Sky to air Formula 1 exclusively in Germany in four-year deal

Sky are to air Formula 1 exclusively in Germany for the next four years after agreeing a new deal to cover the sport.

As part of a wider initiative from the broadcaster to “shakeup TV in Germany and take Sky into a new era,” Sky will air every race exclusively live from 2021 to 2024, creating a new channel dedicated to Formula 1 in the process.

In addition, four races will be simulcast free-to-air, with 30-minute highlight shows of every race airing on free-to-air channel Sky Sport News.

F1 says in their press release that this new agreement will introduce “millions of people across Germany to the excitement and thrill of Formula 1.”

Like in the UK, Sky will air every session live, including Formula Two, Formula Three and the Porsche Supercup, equating to around 800 hours of action per season.

It is a big day for the Sky’s Germany arm: the pay TV broadcaster has also announced an extension to their Bundesliga rights deal, taking that partnership to the end of 2025.

Sky replaces free-to-air broadcaster RTL as the main F1 broadcaster in Germany. As reported yesterday, RTL’s press release indicated that another party had bid double the amount RTL were prepared to bid for.

In addition, RaceFans are reporting that Sky’s new contract is in the region of $60 million per year, meaning that the total value of Sky’s contract is around $240 million.

This suggests that RTL are currently paying around $30 million to broadcast F1 per season, which is slightly less than the amount the BBC and ITV were paying from a UK perspective in the mid to late 2000s.

As part of the new deal, access to the premium-tier of F1’s over-the-top platform, F1 TV Pro, will be restricted to Sky Sport subscribers in Germany.

F1 TV Pro will no longer be available to new subscribers who do not subscribe to Sky Sport, however, existing subscribers are unaffected by this change.

What the stakeholders say
F1’s Director of Media Rights, Ian Holmes, said “Formula 1 and Sky have enjoyed a long-standing relationship, working well together to enhance the broadcast offering by providing comprehensive coverage of the sport for our passionate fan base.”

“I am delighted that our work together will continue to build and strengthen the impressive quality of Sky’s programming, as well as their digital reach.”

Devesh Raj, CEO of Sky Germany, added “This will be the best motorsports experience ever.”

“We know motorsport fans love the way we produce F1 and our commentators have fans all of their own, but now with the first channel dedicated to F1 content on German TV ever we’ll give fans more F1 content than has ever been seen on German TV before.”

“With our unique digital content offering and four races free for everyone every year, we will help introduce millions more people to the joy of F1 and help grow the sports across the motorsport country Germany.”

“This exciting new deal shows that Sky is the number one for sports fans in Germany.”

  UK Germany Italy (source)
Contract Length 2019 to 2024 2019 and 2020 2021 to 2024 2018 to 2020
Pay TV All races All races All races All races
Free to Air – Live 1 race All races 4 races 4 races
Free to Air – Highlights Extended highlights n/a 30-minutes Delayed
F1 TV Pro? No Yes Yes [Sky Sports subscribers only] No

The path to exclusivity
Unlike their UK counterparts, the path to exclusivity has not been straightforward for Sky Deutschland.

The pay TV broadcaster walked away from the sport in early 2018, after RTL secured a three-year deal to cover Formula 1, taking their rights agreement through until the end of 2020.

Surprisingly, Sky returned to the fold just four weeks before the 2019 season, getting their foot back in the door.

Fast-forward a year and a half, and now Sky will be airing the sport in Germany, exclusively, for the next four seasons, with RTL eliminated from the picture.

As suggested yesterday on this site, fans should come to expect more pay TV deals initially in the post-COVID-19 era. However, this move does mean that the era of large television audiences in Germany for F1 will come to an end following the 2020 season.

Interestingly, the latest development brings the UK and Germany contracts in-line with one another from a length perspective.

The detail differs underneath the surface as the table above shows: fans in Germany may be able to watch more races live on free-to-air television, but the style of the free-to-air highlights programming between the two markets differs radically.

