “slot” of content regardless of the actual material context.

      I would also add that Liberty Media wanted to give F1 a bigger face in the US, if ESPN is that face then they have chosen badly based upon this weekend. Even the practices were cut short at the end of their allocated time slot.

    26. ESPN did the usual American thing with quality foreign material and some lazy network twits that have never enjoyed, nor appreciated, F1 only showed what they thought was pertinent, leaving out all the artistry and soul that Sky coverage has become. ESPN really dropped the ball and isn’t taking advantage of of the opportunity to grow the sport here. Sky’s presenters, commentary, research, graphics, interviews, documentaries, etc., has made me a rabid fan the last several years. You can’t minimize such an elaborate program and expect people to connect, they have stripped the soul of the show. NBC coverage was horrible but tolerable because the commentators were a little personable. ESPN isn’t giving us the opportunity to connect with Sky’s talent arsenal. I was really hoping for better and to quit relying on bit torrent but if I can’t get Ted’s notebook then …

    27. Plain and simple, ESPN and Sky Sports suck. Bring F1 back to NBC Sports.

    28. ESPN met my expectations but not my hopes. I hoped for good, got typical ESPN racing coverage. If the sport doesn’t involve a ball they just don’t care.

      Graham Rahal summed up my impression nicely. “They need commentators here, the commercial breaks had awful timing, and leaving mid-sentence then returning from break without explanation of what happened was terrible”

      I would add, like everyone else is saying, that they need to get their $#!% together regarding the schedule. I hope that the online stream is done well when that kicks in. I’ll check it out. But it will need to offer on-demand watching for races like Aus that are the middle of the night in the US.

      1. ESPN met my expectations but not my hopes.

        Nicely said @ruz234014, that is one damning and concise summary.

    29. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      25th March 2018, 19:35

      Well I once had a big issue with the NowTV service in the UK which I still think seems temperamental.

      In the Canadian Grand Prix last year, 10 minutes before the race started, the whole screen became totally blurred and pixielated. Similar to how they cover number plates on cars and members of the public if they don’t want to be seen on documentaries. Other than this was the entire screen. It lasted until about lap 60 of the race. All the drivers names were totally unreadable and you could only just guess the teams by the colours.

      I checked my network connection at the time and it was flawless. And although I don’t have the highest network speed in the UK, it is pretty close and everything else worked fine. I tried switching and using wifi which was no better. It made me think that it was due to peak time traffic or something as it started just before the race. I managed to complain to Now TV and get a free week pass next though. But I still think it is appalling that a paytv service has such issues. Freeview never has issues like this. While NowTV has never been this bad since then, it still buffers every now and then and the picture quality keeps dropping suddenly occasionally and then soon going back to normal. And the picture quality to start with is already worse than Freeview HD. I really think Sky and NowTV need to work on the quality of their coverage given that you pay for it.

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        25th March 2018, 21:30

        I think this happens during periods of high traffic to nowtv, as it seems common during Game of Thrones when usage would be at its highest

    30. Watching the race, I felt Crofty did a great job leaving cues for ad breaks, I guess ESPN didn’t follow those. Anyway rejoining the broadcast was always going to be bad.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        25th March 2018, 20:30

        Yea, I noticed this. I don’t normally like Crofty, infact usually hate him, but he seems ok during the races. During practice and often qualifying, he is often painful and goes way too off topic. I notice Ben Edwards leave large gaps between some sentences when they are live in the UK. And they don’t show highlights here if they showed it live. So it must either be for the catch up service or the commentary being live for other countries for another broadcaster.

    31. Here is the USA you can watch the race on Unimas which is a channel owned by UNIVISION. I SPEAK SPANINSH AND ENGLISH AND THAT CHANNEL IS ONLY IN SPANISH. They have very knowledgeable people (a former cart and Indy driver) Mario Dominguez even though I’m not Mexican I think he does a good jokb. The channel comes in my latin package channels but I don’t know if it also comes in the English package. THE BEST THING OF THAT CHANNEL IS THAT THERE IS NOT A SINGLE COMMERCIAL OR ADD, IT GOES UNINTERRUPTED FROM THE GREEN FLAG TO THE LAST LAP. It has Been this way for the last 4-5 years.

      1. It is always live too, even when NBC was delaying.

        If only my Spanish was better. I’ll see if I can enable English captions.

