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:
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…