Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2020

A new year, a new decade, but the same calculations are necessary to work out what the cheapest method is to view Formula 1 in the United Kingdom.

2020 is Sky’s ninth season covering the sport for fans in the UK. From 2012 to 2018, the pay-TV broadcaster aired half of the races exclusively live, with the other half also airing live on free-to-air television.

Last year was Sky’s first covering F1 exclusively, with only the British Grand Prix airing live on free-to-air television on Channel 4. So, what options are available for UK F1 fans, and how does this compare to previous years?

Motorsport Broadcasting takes an in-depth look at the figures, to help fans decide which package is best for them…

All calculations in this article assume that we are still going to see a (relatively) full Formula 1 season without coronavirus causing a significant impact, but also therefore come with a heavy caveat attached to them.

F1 TV Pro
Formula 1 launched their over-the-top service in May 2018, and since then the service has grown in stature, both in terms of archive and in terms of live content.

This year, the platform offers fans a richer offering, with live coverage of every session, on-board angles from every car, a Pit Lane Channel, as well as exclusive pre- and post-race programming hosted by Will Buxton.

There have always been musings that F1 TV Pro may launch in the UK, but this has never come to fruition, which is unfortunate for those wanting to cut the cord, yet understandable as Sky want to protect their investment in the sport.

It is frustrating for UK fans that want a wider variety of on-board angles (F1 TV offers angles from all 20 cars, whereas Sky does not), or want an alternative pre- or post-race offering.

From Sky’s perspective it makes little sense to expose F1 TV’s additional wrap-around content to UK fans, as it means that they now have a direct competitor.

For 2020 at least, F1 TV Pro is not an option for UK fans. However, UK fans can subscribe to F1 TV Access for £2.29 a month, or £19.99 across the year, which gives you access to F1’s rich archive.

Sky
Earlier this week, Sky unveiled a new pricing structure, which applies immediately for new customers.

The previous Entertainment offering, which was Sky’s entry level tier for new subscribers, has gone. In its place is a new Signature offering, which brings together Sky’s basic television offering and Box Set Bundles into one pack.

Currently, new customers can grab the Signature Pack for £25.00 a month, or £21.00 when taking Sky Sports, which compares favourably to the previous Entertainment price of £22.00.

The second change is that you no longer need multiscreen to access Sky Sports in ultra-high definition (UHD). Instead, Sky have rolled that into a separate, cheaper pack, which is good news for those that have no interest in multiscreen.

Option F1 only – HD
Sky Q 1TB Box
F1 only – UHD
Sky Q 1TB Box
Sports – HD
Sky Q 1TB Box
Sports – UHD
Sky Q 1TB Box
Signature £25.00 £25.00 £21.00 £21.00
Sky Sports F1 only £10.00 £10.00
Sky Sports £20.00 £20.00
Ultra HD and HD £8.00 £8.00
Monthly Cost £35.00 £43.00 £41.00 £49.00
Yearly Cost £420.00 £516.00 £492.00 £588.00
One-Off Installation Cost £20.00 £20.00 £20.00 £20.00
Yearly Cost £440.00 £536.00 £512.00 £608.00

Year-on-year, the price for viewing Formula 1 in ultra-high definition has tumbled thanks to the pricing changes. In the grand scheme of things, the ballparks all look similar, Sky continuing to try to entice new customers into their offering.

Sky are increasingly looking at the big picture: their TV shop-window on their website is currently trailing an Ultimate TV package, with the YouTube, Spotify, Netflix, All 4 and BBC iPlayer logos all present.

In addition, fans of BT Sport content can now subscribe to them through Sky as opposed to having to take out a contract with BT separately.

The prices above apply for new customers, and account for any offers that Sky are currently running, as was the case in last year’s article.

