A new era, and a new F1 theme, as Channel 4 breaks The Chain

Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain will not be Channel 4’s Formula 1 signature theme for the upcoming 2019 season, Motorsport Broadcasting can reveal.

The iconic track has been synonymous with Formula 1 coverage on UK television for decades, with the BBC using it as its soundtrack until 1996.

Following ITV’s acquisition of Formula 1 rights in 1997, the commercial broadcaster opted to head in a different direction with their soundtrack, using a mix of Jamiroquai, Apollo 440, Bachman Turner Overdrive and Moby during their twelve years of covering the sport.

When the BBC returned to the F1 frame from a television perspective in 2009, The Chain duly returned with them. Channel 4 took over the free-to-air baton from the BBC at the end of 2015, and have used the Fleetwood Mac hit since.

Heading into the new season however, I understand that Channel 4 and Whisper Films have all but given up hope in securing the famous bass riff for their opening titles. The broadcaster begins a new era of Formula 1 broadcasting in the UK next weekend in Melbourne, with 20 of the 21 races airing in highlights form this season.

Sources close to the situation have confirmed that the broadcaster has secured an alternative modern track, which will debut during next Saturday’s coverage of the Australian Grand Prix qualifying session.

In a separate development, Sky have confirmed that they will also not be using The Chain in their coverage this season. Responding to questions from fans on social media, Sky said that it was “not feasible to use the [The Chain] on the titles.”

I understand that Sky’s desire to use theme, hence its inclusion in their pre-season trailer, has resulted in a bidding war between the two broadcasters and record company Universal Music Publishing Group, which in turn has concluded with neither Channel 4 or Sky securing the rights to The Chain for 2019.

It means that, as of writing, for the first time since 2008 when ITV used Moby’s Lift Me Up, neither UK TV broadcaster will be using The Chain as their signature theme. There is a slim outside possibility that the situation could change, but it currently appears highly unlikely.

 

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15 thoughts on “A new era, and a new F1 theme, as Channel 4 breaks The Chain

  1. “Sky’s desire to use theme […] resulted in a bidding war […] which in turn has concluded with neither Channel 4 or Sky securing the rights”

    I’d thought my opinion of Sky couldn’t sink any lower.

  2. ‘The Chain’ has still continued to be used by the BBC for their F1 radio coverage so it will be interesting to see if they still have the rights to use it in 2019.

    • That’s really unfortunate that a bidding war startEd for The Chain. I had a feeling Sky we’re going to try and snatch it and all was confirmed with that tv trailer. But happily they don’t and I’d rather nobody have it and nobody use it, the thought of Sky solely having it makes me cringe 🥴🏁

  3. If there was a “bidding war” why did nobody win?
    Universal Music were probably being too greedy I bet…

  4. I shame: the bass riff is iconic to me and millions of other viewers and listeners. I have would think that Universal must have one the bidding war: otherwise the rights holder gets nothing out of the bid, right?

  5. I don’t understand why Sky would need The Chain. They’ve made Just Drive synonymous with their coverage over the last seven years, I was disappointed not to hear it when their Melbourne show started.

    • BBC have actually never stopped using ‘the Chain’ – it’s still proudly aired during their Radio 5 coverage and the Chequered Flag podcasts. 👍👍

  6. It is May and I’m still fuming over the poss of The Chain. Initial shock of it’s disappearance quickly turned into annoyance then rage when l learned of the reasoning for it being dropped. F1 is just not the same without it.

    • Sum 41 Pain for Pleasure would have made a brilliant replacement! The music now is naff and just doesn’t have the build up which starts the excitement before the coverage begins

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