    32. So let’s look at ESPN’s 2018 Australian F1 coverage:

      1) My cable provider carries four ESPN channels but for some reason, I was not permitted to watch FP1 or FP2 on what I thought was a web only “channel” ESPN3. So absolutely no coverage from the first day of practice. Nice to know I won’t have any first day practice coverage all season. NBC carried the second of the first day practice sessions live, and recapped the morning session as part of that coverage.
      2) The ESPN listings continued to show FP3 coverage beginning at 10:00 PM New York time, even though this was obviously wrong. It wasn’t until just before 10:00 PM Saturday night that ESPN issued a “Programming Alert” advising that the broadcast would begin at 10:55 PM for FP3 even though the 11:00 PM New York FP3 start time was published in multiple media outlets and by the FIA for months. Clearly some hourly clerk at ESPN can’t even read source data and get it right.
      3) The recently added pre-race show experienced “technical difficulties” that ESPN said they were “working as fast as possible” to resolve. We missed the first 20 minutes of that show. When ESPN “fixed” the problem, the broadcast just appeared but for the first minute of coverage there was no sound. Nice fix!!
      4) The poorly timed commercials and the failure to update the viewer for actions that occurred during the commercial interruptions may not be the fault of Sky announcers if the ESPN commercial interruptions don’t coincide with Sky TV commercial interruptions. How are the Sky announcers to know when ESPN will run commercials?
      5) On ESPN, the cuts to commercials just happen. You are watching the sporting action and all of a sudden there is a commercial playing. No commentary at all regarding the break in coverage.
      6) Then equally surprisingly, the race action is back on again, with coverage rejoined literally with the announcers in mid-sentence. As said by other contributors to these comments, no update on what happened during the commercials, even though we saw pit radio conversations (could not hear them due to the commercial), cars in distress, etc.
      7) If for some reason, the timing of ESPN commercials is supposed to coincide with Sky commercials, they the Sky announcers do a terrible job of continuity. Again as other commenters have said, the lack of a recap is amateurish and unprofessional at best. It doesn’t even rise to the standards that we experience from sports programming on even the most mediocre regional sport networks.
      8) The end of the broadcast was equally ridiculous. Mark Webber closed his podium interviews. The Sky program announcer started to close the broadcast and said “So it’s game on . . . . . “ and then bang, the broadcast abruptly cuts to advertisements while the announcer is again in mid-sentence. Absolutely no formal introduction or closing of the broadcast.

      All in all, this was exactly what we expected when we learned that ESPN was going to simply re-air the Sky feed. For some reason ESPN they think they can plug in the Sky feed and all go out for beers and burgers and come back two hours later and see if there is anything to do.

      ESPN’s coverage was amateurish, unprofessional and one of the many clear indications as to why ESPN as a network is in serious financial trouble and clamoring for viewable and significant revenue producing content.

      If ESPN thinks it can fill their networks with cheap to run third party feeds, presented in a choppy, poorly directed broadcast, all the while expecting viewers to tune in, then it will continue to circle the bowl until the network disappears down the drain of bankruptcy and either contracts significantly or signs off completely.

      If this was a high school media and communications project, the people running this “broadcast” would be given an “F” and told to repeat the course.

      At NBC, announcers Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett genuinely cared about what they were doing and tried to make the broadcast coverage interesting and appropriate for everyone from the first time viewer to the seasoned F1 enthusiast.

      NBC as a network had the a professional approach that understood that to have entertaining, viewable and sport appropriate coverage requires a little investment of time, money and effort.

      Sadly, it appears it will be a very long and largely unenjoyable few years of F1 until the ESPN contract runs out.

      1. @Joe In regards to your points 4 through 8, the issue is Sky F1 don’t have commercials during the race coverage. Listening to the Sky commentary here in the UK there was blatant cues given for commercial breaks to happen, whether these were taken by ESPN or not I have no idea. ESPN needs to have it’s own commentators instead of leeching off Sky’s package because they aren’t going to recap what has happened during an ESPN commercial break when they themselves haven’t had an interrupted broadcast.

      2. Just to clear up – Sky has no commercial interruptions, it’s entirely advert-free from lights to flag. So I doubt there’ll ever be recaps from the Sky team, because their customers haven’t had their coverage interrupted.

        For that reason, and from what I’ve heard people say, ESPN needs to invest a few dollars in their own commentary and broadcast team. Using the Sky feed on an advert-interrupted broadcast is a terrible idea.

