Channel 4 “open” to showing F1 highlights from 2019 – Chandhok

Channel 4 would be “open” to broadcasting Formula 1 highlights in the UK from 2019 onwards, if such a package became available to them. That is the view of their analyst Karun Chandhok, who has worked with Channel 4 since their coverage began in 2016.

The free-to-air broadcaster currently airs half of the championship live, with the remaining portion of the season aired in highlights form, a deal that will end following the 2018 season. From 2019, Sky Sports will air Formula 1 exclusively live, however live coverage of the British Grand Prix and highlights of all qualifying and race sessions will be available on a “free-to-air” basis, in a deal believed to be worth just shy of £1 billion across the six seasons.

As noted at the time of the announcement, it is unclear what free-to-air means in this context, whether Sky intend to air content on Pick TV (available to all Freeview viewers) or sub-let that element to another broadcaster, such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5.

Speaking to The F1 Broadcasting Blog, Chandhok said “If Channel 4 can do a highlights package, with a bit of pre and post-race analysis, then I think they would be open to at least a conversation. They’ve been very happy with the eyeballs they’ve had for F1. They really enjoy having F1 on their channel, from what the executives have been saying.”

Sky’s lead commentator David Croft believes that the new television deal is not “doom and gloom” for UK F1 fans. “You’re not going to get as many live races free-to-air, there will be one race live and free-to-air. But you’ll still be able to watch Formula 1 free-to-air without subscription in a highlights package.”

“It’s not doom and gloom. I find that if you pay for something, you tend to watch it more closely. For sponsors and teams, you may get fewer people watching, but more intently,” Croft continued.

Participation issue worrying for motor sport
One concern around the new UK TV contract that starts in 2019 is that it may result in less viewers watching Formula 1, and Chandhok is concerned that the true effects of the deal for motor racing may not appear until a generation into the future.

“The motor sport industry in the UK employs thousands of people, many of whom are fans of the sport, whether you’re a mechanic, engineer, designer, PR person, journalist, whatever you are, you started off watching F1 on TV as a fan,” Chandhok said. “And unless you’ve got the people being inspired to get involved in the sport, you could end up with a dangerous participation issue, ten to fifteen years down the line.”

Chandhok made the comparisons to test cricket, which has suffered since live coverage moved to pay-TV. The most recent Ashes series between Australia and England, which aired on BT Sport, did not bring in as many viewers as expected.

“Test cricket moved to satellite a few years ago, but now they’re starting to have a problem with participation of school kids, because the kids are not watching cricket on free-to-air, and nobody is inspired to be the next Joe Root or Nasser Hussain,” Chandhok added.

“The kid isn’t going to be the decision maker [to pay to watch live sport], their parents will be. If the parents decide they are not interested enough, or can’t afford to pay for it, then those kids are automatically excluded.”


49 thoughts on “Channel 4 “open” to showing F1 highlights from 2019 – Chandhok

  1. That comment from Croft though…basically saying “There’ll be nowhere near as many viewers and sponsorship may be affected, but hey, Sky pay my salary so it’s not all ‘doom and gloom'”…

    1. Yeah, that really is quite some spin he’s putting on things. You can guarantee in his days as BBC Radio 5 live commentator he would never have said this. But then again, don’t bite the hand that feeds you…Lest they stop feeding.

    2. Having watched F1 since the 60s I’ve watched the coverage being relinquished to sky and other commercial stations, how are people like me and all the other pensioners who can’t or will not pay for a dish, watch F1 in 2019?

