World Rally Championship highlights to return to ITV4 in “multi-year” deal

Highlights of the World Rally Championship will return to ITV4 in a “multi-year” deal, securing the free-to-air future of the series, Motorsport Broadcasting can confirm.

The series aired in highlights form on ITV4 from 2013 to 2015, before moving to Channel 5 in 2016, with an audience of around 300,000 viewers enjoying the rallying action on the network.

Although good for rallying, the average audience on Channel 5 for WRC was below the slot average, with question marks hanging over the free-to-air rights prior to the 2019 season.

Free-to-air viewers missed action from the 2019 Monte Carlo Rally as a result, however a deal was struck to keep WRC on the Channel 5 network from round two onwards, this time on sister network 5Spike.

Now, organisers have confirmed to this site that the series will return to ITV4 this season, with highlights airing predominantly on Tuesday evenings at 20:00.

As with Channel 5’s previous deal, ITV4 will also air live coverage of the Power Stage from the Wales Rally GB and daily highlights of that event.

All Live to remain on BT Sport platform
WRC’s existing arrangements with pay-TV broadcaster BT Sport remain the same, with live coverage and event highlights airing across BT’s linear channels.

In addition, as in 2019, BT will again show every stage live via their Red Button service, the broadcaster taking WRC’s All Live service.

WRC’s over-the-top All Live platform returns for a third season with the Monte Carlo Rally from Thursday 23rd January, priced at £7.69 per month, or £76.97 across the year based on current conversion figures.

Coverage of the Wales Rally GB remains on S4C, whilst Red Bull TV will continue to air highlights and live coverage of one Saturday stage from each event.


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Motorsport Broadcasting: Your 2019 Verdict

The chequered flag has fallen on another year of Formula 1, and with it the end of the 2019 motor racing season.

Despite both MotoGP and F1 having a relatively predictable outcome, the journey to the destination has been enticing throughout. From the thrilling German Grand Prix on four wheels, to Alex Rins beating Marc Marquez at Silverstone by milometers on two wheels, there was something for everyone this year.

Off track, 2019 has been a year of change for fans of F1 in the UK. Live coverage of the sport aired exclusively on Sky Sports for the first time ever, following in the footsteps of MotoGP which moved to BT in 2014. Only the British Grand Prix aired live on free-to-air television.

In the social media space, F1 continues to make excellent strides in an ever-changing world, whilst others have had to rethink their strategy to work out how best to engage with their audience.

Now, Motorsport Broadcasting wants your opinion on the past twelve months. Which personality has shone in 2019 and deserves a bigger presence in 2020? What was the low-light from a broadcasting perspective for you this season? And, if there was one thing you could change next season, what would it be?

As always, the best thoughts will form an article on this site over the festive period.


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‘To buy or not to buy’: BT Sport through Sky

As many of you who have followed this site in recent months will be aware, I am officially a homeowner. Which comes with it, some responsibilities. Namely, trying to get the best motor sport content at the cheapest price! Better said than done, of course…

For years I have talked about ‘doing the sums’ across the pay television landscape, now I am doing the sums for real. Where there is only one legal option, the route is clear, but where there are multiple legal routes, the waters become muddy very quickly.

My main priority is to watch Formula 1 live and, as this site analysed earlier in the year, Sky is increasingly cheaper in this respect than rivals Virgin Media. I went with an 18-month offer bundling Sports, Entertainment, Broadband and Netflix together with a Sky Q 1 TB box.

Sky’s broadband option I admit is not the greatest, but a month in and so far, so good. The frustration in the broadband space is that the pricing of Sky, Virgin and BT is more expensive than what it should be, but that is a discussion for another day.

This all leads me to one question: how do I consume the motor racing content that BT Sport currently airs? BT Sport’s motor sport portfolio comprises of the following:

  • MotoGP
  • Supercars
  • World Endurance Championship (excluding Le Mans)
  • World Rally Championship

Sitting below the top four are several other lower-tier championships, such as the Euroformula Series and the International GT Open.

BT Sport have MotoGP secure until the end of 2021, whilst the current World Endurance Championship season (which BT are airing) finishes in June next year.

Although there is no news yet on either Supercars or the World Rally Championship for 2020, expect both to remain on BT Sport.

Pleasingly, all four have an over-the-top offering that is not geo-blocked for UK fans, meaning consumers have a genuine choice. Do you go with BT Sport via Sky and ignore the over-the-top option, or do you cut the cord and go straight to the promoter? It is time to find out…

Note: This is based on my own personal circumstances, taking BT Sport through Sky. If you are taking BT Sport via BT TV or Virgin Media, the calculations will differ, but you could use my calculations as a baseline. And, as always, prices are subject to change.