Note that, outside of the offer periods, the Signature package costs £30.00 per month, as does the Sky Sports pack, which suddenly looks a little dearer…

If you have stumbled across this article after March 260th, 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
Signature £25.00 £25.00 £21.00 £21.00
Sky Sports F1 only £18.00 £18.00
Sky Sports £20.00 £20.00
Ultra HD and HD £8.00 £8.00
Monthly Cost £43.00 £51.00 £42.00 £49.00
Yearly Cost £516.00 £612.00 £492.00 £588.00
One-Off Installation Cost £20.00 £20.00 £20.00 £20.00
Yearly Cost £536.00 £632.00 £512.00 £608.00

Assuming the above is the case, I have no idea why you would take Sky Sports F1 only over the complete Sky Sports offering, the latter of which works out cheaper.

Overall, as the pricing structures currently stand, if you want to watch every Formula 1 race live on Sky, you are looking at a Sky monthly bill of between £40.00 and £50.00.

Virgin Media
The bad news for readers who have no interest in sports that air on BT is that Virgin Media is no longer a viable option, for TV only at least.

The only way to get Sky Sports via Virgin Media is to take their Maxit TV pack at £53.00 a month, and then add Sky Sports for an additional £31.75 a month.

Virgin’s pricing in recent years has become increasingly uncompetitive, making it an unviable option for new subscribers to the market.

This does changes radically however if also want to take Virgin’s broadband package. If you want to take their broadband offering, then you can grab their basic Maxit TV pack with Sky Sports.

That, combined with their basic broadband and phone pack works out at a total of £64.75 per month, Virgin’s strategy here to drive people down the triple-play route.

Option SD
TiVo 500GB Box
HD
TiVo 500GB Box
Maxit TV (including BT Sport) £53.00 £53.00
Sky Sports £31.75 £31.75
Sky Sports HD £7.00
Monthly Cost £84.75 £91.75
Yearly Cost £1,017.00 £1,101.00
One-Off Installation Cost £35.00 £35.00
Yearly Cost £1,052.00 £1,136.00

BT TV
A new entry to the Sky Sports market is BT themselves, thanks to the deal agreed between themselves and Sky last month. BT TV subscribers can now watch Sky Sports via a Now TV pass.

BT TV is an IPTV service, meaning that readers wanting to subscribe to Sky Sports F1 will first need to sign up to BT’s broadband offering, making the below an apple and oranges comparison compared to Virgin Media and Sky.

BT’s pricing does compare favourably with Virgin Media, although Virgin’s television offering is more comprehensive than BT’s. The benefit of BT is that you can flexibly change your packages as you see fit without any penalty.

Option SD HD
BT Broadband £27.99 £27.99
Big Sport £40.00 £60.00
Monthly Cost £67.99 £87.99
Yearly Cost £815.88 £1,055.88
One-Off Installation Cost £19.99 £19.99
Yearly Cost £835.87 £1,075.87

Now TV
If the idea of paying a significant amount of money for the pay-TV players does not sit well with you, there is still the option of Now TV, which is a viable option this season.

As in 2019, Sky are also airing the IndyCar Series live, which is good news for fans of the American-based series.

The F1 Season Ticket returns to Now TV, but is only available to purchase until the end of March. The pass allows fans to watch F1 and IndyCar for £198.00 across the year, an increase of £3.00 compared with the price of last year’s pass.

Now TV’s day pass has increased in price for the third year running to £9.98, however the weekly pass remains at £14.99. The monthly pass remains at £33.99, but an offer currently running allows subscribers to grab the pass for £20.00 for the first three months.

This year, fans need to purchase seven monthly passes to watch every race live:

  • pass 1 from March 13th to April 13th (Australia, Bahrain, and Vietnam)
  • pass 2 from April 25th to May 25th (Dutch, Spain, and Monaco)
  • pass 3 from June 5th to July 5th (Azerbaijan, Canada, France, and Austria)
  • pass 4 from July 10th to August 10th (Hungary)
  • pass 5 from August 20th to September 20th (Belgium, Italy, Singapore)
  • pass 6 from September 25th to October 25th (Russia, Japan, USA)
  • pass 7 from October 29th to November 29th (Mexico, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi)

The passes exclude the British Grand Prix, which airs live on Channel 4. For IndyCar fans, the seven passes cover all bar one race, the exception being Long Beach on April 15th.

