Sky Sports grabs W Series rights, highlights to air on Channel 4

Sky Sports will become the new home of the W Series this year in the UK in a new three-year partnership, both parties have today confirmed.

The series, which aired live and free-to-air on Channel 4 for its first two seasons, will air on Sky until the end of 2024.

However, the series will retain a free-to-air presence moving forward, with highlights of every round, plus live coverage of the British Grand Prix weekend, airing live on Channel 4.

W Series’ move to Sky brings the series in-line with Sky’s existing rights agreement with Formula 1: live coverage on Sky, with highlights and live Silverstone action airing free-to-air.

Sky will air live coverage of every W Series qualifying session and race on Sky Sports F1, which W Series says represents their “largest media investment to date and will include distribution of W Series content across Sky’s channels, including linear, digital, and social.”

Motorsport Broadcasting understands that, while the live rights are moving away from Channel 4, production company Whisper will continue to produce W Series’ television offering.

In addition to the UK, Sky will cover W Series live in Germany and Italy. W Series will announce the talent line-up for the 2022 season shortly (update: now confirmed with no significant changes).

Catherine Bond Muir, W Series’ Chief Executive Officer, said “I’m delighted to announce our landmark broadcast partnership with Sky Sports, which is another significant step in W Series’ continued rapid expansion.”

“Throughout our conversations with Sky, I’ve been impressed by their commitment to women’s sport and plans to amplify coverage of W Series across their vast portfolio of distribution channels, which will add real weight to our offering across broadcast, digital, and social platforms.”

“This partnership enables W Series to continue to expand its viewership within the UK,” Bond Muir believes.

“With this broad broadcast offering, we have the perfect mix of coverage across our UK audience.”

“Our broadcast partnership with Sky Sports reflects this, giving us great breadth of coverage across Sky’s global platforms and we’re excited to showcase incredibly exciting racing through fantastic content, direct to our fans.”

Jonathan Licht, Sky Sports’ Managing Director, said “In addition to Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, Sky Sports are delighted to be growing our motorsport portfolio with this recently established elite women’s series.”

“It feels like Sky Sports is a natural home for W Series, given we have such a dedicated motorsport audience and a dedicated motorsport genre channel.”

“We pride ourselves in being a good partner to sport and it’s been a privilege to work alongside Catherine and her team to come up with a broadcast offering that works for everyone.”

“I have followed the progress of W Series closely and it is clearly a very exciting time to be a part of this journey.”

“At Sky Sports we are committed to making sport more inclusive and I can now proudly say that, with the addition of W Series, every genre channel at Sky Sports now has both men’s and women’s sports coverage.”

“We look forward to sharing the excitement of this upcoming season with our viewers,” Licht added.

A good move for the championship

Normally, a championship switching from a predominantly free-to-air offering to a pay offering would be seen as a downgrade from a reach perspective.

From the outset, Sky have always had an interest in the single-seater championship for women, having wanted to air the first season of the series live.

W Series opted to go down the free-to-air route, going with Channel 4. While that resulted in some strong audience figures, especially for last year’s British Grand Prix offering, there have also been downsides to the deal.

For W Series however, the move to Sky for its live action offers something that Channel 4 did not offer: channel consistency.

Channel 4’s live coverage of the championship aired across both Channel 4 and More4, with viewers in some instances struggling to find the action.

Last year’s double header season finale in America saw the first race of the weekend air live on More4 late on Saturday night, with the second race airing in a better slot on Channel 4.

Aside from that, Channel 4’s W Series coverage was thwarted by delays to the preceding F1 qualifying session, which led to action from some races, including Belgium, airing live on Channel 4’s YouTube channel instead.

That is not to say that Channel 4’s coverage has not had its benefits, and it is good to see the free-to-air presence retained through a highlights package on Channel 4.

Furthermore, live coverage of the British round on the free-to-air station does continue to offer the championship a shop window moving forward.

In my view, the switch to Sky is a logical move for the championship now that it plays an ever-increasing role on the F1 support package.

Updated on April 27th with a note on the W Series broadcast team.

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Happy 10th Birthday!

Today, Motorsport Broadcasting turns ten years old, and has been part of the internet now for a decade. Which feels a little bit weird to write, more so considering the past few years.

When I started off The F1 Broadcasting Blog, as it was back then, I honestly did not know whether the site would become ‘a thing’, or whether it would remain under the radar before withering away into dust.

But over the past ten years, Motorsport Broadcasting has gone beyond what I anticipated.

