Whisper fends off competition to retain C4 F1 production contract

Whisper will continue to produce Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage in 2020, Motorsport Broadcasting can confirm.

The production house, led by ex-BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard and Sunil Patel, has produced Channel 4’s offering since they entered the sport in 2016.

Following Sky’s successful bid to cover the sport exclusively from 2019, Channel 4 grabbed free-to-air highlights of every round and live coverage of the British Grand Prix – both elements sub-let from Sky.

Channel 4 accepted Whisper’s bid to produce their 2019 offering, and now the organisation will produce their 2020 coverage. Motorsport Broadcasting understands that Whisper fought off competition from North One Television to retain the production rights.

Neither Whisper or Channel 4 have made an official announcement, although industry magazine Broadcast are also reporting the news. 2020 is a big year for The Whisper Group, as they are also producing Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage from Tokyo.

The wording of the Formula 1 tender from Channel 4 meant that the number of interested parties would always be light on the ground.

Channel 4 stated that they would only consider proposals from parties with “extensive experience of production in the motor sport arena,” reducing the prospect of a new party entering the market.

Whisper qualify as the incumbent, whilst North One qualify having produced BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage since 2014, as well as collaborating with Aurora Media Worldwide on Formula E.

Given the positive reception to Whisper’s coverage of F1 on Channel 4, it is unsurprising that Channel 4 have maintained the status quo for 2020.

What is unclear is whether the production contract between Channel 4 and Whisper covers 2020 only, or whether it covers the full length of Channel 4’s deal with Sky until the end of 2022.

Barring an approach from Sky for any of their talent, it is highly likely that Whisper’s Formula 1 coverage on Channel 4 will have the same look and feel in 2020.

Expect Steve Jones to continue to front their coverage for his fifth season in F1, alongside the likes of Ben Edwards, David Coulthard and Mark Webber.

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8 thoughts on “Whisper fends off competition to retain C4 F1 production contract

  1. Steve Jones might have had his fingers cross, but he did make a point of telling the Ch4 viewers that he and the rest of the team would be back at the first race in 2010. Perhaps North One had said they’d keep the current Ch4 if they took over the contract. Then again, I seem to remember North One have used some odd ball presenters for their coverage of the Isle of Man TT, before they lost that contract.

  2. > Whisper, led by ex-BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard and Sunil Patel, will produce highlights from all 22 races in 2020, as well as live coverage of the British Grand Prix.

    What does this mean for Steve Jones?

    1. I would anticipate this means nothing at all. Jake Humphrey isn’t returning to F1 any time soon, unless of course there’s a HUGE shock U-turn on the part of Humphrey to want to re-join F1, which I can’t see happening for a whole host of reasons, chief amongst which Jake’s personal life and contract obligations

  3. Well I was impressed with their highlight shows. I did have Sky Sports F1 (It goes today) but went and watched a few races this year on All 4 and you really didnt miss much. Good enough for the price and will do for me until we get F1TV Pro or Sky offer some sort of reasonable streaming service for F1. (i.e £10 per month for F1 channel live with on demand…just like the F1TV Pro subscribers get).

    So I’m glad that Whisper retain the contract as they impressed me enough to ditch Sky so they are doing a sterling job in my opinion.

  4. I hope the editing can be addressed next year as it was erratic this year – I thought it was me falling asleep until a friend agreed with me. And maybe SKY will release more driver interviews so as to cut Steve Jones et al infilling the gaps.

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