As many of you who have followed this site in recent months will be aware, I am officially a homeowner. Which comes with it, some responsibilities. Namely, trying to get the best motor sport content at the cheapest price! Better said than done, of course…
For years I have talked about ‘doing the sums’ across the pay television landscape, now I am doing the sums for real. Where there is only one legal option, the route is clear, but where there are multiple legal routes, the waters become muddy very quickly.
My main priority is to watch Formula 1 live and, as this site analysed earlier in the year, Sky is increasingly cheaper in this respect than rivals Virgin Media. I went with an 18-month offer bundling Sports, Entertainment, Broadband and Netflix together with a Sky Q 1 TB box.
Sky’s broadband option I admit is not the greatest, but a month in and so far, so good. The frustration in the broadband space is that the pricing of Sky, Virgin and BT is more expensive than what it should be, but that is a discussion for another day.
This all leads me to one question: how do I consume the motor racing content that BT Sport currently airs? BT Sport’s motor sport portfolio comprises of the following:
- World Endurance Championship (excluding Le Mans)
- World Rally Championship
Sitting below the top four are several other lower-tier championships, such as the Euroformula Series and the International GT Open.
BT Sport have MotoGP secure until the end of 2021, whilst the current World Endurance Championship season (which BT are airing) finishes in June next year.
Although there is no news yet on either Supercars or the World Rally Championship for 2020, expect both to remain on BT Sport.
Pleasingly, all four have an over-the-top offering that is not geo-blocked for UK fans, meaning consumers have a genuine choice. Do you go with BT Sport via Sky and ignore the over-the-top option, or do you cut the cord and go straight to the promoter? It is time to find out…
Note: This is based on my own personal circumstances, taking BT Sport through Sky. If you are taking BT Sport via BT TV or Virgin Media, the calculations will differ, but you could use my calculations as a baseline. And, as always, prices are subject to change.
BT Sport via Sky
If I wanted to watch BT Sport via Sky, normally I would be looking at a cost of either £379.88 (standard definition), or £438.38 (high definition) across the year. Those figures are based on the current standard pricing for BT Sport, which is £29.99 a month, as well as £20.00 upfront. If you want BT Sport in HD, expect to pay an additional £6.50 for month 4 onwards.
These prices are likely to rise over forthcoming months, after the broadcaster agreed a £1.2 billion deal to retain exclusive rights to Europe’s biggest club football competitions.
For the here and now, BT currently has a Black Friday offer, that allows you to watch all of BT Sport’s content in standard definition for as little as £20.00 a month. This comes to £260.00 (standard definition), or £318.50 (high definition) across the year, a saving of over £100 on BT’s normal pricing.
By subscribing to BT Sport via Sky, you also get access to BT Sport’s app, allowing you to watch your favourite content on the move away from the television screen.
From the outset, BT’s Black Friday offer feels like an instant grab. But, how does the combined cost of over-the-top compare with BT’s pricing?
Over-the-top – the ‘musts’
Again, this all depends on your own personal circumstances, and what you like or dislike. MotoGP is easily top of the tree for me, with the World Rally Championship following in behind.
Both the World Endurance Championship and the Supercars are nice to have, but neither are top of the list unfortunately (sorry).
> October 2016: Looking at MotoGP’s Video Pass
> April 2018: A quick fire guide to your motor racing streaming services for 2018
> September 2018: Behind the scenes with BT Sport’s MotoGP production team (1, 2)
> October 2018: How All Live is changing the face of rallying (1, 2, 3)
MotoGP’s over-the-top offering has stayed at €199.99 for the past few years now, but with a record 20 races on the 2020 calendar, there is a good chance that number could rise. UK readers are looking at a cost of around £171.73 across the season.
What BT offers MotoGP fans, and what MotoGP themselves offer fans are two different things. MotoGP’s over-the-top service offers fans access to their rich archive dating back to 2002, as well as a variety of camera angles, and insights from the likes of Steve Day and Matt Birt.
However, BT’s coverage offers additional colour to the MotoGP World Feed that Dorna themselves do not provide. BT’s coverage contains in-depth analysis from Neil Hodgson and Gavin Emmett, with Suzi Perry steering the ship.
2019 was the second year for World Rally Championship’s All Live service, clocking in at €89.99 across the season, or £77.27 for UK fans.
In a change for 2019, series organisers agreed a new deal with BT Sport, allowing BT to take the All Live offering and air it behind the Red Button. It is unknown if that will continue into 2020, again I would be surprised if it did not.
Assuming BT Sport continue to offer the All Live offering, the main differences between the two in my view play out in BT’s favour. WRC’s All Live platform only allows you to playback the All Live offering from the latest weekend, which I find somewhat odd if you want to catch-up with the action from earlier in the season.
To the contrary, All Live allows you to jump on-board with your favourite driver outside of the main feed, a feature currently unavailable to BT Sport viewers.
Combined, MotoGP and WRC’s over-the-top apps is set to cost UK fans £249.00 in 2020, compared with the £260.00 (standard definition) that BT Sport is offering for their portfolio of channels as part of the Black Friday bonanza.
At this point, you really must weigh up the difference of £11.00, whether you care about the picture quality (in which case, go for the apps), or care about the additional sports in BT’s portfolio.
Aside from motor sport, I do watch a bit of football and am a wrestling fan (which becomes more important from a BT perspective, with WWE moving over from January 2020).
Critically though, both apps give you a lot more than what BT offers, with additional feeds and qualifying, whereas BT only offers you the race itself, which is worth bearing in mind if you are mad into your Supercars or endurance racing.
A slight pain for me is that I would need to Chromecast to watch on the television set, if I was to go down the over-the-top route.
Combined, the cost of all four apps come to £309.89, a not so insignificant amount. If you are reading this during the Black Friday period, BT overall is a better proposition at £260.00 (standard definition), or £318.50 (high definition) across the year.
However, once BT’s Black Friday offer ends, their prices will increase again to £379.88 (standard definition), or £438.38 (high definition), putting them far behind the over-the-top competition.
What did I do?
I gambled and went with BT Sport’s Black Friday offer, which I feel is good value for money compared to the combined price of the MotoGP and the World Rally Championship apps.
Yes, the picture quality is standard definition, but I have the option to upgrade later if I want to. For me, picture quality is not the be all and end all, there is no guarantee for one that the over-the-top quality will be good all year round.
Clearly time will tell as to whether I made the right move. I think the chances of WRC and Supercars moving elsewhere are slim, but you never know.
Everyone is different, and there is no one size fits all answer at all here. If you are subscribing to more than one over-the-top platform in the motor sport space, I would advise looking at the Black Friday deals that are out there in the pay-TV world, because chances are you will be able to save some money, or add a ton of content with little additional cost and discard of your existing over-the-top subscriptions.
If you are reading this post after the Black Friday deals, unless you can haggle the pay-TV provider in question, you probably are better off staying off with over-the-top, for the moment at least.
It is only with BT’s current motor sports portfolio where this choice exists. Neither IndyCar or F1, which air live on Sky, have an over-the-top offering that is available to UK fans. If F1 made their premium-tier subscription available to UK fans tomorrow, the game would change again.
Have you seen any deals in the pay-TV landscape that you are planning to take advantage of? Have your say in the comments below.
Pricing and information correct as of November 24th, 2019, and based on the 2019 season where applicable. Pricing is subject to change.