The next upcoming battleground to keep our eyes on is Italy, where Sky will be looking to extend their current agreement with F1.

Additional context provided by Edmund Wareham.

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14 thoughts on “Sky to air Formula 1 exclusively in Germany in four-year deal

  1. It is really getting to point that formula e just needs a tv contract from prime time tv channel and it will have chance to replace f1

  2. Very interesting. it looks like Sky and F1 could be partners for a very long time. Honestly I hated the idea of paying for Sky at first but I’ve grown to like it and I have really appreciated the pause sky sports during COVID-19 and all the extra shows they have made (Vodcast, F1 Show, Ted’s Notebook a.k.a one man and his selfie stick 🙂 ) I wonder what will happen when the C4 deal runs out. Does sky have to provide extended highlights and British GP free to air and could it put those on Pick if they wanted to?

    Regarding Formula E yes if it got a prime time tv channel it would gain popularity because the racing is pretty decent and electric car technology is interesting. I just hope that they would allow the manufacturers to enter into a battery development race so they can push the technology forward….but maybe thats me thinking like F1 as doing a generational jump for all teams is keeping the racing close and exciting and its really not F1 its something new.

    One big problem I see for F1 is the idea of reverse grid sprint races for qualifying. I really don’t like this as qualifying is qualifying and the race is the race. If they push through with that (I heard that Sky is pushing for it as well) I would strongly consider not watching F1 and switching full time over to Formula E and saving some cash.

    So for me if F1 wants me to pay and its a quality channel thats ok but dont muck around with what I like to try and drag in other customers with gimmicks, because thats when my feet do the talking and you are not the only game in town anymore.

  3. I also wonder if this decision is influenced by the fact there is only 1 German F1 driver now, who is now nearing the end of his F1 career. Gone are the days of Michael S etc.

  4. If Sky keep generating the content and keep hold of Indycar and the support race program, then I’ll keep paying via NowTV.

    As an aside, I notice NowTV is now available via BT. Does anyone know how this works, presumably you still need daily/weekly/monthly/F1 passes?

    1. Last time I looked you needed to buy a monthly pass but it does give you the ability to record.

  5. Copied from the F1 TV thread on the Autosport forum


    so with Sky securing exclusive broadcast rights in Germany I just got this e-mail from Formula 1 regarding my F1 TV Pro annual subscription (sorry, in German):

    Die Veränderungen und die Auswirkungen für Sie

    In der nächsten Saison werden sich die Übertragungsrechte für die F1 in Deutschland ändern. Aus diesem Grund werden Fans ab dem 26. Juni 2020 bis auf Weiteres in Deutschland kein F1 TV Pro-Jahresabonnement mehr von F1 erwerben können. Außerdem werden wir in Deutschland nach dem 30. November 2020 keine Monatsabonnements mehr verkaufen.

    Ihr Abonnement

    Sie haben derzeit ein F1 TV Pro-Jahresabonnement, das am ##/07/2020 abläuft. Die nächste Zahlung für Ihr Jahresabonnement wird am o.g. Datum abgebucht. Wenn Sie möchten, können Sie Ihr Jahresabonnement in der Zukunft weiterhin verlängern.

    Änderungen zu Ihrem Abonnement

    Vielleicht haben Sie entschieden, dass Sie F1 TV Pro nicht behalten wollen. Wenn Sie Ihr Abonnement nach dem 26. Juni 2020 kündigen, können Sie kein neues Jahresabonnement mehr erwerben oder das alte Abonnement verlängern.

    Vielen Dank
    Ihr F1-Team

    so it seems that I will be able to renew my annual subscription after its current end date in early July and again after that on a yearly basis but everyone not currently a subscriber will not be able to purchase a new annual subscription after this Friday, June 26 (or November 30 for monthly subscriptions for that matter).

    this might be a good time to snatch an annual plan before the end of the week for fans based in Germany because I can only imagine that Sky will be more expensive. and no, I don’t get sales commission from F1 TV.