  2. “Not all doom and gloom” ???? I’m sorry Mr Croft but I don’t agree with that statement. The deal that is in place for 2019 onwards will only make things much worse for F1’s viewing figures in the UK. Eyeballs are the key to a sports success ! I saw a recent interview with BTCC’s Alan Gow and he explained that back in the 1990’s, he had a deal on the table from Sky ! Thankfully, He refused the deal because he said “I would of Killed the championship by doing that” closed quote ! That’s why the deal with ITV4 has been so successful because its free and it’s offering the best possible coverage for the BTCC. As for F1, all races exclusively live on Sky will only lower the ratings even more ! I’m so thankful that Channel 4 have another season of coverage to come and it’s encouraging to hear Chandhok say that Channel 4 are interested in keeping F1 (if possible and allowed) as all races as extended highlights! On occasions, the extended highlights programmes in the past have been better than the live ones i.e. Brazil 2016, so if Channel 4 can continue with all races as extended highlights then that’ll suit be fine 👍

    1. I agree, I have watched F1 every season since I was a kid back in the 70s primarly on FTA until Sky started to snap it up. 2 years ago I dumped Sky as their subscription costs were becoming ludicrous. Now they are buying up the pinnacle of all sports they are effectively sewing up the market to feed themselves. I am stunned they have been allowed to negotatiate and exclusive deal for 5 seasons solid, it shoudn’t be allowed. Moving away from Sky was difficult I really enjoyed their F1 coverage but decided to watch what I could on C4, i’ll be honest I think C4’s coverage has been excellent, really enjoyable, funny at times and the best line-up I think you could possibly ask for, I’m really going to miss it. Lets hope C4 managed to negotiate a highlights deal with the same line-up of Steve Jones, DC, MW, KC, SW, LM, BE etc and primary entertainment would be set to continue.

  3. Agree with respondents.
    Croft is myopic to the point of irrelevancy. Karun however is keenly aware of the public and the effect of exclusion.

    1. You can but it requires some effort. I for one successfully avoid the football results till the end of the day most weeks to watch MOTD so see no reason why I can’t do the same with F1. You don’t have to go on news sites.

    2. For me, only live, no point in watching highlights. Easier to quickly see who won and then do something more productive.
      2019 will have no interest for me and I certainly won’t be paying to watch it. I thought sponsors paid for it through advertising and to reach an audience, sadly I will not see any of it next year. Not even worth watching the British GP as it forms only a fraction of the Series.
      BTCC and ITV4 for me as I’m sure it will be for others
      Own goal F1.
      When they were al live on terrestrial I watched all the races including travelling to see a few local ones, ie British, French,German and Monaco, all by coach.
      I travel to see the Thruxton and Silverstone BTCC rounds.

      1. I think the BTCC will benefit from the Sky / F1 deal. ITV4 provide extensive coverage, and motorsport fans will need their LIVE adrenaline rush. And in BTCC there is a lot more overtaking!

  4. I just had a look at the list of countries which will be showing F1 exclusively on subscription TV. The list is quite extensive, it seems Bernie signed a lot of these deals before Liberty took over. This seems completely at odds with Liberty’s plans for opening up the sport and increasing the fanbase, yet presumably they know about this. I am really curious what their plans are as these contracts seem to go directly against Liberty’s strategy.

    1. From what I have seen recently, Liberty Media have signed 3 exclusively live pay TV deals, Spain, Latin America (excl. Brazil) and Italy. I believe they include the need to only air the home race live FTA.

      I don’t understand why anyone thinks Liberty are going to move away from pay TV, they want to do the opposite by offering it OTT to increase their revenue. They don’t want to move away from pay TV because it means a drop in revenue, and it also needs there to be FTA broadcasters that want it.

  5. I’ll be quite happy with highlights now if it is the same format that Channel 4 do for their highlights when the races aren’t ‘live’.

    1. Same here ! We still see everything we need to see except for just a few boring racing laps as well as skipping over long red flag periods which was very useful with Brazil 2016 ! Avoiding results ain’t that hard as most people seem to think it is ! When the season starts, I just unfollow and unlike any source of F1 media and most all, I don’t look at my phone, or listen to the radio and avoid news updates on tv ! I really really hope Channel can keep extended highlights for 2019 !

  6. A billion to show some highlights over 6 seasons? Bit of a joke really for the amount of viewers it would get. I would say its expensive at £5 million a season and im sure c4 , Itv and BBC would agree.
    Still struggle to figure out why bbc pay so much for match of the day which is like and advert for
    someone elses exclusive broadcasts.
    If nobody bids for it they would have to give it away.

