This weekend’s IndyCar Series race meeting from Sao Paolo will not air live on Sky Sports. The race, which is due to start on Sunday (29th April) at 16:45, is going to be shown on tape-delay on Sky Sports 4 at 17:30. That is despite the race being advertised as airing live.
Looking at the other Sky Sports channels, there is live action on until 17:00, so the decision is somewhat understandable though. What is not understandable, though, is the insistence not to show it on Sky Sports F1. As Sky will well know, the only live action on Sky Sports F1 this weekend is the GP2 Series standalone event from Bahrain. You may remember that Sky Sports F1 broadcasted the latter stages of the first race of the season live on their channel, in similar circumstances.
Sky Sports F1 at the time is broadcasting a repeat of The F1 Show, which coincidentally is also airing at 16:30. The decision not to show IndyCars on the channel this weekend seems bizarre and nonsensical to me when they have done so in the past. In my opinion, live broadcasting always trumps repeats. Why Sky couldn’t do this:
11:30 – Bahrain Grand Prix (R)
16:30 – Live IndyCar Series
19:00 – GP2 Series: Round 3, Race 1 (R)
20:30 – Legends
21:00 – as normal
Instead, I don’t know. Would seem logical to me instead of throwing IndyCars around the schedule. Repeats on non-F1 weekends don’t do well as it is, according to BARB the highest rated programme on Saturday 31st March was a Legends programme with 21,000 viewers, while the highest rated programme on Sunday 1st April was the 1998 Season Review with 17,000 viewers. The following weekend, the Saturday figures did better, with Australian Grand Prix highlights getting 31,000 viewers, but on Sunday 8th April the highest programme had 8,000 viewers.
I think IndyCars would get higher figures than that. As a whole, I find it disappointing that Sky are seemingly choosing to screen recorded content over live content on the F1 channel when they have a clear opportunity to show IndyCars on that channel on Sunday.
Edit: According to Keith Huewen on Twitter, the organisers changed the schedule from what the originally had it as. It shall be interested to see if it remains a one-hour tape-delay or if Sky move it to Sky Sports F1, or (the more likely solution) put the first hour of the race behind the Red Button, although Huewen also notes that this is not a popular option.
Updated edit at 16:00: Keith Huewen has confirmed on his Twitter that the IndyCar Series race from Brazil this Sunday will be live on Sky Sports F1 at 16:30. Good to see common sense prevailing.