        1. Ryan and Neil, thank you for the clarification. I suspected as much but I wasn’t sure.

          The Sky commentators are unquestionably experienced and knowledgeable F1 commentators. But as you said, ESPN’s decision to leech off Sky’s commercial free package without it’s own commentators to properly introduce, narrate and recap important events of the race is one more example of poor planning and amateurish execution.

          You can’t get quality merchandise at a cut rate, discount retail store and similarly, you can’t expect quality sports coverage from a cut rate, discount network like ESPN.

      3. Don’t worry Joe Harvey, “Sadly, it appears it will be a very long and largely unenjoyable few years of F1 until the ESPN contract runs out.” Since “history repeats” ESPN will probably drop F1 just before a race like they did the first time (way back when) which lead to SpeedVision (later SpeedTV) to pick it up. With any luck some broadcaster will come along and pull a repeat doing justice to F1 in the US. My question is which race will be ESPN’s last?
        NBC was not stupid when they did not renew, and ESPN is just lazy, greedy and does not have F1 fan growth in the US in it’s heart. I knew when Liberty Media announced the change of broadcaster, that at best the coverage would be lacking, at worse it will be as it was last night. Thank you ESPN for your outstandingly poor support. I have not watched anything on ESPN since the first time they dumped F1 and still would not if I had a choice in the matter. ESPN, when you leave the building, just make sure the lights are off.

      4. Point 1) FP1 and FP2 are web only, just go on your desktop and load it up, WatchESPN/ESPN3 will auto-detect your ISP

        Point 2) ESPN may have had something go over the expected time, or some delay must have occurred, chances are that FP3 won’t be delayed again(usually TV guides will be accurate as well)

        1. BlueHawk,

          Thanks for the suggestion but I checked with my cable TV provider and they do not subscribe to ESPN3 and therefore I cannot access it WATCHESPN/ESPN3. I can get the other ESPN channels on WatchESPN but not ESPN3 so I’ll be without FP1/2 all season unless I purchase ESPN3 coverage via nother provider like PS4, etc.

    33. ESPN didn’t even come back from commercial for the safety car restart. That would’ve never happened on NBC. I’ll miss the smart and entertaining commentary from Buxton, Diffy, Hobbs and Matchet. Maybe F1’s streaming service will be better and I’ll get rid of cable.

    34. Don’t piggyback on another network’s coverage if you’re going to have constant commercial interruptions. ESPN seems to have the amazing ability to cut to commercials just as something dramatic is about to happen. I still don’t know what happened to Sergei or why Ericsson retired from the race. Either pony out the money for your own coverage team or stop having commercial interruptions all together.

      By the way, we get no post-race coverage AT ALL. I miss NBC Sports already.

    35. I have never watched a race where the broadcaster missed the cars coming into parc ferme. They missed the top three drivers getting out of their cars, everything. It went from Vettel crossing the line to him celebrating with his mechanics. No shots of Raikkonen or Hamilton, nothing. Just the sixth commercial telling me how good double cheeseburger sliders from Hardee’s are. I’ve waited four months
      for this, I can eat a bloody cheeseburger every night. To quote Morrissey, they know where they can shove their hamburger.
      This is a joke, an absolute piece of excrement and a joke. Only the Americans could f this sport up and they have in five minutes flat. I thought no one could be as greedy and useless as Ecclestone but by Christ was I wrong.

      1. The one time I can remember it happening in the UK since it stopped bundling F1 races with Grandstand was when ITV managed to miss the last three laps of the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix (it went down about as well then as the ESPN coverage is doing this week…)

      2. You will notice that ESPN has no way to comment on the broadcasts anywhere on their website (that I can find).

    36. Bring back the noise! Bring back our boys! Bring back the girls!!! Dont ruin a great thing

    37. I didn’t mind SKY coverage. It was interesting if for no other reason than it was different that what I had been watching for basically the last 12 years. Coverage moved from SPEED channel to NBC, but it was basically the same. The only real difference was Diffey instead of Varsha, and Buxton instead of Windsor. I actually thought there were less commercial interruptions on ESPN than there were on NBC (they seemed to happen every 3 or 4 minutes on NBC).

      However, the abrupt manner in going to and coming back out of commercial was simply awful. It was really disappointing that there was no one to explain what had happened while at commercial. This made it really difficult to get a feel for the race. I guess it would be marginally better to have a local commentator to catch is up before going back to the SKY coverage like FOX does for formula e. I am not a fan of that, i hate it, but it is better than this crap.