Making use of the £20.00 offer means you can view Formula 1 using the seven monthly passes for £223.94 across the year (or £237.93 without the offer).

In comparison, twenty weekly passes cost £299.80 across the year (or £314.79 if F1 reschedules China). The individual day passes cost £199.60 across the year, a steep increase year-on-year.

The day and weekly passes are not ideal, leaving realistically the monthly pass your best bet, unless you plan on dipping heavily in and out of F1 throughout 2020. And, of course, you may waste money because of coronavirus…

Sky Sports Mobile TV
The cheapest of the bunch remains Sky Sports Mobile TV by some margin, at just £10.99 per month. The app, which is available on iPhone and Android, costs fans £76.93 across seven calendar months.

You hear many people reference Now TV elsewhere, yet Sky Sports Mobile TV gets very little mention despite being a far cheaper alternative.

In summary, there are 15 different options, across five different players this year:

– £1,136.00 a year – Virgin Media (HD)*
– £1,075.87 a year – BT TV (HD)**
– £1,052.00 a year – Virgin Media (SD)*
– £835.87 a year – BT TV (SD)**
– £632.00 a year – Sky (F1 – UHD) – post-offer period
– £608.00 a year – Sky (All – UHD)
– £536.00 a year – Sky (F1 – UHD) – offer (expires March 30th)
– £536.00 a year – Sky (F1 – HD) – post-offer period
– £512.00 a year – Sky (All – HD)
– £440.00 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)
– £223.94 – Now TV (Monthly Pass x 7) – offer (expires March 16th)
– £199.60 – Now TV (Day Pass x 20)
– £197.00 – Now TV (F1 Season Ticket) – offer (expires March 30th)
– £76.93 – Sky Sports Mobile TV

* includes BT Sport as mandatory
** includes BT Broadband as mandatory

In comparison, F1 TV Pro for fans in America costs $79.99 per year, which translates to £61.30 across the whole year, undercutting every single price listed above.

Comparing Sky’s platform with F1 TV Pro is a false economy, the former is always going to cost more given that it offers consumers more breadth for their money.

Sky reaches viewers across different age groups, demographics, and genders, whereas F1 aims to please the passionate fan with their over-the-top service.

However, if you love your motor racing, but are not really interested in other sports, maybe dabble in a bit of Twitch or gaming as an alternative hobby, then are Sky or Virgin Media really serving your needs?

For me personally, I like my motor sport, but also like other sports, such as football and wrestling, as well as the usual mainstream television entertainment programmes, which does make some of the choices listed viable.

Are any of the options above cheap enough for you, and has Sky’s 2020 pre-season offer hooked you in? 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 8th, 2020. Pricing is subject to change.


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12 thoughts on “Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2020

  1. Already got my NowTV season pass. Whilst I understand why people may gasp at the cost, if you then list everything you get (IndyCar, F1, plus most support races (where there are support races on a race weekend), and compare it against both the day and month passes, it works out as a VERY good deal.

      • Oh yes, got a full refund in mid April when it became clear F1 was a long way from starting up. The only downside is that, due to the uncertainty of how long the season will now be, they’re not offering the season pass again and I’m having to use the more expensive month passes. However, even if the season runs to December, I’ll only be paying an extra £39.93 total than what I would have originally paid.

  2. I also have renewed my NOW TV season pass for 2020 mainly for the F1 coverage but it does also give you access to the other Sky Sports channels so I’m very satisfied with my purchase.

  3. Worth noting that you can buy week passes from CDKeys for £9.19 currently, and several places have the month passes for £25 (CDKeys, Currys, Wilko).