  7. I think taking F1 from free to air tv is another nail in the F1 coffin. I have a tv subscription but can’t afford to pay extra for the F1 channel, as usual the fan really doesn’t matter it’s the pound or dollar that reigns supreme.

  8. Why would Liberty not go with the Sky deal? I might have this wrong, but the CEO of Liberty’s F1 enterprise is also heavily involved with Fox (vice chairman or something), and consequently the whole Murdoch empire including Sky, apparently to whom he is also some sort of non-exec director.
    As Mr Trump says – There is no collusion – and everyone believes he isn’t crossing his fingers when he says that too.
    I love Channel 4 coverage, but I believe its days are numbered, because FTA in the European markets, and more, were dealt the death knell with Liberty Group’s chosen leader. Whilst Liberty Group themselves might have no part of Sky, no man can serve two masters, and I’m sure Fox/Sky/Newscorp have a very nice pension plan set aside for Mr Carey when he decides to stop playing with his Scalextric set!
    We were lucky to get the insight into F1 we did. Auntie Beeb only had the 30-40 minute highlights package for many years with Murray and James the lovable rogue. Although I fully believe they brought F1 to life for the masses, as it was before those days, it will probably always will be a rich mans sport. Although it might be out of reach to those with either money or genius talent and a lot of luck, it is that exclusivity which remains part of its very appeal.
    While I am sad about the loss of FTA, perhaps this is one case where less is more. It was a special day even from the armchair, to see the British heroes qualifying on home soil, in their special 1000BHP+ turbocharged monsters “with no aids”. Whilst the British GP still holds a certain amount of excitement, it has to be said that F1 doesn’t feel like it did in the past. This is quite possibly due to the lack of only getting to see the highlights. Ever been to a movie where the trailer was the best part, I know I have!

  9. Halo? Dumbed down engine noise? No free terrestrial viewing? Suggestion of music being played during certain points during the race? I’ve just seen one of those ROFLCopters fly by, void of an F1 driver. And that’s exactly how all this nonsense will end up; a parade that no one cares to see.

  10. The line up of commentators on Channel 4 is much better than Sky’s. I’d be happy with the highlights if it meant C4 broadcasting F1 from 2019 and beyond.
    Why should Sky monopolies everything. It should be free for all

  11. In reality the only way things are likely to change is if the Teams start to feel the pain and the sport starts to suffer. The most likely way that will happen is if sponsors start to leave F1 as the viewing figures drop. At the end of the day the sponsors are only interested in getting as many people as possible to see their name and brand. Reduced audiences are not good advertising so if they start to leave F1 then the teams have a serious drop in funding.

    Unfortunately if that is to happen then is is not going to be quick. By that time the damage may already be done as viewers find something else to be interested in and move away from F1. Say what you will about Bernie, he was a clever man and no doubt saw this coming. The TV deals lined his pockets more and he obviously did not care about the sport as he was on his way out. If anything he probably wants to see F1 fail as he is done with it.

    Also as others have said, the coverage by CH4 has been very good and would be nice if they could keep it going. I for one will not be paying Sky to watch F1.

  12. Not being able to see F1 from March to November next year is already making me feel depressed. I don’t mind seeing the races as a ‘highlights package’ just as long as they can be seen. A lot of the enjoyment is in the pre and post race comments, news and interviews, so please let us have free to air F1 guaranteed.

  13. Errr is Pick TV available to all Freeview viewers? My understanding is that it is on a non-PSB multiplex and so unavailable to anyone who gets Freeview from a relay (vertical) transmitter

  14. I have followed f1 for many, many years. I now find that Sky have yet again have exerted their financial power so as to force fans to eat second helpings or try to finance buying into Skys well over priced f1 channel. Its about time that the BBC bought back the rights to screen live all of the f1 season, which in the passed had a viewing audience of around 10,000,000. The BBC need to justify why they are losing so many sports and other first class programmes. I feel that this will be my last season of watching f1. What a shame that the likes of Sky can dominate to the loss of a lot of “ordinary people audience”.

