As anticipation ramps up towards the start of the 2016 Formula One season, if you live in either Spain or Poland, there is unfortunately some very bad news.
Starting with Spain, the website Mundo Deportivo is reporting that pay-TV station Movistar+ will be broadcasting Formula 1 exclusively, with neither Antenna 3 or TV3 renewing their contracts. Both Antenna 3 and TV3’s contracts expired at the end of 2015. At the last rights renewal in January 2014, it was reported that TV3’s rights contract decreased by 30 percent. I won’t be surprised if TV3 (and Antenna 3) tried to drop the contract value again, only for Formula One Management (FOM) to walk towards pay-TV. There’s only so far you can drop the value before the rights holder walks away.
Meanwhile in Poland, Eleven Sports Network have acquired the exclusive rights to every Formula 1 session across the whole season. The company acquired the rights from MP and Silva who, according to SportsPro Media, won the rights to distribute Formula 1 content in multiple territories in December 2013. The important piece of information here is that Polsat will no longer be showing Formula 1 having aired the championship from 2007 to 2015 – first on their free-to-air channel until the end of 2013 then on their pay-TV sports channel for the past two seasons. Polsat were partially responsible for the rise in viewing figures, alongside the surge of Robert Kubica until his accident at the beginning of 2011. As noted in the comments below, Eleven Sports Network is not available on the largest satellite network, meaning F1 will now have an even smaller audience base in Poland.
It means that the following rights deal have taken effect within the past four years:
– UK (from 2012 – shared)
=> BBC TV out, Channel 4 in from 2016
– Netherlands (from 2013)
– Italy (from 2013 – shared)
– Poland (from 2014 – full pay-TV)
– Czech Republic (from 2015 – full pay-TV)
– Slovakia (from 2015 – full pay-TV)
– South America (from 2015)
– Australia (from 2015)
– Spain (from 2016 – full pay-TV)
In my opinion, shared deals are the way forward. It allows Formula 1 to have a shop window and access to millions of viewers on free-to-air television, whilst also catering to the dedicated fan on pay-TV. Of course, in a perfect world every race would be live free-to-air, but the economics are against that at the moment. I really don’t think a full pay-TV deal achieves anything. It certainly does not get a new generation of fans invested in Formula 1, and I fear for Formula 1 in Spain going forward. Whilst the attendances at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya have been good historically, it will be interesting to monitor them going forward. I won’t be surprised if there is a knock on effect as a result of this deal.
Thanks to Karol296 on Twitter for the heads up regarding the Poland deal.
Update on March 2nd – It looks like there is more to the Spanish story. SportBusiness are reporting that TV3 has agreed a deal with Telelefonica Movistar+ to air the Spanish Grand Prix live, with the remaining 20 races airing on a one-hour tape delay. That does not sound too bad and could have been a lot, lot worse.
Update on March 16th – Sports Pro Media says that TV3’s package is actually for a one-hour highlights package as opposed to airing races on a one-hour tape delay.