BT Sport via Sky
If I wanted to watch BT Sport via Sky, normally I would be looking at a cost of either £379.88 (standard definition), or £438.38 (high definition) across the year. Those figures are based on the current standard pricing for BT Sport, which is £29.99 a month, as well as £20.00 upfront. If you want BT Sport in HD, expect to pay an additional £6.50 for month 4 onwards.

These prices are likely to rise over forthcoming months, after the broadcaster agreed a £1.2 billion deal to retain exclusive rights to Europe’s biggest club football competitions.

For the here and now, BT currently has a Black Friday offer, that allows you to watch all of BT Sport’s content in standard definition for as little as £20.00 a month. This comes to £260.00 (standard definition), or £318.50 (high definition) across the year, a saving of over £100 on BT’s normal pricing.

By subscribing to BT Sport via Sky, you also get access to BT Sport’s app, allowing you to watch your favourite content on the move away from the television screen.

From the outset, BT’s Black Friday offer feels like an instant grab. But, how does the combined cost of over-the-top compare with BT’s pricing?

Over-the-top – the ‘musts’
Again, this all depends on your own personal circumstances, and what you like or dislike. MotoGP is easily top of the tree for me, with the World Rally Championship following in behind.

Both the World Endurance Championship and the Supercars are nice to have, but neither are top of the list unfortunately (sorry).

> October 2016: Looking at MotoGP’s Video Pass
> April 2018: A quick fire guide to your motor racing streaming services for 2018
> September 2018: Behind the scenes with BT Sport’s MotoGP production team (1, 2)
> October 2018: How All Live is changing the face of rallying (1, 2, 3)

MotoGP’s over-the-top offering has stayed at €199.99 for the past few years now, but with a record 20 races on the 2020 calendar, there is a good chance that number could rise. UK readers are looking at a cost of around £171.73 across the season.

What BT offers MotoGP fans, and what MotoGP themselves offer fans are two different things. MotoGP’s over-the-top service offers fans access to their rich archive dating back to 2002, as well as a variety of camera angles, and insights from the likes of Steve Day and Matt Birt.

However, BT’s coverage offers additional colour to the MotoGP World Feed that Dorna themselves do not provide. BT’s coverage contains in-depth analysis from Neil Hodgson and Gavin Emmett, with Suzi Perry steering the ship.

2019 was the second year for World Rally Championship’s All Live service, clocking in at €89.99 across the season, or £77.27 for UK fans.

In a change for 2019, series organisers agreed a new deal with BT Sport, allowing BT to take the All Live offering and air it behind the Red Button. It is unknown if that will continue into 2020, again I would be surprised if it did not.

Assuming BT Sport continue to offer the All Live offering, the main differences between the two in my view play out in BT’s favour. WRC’s All Live platform only allows you to playback the All Live offering from the latest weekend, which I find somewhat odd if you want to catch-up with the action from earlier in the season.

To the contrary, All Live allows you to jump on-board with your favourite driver outside of the main feed, a feature currently unavailable to BT Sport viewers.

Combined, MotoGP and WRC’s over-the-top apps is set to cost UK fans £249.00 in 2020, compared with the £260.00 (standard definition) that BT Sport is offering for their portfolio of channels as part of the Black Friday bonanza.

At this point, you really must weigh up the difference of £11.00, whether you care about the picture quality (in which case, go for the apps), or care about the additional sports in BT’s portfolio.

Aside from motor sport, I do watch a bit of football and am a wrestling fan (which becomes more important from a BT perspective, with WWE moving over from January 2020).

Over-the-top – the ‘maybes’
Elsewhere, WEC’s over-the-top app puts you back £29.19 for the remainder of the 2019-20 season, whilst Supercars over in Australia will cost you £31.70, a total of £60.89.

Critically though, both apps give you a lot more than what BT offers, with additional feeds and qualifying, whereas BT only offers you the race itself, which is worth bearing in mind if you are mad into your Supercars or endurance racing.

A slight pain for me is that I would need to Chromecast to watch on the television set, if I was to go down the over-the-top route.

Combined, the cost of all four apps come to £309.89, a not so insignificant amount. If you are reading this during the Black Friday period, BT overall is a better proposition at £260.00 (standard definition), or £318.50 (high definition) across the year.

However, once BT’s Black Friday offer ends, their prices will increase again to £379.88 (standard definition), or £438.38 (high definition), putting them far behind the over-the-top competition.

What did I do?
I gambled and went with BT Sport’s Black Friday offer, which I feel is good value for money compared to the combined price of the MotoGP and the World Rally Championship apps.