      I will likely stop watching if it continues like this. It is definitely amateurish at best. I don’t want to, but i may have to seek out illegal streams just to make it watchable, or just give up f1 altogether.

    38. I agree that the coverage by ESPN was horrible. The commentators might have been a couple of drunks in a bar.

      However, the safety car session did not hand Vettel the win today. Anyone who watches NASCAR knows that yellow flags are an opportunity to make up time. The Mercedes engineers have already said their own software didn’t alert them that Hamilton was at risk of not passing Vettel in the pits. F1 has determined that there are on-track rules and pit rules. Vettel and Ferrari exploited the difference in those rules expertly and Mercedes were caught napping.

      However— and this is the most important point–after the end of the safety car period, Hamilton had THIRTY LAPS to pass Vettel and regain the lead, and he never got closer than .40 seconds. If he had the car to win, he would have.

    39. I saved the ESPN telecast on DVR and got the whole show. For me, commercial breaks had continuing race coverage on split screen…better than the previous NBCSN coverage. I was impressed with the commentary. I found it more thorough and engaged than the US based commentary teams. Why didn’t they go this way years ago? Have been watching since 1982…

    40. I can completely forgive their syncing issue with the pre-race, especially since anyone with half a brain could scurry and find a live stream. Hell, most real fans were already watching the first hour of the SKYF1 prerace and track parade online anyway. To be perfectly fair, ESPN provided GREAT streams for the practices and didn’t add any breaks that SKY didn’t have scheduled (full disclosure: ESPN may have lingered a moment or so in returning on two or three breaks across the practices) and they didn’t HAVE A SINGLE COMMERCIAL WHILE CARS WERE ON THE CIRCUIT DURING QUALI!!! Everyone pining away for NBC seems to forget all the times we missed Q3 because they were showing ads!

      Now to be perfectly clear, I’m a from the states. I grew up with Posey, Hobbs, and Matchett. But, it’s a fact that Hobbs was due to retire. Diffy, Varsha, DeBruhl, etc, I can completely live without. And I wish Matchett the very best with FE. He’s great and I love how he’s always made time for the fans. Buy his books!

      But what I can’t forgive is ESPN’s race coverage. So. Many. Commercials. More than NBC and I didn’t think that was possible. They are the reason I swapped to SKYF1 in the first place. And frankly, I don’t mind SKY. Some portions are better, some are worse, I personally can’t stand Brundle constantly blowing Hamilton, but I enjoy Crofty and love Ted (he’s beyond approachable irl, btw. Super nice.) If ESPN would reduce the amount of ads and include a post-race (even on their ESPN3 streaming) they’d have millions of happy fans. I just can’t grasp why they’d rather have a few million angry F1 fans to have 5,000 happy drunk frat brahs who tuned in to watch whatever stupid rerun of E60 or whatever horrible show they are desperate to get on. ESPN’s programming is terrible. They should seize this opportunity, but given their recent other business decisions, I wouldn’t bet on it.

      And if this is some plot to get us all to buy into F1 Pro, Liberty is going to be very disappointed.

      1. Someday I’ll remember there isn’t an edit function so until that day: apologies!

    41. I am still crying. After so long waiting….no opening, horrible coverage, endless commercial breaks and at such the wrong time, no explanation after the commercial, no replays, and then no interviews at the end of the race????? So I say okay, David Hobbs Jaguar Extra will fill in all that I missed. Wait, no Jaguar extra coverage????
      I am just broken.
      I need to rethink by life now :(

    42. Please bring back David Hobbs, Steve Matchett, Lee Duffy, and Will Buxton (Skippy). Without them watching F1 is not the same. We need the old team back as they worked beautifully together and made the whole experience exciting. We don’t need a delayed start to generate excitement. We need the guys back as it was their comradery, wit, and knowledge of the sport that made the experience sheer perfection. Liberty Media, get your act together!

    43. ESPN even screwed me later! I rarely watch races live, just try to live a spoiler-free life for 12 hours until I make time for wife and me to watch, and I wholly understand that I could watch live and avoid this but for some people, it isn’t an option.
      I loaded up the ESPN app on our AppleTV and found the race but guess what was there! Right about the section that had the qualifying and race replay were news segments with thumbnails and descriptions of who won the race. I was spoiled by ESPN while trying to watch the race. I was extremely disappointed with ESPN right there, and then when I watched the race and everything else happened…. man ESPN really messed this up.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        26th March 2018, 18:01

        Oh no! Thanks for sharing – wow, I have to make sure I don’t install the ESPN app on my phone.