    From that, I would imagine that should Sky (UK) sign a further contract, we won’t be seeing F1TV in the UK.

    1. Realy bad move of F1. Some people dont want and dont need a Sky TV Subscription they just want to watch f1 and maybe dont even have the money to spend for an additional subscription….

  6. How to reduce your tv audience by 75%!

    If we are forced to pay for Sky it is not just £6/month for F1 it is the whole package.
    Still the writing is on the wall with the introduction of pay versions of the currently free online players in a “+” version with no ads. Then Britbox which is a means to pay for what you currently get for free on BBC iplayer and ITV hub.

    Someone said above in the comments that all FE needs is a FTA contract and it can replace F1. If only that were true, but FE looks like a video game in a series of tunnels that could be anywhere! There is huge scope to change its POV and make it entertaining but it just aint the same.
    If only we could have back the MotoCross at Brands and Lydden, the truck racing, the one make series, the club level racing the FF all the stuff we used to get that Bernie killed off in the original exclusivity deals.
    No its almost over for F1, the few crumbs we are tossed, hours after its all finished and the results all over the news channels are no longer keeping us engaged.

    It is going to be down to the BTCC for real racing on UK tv. (We need Mr Plato with his elbows out to make that better too. He is our modern equivalent of James Weaver! While Frank Sytner is played by Matt Neal)

    1. I agree. The do need to and must get rid of fan boost. Its just wrong. Also cars do need to do hour half race and maybe some some classic race tracks , brands hatch, imola, jerez . The point is people need to talk about it again the day after. Unfortunately sky TV killed that instantly for 75 percent of the fan base.

  7. In fairness Sky have brought the cost down from an eye watering £100+ per month for Entertainment, Movies and Sports to circa £50 if you get a deal and make sure you renew your contract. I have an apple tv with all the streaming apps on there and a Sky Q box and the Sky Q box is a nice hybrid of live broadcast and on demand and at the price I’m paying now I don’t feel ripped off. I enjoy lots of series and movies on there as well as a dedicated F1 channel.

    Honestly id rather have Sky as an app on the Apple TV even with an 18 month contract to just have one box but Now TV has no sports catchup so its not much use to me. Maybe in the future.

    Sky’s biggest risk short term is not the audience drop as they are raking enough money in. The risk is if they push for gimmicks such as reverse grid qualifying as it will alienate those like myself who pay to watch. The 2022 rules should be enough to wind the aero clock back a bit and make racing close then that will bring the fans in.

    1. Rules have already alienate me. Practice is not worth watching now because of engine rules they will only do 10laps. Qually is pale comparisons to era with spare cars , qually tyres and 1hr do what era. As for grid penalties after qually it just means I don’t care any more about qually. Pirelli tyres are another problem as fans can tell they have drive like granny on Sunday afternoon as they fall apart.

      1. Yes its interesting that now Pirelli are making the tyres harder that the racing is improving. After watching old races I saw that the quality fell in 2010 when refuelling got banned and became awful when Pirelli came in in 2011. For me it only really started improving in 2017 when the wider cars came but I dont enjoy it as much as I did in 1997-2009. I saw some encouraging races in 2019 which gives me a bit more hope for the future. Reverse Grid quali races would be enough to make me walk away though.

        Good point also about the engine rules and the grid penalties as they were supposed to shake the grid up a bit and everyone hates them. I also used to like the 1 hour qualifying format but Im ok with with what we have now. If they brought back the Bridgestones and refuelling but not fixing the fuel from qualifying id be happy. When fuel loads were a secret at the start of the race strategy was far more interesting.

  8. doesnt affect the uk but I guess all the people with the wheeze of rtl plus f1 radio in english are stuffed.
    Not sure how that would comfortably work anyway with the sych issues. Plus there were always 100s of commercial breaks.
    The germans themselves are probably better off now.
    F1 seems would rather have a guaranteed lump sum than scramble for subscribers to their own platform.
    Doesnt bode well for the end of a uk sky deal as it will probably just get renewed.

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