Scheduling: The 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix / Spanish MotoGP

The first triple header of the 2020 Formula One season concludes with the teams and drivers taking a 260-mile trip across the border from Austria into Hungary for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The main change from a TV perspective this weekend is that Channel 4’s highlights programme airs an hour later, from 19:30 to 22:00. The change is likely to cover up gaps in Channel 4’s own programming schedule arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unusually, the 5 Live schedule for F1 is blank, because every session is airing on the BBC website only, and there is no Preview schedule on BBC Radio 5 Live either, as Premier League football, FA Cup semi-finals and cricket pushes F1 down the BBC’s pecking order.

On the personnel front, Jenson Button is not with the Sky team in Hungary, but will be rejoining the team in Silverstone.

Over in Spain, the MotoGP season gets underway with a double-header at Jerez, as Marc Marquez looks to triumph once again.

For MotoGP, it is the first round of the year, however for Moto2 and Moto3 it is round two of the year after they managed to kickstart their season in Qatar back in March.

BT’s coverage comes from Triumph’s main base in Hinckley, with the usual team of Suzi Perry, Gavin Emmett, Keith Huewen, Neil Hodgson amongst those guiding viewers through the championship this year.

As with F1, some pay TV broadcasters are travelling to Jerez, however Dorna have prohibited all other journalists from the circuit itself.

For those that did not watch Moto2 or Moto3 from Qatar, keep an eye on MotoGP’s new graphics set for 2020 during the Jerez weekend.

Free-to-air highlights of MotoGP again air on Quest in a Monday evening time slot.

Elsewhere, in an interesting development, Sky Sports F1 are airing live coverage of the Ferrari Challenge series where possible this year, as they continue to grow their non-F1 motor sport portfolio.

It is not Sky Sports F1’s only acquisition recently: they are also airing extensive coverage of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance and Sprint Cup championships this year for the first time.

Channel 4 F1
18/07 – 18:45 to 20:15 – Qualifying Highlights
19/07 – 19:30 to 22:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
17/07 – 09:30 to 11:50
=> 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 10:00 – Practice 1
17/07 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
18/07 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
18/07 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
19/07 – 12:30 to 17:30 – Race
=> 12:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 14:05 – Race
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 17:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
17/07 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
22/07 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website

MotoGP – Spain (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
17/07 – 08:00 to 10:45 – Practice 1
17/07 – 12:00 to 15:00 – Practice 2
18/07 – 08:00 to 15:45
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
=> 15:00 – MotoE
19/07 – 07:15 to 14:30
=> 07:15 – Warm Ups
=> 08:45 – MotoE
=> 09:30 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Spain (Quest)
20/07 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

Ferrari Challenge – Catalunya (Sky Sports F1)
18/07 – 17:10 to 18:10 – Race 1
19/07 – 17:30 to 18:30 – Race 2 (tape-delay)

Formula Two – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
17/07 – 11:50 to 12:40 – Practice
17/07 – 15:55 to 16:30 – Qualifying
18/07 – 15:35 to 16:55 – Race 1
19/07 – 10:00 to 11:05 – Race 2

Formula Three – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
17/07 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Practice
17/07 – 13:00 to 13:45 – Qualifying
18/07 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
19/07 – 08:35 to 09:35 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Iowa (Sky Sports F1)
17/07 – 22:30 to 23:30 – Qualifying 1
17/07 (Friday night) – 01:30 to 04:30 – Race 1
18/07 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Qualifying 2
18/07 (Saturday night) – 01:30 to 04:00 – Race 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)

Porsche Supercup – Hungary (Sky Sports F1)
19/07 – 11:20 to 12:05 – Race

Virgin Australia Supercars – Winton
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
18/07 – 06:30 to 08:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 3)
19/07 – 02:30 to 04:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport 2)
19/07 – 05:30 to 07:00 – Race 3 (BT Sport 2)

This post will be updated if details change.