Yes, the picture quality is standard definition, but I have the option to upgrade later if I want to. For me, picture quality is not the be all and end all, there is no guarantee for one that the over-the-top quality will be good all year round.

Clearly time will tell as to whether I made the right move. I think the chances of WRC and Supercars moving elsewhere are slim, but you never know.

Everyone is different, and there is no one size fits all answer at all here. If you are subscribing to more than one over-the-top platform in the motor sport space, I would advise looking at the Black Friday deals that are out there in the pay-TV world, because chances are you will be able to save some money, or add a ton of content with little additional cost and discard of your existing over-the-top subscriptions.

If you are reading this post after the Black Friday deals, unless you can haggle the pay-TV provider in question, you probably are better off staying off with over-the-top, for the moment at least.

It is only with BT’s current motor sports portfolio where this choice exists. Neither IndyCar or F1, which air live on Sky, have an over-the-top offering that is available to UK fans. If F1 made their premium-tier subscription available to UK fans tomorrow, the game would change again.

Have you seen any deals in the pay-TV landscape that you are planning to take advantage of? Have your say in the comments below.

Pricing and information correct as of November 24th, 2019, and based on the 2019 season where applicable. Pricing is subject to change.


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Scheduling: The 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

The championship race may be over, but the racing continues as Formula 1 heads to Interlagos in Brazil for the penultimate round of the 2019 season.

Unusually, the race on Sunday faces tough sporting competition in the form of England’s last Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo. The match kicks off at 17:00 live on ITV, whilst the Grand Prix starts at 17:10 on Sky.

Although England themselves have already qualified for the tournament next Summer, expect the football to put a significant dent in F1’s audience figures.

Elsewhere, both the World Rally Championship and MotoGP series conclude in Australia and Valencia respectively, the latter airing live on BT Sport 1 for the season finale instead of its usual BT Sport 2 home.

Fans of the annual Macau Grand Prix will need to look elsewhere for viewing options, with no UK TV channel currently airing the race (last year the race aired live on Eurosport).

Channel 4 F1
16/11 – 22:50 to 00:20 – Qualifying Highlights
17/11 – 22:30 to 00:30 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
15/11 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 1
15/11 – 17:45 to 19:45 – Practice 2
16/11 – 14:45 to 16:30
=> 14:45 – Practice 3
=> 16:10 – Paddock Walkabout
16/11 – 17:00 to 19:30 – Qualifying
=> 17:00 – Pre-Show
=> 17:55 – Qualifying
17/11 – 15:30 to 20:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event from 16:00)
=> 16:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 17:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 19:00 – Paddock Live
=> 20:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
14/11 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
14/11 – 18:00 to 18:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
15/11 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The Story so Far
16/11 – 19:30 to 20:00 – The F1 Show
20/11 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
15/11 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15/11 – 17:55 to 19:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15/11 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
16/11 – 17:55 to 19:10 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
17/11 – 17:00 to 19:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

MotoGP – Valencia
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
15/11 – 07:45 to 16:15 – Practice 1 and 2 (BT Sport 2)
16/11 – 08:00 to 16:00 (BT Sport 1)
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
=> 15:00 – MotoE: Race 1
17/11 – 07:15 to 14:30 (BT Sport 1)
=> 07:15 – Warm Ups
=> 08:45 – MotoE: Race 2
=> 09:30 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag
18/11 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights (Quest)

World Rally Championship – Australia (All Live – BT Sport Extra 1)
Also airs live on WRCPlus.com (£)
14/11 – 05:30 to 07:45 – Stages 1 and 2
14/11 – 21:45 to 07:00 – Stages 3 and 10
15/11 – 21:00 to 08:30 – Stages 11 to 19
16/11 – 19:00 to 04:00 – Stages 20 to 25

World Rally Championship – Australia
15/11 – 12:30 to 13:00 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
16/11 – 04:00 to 05:00 – Stage 16 (BT Sport 1)
16/11 – 12:15 to 12:45 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
16/11 – 21:30 to 22:30 – Stage 22 (BT Sport 1)
17/11 – 11:15 to 11:45 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
18/11 – 18:55 to 20:00 – Highlights (5Spike)

World Touring Car Cup – Macau (Eurosport)
15/11 – 05:30 to 07:00 – Qualifying
16/11 – 06:50 to 07:45 – Race 1
17/11 – 00:40 to 01:15 – Race 2
17/11 – 03:10 to 04:15 – Race 3

As always, the schedule will be updated if plans change.

