The Sky Sports F1 channel will be back in 2016 in the UK, it has been confirmed. The news has been confirmed via a verified Sky representative on an Irish news forum.
In response to Sky Sports Darts taking over the F1 channel during the Christmas period, Sky’s spokeswoman on the forum said that “Motor fans will still be able to enjoy F1 content across other Sky Sports channels during this timeframe [14th December to 4th January]. As the F1 season will have already came to a close it means that F1 fans will not miss out on any live races. It also means that there will be no disruption to any live sport on any of the other Sport channels.”
The spokeswoman added that “In the New Year Sky Sports F1 will be back on channel 407, and will be the only place to see all 20 practice and qualifying sessions as well as every live race. Sky Sports F1 will continue to be a dedicated motor sport channel during the whole F1 season including preseason testing, and every race weekend live.”
Whilst a forum representative may not always be the strongest source, The F1 Broadcasting Blog has been able to independently verify the information to confirm that the F1 channel will be back in 2016. The future of Sky’s F1 channel has been under the microscope in recent months. Various race simulcasts on Sky Sports 1 have increased speculation, alongside rising contract prices for the likes of the Premier League and the news that Sky are streamlining their F1 production operation.
Of course, the continuation of Sky’s F1 channel is good news, it is after all a dedicated Formula 1 channel. However, I hope Sky make better use of the channel next season. At times it has felt like a ‘contractual obligation’ this season more than anything else, with the same Classic F1 races on a loop and little new programming outside of the race weekend beyond Midweek Report and The F1 Show. F1 Legends has been cut significantly, with Tales from the Vault and Architects of F1 the only new historical programming. Sky should look to programmes such as the Road to Mercedes for inspiration. 2015 has not all been negative – the channel has produced some stunning features such as the Mercedes behind the scenes feature alongside the ever present Notebook from Ted Kravitz (I will expand on the above in my post-season review).
It will be interesting to see if the structure of the channel changes for 2016, if at all. In the short term, the main news is that the F1 channel in the UK is definitely returning.