    1. The BBC are never going to show F1 or any major sport. The cost of the rights to sports such as F1 is so much greater than it used to be. In the current political climate there is no way that Beeb can justify paying large sums of money for sporting events.

    2. How I agree with you. My OH and I have watched F1 with great pleasure for many years but there is no way I’m paying power-mad Murdoch any more than he already has, the greedy so and so! On C4 we always recorded it (as we do for anything on ITV/C4)so we could FF through the adverts but now our viewing choices are being depleted (and I thought these days it was all about consumer ‘choice’. Sadly, this aspect seems to be disappearing, and very rapidly. Sad days!

  15. I for one won’t be watching F1 any longer. I too have 2 small children and sadly for them perhaps, they too will grow up without watching. I have a number of strong objections for paying to watch a sport which has benefit from tax-payers money in the form of grants to British events and facilities.

    1, Motorsport is expensive and much as I’m keenly interested I could never afford to take part. Why then should I have to pay to watch someone else do something I could never afford to try?

    2, Motorsport is all about sponsorship. There are tens of millions of pound/dollars/Euros or whatever in sponsorship tied up with F1. Why should I have to pay to be advertised to? If I’m paying for TV then I don’t want to see a single advert, which is clearly not realistic. If companies want me to watch their adverts then I should at least get to do it for free.

    3, and one of my biggest reasons for turning my back on F1 is SKY itself. I want one product, to watch F1. In order to access that I have to subscribe to a package I won’t use. DON’T give me that nonsense about “if you pay for it, you’ll find you use it more”. Unless it comes with an automatic ‘do my homework for me’ function I simply don’t have time for more TV in my life.
    Then once I’ve subscribed to the basics, I’ll have to buy a sports package. I already HATE football, not because it’s a bad sport but because I don’t get any choice, TV companies just assume that everyone loves football. Why then should I have to pay for some overpriced fool to kick a pigs bladder across the lawn before I’m even allowed to buy the product I want.

    F1 on SKY would be like going into a restaurant and being told I had to pay for everyone elses meal before I can even read the menu.

    So F1 is making itself irrelevant, insignificant and 3rd rate. I’ll be sorry to see it go but I’m pretty sure I can find something else to fill me Sunday afternoons. More marking perhaps?

  16. Couldn’t agree more with Andrew’s comments. I have been watching F1 since it was called Grand Prix racing, when you could just as easily see the drivers racing anything from an F1 car to a saloon car on over-inflated Michelin X tyres. During the intervening years the top formula has had patchy coverage, even disappearing completely from our screens for many years until the Beeb brought it back as a highlights show with Murray Walker and James Hunt commentating from a studio in the UK.

    The broadcasting rights bounced around between FTA broadcasters for a while until Sky could no longer contain their appetite and the only surprise there is that it took them so long to exercise their financial muscle. Like many commentators here, I do not and will not become a Sky subscriber and, while some might consider it shooting myself in the foot, such is the depth to which I detest their ethos that the decision is an easy one. When they successfully isolated test cricket I predicted that the sport would go into decline at grass roots level and so it has, rugby is in similar danger. Football will, I suggest, never suffer in the same way but I lost interest in that one when the cheating and became too much to stomach, aided by the apparent complicity of referees.

    Yes, I will find something else to watch should C4 fail to secure the rights to a highlights package and one thing I won’t miss will be Ferrari’s aloof manner. Someone once said that most teams regard themselves as taking part in F1, Ferrari regard themselves AS F1. I never really understood why they would do so until I learned quite recently that they, and only they, receive something called a unique Long Standing Team payment, which by itself is worth more than some teams’ entire prize revenues, will be scrapped. The payment, worth $68 million last year. No wonder that they think they are so special.

