2021 marks Sky’s tenth season covering Formula 1 for fans in the UK, the sport having last aired fully free-to-air via the BBC in 2011.
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.
Since 2019, Sky has covered 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 full 23-race Formula 1 season without COVID-19 causing an impact, but also comes with a slight caveat attached to them.
Who is airing what?
For fans of motor sport generally, Sky Sports is not just airing Formula 1 in 2021. As well as F1 itself, the F1 channel is also airing live coverage of Formula 2, Formula 3, Porsche Supercup, and the IndyCar Series.
In addition, fans can watch the GT World Challenge, Ferrari Challenge and Extreme E via Sky Sports, a shift from a few years ago when Sky’s motor sport portfolio consisted of the F1 programme and nothing else.
Meanwhile, BT Sport is home to live coverage of MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3 and MotoE, with BT also airing live coverage of the World Rally Championship this year.
As in previous years, expect coverage of the World Endurance Championship (outside of Le Mans) and World Rallycross to turn up on BT. However, fans also have access to most, if not all, of BT Sport’s motor sport portfolio via the respective championship’s over-the-top service.
Analysis that Motorsport Broadcasting conducted at the end of 2019 showed that, broadly speaking, if you are only interested in MotoGP or rallying, then the relevant over-the-top passes are the way to go.
Over on Eurosport, fans should expect to find coverage of Superbikes, both domestically and internationally, as well as Formula E and World Touring Cars, whilst the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans is always a highlight.
Remaining live on free-to-air television is the British Touring Car Championship on ITV4, whilst both Formula E and Extreme E air via the BBC’s digital platforms. Incredibly, the latter has also secured live coverage on ITV’s main channel for its finale each race weekend.
The big question mark this year is the W Series. The inaugural season aired live on Channel 4 in 2019 when the series formed part of the DTM weekend offering. Now, the series has joined forces with F1, and will be a fixture at 8 race weekends this year.
It begs the question as to whether W Series will air exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, or whether W Series are able to strike their own rights deal outside of F1’s existing agreements, potentially remaining live on Channel 4.
W Series have yet to comment on their 2021 offering, but this is an area to keep an eye on over forthcoming weeks.
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.
Speculation mounted last year that F1 TV Pro was set to land in the UK when F1 released a survey, suggesting that F1 TV Pro would be part of Sky’s TV platform Sky Q.
Despite the suggestions, nothing has since come to fruition, and for 2021, F1 TV Pro is again not an option for UK fans. 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.
In the past two seasons, Sky have enticed F1 fans with their “F1 for £10” offer, which has been a success given that viewing figures for the F1 channel rose strongly last year.
The bad news for fans hoping to utilise a similar offer this year, is that no such offer exists this time around.
After changes to their packages last year, Sky’s pricing for new customers remains static this year. Sky’s Signature pack remains Sky’s entry level package for new subscribers.
Currently, new customers can grab the Signature Pack for £24.00 a month, or £21.00 when taking Sky Sports, which compares favourably to the previous Entertainment price of £22.00.
|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
|Sky Sports F1 only||£18.00||£18.00|
|Ultra HD and HD||£9.00||£9.00|
|One-Off Installation Cost||£20.00||£20.00||£20.00||£20.00|
I mentioned last year that the price for viewing Formula 1 in ultra-high definition had tumbled thanks to the package changes.
Comparing like-for-like (ignoring the £10 offer), the F1 only options stay static year-on-year, but a £2 increase for the Sky Sports pack and a £1.00 increase for the Ultra HD add-on means that the Sky Sports Ultra HD option jumps by £36.00 year-on-year.
No matter whether you are interested in HD or Ultra HD, going for Sky Sports F1 alone instead of the whole Sky Sports pack means you save just £12.00 a year, or £1.00 per month.
Sky are increasingly looking at the big picture, there are many apps integrated into their Sky Q box such as YouTube, Spotify, Netflix, All 4 and BBC iPlayer.
The prices above apply for new customers, and account for any offers that Sky are currently running. Note that, outside of the offer periods, the Signature package will cost £31.00 as of April 1st, whilst the Sky Sports pack is £30.00. My advice: phone up, and renegotiate…
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 £42.00 and £52.00.
