Quick thoughts on the latest BBC F1 speculation

It is that time of the year where the BBC announce their latest round of cuts, and it is therefore unsurprising to see what could be first on the chopping block:

BBC.co.uk – “…it could throw doubt on the corporation’s coverage of sports such as F1 racing.”
The Guardian – “could hit athletics and Formula One”
The Telegraph – “faces losing Formula 1”

The amount of money that BBC Sport will have to save is £35 million annually. I have estimated before that Formula 1 costs the BBC between £15 million and £20 million. My opinion is that BBC will axe F1 this time around, and regular blog readers should not be surprised to read that, given the climate that the latest licence fee settlement was negotiated within.

We have been predicting BBC F1’s demise since 2012, you could argue that it is miraculous that nothing has changed on the rights front since then. Bernie Ecclestone’s latest plea to BBC came in August, in anticipation of today’s BBC cuts. Ecclestone said “I hope [BBC] continue. We’re not interested in the money, we’re interested in entertaining the public and doing a service. That’s what we’re there for. I think it would be good [to continue as we have at the moment]. It’s works at the moment, so there’s no reason why it should change. Sky have done a super job. They’ve lifted the level and lifted the BBC up.”

If BBC were to continue, it would be in highlights only form, with the first, last and British Grand Prix live, in my opinion. 45 percent of blog readers think BBC will try and renegotiate their contract before 2018. As I’ve said before, I think 2016 will be a very interesting year on the F1 rights front. My gut instinct tells me that the rights will be different for 2017. In what way? Your guess is as good as mine. A combination of BBC, ITV, Channel 4, BT Sport and Sky Sports would appear to be the most likely way forward as of 2017 onwards.

When live Formula 1 does disappear from free-to-air television in the UK, it will be an extremely sad day for motor sport fans as it will essentially reduce Formula 1 to a minority sport in this country. It looks like that day is getting closer to reality…


15 thoughts on “Quick thoughts on the latest BBC F1 speculation

  1. With commentators continuing to bark about supposedly low viewing figures, the F1 haters at the corporation have been given the signal to act now.
    As I’ve said before no-one knows – the technology does not exist – the true viewing figure due to the number of unmetered viewing platforms. Therefore my estimate of viewings of the BBC coverage for the Brazilian GP is 7,829,268.

  2. Surely FIA and FOM have a responsibility to make sure F1 is made available to the widest possible audience. Their only interest seems to be to generate income, even if it is means less people are watching it. I cannot justify a £45 per month Sky tv subscription to watch a F1 race on average every other weekend. The Nowtv day pass at £6.99 is a bit cheaper, but I would still not pay this. I hope F1 gets a highlights show on a terrestrial channel, otherwise I will have to get my motorsport kicks from BTCC, Formula E, or somewhere else.

  3. Surely this is an opportunity for Channel 4 or even ITV to come in and make a bid for the rights? Viewing figures before Sky F1 were healthy enough on FTA. I’d even tolerate the adverts just so F1 becomes solely FTA. I can’t afford Sky but surely F1 will go the way of cricket and have low viewing figures due to Sky having all of the rights. Come on Channel 4/ITV…..you know you want to!

  4. Bbc coverage was good when they got the rights back apart from having that annoying Irishman Jordan that amazes me he’s got this far in life. Jake and the others where very good the only thing that could have made it better was if crofty was co commentator. They raised the bar then messed it all up by going to highlights. It just doesn’t work. Suzy Perry is as useless as ej. Dc is a awful commentator.

    Sky has its faults as well but the coverage they produce is so much better. I don’t have sky f1 but will go to a place that shows it rather then watch the dreadful bbc coverage. I’m annoyed that I’m mugged for the tv tax every month

  5. Channel 4 put quite a good bid in for F1 last time, I think they could do extremely well with highlights only package and a mid-week magazine show. Could work really really well

  6. I understand that the 100 year agreement includes the obligation for FOM to air F1 via FTA tv. Of course nobody knows what the agreement actually says or how much FTA is necessary to comply. Bernie would probably say that he clips in the tv news were sufficient.