Contribute to the running costs of Motorsport Broadcasting by donating via PayPal

Scheduling: The 2020 Styrian Grand Prix

After a chaotic opener, Formula 1 remains in Austria for a second weekend, Austria’s Red Bull Ring playing host to the inaugural Styrian Grand Prix.

Although the on-track scheduling mirrors that seen in the first weekend, there are several amendments on the UK scheduling front.

After a shorter build-up for Austria, Sky have reverted back to their 2019 lengths starting this weekend, with a 60-minute build-up to qualifying, and a 100-minute build-up to the race itself.

The BBC’s radio coverage of the Styrian round will largely air on the website only, due to a clash with England’s cricket test match series against the West Indies, which kicks off on Wednesday.

One addition to the schedule is F1’s in-house programme the Midweek Debrief, which again airs on Wednesday evenings following each Grand Prix.

On the Formula Two front Matt Gallagher, of WTF1 and Esports fame, joins lead commentator Alex Jacques in the Biggin Hill commentary booth.

Meanwhile, the IndyCar Series heads to Road America in Wisconsin for a double-header weekend. The first race airs live as usual on Sky Sports F1, however the second race is currently set to air on a 30-minute tape-delay to avoid overlap with the conclusion of the F1.

Channel 4 F1
11/07 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying Highlights
12/07 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
10/07 – 09:30 to 11:50
=> 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 10:00 – Practice 1
10/07 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
11/07 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
11/07 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
12/07 – 12:30 to 17:30 – Race
=> 12:30 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 14:05 – Race
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 17:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
08/07 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief: Austria
10/07 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
15/07 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief: Styria

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
10/07 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
12/07 – 14:00 to 16:30 – Race Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula Two – Styria (Sky Sports F1)
10/07 – 11:50 to 12:40 – Practice
10/07 – 15:55 to 16:30 – Qualifying
11/07 – 15:35 to 16:55 – Race 1
12/07 – 10:00 to 11:05 – Race 2

Formula Three – Styria (Sky Sports F1)
10/07 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Practice
10/07 – 13:00 to 13:45 – Qualifying
11/07 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
12/07 – 08:35 to 09:35 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Road America (Sky Sports F1)
11/07 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Qualifying (tape-delay)
11/07 – 22:00 to 00:30 – Race 1
12/07 – 17:30 to 20:30 – Race 2 (tape-delay)

Porsche Supercup – Styria (Sky Sports F1)
12/07 – 11:20 to 12:05 – Race

As always, scheduling details will be updated if plans change.

Updated on July 7th to reflect Sky’s qualifying and race day scheduling changes.


Contribute to the running costs of Motorsport Broadcasting by donating via PayPal

Scheduling: The 2020 Austrian Grand Prix

It will be odd, it will be strange, and it will be weird. But when the lights go out, nothing will sound better than twenty Formula 1 cars blasting their way around a Grand Prix circuit.

After a three-month hiatus, and seven months since the 2019 season ended, F1 is back with the start of the 2020 season, beginning with a double header in Austria.

Sky Sports are the only UK broadcaster presenting their coverage on-site. Simon Lazenby continues to steer the ship, alongside the likes of Ted Kravitz, David Croft and Martin Brundle out in Austria.

Due to COVID-19, Sky’s original plans from a scheduling perspective for 2020 have gone out the window. Both Paddock Walkabout and The F1 Show are missing from Sky’s Saturday schedule, whilst their qualifying and race build-ups have halved.

Current schedules show that Sky intends to have a 30-minute build-up to qualifying, with a 70-minute build-up to the race itself, reminiscent of ITV’s F1 offering in the early 2000s, albeit in very different circumstances.

Sky originally intended to extend their race build-up to 130-minutes for 2020, which appears to no longer be happening, for the early phase of the season at least. The qualifying programme is shorter, as Sky are airing a live Diversity in Motor Sport special in what would normally be the first 30-minutes of their qualifying show.