Update on November 13th – The final round of the World Rally Championship season in Australia has been cancelled due to the rapidly spreading bush fires. On the F1 front, both BBC and Sky got their Friday and Saturday schedules out by an hour, I have updated this article with the revised schedule.

For readers looking for the action from Macau, that airs live on Motorsport.tv‘s online platform.


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Scheduling: The 2019 Mexican Grand Prix

Formula 1 heads west for the Mexican Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton could become a six-time Drivers’ Champion, only the second man in history behind Michael Schumacher to reach that milestone.

All the action airs exclusively live on Sky Sports, as Martin Brundle and Jenson Button re-join the team out in Mexico City. Karun Chandhok is absent from Sky’s offering, but fans of Chandhok will see Chandhok on-screen, as Chandhok recently drove this years’ championship winning Mercedes, in a feature that Sky are airing during the Mexico build-up.

David Coulthard is back with Channel 4, their highlights airing three hours after the respective sessions have finished. On the scheduling front for Sky, Porsche Supercup airs live over on Sky Sports Mix and the Red Button, but on tape-delay on Sky Sports F1, Sky opting to prioritise The F1 Show instead.

The 2019 season continues to wind down for some, Qatar plays host to the last race of the World Superbikes season, the action airing live on Friday and Saturday over on Eurosport.

NOTE: Clocks go back one hour on Sunday 28th October, with the change from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. The times listed are for BST on Saturday and before; GMT for Sunday and afterwards…

Channel 4 F1
26/10 – 22:45 to 00:15 – Qualifying Highlights
27/10 – 23:00 to 01:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
25/10 – 15:45 to 17:45 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
25/10 – 19:45 to 21:45 – Practice 2
26/10 – 15:45 to 17:10 – Practice 3 (also Sky Sports Main Event until 17:00)
26/10 – 18:00 to 20:30 – Qualifying
=> 18:00 – Pre-Show
=> 18:55 – Qualifying
27/10 – 17:30 to 22:30 – Race
=> 17:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 18:30 – On the Grid
=> 19:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 21:00 – Paddock Live
=> 22:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
24/10 – 17:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
24/10 – 21:00 to 16:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
25/10 – 22:30 to 23:00 – The Story so Far (also Sky Sports Main Event)
26/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Show (also Sky Sports Main Event)
30/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
24/10 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
25/10 – 15:55 to 17:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/10 – 15:55 to 17:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/10 – 18:55 to 20:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
27/10 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
=> Joins BBC Radio 5 Live in progress at 20:00

MotoGP – Australia (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
25/10 – 22:45 (Thursday night) to 06:15 – Practice 1 and 2
26/10 – 00:00 to 07:15
=> 00:00 – Practice 3
=> 03:00 – Qualifying
27/10 – 23:30 (BST) to 05:15 (GMT)
=> 23:30 (BST) – Warm Ups
=> 01:15 (BST) – Moto3
=> 02:00 (GMT) – Moto2
=> 03:30 (GMT) – MotoGP

MotoGP – Australia (Quest)
28/10 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

Porsche Supercup – Mexico
26/10 – 20:30 to 21:05 – Race 1 (Sky Sports Mix / Red Button)
=> airing on tape-delay on Sky Sports F1 at 21:00
27/10 – 16:15 to 16:50 – Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)

Virgin Australia Supercars – Gold Coast
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
26/10 – 05:00 to 08:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 1)
27/10 – 05:00 to 07:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)

World Rally Championship – Spain (All Live)
Also airs live on WRCPlus.com (£)
25/10 – 08:00 to 18:30 – Stages 1 to 6 (BT Sport Extra 1)
26/10 – 07:45 to 17:30 – Stages 7 to 13 (BT Sport Extra 2)
27/10 – 05:45 to 12:45 – Stages 14 to 17 (BT Sport Extra 2)

World Rally Championship – Spain
25/10 – 21:45 to 22:15 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 2)
26/10 – 09:30 to 10:30 – Stage 9 (BT Sport 3)
26/10 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
27/10 – 07:30 to 08:30 – Stage 15 (BT Sport/ESPN)
27/10 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Stage 17 [Power Stage] (BT Sport/ESPN)
27/10 – 22:30 to 23:00 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
28/10 – 18:55 to 20:00 – Highlights (5Spike)

World Superbikes – Qatar
Also airs live on World Superbikes’ Video Pass (£)
25/10 – 15:00 to 19:15 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
26/10 – 13:30 to 19:30 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
31/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

World Touring Car Cup – Japan
26/10 – 06:50 to 07:50 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
27/10 – 02:00 to 03:15 – Race 2 (Eurosport)
27/10 – 03:15 to 04:30 – Race 3 (Eurosport)

As always the article will be updated if plans change.


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