    If your interest is limited to F1, significant savings can be had this way

    australia 15/03/20 sky one – no pass
    ——
    bahrain 22/03/20 £9.19 start 20/03/20 end 27/03/20
    ——
    vietnam 05/04/20 £9.19 03/04/20 10/04/20
    ——
    china excluding as probably cancelled.
    ——
    netherlands 03/05/20 £25.00 01/05/20 30/05/20
    spain 10/05/20 covered by month pass
    monaco 24/05/20 covered by month pass
    ——
    azerbaijan 07/06/20 £25.00 05/06/20 04/07/20
    canada 14/06/20 covered by month pass
    france 28/06/20 covered by month pass
    ——
    austria 05/07/20 £9.19 03/07/20 10/07/20
    ——
    great britain 19/07/20 c4 – no pass
    ——
    hungary 02/08/20 £9.19 31/07/20 06/08/20
    ——
    belgium 30/08/20 £25.00 28/08/20 27/09/20
    italy 06/09/20 covered by month pass
    singapore 20/09/20 covered by month pass
    russia 27/09/20 covered by month pass
    ——
    japan 11/10/20 £25.00 09/10/20 08/11/20
    united states 25/10/20 covered by month pass
    mexico city 01/11/20 covered by month pass
    ——
    brazil 15/11/20 £9.19 13/11/20 20/11/20
    ——
    abu dhabi 29/11/20 £9.19 27/11/20 04/12/20

    That makes a total of £155.14, and the beauty of this is that if Coronavirus bins off a race in the next few months, or Sky decide to bump a race over to Sky One, you can just flex up your strategy and save even more.

  4. I stopped watching as soon as they tried to start charging for this garbage!!! Not paying to watch 1 team dominate year after year………F1 is total shite nowadays!!! Up to you if you want to waste 2-3-or 400 quid a year watching this stagnant crap….Ive got much better things to spend my money on and do on a Sunday afternoon!!! I never missed a race since 1978 but after 4 years of Red Bull and Boo Boo Vettel winning 4 titles on the bounce, and now 7 years of Mercedes and Lewi Shamilton walking his way to 6 hollow titles I decided enough was enough!!!

  5. As long time fan I walked away last year just cant justify the cost.

    I have sky 15 years ago they was terrible company to deal with as they sneak up the cost each year and I just cant be bothered to argue with them. Now tv is more of option but even then it comes down to cost and hassle and I cant be bothered to pay 10quid a race. On the plus side I got my weekend back and I found other motorsport to watch.

  6. Excellent article – can’t imagine how long it takes to put it all together. For me NowTV season pass is the way to go again and is already purchased. Looking forward to another season – hopefully as good as last year.
    I’m increasingly of the view that there should be a small subscription for this site in line with other sites offering great content and value!

  7. Does Sky provide the option to watch replays of the F1 races or qualifying sessions? Although it’s not available in the UK, one of the best features of F1 TV Pro is that all of the F1 weekend sessions (race, qualifying and practice) are available as replays almost immediately after they are finished.

  8. I’ve subscribed to F1TV pro for the first time with a vpn. Testing was great looking forward to Australia. Far far cheaper than Sky or Now tv

  9. Dave when it comes to Now TV there’s an even cheaper way of buying all those passes – Clubcard points. For every 50p’s worth of Clubcard points you have, you can convert it into £1.50 credit to use in your Now TV account. You’ll have access to the exact same prices and offers as non-Clubcard users: the only difference being how you paid for it.

    As far as I’m concerned, since those points will have been used to pay for food, it can be considered as cash. So you’re saving 66% compared to if your were buying groceries with those vouchers. On that philosophy (had it not been for COVID):

    – £99.93 – Now TV (Weekly Pass x 20)
    – £79.31 – Now TV (Monthly Pass x 7)
    – £74.64 – Now TV (Monthly Pass x 7) – offer (expires March 16th)
    – £66.53 – Now TV (Day Pass x 20)
    – £65.66 – Now TV (F1 Season Ticket) – offer (expires March 30th)

    Something to bear in mind for next year’s edition, perhaps?

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