BBC F1 versus Sky Sports F1: Your Verdict

The Brazilian Grand Prix is over and the 2012 Formula One World Champion has been crowned. The BBC F1 Forum and Sky Sports F1 race day programmes have gone off air for the final time this season.

I’ve illustrated many times on this blog the positives and negatives of both BBC and Sky in the past seven months on this blog. But now, I want your opinion.

The comments section is open for everyone to comment, so get your BBC and Sky thoughts in below this post. Where do you think BBC’s and Sky’s weaknesses are? What would you change for 2013? Where do you think either broadcaster excels? What would you add to the coverage? The best thoughts will be put into a new blog post in a few weeks time.

22 thoughts on “BBC F1 versus Sky Sports F1: Your Verdict

  1. I’ve decided…Croft sucks ass beyond belief.
    Trite, xenophobic,insolent and plain dull.
    He can’t improvise to save his mother.
    His tired routine is so narrow.
    Glad to hear that he is under review

    I was all up Sky’s backside about how great it was but every time I watch BBC coverage I go..Oh Yeah, that’s better!!
    Better conception, more congruent editing etc.
    Yes Sky have MORE and I DO like GT, Damon and Martin but everything else seems so meh.
    Roebuck’s retros are sublime however.

    I wish Bob Varsha could come over and take over Croft’s seat..
    Don’t think y’all could put up with him though.\

  2. Haven’t seen much BBCF1 coverage this season so it’d be unfair for me to comment on their coverage, however Sky, I’m unsure. Certainly had their good moments, but I’m still not convinced by Lazenby, and at times I felt they fell into the BBC trap of ignoring other teams (eg today, why no interview with anyone from Force India, including Hulkenburg? Same with Sauber).

    1. Does its best with the budget? . Maybe if they stopped paying their CEOs ridiculous salaries and bonuses they would have a bigger budget then maybe they wouldnt have lost F1 in the first place

  3. We have watched Sky F1 all year and think they have done a great job. Haven’t watched BBC at all as got fed up of Jake, always thought he was a bit false and EJ is just nuts! People that think Sky haven’t done a great job should just remember what BBC was like in their first year! I say well done to Sky F1 and more of the same next year please!

  4. I have watched both BBC and Sky coverage and without a shadow of a doubt, the BBC have won the battle of live vs live coverage. I watched 8 live BBC races, 2 BBC highlights shows and 8 Sky races. Ben Edwards and Gary Anderson have been excellent, it’s a shame they’ve only just entered the world of F1 broadcasting.

    Personally, I hope Sky drop out of F1 so we have all the races back on terrestrial TV for the millions of fans to enjoy. If that means adverts during the race then so be it, it’s not like Sky doesn’t interrupt track sessions & pre/post-race analysis with advert breaks already.

    1. Totally disagree with you. ADS and live F1 should not even be in the same sentence and definatly not through the race. ITV totally ruined F1 when they got their hands on it with ads every 15 mins for 3 mins then replays when they came back on air then more replys to show you what you missed while they where showing the ad replays. CRAZY

  5. Sky Sports F1 Coverage was excellent this year, they could do with a “F1 Show” a few hours after qualifying though, including Ted’s Qualifying Notebook, Stewarding decisions and other interviews.

    Also, I’d really like Sky to have some Pre Season Testing footage, maybe not show everyday live but a 30 minutes highlights show each day would be really good. They wouldnt need the whole team, maybe just Ted Kravitz, Martin Brundle and maybe one other.

  6. I have to echo all those praising the Beeb. Their coverage has been far more refined than Sky’s. Of course, this is only Sky’s first season and are relative beginners compared to the BBC, so you would expect them to improve in the coming seasons.
    One issue I have with the BBC is the lack of Eddie Jordan on the majority of highlights shows. I can only presume its to do with money.
    As for Sky, I really enjoyed listening to “Crofty” during practice sessions when he was on 5live (and still do now he’s on Sky), espescially when he’s with Anthony Davidson, but during the qualifying and the race I just find him plain irritating. I also haven’t taken to Simon Lazenby, and I still don’t see the point in Georgie Thompson.