Motorsport Broadcasting in numbers
3.2 million hits
1.0 million words
18,000 Twitter followers
7,435 comments
1,498 articles
21 events attended in media capacity

It is undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed my priorities, resulting in less activity on the site, with more emphasis on tweets instead in recent times.

Despite writing 1 million words, writing long-form articles does not come easy to me, and being in the appropriate headspace, with an urge to write something is critical. But, as the High Performance book rightly says, problems are temporary, and challenges can be overcome.

A lot of people within the industry have provided me with positive energy over the past decade, and have helped me in some way, and it is for that I am grateful.

These include, but not limited to, production teams spanning multiple championships (Formula E, MotoGP and the W Series), as well as individuals such as Karun Chandhok, and Matt Bishop.

To everyone that has supported the site, whether you have shared an article, contributed or donated to the site, over the past ten years: thank you. Here’s to the next decade!

Thanks,
Dave
Creator and Editor of Motorsport Broadcasting

Scheduling: The 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix / Portuguese MotoGP

Formula 1 returns to Europe for the first time in 2022, with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix! Now a permanent fixture because of the pandemic, the Imola circuit will remain on the calendar until at least 2025.

So far, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is firm favourite, even at this stage, to claim his first Drivers’ Championship, but can Red Bull’s Max Verstappen fight back in Ferrari’s backyard?

Fans in Italy have reacted to Ferrari’s championship challenge, with Sky’s Italian F1 channel seeing a record audience tune into their coverage of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last month.

F1 sprints into Imola

The Imola weekend sees the Sprint return to the calendar for the first of its three outings this season, resulting in different television schedules for fans worldwide, including in the UK.

Qualifying moves to Friday afternoon, with the three-part session starting at 16:00 UK time, while the Sprint starts at 15:30 on Saturday.

Channel 4’s highlights package on Saturday evening will feature a shorter edit of qualifying, followed by a longer edit of the Sprint session. Steve Jones, David Coulthard, Billy Monger, and Alex Jacques will be covering the weekend for the free-to-air broadcaster.

The change in schedule to accommodate the Sprint leaves no room in Sky Sports F1’s schedules for The F1 Show. Last year, the show aired on Thursday’s, which is no longer the case with F1’s media activities now taking place on Friday mornings.

The traditional European support package of Formula Two, Formula Three and Porsche Supercup supports the Grand Prix, all airing live on Sky, the first time since 2006 that the leading feeder series has supported F1 at Imola.

Alex Brundle re-joins Alex Jacques in the commentary booth for Formula Two, while Will Buxton is back in F1 TV’s commentary box for fans outside of the UK.

All F1 sessions are available to listen live via BBC’s F1 website.

Friday 22nd April
08:55 to 09:40 – F3: Practice (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
10:05 to 10:50 – F2: Practice (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
11:00 to 14:30 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 11:00 – F1: Drivers’ Press Conference
=> 12:00 – F1: Practice 1
=> 13:50 – F3: Qualifying
14:45 to 18:15 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 14:45 – F2: Qualifying
=> 15:25 – F1: Qualifying
=> 17:45 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
21:30 to 22:00 – F1: Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Saturday 23rd April
09:30 to 10:25 – F3: Sprint Race (Sky Sports F1)
11:00 to 12:40 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
14:30 to 18:15 (Sky Sports F1)
=> 14:30 – F1: Sprint (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:50 – F2: Sprint Race
=> 17:45 – Ted’s Sprint Notebook
18:45 to 20:15 – F1: Sprint Highlights (Channel 4)

Sunday 24th April
07:45 to 08:45 – F3: Feature Race (Sky Sports F1)
09:15 to 10:30 – F2: Feature Race (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
11:05 to 11:40 – Porsche Supercup (Sky Sports F1)
12:30 to 17:30 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1)
=> 12:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 13:55 – Race
– also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 14:00 to 16:00
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 17:00 – Ted’s Notebook
18:30 to 21:00 – F1: Race Highlights (Channel 4)

Full scheduling details for the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Scheduling details correct as of Monday 18th April and are subject to change.

MotoGP returns to the Algarve

Like Imola, the Portimão circuit in Portugal, has found itself benefiting from the pandemic. Portimão plays host to round five of the MotoGP championship, with it all still to play for.

Enea Bastianini leads the championship, two victories from the first four races enough to sit top of the table.