      2. That is ridiculous :(

    44. AJ (@itsanewday)
      26th March 2018, 14:24

      Aside from the aforementioned horrible commercial interruptions, which, since SKY itself doesn’t have any interruptions, I don’t see how ESPN is going to fix, did anyone else notice that the commentators seemed to have no idea what images were being broadcast? As an example, there was a sequence where they were showing Magnussen walking back the HAAS area after he got out of his car for a good 10-20 seconds, and the announcers made no acknowledgement of it. Shortly after that, they showed Grosjean doing the same thing, and again, absolutely no mention of it, as if we were still seeing images of the track. I would have thought since HAAS were having an exceptional day for them, and they were both knocked out within minutes of each other by the same exact freakish problem, it might warrant a comment or two, yet we got nothing. Also, the NBCSN crew from last year would interview the drivers who were knocked out, but I don’t recall that this time. Sirotkin retired early but if it weren’t for the fact that I have a 70″ TV and could actually decode the graphics that showed he was out, I would have never known. I don’t remember his name being mentioned once…

      1. Sky (and Channel 4 – it’s a British thing) often does this if it explained the reason for it earlier and it is deemed that the new shots don’t add anything considered sufficiently important to add. Most likely, you were in an ad break when Sky did the explanation. Sorry.

    45. Very interesting comment on another site which referenced an article published last November on the New England Sports Network website (NESN.com) in which David Hobbs stated that ESPN was not even paying a rights fee for the F1 broadcasts.
      https://nesn.com/2017/11/david-hobbs-upset-nbc-lost-f1-broadcast-rights-to-espns-inferior-show/

      Hobbs comments from that article included:
      “If ESPN or anybody had come along and outbid NBC in a rights war, and we were pushed out by a clearly superior team and deal, that would be one thing. You could say, ‘OK, I guess the best guy’s won.’ But the deal they’ve got is horrible.”

      “They’re not paying any rights fees, they aren’t having any studio shows so there aren’t any production costs,” Hobbs told RACER. “It’s meant to be a generic (broadcast) team from across the ocean. That is irritating, that we’re being ousted by what will be an inferior show. To be pushed out by a pathetic deal, including for the viewer, is sad.”

      Hobbs was correct as Sunday’s broadcast clearly demonstrated.

      What’s more, can you possibly imagine Bernie Ecclestone letting anyone broadcast F1 anywhere in the world including Antarctica without paying a rights fee?

      This is supposed to be Formula 1, not a toddler’s pre-school. Serious questions abound across the board regarding the future of F1 as we have known it.

      1. Liberty are only permitting it because the alternative was to have nobody broadcast the Australian Grand Prix in its home market at all.

    46. The ESPN broadcast wasn’t great for a lot of reasons, but I’m trying to cut them some slack. They’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

      NBC chose not to renew the F1 contract because of F1’s pending online platform; after investing heavily in providing great hosts and promoting the series, they didn’t want to compete with the content provider themselves going forward. Naturally everyone will compare ESPN’s coverage to that of NBC which, in my opinion, was excellent, but the ESPN coverage was never meant to be what NBC’s was.

      ESPN knows that a large portion of their potential audience is going to sign up for F1’s online platform, so they’re not in a position to invest in promoting the series like NBC was. So we get the Sky feed, which is alright in my opinion… they just have to tweak things to make the timing of commercial breaks better, and make sure we get the appropriate amount of pre- and post-race coverage.

      ESPN will never beat Diffey, Hobbs, Matchett and Buxton and I think they know that, but I’m glad that they picked the series up when NBC chose not to renew. If not for that we wouldn’t have been able to see the first race at all, and for that I can try to look past the awkwardly-timed commercial breaks while they figure things out.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        26th March 2018, 17:33

        @partsguy20 I thought ESPN had won over NBC – I didn’t know that NBC didn’t bother to renew. I also didn’t know that there will be a new F1 online platform offered in the US.

        Any idea how much that will cost and how we will get access to it? I like to watch F1 on my TV, not a laptop and anything that involves casting is not as straight forward as it should be as I realized with ESPN3 which didn’t work with my iPad (since you need Apple TV for general device casting or chromecast for ESPN to directly cast).