    If the bbc stop airing live races altogether then I think the majority of us UK fans will call it a day. Unfortunately most of us are long in the tooth, over fifty, and a lot of us are pensioners who cannot afford pay tv.
    Sky are also thought to be changing their programming next year, I cannot understand how it is viable both to pay FOM and to run a channel just for F1.

    That football will be the beneficiary is a foregone conclusion as it seems those in charge of broadcasting only know one sport, one incidentally that I cannot stand.

  7. It will be a very sad day if the BBC do not show formula 1 live any more. I get feeling from watching it that the BBC is highly liked and respected within the F1 paddock, perhaps more so than any other broadcaster.

    It will be one of those things that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone when it comes to the BBC F1 coverage.

  8. I suppose it has to happen. I also enjoyed MotoGP but that has been axed from BBC2 and sadly I have lost touch not seeing the live races and disappointed that this year has seen Rossi ascend again and I’ve missed it. I have until this seasons end to see F1 on Sky but thereafter it will possibly be the same if the BBC go ahead with this cut. Sky F1 is superb and the detail and coverage is tremendous (I see all practices, qualifying and the race) the rest I ignore but the detail/coverage is amazing for a true F1 fan. BBC coverage leaves a lot to be desired and sadly the presenters are up to the job.

  9. BBC has struggled to compete for live sports rights against well-financed rivals Sky and BT, leaving many to fear the future of free-to-air sports broadcasting

  10. For me, a delayed FULL qualifying and race (with build-up and analysis), even if it’s online only, is the minimum standard for acceptable coverage of Formula 1. I would prefer that over extended highlights on television, and obviously live coverage on radio. With the BBC already making some content online-only in advance of moving the entire BBC Three channel to iPlayer, I reckon they would be considering something along these lines.

    As an aside, it’s interesting to note that despite Sky having the superior Sky broadcasting rights and budget, they don’t have any full races available on Catchup, unlike BBC whose live races are available in full on iPlayer. This has always fascinated me.

  11. I thoroughly enjoy the BBC coverage, and much prefer DC as a commentator to Brundle. What I’ve seen of Sky’s output is touch too showbizzy and overblown for my taste. I’ve often thought that a delayed broadcast of a full, unedited race would be better for fans than the current highlights approach. Perhaps put it on the iPlayer on the first Monday after a race weekend, with highlights of all practice sessions, qualifying and race broadcast on Saturday and Sunday on TV. It perhaps would have been better if Channel 4 had won the rights the last time around; totally free-to-air coverage, even with commercials, is better than hiding some or all of it behind a paywall.

  12. It’s difficult to take a statement from Bernie seriously when it includes “We’re not interested in the money”. If it wasn’t about the money then he’d give the BBC full live coverage to maximise the audience. Each week this very site shows that even a late night highlights-only race like Mexico gets more than double Sky’s figures. For Brazil it was nearer 10 times.

    The circuits suffer in the same way. The spectators numbers at Silverstone would be even bigger if they didn’t have to charge so much for tickets because it is the only way to cover their costs, and it will only get worse as the fees rise each year. Do any other sports charge the venues to host the events?

    Sadly I’ve been thinking for a while now the Beeb will have to drop F1 coverage, probably before the contract is up, due to cost cutting.

    F1 is on a slippery slope at the moment as it is. If it starts to lose even more big chunks of its audience the sponsors and manufacturers will walk away.

  13. It’s all about the money with Bernie and with this decision he may be doing F1 a disservice . The sport needs followers and if they can’t afford to watch they will go elsewhere. I loved the BBC coverage and found the balance between David,Jake and Eddie excellent. Now we have to pay extortionate fees to Sky to watch sport. Crofty does not have the in depth knowledge and shouts unnecessarily to try and up the excitement level – very annoying.

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