  7. @Dave Ben Edwards has been commentating on motorsport for years, he was at Eurosport in the ’90s when they had F1…

    Can someone clear up the rumour I’ve heard that the BBC are showing all 19 races live next year… Can’t believe this would be the case without upping the budget…

  8. Cheers, I did think this would be the case… Just found your blog, very interesting reading… Keep up the good work 🙂

  9. I resisted Sky but gave in when I was changing from Virgin anyway. Having said I didn’t want it and didn’t rate the theme or the team I can only say I was totally wrong – it’s amazing to have it all one and repeated with other stuff in between, the theme is brilliant, the team are excellent, the coverage is slick and I wouldn’t go back to the BBC. Sad that is has to be paid for for those who can’t afford it but then I’m not sure the BBC was ever meant to be paying for things like this. Would equally have been happy though to see a fair fight for ITV/C4 but now there are no ads and I’m happy to pay for that!

  10. Sky good points:
    GP2 GP3

    Sky bad points:
    Awful title music
    Lack of original content
    Endless repeats
    Adverts during FP and Quali’ plus adverts during pre and post shows
    Lazenby’s unprofessional and tasteless jokes
    Thompson looks like she should be presenting a tacky dating show
    The Sky Pad (Scorchio)
    Croft is a buffoon
    The commentary was exceptionally bad for the final race, the non-existent yellow flag incident, and Brundle and Croft’s insistence that Vettel should be penalised, was a disgrace and very unprofessional, as was the attitude of several other Sky pundits … Clearly Red Bull playing the Chain while Sky were doing a piece to camera outside their garage upset the Sky team.

    BBC good points:
    National broadcaster that brings status and gravitas to any sport they show
    Very high reach which is vita for the future of F1
    No adverts during any sessions

    BBC bad points:
    Only half the season live

  11. BBC for me all the way despite having Sky HD. I find Sky ok but it just doesn’t gel together and leaves me a little cold and detached where the Beeb keeps my interest much more and find more warming. Maybe Sky have to many presenters/ex drivers so you never get that ‘bond’ with them as its a bit all over place. To many ex drivers.

    Brundle (who I’ve really gone off now) is given to much airtime on to many pieces (pit lane, commentator, features man, gridwalk, pre-race, post race… its overkill. Leave him in the commentry box and let him do whats best + the gridwalk.

    The beeb have (or did now Jakes gone!) have a perfect combo of a good frontman in Jake, 1 ex driver and an ex team owner with some character (Eddie). A nice tight compact unit.
    Gary is also great and a super find.

    I’ve watched every race live on Sky when its not on the beeb and just can’t get into fully.
    Skys prob – to many cooks and all that…

  12. Firstly I would like to thank you for what has been an excellent blog. As an Irish viewer i have been through the process of F1 going from Free to air to pay tv previously. RTE carried FTA coverage of F1 during the Jordan years before losing coverage to Setanta Ireland, this resulted in a significant loss in viewers. I only returned to watching the sport on a consistent basis when the races returned to BBC.
    This year I have had access to both BBC and SkyF1. I have watched BBC for all their live races and all their highlight packages and have watched SkyF1 intermittently for all the races and in full for 3 of the races not on BBC. In two cases I watched the build-up and end of race on sky having watched with BBC1 commentary of the races via Setanta Ireland.
    Commentary comparison:
    As you will have noted from above I found BBC to be a clear winner. After a poor start with some misses from Ben Edwards in the early races the combination with him and the dry humour of Coulthard really progressed and was entertaining, exciting and easy to listen to. The input of Gary Anderson (in qualifying in particular) was brilliant at times. Sky’s team was grating at times and less engaging in general.