        I got ESPN3 to work with my Xbox One (didn’t bother with PS4 or Android ) but I still had to create an account and login, install an app, authenticate with my FIOS account on a website to enable the Xbox one, enter the code, and then find the program after searching through all of ESPN3 which I can’t sticky it and I’d accidentally exit the program while trying to find settings (etc, etc).

        1. I don’t know exactly how much F1’s “Pro” service will cost but I recall seeing it would be somewhere around $10-12/month. That gives you coverage of all of the on-track action, and even the option of watching whatever in-car camera you’d like during the races if you want to follow a specific driver.

          I’m sure there will be an Apple or Android app, which you could cast to your TV. There may even be an app you can download for your Xbox or PS4, but I’m not certain about that.

          Now that you’ve gotten your ESPN Xbox app set up though, it should be much easier next time. Just fair warning: there are always spoilers there if you go to stream it after the race is over. Hopefully F1 knows better than to do that when their service gets up and running (which should be in a race or two I think…)

          As much as I miss the NBC team, I’m really looking forward to F1 Pro. And it doesn’t hurt that Buxton is working for F1 now as a host… you can check out his videos on F1’s Youtube channel.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            26th March 2018, 18:00

            @partsguy20 Thanks for the info! I’m not a big fan of adding more services but maybe F1 might be better. I know that more options are sometimes great. I’m not sure about following a specific driver as the race is about seeing every driver and race direction is a very complicated task – I don’t think I’m to be my own race director!:-)

            I’m glad to see that Buxton got a position with F1, I’ll definitely check out his videos. The decision to keep Buxton around F1 might be the most sensible decision I’ve seen in a while regarding F1.

      1. Thanks for the heads-up Phylyp, appreciate it.

    47. Anyone who read my comments ahead of the race will know that I warned about ESPN’s horrid streaming service.

      A couple of points:

      -ESPN’s streaming service has been bedeviled by technical glitches for YEARS. The most common problem are freezes and buffering interruptions and stuttering. The feed will also frequently flip to very low resolution for several seconds. All of this with 100 mb high speed Internet service. Even their most watched ESPN streaming event, Monday Night Football, has these problems. Other U.S. sports and video streaming networks work fine (Ex, TNT/TBS). Even Channel4 and Now TV F! feeds are problem free here in the U.S.

      – Don’t blame the Sky commentators: they are commentating on a Sky broadcast that is 100% uninterrupted. IOW, they had no idea when or how long the U.S. feed was being interrupted by commercials, so they couldn’t know what action was missed and that the viewers needed to be updated, etc.

      – NBCSports broadcasts missed almost 1/3 of the race action due to commercials. Further they would often go to interviews with drivers who had retired from the race for an additional minute after returning from commercials. Hobbs and Matchett were sub par. Dobbs would frequently mix up the two drivers for a team for minutes at a time. it was pathetic. Plus, they were commentating from a studio, NBCSport wouldn’t even send them to the races, so they had no insights or info based on what they could have gained by being at the track for the weekend. OTOH, Diffey’s live pitlane reporting form the races was very good for the few minutes that he would be on air.

      Liberty will not attract new F1 fans in the U.S. with a broadcast that is laden with commercial interruptions. They think that because NASCAR can get away with dozens of commercial breaks (and the side by side approach) with their broadcasts that it will work with F1. However NASCAR races normally have many breaks in the action due to frequency of crashes and safety cars, lasting for several minutes which provide natural breaks in the action and great for commercials. We’ll see if Liberty realizes that this won’t work with F1.

    48. I was hoping SKy Sports would provide some decent commentary but was sadly left wondering is this the best that F1 can do? Di Resta is hard to listen to, like nails on a chalkboard with his thick accent….I like Croft but as a team, those guys are miles BEHIND the group of Diffey, Hobbs and Matchett. NBS is a horrible network, but their F1 coverage was much better than SKy Sports. And ESPN is a total joke…they should be nowhere near racing….they continue moving into politics and away from sports, and it shows.

    49. I am a female follower of F1….Have been for 20 plus years now…..My complaint wasnt as much commercials as the pre info to the race. I want to know about the new rules, the halo. and tire selections. What about the new drivers….Who are they etc….What did the racers do during their break…..Also I couldnt hear or understand the commentators very well….I want to be able to see the temperature, speed, and all other numerical comments in language I can understand being from the US….Cant they show both. I miss Will Buxton he was so fun and informative. The new commentators were not as good as our previous commentators…..

