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.”
|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.