  17. For true fans of F1 it is about the action what is taking place on track not to be looking who sponsors what that is done before the race starts so no I won’t be paying for it and will certainly not be paying more attention to sponsorship!
    Sky thing they will make money from sole F1 coverage in 2019 but they will not as people won’t pay stupid money they ask to watch it at home, well done sky for making another sport obsolete through your greed!!!

  18. F1 is signing it’s suicide note by leaving free-to-air TV. Many of us are morally conflicted by the idea of paying into the Murdoch empire that has a near and very dangerous strangle hold on News.

    So F1: urgently rethink your 2019 plans because I guarentee the loss of viewers will do irreparable damage to a wonderful sport!

  19. I haven’t got £18 a month spare to watch f1 on sky. I’m even happy to watch highlights rather than nothing at all. I’ve loved following formula 1 since 1997 but it looks like I will have to say bye bye to what was a British sport.

  20. I’ve been watching F1 since I was a child, but no way am I signing up to sky sports to continue watching, so that’s it “bye bye F1” your sheer greed will become your own downfall! As Karun said ‘if kids don’t have grass root access they too won’t be inspired to get involved in any way and there goes another Great British industry!”( that was a bit abbreviated) We are world leaders still in motorsports and it is a sad thought that in 20 years that might be a thing of the past.

  21. I’ve been watching F1 since ’97, when I was five years old. I found it all so enticing, and my interest in the sport only happened because it was FTA back then. And sure enough, people younger than me will have the same memories. But unfortunately the next generation, as Chandhok says, will not grow up the same way I and many others did, thanks to the disease of corporate greed that plagues the modern world. F1 will suffer a dramatic loss of fans in the UK, a trend already shown in other countries with a paywall, and with other countries this continues in. We continue to be deceived by Liberty when in fact they are just a puppet of Murdoch’s empire. Liberty don’t want to open it up, they just want a bit more money for Fox etc. at the expense of the very pinnacle of motorsport.

    Whatever, I won’t be paying for 2019 because I’m not going to contract this disease myself.

  22. I’ve been watching f1since the days of Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart etc. I was pleased to see the whole race eventually on FTA TV rather than just snippets on Granstand, as a filler. Now it seems we are going back to the old days of f1. I will admit I have purchased products because of their f1sponsorship. My view being that if they are prepared to sponsor the sport I love, then I should back them. Murdoch has had his way for too long and I am reminded of the saying, bums on seats. If we all do what I intend to do, cancel my Sky subscription, then Liberty would have to rethink it’s broadcasting tactics. A lot of fans, like me have stayed with f1 even though it ignores the fans. We didn’t want to see halo’s, most of us didn’t want to see hi-bred engines, and don’t even get me started on saving tyres and fuel. For me this is going to be the final nail in the coffin. As a pensioner now, I will not spend all that money to watch a sport I loved. For me it will be formula e. Free to watch on channel 5, more and more ex f1drivers taking part, including Massa next season. So RIP f1.

  23. Karun Chandok has said it all.The greatest place for F1 teams and development to be based as we nurture some of the greatest engineers and designers (Adrian Newey, John Barnard, Harvey Postlethwaite, Patrick Head, Gordon Murray and Colin Chapman to name a few) and also the majority of the teams are based around Silverstone yet we will only see British GP live on FTA tv!

  24. I could rant for eons about Mudock’s evil intent to gain a strangle-hold on our politics and sport via his media empire. Who can forget the orchestrated custard pie incident when being questioned about wire-tapping by a Parliamentary committee ? As many have said, this foreigner’s influence has destroyed cricket and lowered the appeal of the Premiership with Sky’s purchasing power. His aim is to dominate so many aspects of our lives via the media and acquiring the F1 live tv rights is merely another stepping stone along his path to power.
    As you may gather, I have never contributed to his pension plans and I shall not start now – not even for F1, I’m afraid. I’ve never had to pay to go to a wake, why should I start now ?

