Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2019

2019 heralds a changing of the guard for Formula 1 fans in the United Kingdom, with 20 of the 21 races airing exclusively live on Sky Sports for the first time. The latest analysis from Motorsport Broadcasting shows that Sky is the number one player in terms of pricing in the pay-TV space, Virgin Media now a distant second.

The main change for fans is that free-to-air station Channel 4 will only broadcast the British Grand Prix live in 2019, with the rest airing in highlights form, as a result of the deal signed between Formula 1 and Sky in March 2016.

Three years in the making, the deal means that fans must subscribe to pay television moving forward if they want to keep on top on live Formula 1. For the past seven seasons, half of the live action has been available on free-to-air television, which is no longer the case in 2019.

A separate temptation for motor racing fans thinking of subscribing to Sky Sports F1 is that the channel will also be showing the IndyCar Series this season, including the prestigious Indianapolis 500. The American single-seater series is returning to Sky, having aired on BT Sport since 2013.

New subscribers thinking of entering the pay-TV market will find this article most helpful. However, as regular readers are aware, current customers of Sky or Virgin Media can try to ‘haggle’ their way to a better deal. I have not included any double or triple-play deals, such as broadband and phone, as the number of options can become unlimited.

F1 TV Pro
Last year, Formula 1 launched a new over-the-top platform, called F1 TV. The platform is available in two tiers: an entry-level tier (‘Access’), which covers archive material and classic races. The second premium-level tier (‘Pro’) covers the current year, allowing fans to watch races live with a variety of camera angles on offer.

Unfortunately for fans who have no intention of subscribing to Sky or Virgin, F1 TV Pro is geo-blocked in the UK. F1 TV Access, which UK fans do have access to, costs £2.29 a month but does not include any live 2019 action, only short-form highlights.

Sky
The big news for readers who want to subscribe to Sky is that high definition (HD) is now the standard option. Anyone who subscribes to HD automatically gets the standard definition (SD) version of the channel included. Ultra-high definition (UHD) remains a separate option.

Sky are currently running their ‘best-ever offer‘ throughout March for fans who want to subscribe to Sky Sports F1, and none of their other sports content, with the cheapest monthly cost totalling £32.00.

Option F1 only – HD
Sky Q 1TB Box
F1 only – UHD
Sky Q 2TB Box
Sports – HD
Sky Q 1TB Box
Sports – UHD
Sky Q 2TB Box
Entertainment £22.00 £22.00 £22.00 £22.00
Sky Sports F1 only £10.00 £10.00
Sky Sports £23.00 £23.00
Sky Q Multiscreen £12.00 £12.00
Monthly Cost £32.00 £44.00 £45.00 £57.00
Yearly Cost £384.00 £528.00 £540.00 £684.00
One-Off Installation Cost £20.00 £75.00 £20.00 £75.00
Yearly Cost £404.00 £603.00 £560.00 £759.00

For those of you who are still on Sky’s legacy HD pack, from their original F1 offer back in 2012, now is the moment to jump onto the F1 tariff whilst the offer lasts. I would be surprised if Sky repeat this offer next year, so this is the opportunity to move onto the new package.

The prices are all based on Sky’s pricing structure as of April 1st, but they apply for new customers immediately. Assuming you enter on Sky’s standard 18-month contract, Sky’s base level Entertainment package has increased in price by £2.00 a month to £22.00 a month, increasing further to £27.00 after the 18 months.

Sky’s offer for F1 only is £6.00 a month cheaper than last year’s base SD package and £12.00 a month cheaper than last year’s HD package. If you want a bit more sporting variety, the complete Sky Sports package is £23.00 a month, or £30.00 a month outside of the 18-month contract.

Eagle eyed readers will spot that the Sky Sports price listed is cheaper than the £27.50 figure in previous years. New customers automatically go onto the lower £23.00 price, whereas the standard price is £30.00 (currently £27.50 until April 1st).