By this stage, if you are seriously considering Virgin Media, it is because you also want to get broadband and phone with them as a triple-play, as their TV only prices are steep.
The only way to get Sky Sports via Virgin Media is to take their Maxit TV pack at £55.00 a month (an increase of £2.00 per month on last year), and then add Sky Sports for an additional £31.75 a month.
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, reducing the overall cost.
TiVo 500GB Box
TiVo 500GB Box
|Maxit TV (including BT Sport)||£55.00||£55.00|
|Sky Sports HD||£7.00|
|One-Off Installation Cost||£35.00||£35.00|
BT TV subscribers can watch Sky Sports via a Now 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 is like Virgin Media’s, 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.
|One-Off Installation Cost||£49.98||£49.98|
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, previously known as Now TV.
As well as Sky moving away from the “F1 for £10” offer, the F1 Season Ticket from Now has also disappeared for 2021. Some fans were e-mailed an exclusive offer to view Now for £20 a month, but oddly Now did not make this available more widely.
However, there are two offers currently running for F1 fans, although only one has a use for most of the season. Their offer gives you the Sports Monthly Membership pack for £25.00 per month for six months, after which it switches to £33.99 a month.
This option also includes Now Boost, allowing you to watch in full HD and surround sound, at a cost of £3.00 per month after the first three month. Assuming you cancel the Boost immediately after the six months, this works out at £266.97.
Now’s day pass remains £9.98, but the weekly pass is no more.
Sky Sports Mobile TV
In previous years, Sky Sports Mobile TV was clearly the cheapest of the bunch, and technically it still is based on the pricing on Sky’s website.
However, reviews of the app on both the iOS and Android app stores show that the app is clearly not working as intended, with users unable to purchase a subscription. As thus, Sky Sports Mobile TV disappears off the list of potential options, for now at least.
In summary, there are 10 different options, across four different players this year:
– £1,160.00 a year – Virgin Media (HD)*
– £1,076.00 a year – Virgin Media (SD)*
– £925.86 a year – BT TV (HD)**
– £865.86 a year – BT TV (SD)**
– £644.00 a year – Sky (All – UHD)
– £632.00 a year – Sky (F1 – UHD)
– £536.00 a year – Sky (All – HD)
– £524.00 a year – Sky (F1 – HD)
– £266.97 – Now (6 months Sports Membership + Boost) – offer (expires April 11th)
– £229.54 – Now (Day Pass x 23)
* 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 £58.00 across the whole year, significantly cheaper than any option above.
The long and short of it is that the cheapest ways to view F1 in the UK have disappeared across the board for this year.
Are any of the options above cheap enough to hook 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 27th, 2021, with BT’s prices amended and Now’s clarified on March 29th, 2021. Pricing is subject to change.
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25 thoughts on “Doing the sums: the cost of viewing Sky Sports F1 in 2021”
The words “greedy bastards!” spring to mind.
Absolutely we should all start blobbing f1 and premiere league matches till the realise most of the planet cannot afford such luxurious
I’ve gone down the route of the Sky Sports month pass. NowTV were very happy to switch me over to the 6 month offer when I contacted them and just asked after I’d initially taken out the Sky Sports month pass at £33.99 in early March, when it first became apparent that the F1 season ticket was not going to be offered this year (a casualty of covid-19). If Sky were merely offering F1, then this option would not be cost effective. However, once you factor in all of the other motor sports Sky have picked up in recent years and are now showing on Sky Sports, this roughly works out at £3.25 per day, so very cost effective. If you have been able to get the £25 per month for 6 months offer, then it works out at approximately £2.68 per day.
Great article but isn’t the BT TV pricing incorrect? Big Sport in HD is £45 not £65. The VIP package is £65.
Thanks – will change that tomorrow
Any word on MotoGP highlights on Quest, like last year? There’s nothing showing on any of the TV guides as yet.
MotoGP highlights will be on ITV4.
SKY’s F1 coverage is excellent in UHD and I get Indycar which is my favourite. Premium service and the price is, I think, good value.
Exactly. Delivering UHD content, F1 show, notebook etc and many hours of extras before/after the race actually costs money.
