Why I am no longer an F1 fanatic

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    Some time ago, when it was announced that F1 broadcasting in the UK was disappearing behind a paywall and being taken over by Sky, I said then that a true F1 fanatic would always be prepared to pay whatever it took in order to watch the sport that they loved. By my own definition then, I can no longer count myself among the legion of F1 fanatics, since I have just completed a phone call to Sky cancelling my subscription after nearly ten years of being a loyal Sky customer.

    Of course there are other implications to cancelling the service, at least until I decide what to replace it with (if anything); I’m a big Game of Thrones and Walking Dead fan, and now I’m unlikely to be able to watch them as they come out. But the thing that really hurts, and the thing which has been keeping me paying through the nose for the service, has been the F1. However, with yet another letter dropping through my door announcing another small (though cumulatively painful) increase in the monthly charge, pushing up my total monthly spend to well over £60, the camel’s back creaked, shuddered, and finally gave way completely.

    I feel hugely sad about this. I still believe that putting F1 behind a paywall isn’t, in and of itself, a negative thing. I’m a believer in paying for the things you like, and so paying specifically for that service seems to make sense. I’ve always been happy to pay for Eurosport, and I like the ACO’s scheme of paying for live WEC coverage online. However, you can’t pay for Sky F1 in isolation; it’s a top-tier addition to an already very expensive package. One which, unless you benefit from a legacy setup by virtue of being a long standing HD customer, also requires you to pay for a plethora of sports channels, none of which seem to show any other motorsports of note. This does not represent good value for the consumer.

    We’re going through a time where global interest in F1 is waning. Germany saw a Grand Prix run in front of empty grandstands, and global TV audiences are on the decline. While I support the idea of directly paying for F1 coverage, the monopoly on F1 broadcasting is used by service providers as a means of justifying ever increasing charges. And while a quick phonecall and a threat of a cancellation will generally yield a (temporary) reduction in price, the feeling is increasingly that Sky are not interested in providing a good service for F1 fans, but instead are holding the sport we love to ransom.

    My love for F1 has probably diminished in a time where F1 itself seems to be having a crisis of confidence, and is falling over itself to appease the commercial rights holders. With that, along with the increasing cost of viewership, I (and I assume many others) have reached a crucial tipping point whereby I have made a decision to no longer indulge in a sport which has been at the centre of my life since I was a small boy. It is a very sad thing to have to do, but this is what Sky and F1’s commercial rights holders have done. F1 is no longer a sport for ordinary people like me. I am sick of being treated like a cash cow, and so the milk has now run dry.


    the feeling is increasingly that Sky are not interested in providing a good service for F1 fans, but instead are holding the sport we love to ransom.

    Which is what they always do, which is why myself and plenty of others flat out refuse to give money to them, even if it means I get less enjoyment from half the year’s races. The more money they make the more they can afford to buy out everything that is worth anything on free channels.


    It’s very alienating to have this constant price escalator.

    I blame the corrupt way satellite is allowed more advertising on top of the subscription. It gives Sky so much money they can buy the exclusive to any sport and then milk its fans dry – a circle of doom for sports fans.

    All the political parties let it happen, in the hope of having the Murdock empire behind them rather than fatally against them come the next election.


    It’s very alienating to have this constant price escalator.

    I blame the corrupt way satellite is allowed more advertising on top of the subscription. It gives Sky so much money they can buy the exclusive to any sport and then milk its fans dry – a circle of doom for sports fans.

    All the political parties let it happen, in the hope of having the Murdock empire behind them rather than fatally against them come the next election.


    I will be sorry to see you leave @mazdachris,your posts have always been well reasoned and to the point, but I understand entirely why you have reached this decision,F1 has become entirely about making money for Bernie/CVC, by selling the TV coverage to the highest bidder rather than to the biggest audience Bernie has weakened the teams ability to raise money through sponsorship,through which there was no return for FOM, and moved the income to an area that they can keep 37% of, further impoverishing the smaller teams, in the days of free to air broadcasting teams like Minardi ran and ran despite being perennial tail-enders because their mass market exposure attracted sponsors, the same cannot be said of todays tail-end teams. The result of the teams falling income has lead to such cost savings as the development ban and homogenous engine design and the impost of more and more gimmicks to compensate for the resulting lack of interesting developments from the teams.


    To be honest I pity the sport, or this entertainment circus whatever. There’s a lot of people at stake of leaving F1 yet they wonder why.

    I was introduced by my dad whom he seemed a casual viewer, in the era of Schu-Mika. I was in the 1st grade of elementary school back then. We could see the actions by free coverage on TV. As a kid, I only think that the cars were really cool and the crash and close racing is what I expected. I was one of cool guy at school who enjoyed it.

    That was the start of story when I saw Kimi arrival, when I foolishly thought that he is the lil bro of Mika, only because their surname rhymes. From that moment, I felt like ‘this thing is great, I would watch every race forever’
    When I missed the race, I raged. When my dad said, “you have class to attend next morning, son” to me as I watched Montreal, Indianapolis, and Interlagos past midnight, I replied, “sure dad, I’ll turn it off in few mins.” Yet we were watching it until chequered flag.