If you have stumbled across this article after March 30th, however, and want to subscribe to Sky Sports F1 on its own…

Option F1 only – HD
Sky Q 1TB Box
F1 only – UHD
Sky Q 2TB Box
Sports – HD
Sky Q 1TB Box
Sports – UHD
Sky Q 2TB Box
Entertainment £22.00 £22.00 £22.00 £22.00
Sky Sports F1 only £18.00 £18.00
Sky Sports £23.00 £23.00
Sky Q Multiscreen £12.00 £12.00
Monthly Cost £40.00 £52.00 £45.00 £57.00
Yearly Cost £480.00 £624.00 £540.00 £684.00
One-Off Installation Cost £20.00 £75.00 £20.00 £75.00
Yearly Cost £500.00 £699.00 £560.00 £759.00

…then the yearly cost increases by £96.00 back to Sky’s standard pricing structure.

For new customers wanting to enter the pay-TV market, Sky is increasingly the better option compared to Virgin Media. For existing customers stuck on one of Sky’s legacy packages, you should be looking to haggle your way onto one of Sky’s current, more affordable pricing tiers.

Virgin Media
The problem for Virgin Media is that they have what Sky gives them, which means that their pricing is inferior compared to Sky. Compared with twelve months ago, Virgin’s Mix TV package has increased by £4.00, and jumped by £6.00 compared with just two years ago.

Option SD
TiVo 500GB Box
HD
TiVo 500GB Box
Mix TV £26.00 £26.00
Sky Sports £31.75 £31.75
Sky Sports HD £7.00
Monthly Cost £57.75 £64.75
Yearly Cost £693.00 £777.00
One-Off Installation Cost £25.00 £25.00
Yearly Cost £718.00 £802.00

If you are in the triple-play market, Virgin may be a viable option, as their broadband is second to none, even if the standalone broadband prices are steep.

On its own however, paying £57.75 for Sky Sports in SD when you can pay £57.00 for Sky Sports in UHD with Sky is a poor deal. Of course, they may not have a choice if they want to make a basic profit…

Now TV
If you are unwilling to pay for Sky or Virgin Media, Now TV remains an option, but with 20 of the 21 races airing exclusively live on Sky, the cheapest price has increased compared to 2018. The IndyCar Series may tempt you towards the monthly passes to maximise the number of IndyCar races you can watch.

The F1 Season Ticket returns, and is available until the end of May. The pass allows F1 and IndyCar fans to watch the season for £195.00, an increase of £45.00 compared with the price of last year’s pass.

There are now four Now TV tiers for Sky Sports, with the addition of the Mobile Month Pass. However, whilst the pass is the cheapest of the Now TV options at £5.99 a month, Sky Sports F1 is not one of the available channels in this pack.

For the second year running, both the day pass and monthly pass have increased in price. Now TV’s day pass now costs £8.99 (up £1.00), whilst the weekly pass costs £14.99 (up £2.00). The monthly pass remains £33.99.

Last year, you needed six monthly passes to watch every race, whereas this year you need to purchase seven monthly passes:

  • pass 1 from March 15th to April 15th (Australia, Bahrain, and China)
  • pass 2 from April 27th to May 27th (Azerbaijan, Spain, and Monaco)
  • pass 3 from June 1st to July 1st (Canada, Austria, and France)
  • pass 4 from July 20th to August 20th (Germany and Hungary)
  • pass 5 from August 30th to September 30th (Belgium, Italy, Singapore, and Russia)
  • pass 6 from October 10th to November 10th (Japan, Mexico, and USA)
  • pass 7 from November 11th to December 11th (Brazil and Abu Dhabi)

This excludes the British Grand Prix, which is live on Channel 4, whilst the seven passes also cover all bar two IndyCar races (the exceptions are St Petersburg on March 10th and Madison on August 24th). The seven monthly passes work out at a cost of £237.93 across the year.

In comparison, twenty weekly passes cost £299.80 across the year, with twenty individual day passes costing the fan £179.80 across the year. Last year, buying weekly or day passes was a viable option, but with Sky covering all bar one race exclusively, in my opinion neither pack is viable for F1 fans who want to watch the whole season live.