    Titles: BBC title song will always win, Sky absolutely massacred the briliant ‘Just Drive’ which they cut and pasted to fit the time needed.
    Pre and Post Race:
    BBC team have a clear chemistry and friendship which seems genuine and warms the experience of watching. Jake can at times appear too cocky but carries the burden of live tv effortlessly. EJ makes me cry, cringe and laugh often in the one sentence and as such makes great TV and great interviews. (Like with Senna this weekend – EJ: so you have a contract with Caterham? Senna: I don’t have a contract with anyone. EJ: Just checking)
    Coulthard is simply brilliant and his grid walks are now excellent after a poor start. 5/10 mins for Gary Anderson and Gaz pad before qual and after every race would be an improvement.

    Sky team has improved with the addition of Johnny Herbert which has brought some fun to proceedings even if he offers little in the way of good analysis. Hill has become more comfortable and speaks with the authority granted to him as World Champ. Brundles grid walks are one of my preferred parts of SkyF1 along with anything from the excellent Ted Kravitz. Lazenby and GT are the big let downs for me. Davidson is excellent on sky pad and letting him doing this on his own or with McNish would be an improvement in my eyes. Can get over the ad breaks but I realised Sky was in HD with Dolby sound and that I could watch on online, etc. along time ago so stop reminding me every five minutes!.
    F1 show was something I was looking forward to, and has perhaps become the biggest let down as the year has progressed.

    Dream Team:
    Jake with EJ, Hill and Coulthard. Davidson and McNish on Sky Pad. Kravitz and Anderson in Pits. Lee with driver interviews. BBC Commentary Team.

  13. BBC my pick easily. Can’t really say much wrong about them although Aguersauri not great on free practice. Wattie brilliant as his replacement in Brazil.

    BBC’s only low point was DC on race day at Monaco doing the voice-over on Webber’s promoted pole instead of Schumacher’s historic pole lap. When next will we see a 43 year old set a pole at Monaco?? When next will we see a Red Bull driver set one??

    Ben and DC best pairing since Murray and Brundle. Gary Anderson invaluable, Jake I never really appreciated until I seen how bad that job could be done elsewhere. Eddie great TV, brilliant at putting people on the spot although sometimes can get irritating. Lee great rapport with all the drivers and does solid job.

    Sky’s best bit over BBC is Ant on the SkyPad although they mess that up with GT standing their in tight dresses which cheapens the whole thing Lazenby and Herbert I just can’t listen too. Pickham trying to flirt with the drivers I also find unwatchable.

    Hill has improved massively and Brundle and Ted solid. Crofty I liked on 5live but isn’t great on commentary especially when he’s shouting. The advertisements during free practice and before and after qualy and race poor when paying for the service. If they ever got sole coverage I would be amazed if advertisements didn’t happen during the race.

    With the really bad viewing figures it’s obvious we need it all back live on BBC.

  14. I Would prefer the BBC to have all the races back like most people but money talks! Do have Sky and have watched the non live BBC races on Sky this season but when they go head to head, have tended to flick between both channels to compare, plus to see how oftern they both bump into each other!

    The BBC presentation team has been superb this season again. It will be interesting to see who replaces Jake next year. DC has stepped up again and done a great job in commentary and the gridwalk. Gary Anderson joining the team with his experience has been a good move but he isn’t an natural interviewer in my view, need to leave him on the technical side. However can’t get into Ben Edwards commentating. Even though he can get a bit shouty, Im more of a David Croft fan

    The Sky side of things took a bit of time to get used to due to it being a new channel, set up etc. Good points being the Skypad with Ant Davidson and Allan Mcnish in the last race were impressive with the analysis of the action. Damon Hill was a bit wooden at the start in Australia but as the season went on, became more used to the role and seemed more relaxed in the role. Kravitz, Brundle and Pinkham were good throughout.

    However im with most people and just not a fan of Simon Lazenby. He was always going to have the comparison with Jake and Jake wins hands down. His joke at the Monaco grand prix went down like a lead balloon and as we saw in Brazil, the pit lane in general get on with Jake more. Brundle working with Lazenby doesn’t seem to have a natural chemistry at times. Georgie Thompson’s tight dresses cheapen the show and Red Bull playing The Chain in Brazil near both presentation teams did annoy Sky as a tribute to Jake.

