Channel 4 confirms F1 ad break plan for live races

Channel 4 have today confirmed their plans for commercial breaks within their ten live race programmes. As revealed back in December, the channel will be airing their live ten races uninterrupted.

The channel has announced today that the last advert break before the race will occur “just moments before the formation lap”. In what they are calling the Pole Position break, the break will last 30 seconds, with Mercedes-Benz Cars UK the only company that will advertise in the junction following a competitive process. The remaining Podium Packages that Channel 4 are offering to advertisers will see a further 30 second ad break “just after the winner takes the chequered flag.”

The last full length commercial break will take place before the national anthem (so from around 12:42 to 12:45, or equivalent), with the first full break after the race taking place when cars are in parc fermé. That doesn’t mean that an ad break will take place when cars are in parc ferme, but the provision is there. The deal between Channel 4 and Mercedes-Benz Cars UK was brokered between Channel 4 and Fuel@VivaKi.

Although there will be people who think that going to a 30″ advertising break moments before the formation lap will break the tension before the start of the race, it is not a surprise. Unlike Sky, Channel 4’s primary income is advertising, they are not a subscription based service. It was inevitable that they would look for innovative ways to deliver advertising around the coverage. Sky do the same with their football coverage, a bet365 or SkyBet advert airs seconds before kick-off. The good news, based on the wording in the press release, is that there will not be any advertising during Safety Car periods.

Working on the assumption that Channel 4’s build-up will be on hour long and will use up their full 12 minutes of advertising in that clock hour (and no break can have more than 3 minutes 30 seconds of adverts), we are looking at something along the lines of the following:

12:00:00 to 12:10:00 – Part 1
12:10:00 to 12:13:00 – Commercial 1
=> 5 x 30″ adverts
=> 2 x 5″ sponsor
=> 1 x 20″ promo
12:13:00 to 12:20:00 – Part 2
12:20:00 to 12:23:30 – Commercial 2
=> 6 x 30″ adverts
=> 2 x 5″ sponsor
=> 1 x 20″ promo
12:23:30 to 12:30:00 – Part 3
12:30:00 to 12:33:30 – Commercial 3
=> 6 x 30″ adverts
=> 2 x 5″ sponsor
=> 1 x 20″ promo
12:33:30 to 12:42:20 – Part 4
12:42:20 to 12:45:50 – Commercial 4
=> 6 x 30″ adverts
=> 2 x 5″ sponsor
=> 1 x 20″ promo
12:45:50 to 12:59:15 – Part 5
12:59:15 to 12:59:45 – Commercial 5
=> 1 x 30″ advert
13:00:00 – Formation Lap begins

I would be surprised if Channel 4 did not use up all of its 12 minutes that it is allowed in the build-up given that there are no adverts within the race itself. An alternative is that they have one less advertising break, but make the commercial length last four minutes (including bumpers), this would mean only 11 minutes of adverts in the clock hour as opposed to 12.  We don’t know what Sky’s strategy will be this season either. Previously, when the BBC was live, they went uninterrupted without adverts but they may not be as enticed to do so this year with Channel 4 running their own commercials.


23 thoughts on “Channel 4 confirms F1 ad break plan for live races

  1. So a 30 second ad just before the formation lap then another 30 second ad maybe 45secs before the race start? That’s not a good way to build the tension….

    1. Reading through the Press Release again, there is a 30 second ad-break before the formation lap, not during it aswell. Then, there is 1 when results are confirmed and cars are in Parc-Ferme. It should simply be said there will be one at about 12.58 and another 5 minutes after the race. These additional breaks are on about different sponsors during the season.

      1. David, based on the grammar of the sentence, I think you may have misinterpreted the phrase “moments before”. The full text is: “These further opportunities offer a select number of advertisers placement in strategic break moments before the live race start and just after the winner takes the chequered flag.”.

        It is referring to several opportunities – aka several “moments” – to advertise before the live race begins and after the chequered flag. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense grammatically; it would have otherwise said “in a strategic break” or “in strategic breaks” rather than “in strategic break”.

  2. I think that’s a great idea. However i was expecting a 5 minute break prior to the fia intro tbh. but i like their plan.

  3. Why can’t it just be like it is on Formula e, the whole of FOM coverage is shown in full? Hopefully, it is more like the horse racing, split screen adverts.

  4. Any idea if they will be showing adverts during safety cars/red flags? I know sky don’t…. But since channel 4 are not a subscription service things might be diffrent

    1. Channel 4 will only show ad breaks when the wheels arent turning. No breaks in SCs. But probably in Red Flags.

  5. This is no different to having to put up with Lazenby telling you about Kung Fu Panda 28 on Sky Movies, or Artisanal Excrement Pottery on Sky Arts.

  6. Too many people bashing CH4.
    I’m grateful that I’ll be able to watch 10 races live this season!
    I’ll take this style of adverts compared to what ITV gave us.

    1. I think the bashing comes form it being C4, many I speak to do just see it as a trashy reality style channel mostly and not really one to take anything seriously.
      Despite it having sport in the past like Horse Racing, many do not see or realise that.
      Still, we will know in a few days and although I have sky will be watching their coverage as it will add something extra at times and give a different viewpoint, always nice to hear.
      As for the ads, ignore the BBC and its not that you do not see them anywhere these days and like above its not going to be anywhere near the itv poor showing days. That lesson is learnt.

  7. My worry is the 30 second ad moments after the winner has taken the checkered flag. So the result of the epic battle for 5th and 6th that’s had us gripped for the last 10 laps is unimportant…

    1. It’s when all cars are in Parc-Ferme, so all on track action will still be seen. Phrase used was adverts when the wheels aren’t turning.

      1. That’s not what it says in the article:

        “The remaining Podium Packages that Channel 4 are offering to advertisers will see a further 30 second ad break “just after the winner takes the chequered flag.”

        “…with the first full break after the race taking place when cars are in parc fermé.”

        So I’m still worried.

  8. I would like to see the post race system revised as they are missing the classification from FOM in nearly every session. Don’t have a break just before the podium, but have a 5/6 minute ad-break after the Podium interviews and shorten the others by around 1 minute.

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