Given that the social distancing guidelines limit what you can do, it is not exactly surprising that Sky have had to review their programming and go back to basics – including no grid walk for the foreseeable future.

This site can reveal that both Channel 4 and the BBC are remaining in the UK for the opening rounds. Jack Nicholls and Jolyon Palmer form the BBC’s 5 Live commentary team for 2020, with Jennie Gow and Andrew Benson joining them.

Meanwhile, Steve Jones heads into a fifth season as Channel 4’s Formula 1 presenter, joined in their UK studio setting by David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Ben Edwards.

As revealed prior to Australia, Channel 4 are airing more of the race this year than in 2019, with around 60-minutes of the race airing in their edit, compared to 45-minutes last year.

Elsewhere, Sky are airing the Formula Two documentary series Chasing the Dream in the run-up to Austria. For those who do not have F1 TV, this is well worth a watch, the series following the leading contenders during the 2019 season.

Channel 4 F1
04/07 – 18:45 to 20:15 – Qualifying Highlights
05/07 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
03/07 – 09:30 to 11:50 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 10:00 – Practice 1
03/07 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
04/07 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
04/07 – 13:30 to 15:30 – Qualifying
05/07 – 13:00 to 17:30 – Race
=> 13:00 – Grand Prix Sunday
=> 14:05 – Race
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 17:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
29/06 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (1/5)
30/06 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (2/5)
01/07 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (3/5)
02/07 – 19:30 to 21:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference
02/07 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (4/5)
03/07 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
03/07 – 19:00 to 19:30 – F2: Chasing the Dream (5/5)
04/07 – 13:00 to 13:30 – Diversity in Motor Sport

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
03/07 – 09:55 to 11:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
03/07 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
03/07 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
04/07 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
04/07 – 13:55 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
05/07 – 13:55 to 16:15 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

Formula Two – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
03/07 – 11:50 to 12:40 – Practice
03/07 – 15:55 to 16:30 – Qualifying
04/07 – 15:35 to 16:55 – Race 1
05/07 – 10:00 to 11:05 – Race 2

Formula Three – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
03/07 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Practice
03/07 – 13:00 to 13:45 – Qualifying
04/07 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
05/07 – 08:35 to 09:35 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis Grand Prix (Sky Sports F1)
03/07 – 21:30 to 23:00 – Qualifying
04/07 – 17:00 to 19:00 – Race

Porsche Supercup – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
05/07 – 11:20 to 12:05 – Race

Keep an eye on this article over the forthcoming week, as broadcasters evolve their plans of the new F1 season.

Updated on June 30th to add details about Sky’s Diversity in Motor Sport special.

Update on July 2nd at 18:05 – As reported by Jonathan Noble over at Motorsport.com, the Drivers’ Press Conference format is radically different – and heavily extended.

Because of the COVID-19 restrictions in place resulting in no media scrums, drivers are being interviewed team-by-team in a secure room. Anyone who has followed the tweets this afternoon from journalists will know it has been a drawn out process, hence Sky opting beforehand to air a 90-minute version later tonight.


Contribute to the running costs of Motorsport Broadcasting by donating via PayPal

Scheduling: The 2020 MotoAmerica and IndyCar season openers

After a two-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, motor racing is back! Over the next few weeks, the schedules will begin to fill back up with live motor racing action taking place from across the globe.

Kicking us back into action are two stateside championships: MotoAmerica and the IndyCar Series. MotoAmerica is the American equivalent of the British Superbikes championship, with ten race weekends featuring on the revised 2020 calendar.

This weekend’s MotoAmerica race (30th and 31st May) is the first of two stops for the series at the Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, with both races airing live on Eurosport for UK viewers.

One week later, the IndyCar Series begins its 2020 tour at the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday 6th June. For the first time ever, in addition to qualifying and the race, practice also airs live for UK fans on Sky Sports F1.

Elsewhere, there is a plethora of new programming on Sky Sports F1 and BT Sport, whilst there is plenty of Esports action also on offer. RaceFans has a complete list of the Esports events taking place this weekend.