    The Sky coverage has grown on me but do prefer the BBC. Sky did say at the start that the BBC have done a great job so far and would have to go all out to top it. Despite more pundits and air time, they haven’t done it yet but have got better as the season has progressed.

  15. BBC make me sick. They take their licence fee every year and must just pocket it. because the only thing that was worth watching was F1, and when they lost exclusive rights(cheapskates) and found out sky had got their mits on it i thought they would ruin it. However i was wrong and Sky did a descent job and didnt charge extra for the channel. Awesome. What we need now is a few presenters changed and it will be perfect. step 1 Georgie Thompsons gone. Fantastic. Now get rid of Mr dull aka Crofty and Ant,swap them for DC and EJ any day plus i miss EJS loud wardrobe.

  16. The BBC were put under MASSIVE public pressure to drop the F1 as it was seen as a huge expense that seemingly no-one wanted accountability for. The headline figure of £300 million for 5 years of rights angered the public. Then David Cameron and co decided to freeze the license fee. Now call me cynical, but Mr Cameron is rather friendly with our chums at Sky and made sure that the BBC funding would be severely stretched during the time he is in power. I saw so many comments during the BBC era about “shocking they’re spending £1 million a race” etc etc so it’s not surprising they felt they had to shift it out. You can’t reduce the BBC’s funding, moan about their expenditure AND expect them to get expensive exclusive live sports rights. Something had to give and F1 got it good and proper.

    What I find ironic is how the BBC gets such a slating in some areas of the public and the press, yet somehow Sky gets away with so little criticism. Of course the SkyF1 coverage is not without merit, but frankly considering the amount Sky pays for and what it charges for it, it should be beyond brilliant, and it just isn’t.

    The BBC has destroyed Sky given that Sky has a budget 3 times that of theirs. They have Gary Anderson who provides simple yet detailed insight into the technical side of the changes to cars, rather than the Sky folks who jump on paddock gossip before anything of genuine interest. Martin Brundle must be gutted being put up alongside the blokey soundbyte nonsense that comes out of Crofty’s mouth. Oh what’s that Crofty? The Italians have the temerity to speak Italian?? Well blow me down!! Martin is still a solid colour commentator and he, Damon and Ant always seem to keep things going despite the waffle around them. For the BBC team, Ben Edwards is a classic motor mouth commentator who always delivers the goods and DC is now excellent at what he does. There was a clear indication of this on lap 1 of the 2012 season in Australia, when Grosjean hit Maldonado. On the BBC DC just said “yup broken suspension” within seconds, while the Sky guys were shouting their heads off “well what’s happened here then?!” and it took them several minutes and replays to get to the crux of the problem.

    And speaking of blokey nonsense, Simon Lazenby appears as though they have dropped someone from a lairy lads holiday into the pits and given him a mic. He has no sensitivity towards the sport and its history, seemingly he is content to make snidey remarks rather than actually studying and appreciating the sport that is happening around him. Truly woeful. Jake and Suzi both have an interest in the sport and it shows.

    As it happens, Sky pay for extra exclusive access and interviews, so how the BBC compete is beyond me, but it just shows what professionalism their team has. I’m sure when Natalie Pinkham transferred to Sky, she didn’t think her big moment would be chasing agitated drivers down the pitlane 3 minutes before the race start, only to ask them “what’s the feeling like?” when Brundle has just asked the same question seconds ago on the grid.

    The main problem Sky have encountered is that unlike football, F1 actually needs a fairly concise programming structure. They are on air for too long in many cases, simply repeating the same unimportant soundbytes over and over. I mean, covering testing. Really? It was embarrassing to hear Crofty trying to build it up, describing it as “fascinating.” Well, it certainly wasn’t. I love F1, and happily watch practices, but testing is like doing live coverage of a football training session; absolutely unnecessary and certainly not “fascinating.” But it was in 3D, so that’s OK 😉

    I like watching the races live so naturally I have to watch Sky, however when the choice is given I only watch on the BBC, there is simply no other home for Formula One. I almost feel like I watch the Sky live races in autopilot, knowing I will get the true picture and quality by watching the BBC program properly later on.