All the action airs live on BT Sport 2, with highlights airing on Monday evening on ITV4. As in America last weekend, the Moto3 race follows the main MotoGP race, meaning that MotoGP avoids a direct clash with the F1 action.

Friday 22nd April
09:00 to 16:00 – Practice (BT Sport 2)
=> 09:00 – Moto3: Practice 1
=> 09:55 – MotoGP: Practice 1
=> 10:55 – Moto2: Practice 1
=> 13:15 – Moto3: Practice 2
=> 14:10 – MotoGP: Practice 2
=> 15:10 – Moto2: Practice 2

Saturday 23rd April
09:00 to 16:00 – Practice and Qualifying (BT Sport 2)
=> 09:00 – Moto3: Practice 3
=> 09:55 – MotoGP: Practice 3
=> 10:55 – Moto2: Practice 3
=> 12:35 – Moto3: Qualifying
=> 13:30 – MotoGP: Practice 4
=> 14:10 – MotoGP: Qualifying
=> 15:10 – Moto2: Qualifying
16:15 to 17:15 – Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup (BT Sport 2)

Sunday 24th April
09:15 to 16:30 – Races (BT Sport 2)
=> 09:15 – Warm Ups
=> 10:30 – Moto2: Race
=> 12:30 – MotoGP: Race
=> 14:00 – Moto3: Race
=> 15:30 – Chequered Flag

Monday 25th April
20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

Full scheduling details for the 2022 Portuguese MotoGP. Scheduling details correct as of Monday 18th April and are subject to change.

While BTCC kicks off a new era

Elsewhere, the British Touring Car Championship returns for its new season, as the series’ new hybrid era begins.

As usual, extensive live coverage airs on ITV4, with Steve Rider and Tim Harvey leading the presenting line-up, alongside David Addison, Louise Goodman, Paul O’Neill and Richard John Neil.

In a ‘new for 2022’ development, two race days will also receive live coverage on ITV’s main channel. The Brands Hatch Indy event on May 15th and Oulton Park event on June 12th will air on ITV for three hours.

It is likely that clashes with other events on ITV4 (likely the MotoGP race from Le Mans on May 15th, and potentially the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 12th), mean that neither race can air on ITV4 for some of its slot, and ITV have opted to air the first BTCC race of the day on their main channel instead.

The first race day of the season from Donington Park airs live on Sunday 24th April from 10:50 to 18:15 on ITV4.

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Scheduling: The 2022 Australian Grand Prix

Formula 1 heads back down under for the first time in over two years, for the return of the Australian Grand Prix!

The eyes of the world were, for a short period, focused on Melbourne in March 2020 as COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 season opener, with the 2021 event also cancelled.

Now, the 10 teams and 20 drivers return to a revised, faster Albert Park layout, as Ferrari and Red Bull look to battle it out for victory in front of an always enthusiastic Australian crowd.

F1 returns to Melbourne…

Live coverage of the Grand Prix airs through the night across all three days on Sky Sports and BBC Radio, with the race itself starting at 06:00 on Sunday morning.

For Sky Sports subscribers, coverage of every session airs across Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event.

Channel 4’s highlights of qualifying air earlier than usual on Saturday, and later than usual on Sunday, owing to their other sporting commitments in the form of live rugby union and Formula E (see below).

After missing Jeddah, Steve Jones returns to Channel 4’s line-up, joined throughout the Melbourne weekend by David Coulthard, Mark Webber, Lawrence Barretto and Alex Jacques.

Meanwhile, over on BBC Radio 5 Live, Harry Benjamin steps into the commentary booth for the first time this season, deputising for Jack Nicholls who is on Formula E duty.

Supporting F1 down in Melbourne is the Supercars championship, heading into its third race weekend, with Shane van Gisbergen continuing to lead the series.

For fans of the series outside of Australia, it is unlikely that the action will appear on SuperView due to the international F1 broadcasting rights, but will be available in short form highlights on YouTube.

All F1 sessions are available to listen live via BBC’s F1 website.

Thursday 7th April
20:00 to 21:00 – F1: Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday 8th April
01:00 to 02:30 – F1: Drivers’ Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
03:30 to 05:30 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
– also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 03:55 to 05:05
06:45 to 08:45 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
– also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 06:55 to 08:05
08:45 to 09:45 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)

Saturday 9th April
03:45 to 05:10 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
– also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 03:55 to 05:05
06:00 to 08:30 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
– also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 06:55 to 08:05
08:30 to 09:00 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
11:00 to 12:30 – F1: Qualifying Highlights (Channel 4)

Sunday 10th April
04:30 to 09:30 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 04:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 05:55 – Race
– also BBC Radio 5 Live from 05:45 to 08:00
=> 08:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 09:00 – Ted’s Notebook
15:05 to 17:35 – F1: Race Highlights (Channel 4)

Full scheduling details for the 2022 Australian Grand Prix. Scheduling details correct as of Tuesday 29th March and are subject to change.