Of course, with Now TV you can switch and swap between the passes as you wish, whether you want to do that depends on your own individual circumstances, but you risk losing money over the longer term if you do not plan accordingly.

Sky Sports Mobile TV
For everything that changes, the price of Sky Sports Mobile TV remains the same, meaning that it keeps its badge as the cheapest option for fans at £10.99 a month. The app, which is available on iPhone and Android, costs fans £76.93 across seven calendar months.

Now TV’s own rises mean that Sky Sports Mobile TV is easily the cheapest alternative to those unwilling to enter a long-term Sky and Virgin contract, and are more than happy to watch via their smartphone.

In summary, there are 12 different options, across four different players and two different groups:

– £802.00 a year – Virgin Media (HD)
– £759.00 a year – Sky (All – UHD)
– £718.00 a year – Virgin Media (SD)
– £699.00 a year – Sky (F1 – UHD)
– £603.00 a year – Sky (F1 – UHD) – offer (expires March 30th)
– £560.00 a year – Sky (All – HD)
– £500.00 a year – Sky (F1 – HD)
– £404.00 a year – Sky (F1 – HD) – offer (expires March 30th)
– £299.80 – Now TV (Weekly Pass x 20)
– £237.93 – Now TV (Monthly Pass x 7)
– £195.00 – Now TV (F1 Season Ticket) – offer (expires May 31st)
– £179.80 – Now TV (Day Pass x 20)
– £76.93 – Sky Sports Mobile TV

I have written a variation of this article since 2013 because of its popularity with readers year after year. Admittedly, packages have changed and so on, but it is interesting to see what has changed in six years:

To summarise:

– £510.00 a year – Sky TV – Entertainment + Sports Packs
– £477.00 a year – Virgin Media TV – M+ + Sky Sports Collection
– £381.00 a year – Sky TV – Entertainment + HD Packs
– £299.70 – NOW TV – Practice, Qualifying and Race
– £210.00 – Sky Go Monthly Ticket
– £199.80 – NOW TV – Qualifying and Race
– £99.90 – NOW TV – Race

The main difference is that Virgin Media’s pricing has soared with an increase of around 60 percent. As alluded to above, Sky’s Premier League rights cost has jumped significantly in the six years since 2013, and I suspect Sky have passed the cost onto Virgin Media, who in turn have hiked the package prices.

Sky passed the cost on to their own new subscribers as well until 2017 with their premium tier price at one point exceeding £1,000, but in the past two years, simplification of their own packages has resulted in prices for new subscribers dropping comparatively speaking.

Now TV offers more flexibility now compared to what the service offered in 2013, when it was in its relative infancy. Although live F1 is now primarily behind a pay wall, there are still several mechanisms for fans to watch the sport.

Are any of the options above cheap enough though, and has Sky’s pre-season offer hooked you in? I will let you decide…

If you have spotted anything worth adding, or noted any other deals out there, drop a line in the comments below.

Pricing and information correct as of March 5th, 2019. Pricing is subject to change.

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17 thoughts on “Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2019

  1. Sky really need to work on their website. I still can’t figure out how to subscribe to just the entertainment & SSF1 package – I’m offered the full package, or nothing at all. And they’re still trying to sell HD as an ‘upgrade’. Perhaps it’s deliberate, but it’s enough to stop me going any further. To be fair, even £32 a month is too much these days – especially if F1 (and maybe Indy) is the only stuff of interest.

    Out of interest, has anyone tried the SS Mobile TV on an iPad? I get that the quality isn’t going to be great – but is it ‘watchable’?

    • The £5 HD add on that you are describing is solely for the entertainment pack channels in HD.

      The F1 pack at £10, usually £18, includes HD as standard – as do all Sky Sports and Sky Cinema channels nowadays.

      • @Amy – I know….my point was that they don’t make that clear in the slightest. In fact, it’s not mentioned anywhere at all when you try to sign up.