  17. Having seen both BBC and Sky, let me divide into each section:

    Anchoring and Presentation, Pre/post session:

    Jake Humphrey was appealing more to the kids and more casual F1 fans, which, as an F1 nut, I loathe. Suzi Perry’s entrance in Australian Qualifying was diabolical, not funny, pointless, useless, time-wasting, need I say more? Simon Lazenby’s basically some cheap but reliable glue. He’s doing what an anchorman should do – anchor. Damon Hill was described by The Daily Telegraph as Sky Sports’ “top transfer”. Bearing in mind that article was written after Australia 2012, which seemed a bit “oo-er, what do we do!?” (clearly didn’t have enough testing time), as soon as Herbert was added to the panel, it became brilliant. I like how Martin Brundle and David Croft have more roles than just commentators – with the BBC, Ben Edwards is never involved with discussions (Brundle was as soon as he’d locked up the commentary box in 2011, 2009-10 he was not mentioned at all). Loving the SkyPad, although its graphics have been copied by the BBC shoddily.


    At the end of 2010, there was a petition to get Crofty and Brundle to commentate in 2011 for the BBC. It failed, but Sky picked up on it. These two work together really well. I don’t think Croft is clichéd and Brundle’s absolutely brilliant, as ever. BBC, on the other hand… Ben Edwards needs to be sacked NOW. He is THAT poor. I compared Maldonado vs Hamilton at the European Grand Prix last year. Ben Edwards was high-pitched (almost as high-pitched as the Albanian singer from last year’s Eurovision), screaming down the mic, and, like his radio counterpart, James Allen, seems to have an orgasm whenever something happens to Hamilton, Button, Chilton, or, most of all, Paul di Resta. One can tell a commentator’s bias whenever he mentions a driver’s by their first name. Brundle and Croft haven’t been perfect, but no one is perfect. Coulthard is a love-him-or-hate-him guy. He explains technical jargon and dumbs it down, which I hate, as I want to go deeper into it, but many love him for it. He is also tremendously biased towards di Resta.

    Pit Lane:

    Tom Clarkson’s doing well this year, but hasn’t had much airtime. Likewise with Gary Anderson’s technical analysis – it’s utterly brilliant but he’s not given enough airtime. Kravitz was brilliant from the word go on strategy, and now he’s getting better and better at technical. Anderson’s strategical analysis is dire. Bahrain 2013: predicted that 2 stops would be quicker than 3 stops. Di Resta (on a 2-stop) slid back down the field. Canada 2012: predicted that 2 stops would be 40 seconds faster than 1 stop. Hamilton won on a 2-stop, with one-stopping Grosjean 2.5 seconds behind. Korea 2012: predicted that a 1 stop would be faster than a 2 stop. Utterly useless. The cars on a one-stop switched onto a two-stop when they started to lose places left, right, and centre.


    Brundle’s Sky pieces are top-notch. The whole “entertainment” thing is now, annoying, eating into Sky’s technical land, but the BBC pre-show is compiled of entertainment and a qualifying report, plus a hopelessly plagarised gridwalk from Coulthard. I also liked Sky’s simple and efficient explanation for why Hamilton and Vettel’s qualifying penalties last year were so severe. Jordan, on the other hand, argued that Hamilton should have only been tenth, and then he said that the organisers were inconsistent on Vettel.

    So, in truth, Sky is better for me.

  18. I like to see real timing when I’m watching the Grand Prix live through the web site I am not going to pay Sky TV’s exorbitant charges just to be able to see most of the races live, I don’t watch other sports, therefore it would be a waste to get Sky Sport. I get great enjoyment at seeing the sector times and working out how long it will take a driver to catch then overtake the one in front.
    Not being able to see live grand prix on BBC is not being fair to the average Grand Prix viewer, I see from the race statistics that generally BBC gets 3 times as many viewers as Sky, that’s not looking after the majority of race followers is it? The contract runs until 2018, it needs to be renegotiated now so that BBC can transmit all the races live and make the fans happier. The Formula One organisation receives enough money without penalising by far the majority of fans who stay at home.

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