…MotoGP returns to America…

On the other side of the world, MotoGP heads north from Argentina to the Circuit of Americas in Texas for the Grand Prix of the Americas!

Live coverage airs in a primetime viewing slot for UK viewers on BT Sport 2. Suzi Perry returns as lead presenter, having opted to step aside for the Argentine weekend for Natalie Quirk.

Writing on her Instagram, Perry said “I’m not going to Termas de Río Hondo, (the Argentine GP) because 3 years ago in 2019 (the last time we were there), I contracted a dengue fever virus, followed by post viral fatigue so I had to miss 3 race weekends.”

“I’ve chosen to miss this out because I don’t want to risk a repeat performance.”

On the scheduling front, the main change is that Moto3 takes place at the end of the day instead of the beginning, with the main MotoGP class starting at 19:00 on Sunday.

Friday 8th April
15:00 to 22:00 – Practice (BT Sport 2)
=> 15:00 – Moto2: Practice 1
=> 15:55 – MotoGP: Practice 1
=> 16:55 – Moto3: Practice 1
=> 19:15 – Moto2: Practice 2
=> 20:10 – MotoGP: Practice 2
=> 21:10 – Moto3: Practice 2

Saturday 9th April
15:00 to 22:00 – Practice and Qualifying (BT Sport 2)
=> 15:00 – Moto2: Practice 3
=> 15:55 – MotoGP: Practice 3
=> 16:55 – Moto3: Practice 3
=> 18:35 – Moto2: Qualifying
=> 19:30 – MotoGP: Practice 4
=> 20:00 – MotoGP: Qualifying
=> 21:10 – Moto3: Qualifying

Sunday 10th April
15:15 to 22:30 – Races (BT Sport 2)
=> 15:15 – Warm Ups
=> 16:30 – Moto2: Race
=> 18:30 – MotoGP: Race
=> 20:15 – Moto3: Race
=> 21:30 – Chequered Flag

Monday 11th April
20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

Full scheduling details for the 2022 Grand Prix of the Americas. Scheduling details correct as of Tuesday 29th March and are subject to change.

…while Formula E electrifies Rome

After an eight-week break, Formula E heads to Rome for a double-header event, marking rounds four and five of the current season.

Live coverage of the weekend airs across Channel 4’s and Eurosport’s linear channels and digital platforms.

As in Diriyah at the start of the year, the first race of the weekend airs on Channel 4’s YouTube channel, this time due to the aforementioned rugby coverage.

In contrast, the second race on Sunday directly precedes Channel 4’s Formula 1 highlights programme, so there is a potential opportunity for Formula E to hook some of the floating motor sport audience.

Saturday 9th April
06:10 to 06:55 – Practice 1 (Formula E’s YouTube)
07:55 to 08:40 – Practice 2 (Formula E’s YouTube)
09:30 to 11:15 – Qualifying (
Channel 4 Sport’s YouTube)
=> also on Eurosport 1 from 09:30 to 11:20
13:30 to 15:30 – Race 1 (Channel 4 Sport’s YouTube)
=> also on Eurosport 1 from 13:30 to 15:00

Sunday 10th April
07:25 to 08:10 – Practice 3 (Formula E’s YouTube)
09:30 to 11:15 – Qualifying (Channel 4 Sport’s YouTube)
13:30 to 15:05 – Race 2 (Channel 4)
=> also on Eurosport 2 from 14:00 to 15:35

Full scheduling details for the 2022 Rome E-Prix. Scheduling details correct as of Tuesday 29th March and are subject to change.

It is a packed weekend of action, with IndyCar from Long Beach (Sky Sports F1), Supercars and World Superbikes (Eurosport) also available for UK fans to watch throughout the weekend.

If scheduling details change, this article will be updated.

Additional Supercars details provided by Joshua Kerr.

Contribute to the running costs of Motorsport Broadcasting by donating via PayPal. If you wish to reproduce the contents of this article in any form, please contact Motorsport Broadcasting in the first instance.