I never had Sky before 2012 and have had it ever since and I think it’s well worth it. Currently paying £33pm inc broadband and F1, I might be on a promotion I have no idea I shop around between the shopping centre stalls, Carphone and Sky direct via Quidco.
Top tip people: Use the GDPR laws to your advantage and request your data is deleted when you cancel, ensures you are ALWAYS a new customer and if you’re not, they’re breaking the law.
How the fuck can you think the price is reasonable?
F1 TV Pro costs £60 for the entire year in the US, and on top of that, you can watch any onboard you like whenever you want, you get all of the telemetry data on all of the cars, you get to listen to the radios of your choice, and it’s in HD, and it’s without adverts (god Sky are greedy).
Or you can pay £524 a year for Sky to watch it in HD.
How in gods name can you call that “good value”??? Do you work for Sky by any chance?
Oh, big boy language. I’m happy with the service and for me it’s good value. If it isn’t for you, I could give a crap. Are you angry all the time? 😉
Your BT HD price is wrong. You don’t need the £65 VIP pack for HD – just Big Sport and the HD bolt on (40+5=£45).
And not sure if relevant: the BT option gives access to a full-fat NowTV account with Sports Pass and HD Boost included for two devices in addition to the IPTV box.
Thanks – will change that tomorrow
Would I be right in thinking that Sky is subsidising F1 coverage in countries like America, given they pay so much less to watch it there. There are of course other countries where it is still free to air.
I pay for Eurosport which is just under £40 a year and that comes complete with ad free sporting event streams, in addition to British Eurosport 1 and British Eurosport 2. In contrast not only is Sky Sports far more expensive, they don’t offer the complete F1 weekend without ads.
Time it right and you can record and skip/fast forward the adverts. Start watching 20-25 minutes beforehand. After the race, I pause, get some fresh air, refresh myself, make tea and then do the same for the post show.
I also skip any Lewis interviews I find him pure cringe.
“Sports Monthly Membership pack for £25.00 for six months”
Six months for £25 or £25 per month for six months?
£25 per month for six months.
Just to add regarding Sky Sports Mobile [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nxp.sky.skysportstv.google&hl=en_GB]:
“Please note that unfortunately, Google Play subscriptions are no longer available for new customers.”
It’s probably the same on the App store. I can’t see it returning, even how cheap it was. They could have fixed the problems if they had wanted to.
Interesting that they are still promoting it on the Sky Sports Web Site:
I reckon people in America can probably watch more F1 than in the UK as I imagine the F1 Pro channel has no ads. I wonder how many ads are shown on Austrian TV, where F1 is still shown free to air.
Sky are boasting that the Bahrain race was watched by a record number of their viewers. Not surprising as there wasn’t any UK football on.
Strange, no one ever mentions TalkTalk F1 boost, which annoyingly, includes all football too, which I never watch, but the F1 boost gives all extras and lots of old races to watch too, which is excellent. I think the NOW thing is being pushed, which I tried, very basic coverage, and not user friendly.
When F.1 was free to air I watched every qualifying session and every race. Now I don’t watch anything. I prefer to spend my money watching HSCC races in person at the circuit. Even if it went back to free to air I can’t see myself watching F.1 very much. Why? Too many silly rules, penalties for this, penalties for that. Cars that can’t race in close proximity. Cars too reliable, no excitement about whether a driver is going to get to the finish. No noise. Too many races that are way too short and not gruelling enough. That’s just a start……
watched f1 for 25 years but then in 2013 things changed and i started to lose interest in F1 as i could no longer watch the races live, by 2016 stopped watching F1 all together as jusy coudl nto get into the season the way they were shown, it was a real shame I used to get a house full of friends to watch every F1 event even Australia getting up around 3-4am to watch that changed in 2014 we stopped meeting up as we could not plan them the same way, i tried to watch highlights in 2014-16 but you do not get a feel for the race watching clips so stopped watching all highlights, just watched news for results instead but kept watching any live races i could this started to seem more like a chore as i was not enjoying watching F1 this way. F1 felt so disjointed that i started to lose interest and within 3 years stopped watching all together
the last thing i would say is that this has stopped F1 getting future fans, my kids would have been F1 fans but have quickly forgotten about it as i stopped watching and they grew up, now I have introduced them to BTCC they think F1 is boring and have quickly change their allegencies.