    50. Tamera, unfortunately I think American fans will have to rely on places like RaceFans to find this out. Which most won’t do because they are (reasonably) expecting what they need to be told to be provided by the presenters and commentators…

    51. If this keeps up I might be done with F1 until something changes, that change being either the broadcasts or the racing. Atleast if one or the other is good it is bearable. As it stands now both are worthless. I for one really enjoyed the NBCSN team, their commentating was something I looked forward to. Now that is gone.

      As for the racing, if I want to watch a parade I can go downtown and get candy while doing it.

    52. David Koeppel
      29th March 2018, 4:58

      The absence of the Hobbs, Matchett, Diffey, and Buxton leaves us bereft of a great broadcast team, but I’ll especially miss the eloquence and poetry of essayist Sam Posey. If only a place could be found for this inimitable talent in future F1 broadcasts.

    53. So many things are now missing or just not good. It used to be such an event. A fly over of the track to set the location. A lap around the track describing the corners, passing locations, etc. Sam Posey’s lyrical words. The driver interviews before, during (for those who dropped out), and after. With all the technology available why can’t ESPN just pause the live broadcast (like we do for a bathroom break) when they need a commercial.

      Yes and the racing is worse; the lack of the ability to get close and pass just ruins it. More DRS zones doesn’t help if they can’t get or stay within 1sec.

      1. Well said. An “event” it was. Same for the qualifying coverage. NBC built a really high quality platform for the US fans and now poof, it’s gone.

    54. The only upside to that ESPN fiasco is that so many fans noticed it and are complaining. Since ESPN does such a good job covering other sports, there can be no disputing the absolute fact that they simply don’t care enough about F1, or F1 fans, to even attempt giving at least an average amount of effort presenting the races. Every mistake they made could easily have been avoided.

      ESPN cannot legitimately claim that the mistakes were made because they are new to the sport, since most of their errors were the result of their ignoring common sense production values that should apply to any sports coverage, from F1 to tiddly-winks.

      If the commentary used is non-stop, with no breaks for commercials, then that side of the production MUST be paused until the commercial break is over. Anyone who claims that that system kills the “live” feed doesn’t understand that the entire feed is actually delayed, at least for a few seconds, as a matter of course. While pausing the action will annoy those who are following live-timing online, that’s a small price to pay.

      If pausing isn’t feasible, could they at least have the ESPN director keep an eye on the race action and get right back to it after the current commercial is running, instead of continuing the string of back-to-back ads, no matter what has happened in the race? During Sunday’s race, at least one ad was run TWICE during the same break!

      I guess the only good news is that it couldn’t get much worse.

    55. NBCSN *NEVER* had commercials during Q3, unless there was an on-track incident causing a red-flag situation, or a weather-induced delay (same thing: a red-flag situation).

      You must’ve been watching the Sky broadcast instead.

    56. These new announcers are horrible! Sounds like they all have a sausage in their mouth…

    57. I saw my first F1 broadcast yesterday.
      Seriously dissatisfied with quality of broadcasters. Ended up watching with sound off and closed captions on.
      Start/first lap announcing amounted to screaming a description of the first lap.
      These guys are poorly suited for an US audience. Very difficult to understand what is being said.
      Closed caption save the day!

    58. I missed qually for Azerbaijan because it didn’t seem to be broadcast. The website says 3 hours after the start of P3 on espn2 but nothing was on the guide. I guess I should’ve just manually recorded three hours later in case it was a directv guide mistake, live and learn.

      On a related note, after reading someone’s comment on how the SkyTV people seldom shut up I decided to run a little test around the 40 min mark of P3 to see what the longest period of no talking was. I couldn’t get past 3 seconds. They talk for almost the entire lap, lap after lap.

      This whole espn experiment is immensely frustrating. The sad thing is I feel I really didn’t miss racing by missing qually, I just missed a lot of not particularly interesting endless talking.

    59. Unbelievable. They have no intelligent input in their incessant gabbing and no knowledge to portray to viewers. So much for a good experience. Upside, I will have more space for other recordings. Sad day for me. I thought Lee Dave and Steve were off on holiday. Not sure I can watch this coverage.

    60. Everyone knew espn would ruin it. Just look at their track record. They have ruined every single sport they cover. They ram in so many commercials the sports are difficult to follow. They turn every event into something anti white or try to drum up racist pieces. The company went from being the most dominant sports network in the business to a complete embarrassment.

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