    Then the history goes on…

    First hit for me was when Toyota pulled itself out of the sport. Here in Indonesia, we lost the free coverage. We are such like a big market for them, and when they’re out of F1, they no longer have interest to retain their sponsorship in local TV. It did back few years later, with cigarettes as the sponsor, annoyingly with their 5 minutes ads per 5 minutes track actions. Not to mention the qualifying was not shown live anymore. By the time back then, I was a colleger and got massive wifi connection at campus and from then on, free streaming is my ultimate choice.

    I reckoned everything were not the same since the promoter ‘buys’ the sport commercial rights. They started to crave money and it did affect the fans all over the world, although for me the effects was rather minimum. But it did not feel the same indeed.

    The racing itself was different. Nowadays we got DRS and soon double points and standing start. This won’t be happening if the FIA is in control. Now the commercial point of view directs where the sports heading in the name of entertainment.

    There’s a reason why FA still hold the Premier League commercial rights, or UEFA hold the Champions League rights. Now look what we are. Bernie and his employers are all about hot money, without thinking the next consequences. Rising TV subscription cost, rising weekend ticket cost, the circus heading into the middle of nowhere as long as the money there. It was out of reach.

    Now I have got a job. Theoretically I able to subscribe TV coverage but I chose not to. I have a ticket to Sepang this year but assignment out of town made me not going, and it just slightly bothered me. Now I’m still in doubt whether to go to Singapore GP. I choose to be more casual, as the sport tends to concern the kind of fans more.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still really like the racing. But my love for the sport is faded. Fanatic isn’t a word to describe me. That goes to the one who pay a lot for Sky or attend Silverstone in circuit.

    It’s ironic, isn’t it? And they still wonder why they losing fans in circuit and decline on TV view…


    At this rate I think the more insane the policies get, the better it could be as F1 would collapse onto itself sooner.

    Then again, it could end up not with a collapse followed by a successor but with a split – and as has been shown in the U. S. that’s not a good thing.

    Oh, and there’s always Cricfree.

    Having said that I wonder what will happen when Bernie (and the CVC as well) goes. I’m not expecting the best, though.


    I’d say that today was a fantastic day to be an F1 Fanatic.


    It was a great race today but a bit sour for me only having the highlights to watch. It just makes the strategy so hard to follow in a race like this (they don’t mention when they skip laps) and nothing quite builds up with the same energy.

    But as I said above, paying Sky only guarantees they have the money to buy out more sports, and the greater share they have the more they can charge for the privilege. I’m worried if the BBC viewers drop too low Sky could get exclusive rights and then I’ll be out of options.

    Bradley Downton

    @george – I have to agree about the BBC coverage. I still live with my parents and we’re on Virgin Media, but I so desperately want to watch F1 live I pay the £30 a month for the Sky Sports package (despite only wanting the F1 channel but they won’t do a deal), so I’m lucky (stupid?) enough to get that opportunity.

    Watching the race live today was so thrilling, edge of your seat stuff, and I enjoyed it so much (like Bahrain) that I decided to watch it again on the BBC. However, watching on BBC was like watching a different race. They included all of the ‘big moments’ but missed out an awful lot of the ‘vital moments’ that actually really made the race. It’s so disappointing to see how much the BBC coverage has gone downhill since the days of Jake Humphrey’s when it really was brilliant!

    Theresa Holmes

    We also refuse to pay for Sky just to view F1, so we tune into German RTL channel on Freesat for the races not live on the BBC. Freesat costs about 50 quid as a one off payment to set up and then you have no further subscriptions and hundreds of channels, not that we actually watch many of them. If your understanding of German isn’t sufficient to understand the commentary, then turn the TV sound down and put radio 5 on, or the commentary on the BBC website (although that leaves a lot to be desired), or follow the written commentary on the F1 website on the ‘live timing’ page, or it’s just to watch the race without any commentary. Heavy on lager adverts, but usually have the race action showing ‘picture in picture’ during the ad breaks, so not too much of an interruption.


    For those in the UK it’s worth noting that at this point with eight races remaining, five of which are live on the BBC, you could watch the remaining three races via Now TV at £10 a throw – a lot more palatable than coughing up almost £600 for a Sky F1 subscription.


    24 hour Sky Sports passes can be had for even cheaper on Ebay at around £4-5. I’m loathe to give Sky any money but I can justify around £5 to watch a race live, it was certainly worth it for the Hungarian GP :-) If you time the 24 hour code right you can usually catch the full qualifying re-run on Saturday too. The streaming quality is very good as well, on par with the satellite broadcast.


    @s162000 Did you get one via eBay? I’m surprised they can be re-sold in this way.


    @keithcollantine Yes I did get a couple earlier in the season and they did work, I think some of them were promo codes from packs of lager that people were re-selling. There was an offer in Argos for 5@ £20 a while back so I stockpiled. The other good thing is you can stream to two devices at the same time so you can go halves with a friend/relative. I’m sure they will close that loophole though!

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