Of interest also to UK readers is the fact that Formula E documentary film ‘And We Go Green‘ premieres on Channel 4 on Tuesday 2nd June at 00:05 (Wednesday morning).

IndyCar Series – Texas (Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix)
06/06 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Practice
06/06 – 22:00 to 23:00 – Qualifying
06/06 (Saturday night) – 00:30 to 04:00 – Race (Main Event and Mix from 01:00)

MotoAmerica – Road America (Eurosport)
30/05 – 20:00 to 22:00 – Day 1
31/05 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Day 2


Contribute to the running costs of Motorsport Broadcasting by donating via PayPal

Analysing the motor sport ecosystem and why coronavirus could cripple it

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting motor sport in a way we have never seen before, impacting everyone involved in sport.

Collectively, the entire industry stands to lose a significant sum of money, and what the future holds is unclear. The longer this goes on, the worse the financial situation becomes, notwithstanding the fact that a global recession is likely because of the pandemic.

Who are the key players, and what are their role in the overarching ecosystem that is motor sport? Being a broadcasting site, naturally the focus is on broadcasting, although there is heavy linkage between broadcasting and the wider motor sport economy.

Speaking at the Black Book Motorsport Forum last September, Sky’s Head of Formula 1 Scott Young spoke about the delicacies of the ecosystem in a conversation around over-the-top broadcasting and pay television.

“Our investment is significant as one of the one of the investments that underpins F1, as all our rights do in every sport,” explained Young.

“I think that’s one of the differences between an OTT platform right now and major sporting broadcasters, like Sky and Eurosport, that actually invest a large amount of money that goes into those sports of which they need to help fund the teams to compete.”

“There’s an ecosystem in there that is quite delicate, and if you unravel it too quickly it can have some lasting effects,” he said.

Young quite clearly encapsulates the key themes of the ecosystem: the broadcasters, the rights holder, and the teams. If the system changes too quickly, the consequences could be catastrophic.

Coronavirus creates a gap in the chamber. The flow of money into the sport stops, meaning that money cannot flow back out the other end easily.

Who are the parties involved, and what are their roles? Let the below diagram explain, using Formula 1 and MotoGP as the key examples…

Motor sport ecosystem.png
A simplified view of the motor sport ecosystem.

Much of the above is stating the obvious, however it shows how the ecosystem joins up from one segment to another, from the customer paying the pay TV broadcaster their monthly subscription, all the way through to teams paying their staff.

The diagram is, I admit, a simplistic view of the landscape, but hopefully helps to show how some of the basic activities connect. There are many more inputs and outputs, the diagram only covers the main ones (although if you feel there is a major gap, please shout).

Motor sport ecosystem - branch 1.png
A simplified view of the motor sport ecosystem (branch 1).

Branch 1 – Pay TV > Commercial Rights Holder
Pay-TV broadcasters receive income from both their customers monthly, as well as from advertisers / sponsors who want to advertise during their programming. Not all motor sports air on pay-TV, but overall, that is the way.

Some have suggested that UK’s pay-TV broadcasters BT and Sky should refund subscribers of their sports channels during the coronavirus outbreak, however neither are planning to do so currently.

The income pay-TV broadcasters receive allows them to broadcast prestigious events, the broadcaster paying the relevant Commercial Rights Holder an agreed amount each season.

For MotoGP, the Commercial Rights Holder is Dorna, for F1 it is Formula One Management, for World Rally Championship it is WRC Promoter, and so on.

To attract subscribers, pay-TV broadcasters want to utilise the best talent, on and off-screen. For that, they use a hybrid of permanent in-house staff and freelancers.

Both bring their benefits: being a permanent member of staff gives you added security with a regular pay packet, but makes it unlikely that you can work on events not aired on their outlet.

