The news that The F1 Broadcasting Blog broke ten days ago that Georgie Thompson had left the Sky Sports F1 team came as a surprise to many. For about a week after the blog post went up, news on the matter from other websites went quiet, until this past weekend when several websites began reporting on Thompson’s status. Some suggested that she was off to BT, whilst others believe that she will remain at Sky in a different capacity.
An interesting train of thought though comes from Phil Duncan’s blog on the Daily Mail website, where he suggests that Thompson was unhappy with the amount of air-time she was getting, and wanted a bigger role for 2013. It is a fascinating perspective on the matter, and suggests that Thompson wanted the main presenting role for 2013, thus ousting Simon Lazenby from the post. In 2012, Thompson presented The F1 Show on Friday’s along with the Sky Pad segments on Saturday and Sunday of a race weekend. You can see why travelling to the other side of the world to present about 90 minutes of television over three days would not appeal to her. Personally, I would consider Thompson before 2012 one of Sky’s main presenters, she was definitely one of the main faces on the Sky Sports News channel.
So what she considered a bigger role than Sky Sports News at the start of 2012 in fact turned out to be a smaller role. It probably also should be considered the viewership that The F1 Show was getting – less than 100,000 viewers a week – and Thompson may not have wanted to travel around the world to present to a ‘miniscle’ viewership when her previous role was based in London and getting double the figures. Let’s not forget that Sky expected 167,000 viewers per week for The F1 Show, what they got was only a tenth of that. That would have only added to the belief from Thompson that she was in a smaller role than previously and wanted a bigger role within Sky, if the Daily Mail are to be believed. I do wonder how long Thompson’s unhappiness with the Sky team has been ongoing for, at the latter end of last season Thompson was staying in London alongside Anthony Davidson during race weekends, which may suggest that something was up as far back as then.
Drop Simon Lazenby? Considering the reaction he got overall in 2012, it might have been the sensible option. I’m not sure I would have necessarily agreed with it, as I believed stability was crucial heading into 2013, but it appears at this point that Sky were left with little choice. Thompson in my opinion would have been able to steer the ship better than Lazenby, and clearly gelled in well with the Sky team as seen by her weekly presenting slots on The F1 Show. Some may say I am basing this on her appearance rather than presenting skills, personally I think Thompson is a better all-rounded presenter than Lazenby (and Natalie Pinkham for that matter). It is not as simple as just saying “we’ll drop Lazenby”, though. Especially when you consider that Lazenby and Sky Sports F1 executive producer Martin Turner worked together before 2012 regularly on Sky’s Rugby product. So Turner would almost certainly have stuck with Lazenby, leaving Thompson with the option of staying or going.
It will interesting if we do find out how much truth there is to the Daily Mail article. But if Sky have let Thompson go, then they have just left a huge open goal for BT Sport to fire straight into.