  2. Sky prices are increasing on April 1st.
    Unlimited broadband – £1.
    Unlimited fibre – £2
    Entertainment pack – £2
    Sky Talk Anytime Extra (Anytime UK) – £2
    For Sky Multiscreen customers, if you have more than one Multiscreen subscription the Multiscreen amount shown above is the total increase across all your subscriptions.

    Users of Sky Q boxes have changed conditions.

  3. Many thanks for setting out all the many options to watch SkyF1 this season. However, the one option missing and surely the obvious one for the vast majority of F1 fans now wanting to watch all the races live, is one where you pay for just SkyF1 – nothing else. Surely this could be made available via NowTV or a SkySports App. As UK viewers cannot access the Liberty F1 Pro service, due to Sky’s exclusive deal, then why can’t Sky in turn be made to offer fans a similar service, even if we have to pay slightly more than the $12 a month price?

  4. Independent retailers like Currys, Wilkinsons or Argos sell Now TV sport passes for less than Sky.

    A week pass is £10 and a month is £25.

    Someone on HotUKDeals worked out you can do the whole season for £165 or so this way.

    I’ve worked out what F1 and Indy races I want to watch this year and that came to £135 or so via Now TV passes.

  5. Yes I did get hooked in and got the F1 only – HD Sky Q 1TB Box. No HD for entertainment so its just really going to be used for F1. Got it for £30 per month which just went up to £32 per month with the new price rise for entertainment pack. As long as it stays under £50 per month and no ads in qualifying or race ill be happy enough. Lets see if the action this year will be worth the cost (I think it will be).

  6. I for one think that SKY F1, particularly now that it includes IndyCar, is good value and great quality. It isn’t free and we have a larger package. F1 in UHD is fantastic. It is what it is and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. I can’t afford a new Corvette as it’s too expensive but I don’t spend hours complaining about the price.

  7. I’m a Sky subscriber with the SkyQ 2TB box and I still have the £13 Legacy HD pack (inc box sets and F1).
    I thought the new offer would signal the time to switch up my subscription to save some money.

    I phoned up and spoke to Sky, and it turns out that to replace the Legacy HD Pack with a like-for-like package you need the HD subscription at £5 per month, the F1 Channel at £10 per month, plus a Box sets pack which I didn’t get a price for,

    So if you watch other TV channels as well as the F1, the £13/m Legacy HD Pack is still the best option, so don’t be tempted to swap, because if you do, you can never get it back!

  8. I tried to get a deal on the TV – but there wasn’t much shifting on the £32/month basic (Entertainment for £22 + F1 deal for £10). I then realised that my fibre broadband deal was up.

    I called and got the package above plus my internet for £45/month. They waived the install fee too as I was recommended by a friend.

    A week ago, I had no intention of ever signing up to Sky! I may regret it, but for now, it was the best deal for me. I’ll just have to monitor how much I make use of it when it comes to renewal time.

  9. Providing F1 TV don’t block the use of a VPN when you go to watch a live race, you can use a VPN outside of the UK to signup to F1 TV Pro. I use IP Vanish and connected to a server in Belgium and was able to start the Pro subscription process (though I didn’t go through with it).

    When creating an account, it asks for your country of residence, so perhaps setting that to something other than the UK would be a smart idea, just to be on the safe side.

    I’m only recommending this because I don’t feel it is fair UK residents are getting shafted by TV providers.

    Just as a note, I’m in no way affiliated with IP Vanish or any VPN provider. 🙂

  10. Thanks very much – I’m dependant on this yearly post to help me with the pricing.
    It is so expensive now and I don’t see new viewers subscribing to something that is so niche.

    For Info – I’m on Virgin Media and they initally offered me £5 off the full £38.75 increase which means I get all the Sky Sports channels in HD (£31.75 = £7 for HD).
    I said that was too high and the price came down by another £11.75. So my monthly addition is £22.50.
    I hate this bartering each year but see it as the norm now.

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