Freelancers on the other hand may work F1 one weekend, MotoGP the next, and then Formula E the weekend after, each paid on a standalone basis. Three different broadcasters and production teams, but not a problem. That approach brings risks: any cancellation will result in a loss of income.

Motor sport ecosystem - branch 1.png
A simplified view of the motor sport ecosystem (branch 2).

Branch 2 – Circuit > Commercial Rights Holder
The second area is simpler. Fans pay money to attend the circuit to watch a race, the circuit pays the Commercial Rights Holder the fee for holding the race. Investors and sponsors may pump money into the circuit to improve facilities, increasing the prospects of holding major events there.

It sounds simple, until someone cancels the race, which is where the legal complications come in. Mark Hughes over on The Race summarises the situation in relation to the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix.

In the event of the cancellation of a race, someone will lose money. Opting not to refund the fans is an untenable option. The organisers refund the fans, in which case the organisers lose money. Unless the Commercial Rights Holder waives the fee and takes the financial hit.

The worst-case scenario for a circuit is that they lose so much money, they go into administration and liquidation.

Circuits need money to keep operating outside of the F1 and MotoGP race weekends, they need to pay their own employees (not labelled in the diagram) to give one example. In the UK, the Rockingham Motor Speedway closed in 2018 after financial issues.

Cancelling one race might be okay, but would be enough to disturb the cashflow of the circuit. What happens though, if the Commercial Rights Holder opted to take the hit, saving the circuit, but putting themselves at jeopardy?

Motor sport ecosystem - branch 1.png
A simplified view of the motor sport ecosystem (branch 3).

Branch 3 – Commercial Right Holder > Staff
Like the pay-TV scenario above, the Commercial Rights Holder will pay people to run the World Feed for them all the weekend, both freelancers and permanent staff. The talent varies: from directors, to vision mixers, to replay operators, to camera operators, the list is never ending.

F1 has a mixture of freelance talent and permanent talent, same as above. Same positives, same negatives, same risks.

Motor sport ecosystem - branch 1.png
A simplified view of the motor sport ecosystem (branch 4).

Branch 4 – Commercial Rights Holder > Teams
As well as receiving money off pay-TV broadcasters and circuits, the Commercial Rights Holder will receive money off advertisers, sponsors and investors, the Rolex’s of this world.

Pay-TV broadcasters may want compensation off the Commercial Rights Holder if races fall by the wayside, and the same applies for advertisers, whilst circuits may want their fees lowered.

If organisers cancel one race, most championships would be able to deal with it, however when multiple races disappear, the problem amplifies.

For hypothetical sake, assume the Commercial Rights Holder has buckled in the event of cancellation. They have waived the circuit race fee and given both advertisers and pay-TV companies some compensation. Unlikely, but let us continue the worst-case path.

But, hang on. The Commercial Rights Holder needs to the pay the teams their prize money, right? Well, yes. Oh. But, the Commercial Rights Holder has already lost money? Again, yes.

“Okay then, we will not give teams their prize money.” Good luck with that one.

Teams need to pay their permanent staff and freelancers, as well as suppliers, and need some form of income from both the Commercial Rights Holder and sponsors.

Suppliers are important here. Motor sport relies on thousands of small to medium-sized employers worldwide that rarely gets a mention. If any one of those suppliers go under, that could impact the team’s ability to go racing. Suddenly, we have a major problem…

The likes of Mercedes, Ferrari, Repsol Honda, will survive with minimal disruption. The likes of Williams in F1, and many outfits in MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3, all the way down the motor sport pyramid I worry about.

I worry about the freelancers, inside and outside of broadcasting, who are out of work for at least the next month. I worry about championships who struggle to make a profit each year.

I appreciate this is a simplistic view of the world, and does not account for all factors (there are many indirect lines excluded).

The point I am getting at though is that the motor sport ecosystem will be seriously tested over the next few months, and the potential longer-term consequences for this sport do not bear thinking about…


Contribute to the running costs of Motorsport Broadcasting by donating via PayPal