  25. So sad that we can no longer watch the Grand Prix in 2019. We are pensioners and can’t pay the Sky subscription. I agree that it will be the death of Grand Prix, like cricket. The channel 4 team are brilliant. We are devastated.

  26. I am devastated to hear that Ch4 will not be covering F1 next year. I refuse to pay a subscription to Sky, as there is nothing else I want to see there. It is great to watch the races live, but I would be happy with just highlights, especially with the brilliant commentators on Ch4. I can only hope that Karun can work some magic for us.

  27. Like others, whilst being able to afford Sky I refuse to do so. Cricket is almost dead and whats left is Americanised commercial tripe. To think most school children today have never seen live cricket on TV and consequently don’t want to participate, caused by the short term greed of the ECB. F1 is guaranteed to follow.

    For a one off payment, at least until 2020 there is a relatively cheap way to keep watching live and that’s how I’ve been watching the non C4 races for the last few seasons, all be it with advertisements. Google is your friend…

    I do hope that Channel 4 get to keep the hightlights and the British GP, Sky do not have an FTA platform available to all, Pick is not part of Freeview Lite only available to some households. The BBC don’t deserve they package as it was they through their shady deal in 2012 that opened the door to Sky.

  28. I have been a F1 fan for 50+ years, watching F1 with dad i grew up with the sport.It made me want to build things i started making toy cars out of wood,witch led me down a parth in mecanical engineering,from building moulds for rubber comtonents to name one ,to heavy industry,construction and more. my point being that if the younger generation don’t get the chance to have a toy mcclaren eg to play with their frends in school,and watch motor with their dad’s, where will all the fan’s come from to even get a chance to go to a circuit,and know what it is all about.

  29. Like many here, I too have been an avid F1 fan for far too many decades.

    I remember being enthralled as a child of the 1960’s watching snippets of open wheel racing on Grandstand in the good old days of black & white TV.

    I vividly remember watching the TV documentary during the early 1970’s about James Hunt driving for the ill fated Hesketh racing team, and of course watching him go on to win his championship in 1976.

    However, for me the golden years of F1 will always be the 1980’s when so many of the sport’s greatest drivers were competing with one another in equally great teams.

    Sadly, since the death of the great Ayrton Senna and the subsequent rise of Michael Schumacher, along with the constant, mind numbing changes to the formula since Senna’s death, my favourite of all sports has slowly but surely gone downhill.

    That Sunday afternoon when Bernie Ecclestone stated on ITV that F1 will NEVER be shown on Sky, I suspected even then that he was lying, so I resigned myself to the fact that from that day forth my days as a F1 viewer were limited. Now they are coming to an end.

    The strange thing is, I no longer care. With its politics continually killing the sport, the teams becoming secret squirrels, the sanitation of the once great race tracks, grooves in tyres, reduction of downforce in an effort to reduce the overall speed of the cars, which do just about everything for the driver except make him a cup of tea, now we have to put up with those awful lawnmower sounding hybrid engines and those ugly halos, so I ask you – what exactly is there to love about F1?

    The one thing that I had hoped to witness in F1 during my lifetime, but I guess I never will, was to see top female drivers lining up on the grid with their male counterparts, taking part in races, instead of just looking pretty on the grid, holding placards of the various drivers/teams. It has happened many times in the US in the equally exciting and very fast Indianapolis 500 races. So why not in F1?

    Well I do have the British Touring Cars and Formula E to entertain me on weekend afternoons, don’t I? Well until they too disappear from my TV set.

    Who knows, perhaps F1 will prove to be a huge success during its time on Sky, perhaps it will go down the same race track as the now defunct A1 Grand Prix. Only time will tell.

    My final word on this subject is;


    1. I totally agree bring back the proper engines the V8 Cosworth, V10s and even the V12 Ferrari screaming power plants. WHEN ENGINES WERE ENGINES OF THE INTERNAL COMBUSTION VARIETY.

  30. Alan Gow has very rightly said that the BTCC will be destroyed (financially and viewers) if it moves to Sky. I did hear that Sky made an offer for it, but Alan said no!

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