Sky Sports will continue to broadcast Formula 1 across key European territories in forthcoming seasons, the two parties have today (September 30th) confirmed.
In the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Sky will air Formula 1 until the end of the 2029 season, a five-year extension to their existing deal which was set to expire at the end of 2024.
Further afield in Europe, the broadcaster has extended their rights agreements with F1 in Italy and Germany until the end of 2027. Deals in both territories were set to expire at the end of this season.
The deal includes broadcast rights to Formula Two, Formula Three and the Porsche Supercup.
Live coverage of the home race, and highlights of all other races, will remain available on a free-to-air basis. This is the same as the current UK deal, but an increased level of exclusivity for Sky in Italy and Germany, with fewer races available live on a free-to-air basis.
As part of the new agreement, F1 TV’s premium-level offering, which allowed fans access to live action, will no longer be available to fans in Germany.
F1 says that, from 2023, viewers watching via Sky will have an “improved multi-screen and second-screen option, tracking their favourite driver’s position on the circuit or selecting a driver’s on-board camera.”
The wording here indicates that UK fans will not have access to F1 TV, a source of contention for some fans in the UK. However, it is possible that the experience via Sky’s improved options will be on parity with that offered by F1 TV.
Formula 1’s president and CEO Stefano Domenicali said “We are incredibly proud of our long-term partnership with Sky, and we are delighted to announce that we will continue working together until 2029, a very important commitment from Sky.”
“Since the beginning of our relationship in 2012 we have both strived to bring the excitement, emotion, and drama of Formula 1 to our traditional fans while engaging new and more diverse audiences. Formula 1 has seen huge growth in recent years, and I can’t think of a better partner to continue to reach our fans with dedicated, expert and in-depth coverage.”
Sky not only brings fans live coverage but a range of behind-the-scenes access and content that brings F1 to life. We are hugely excited about the future of the partnership and the journey of Formula 1.”
Stephen van Rooyen, Executive Vice President & CEO, Sky UK & Europe, added “Every race. Every moment. Every twist and turn. All exclusively live on Sky for years to come!”
“Formula 1 continues to break records on Sky, with millions more watching than ever before across our markets, driven by new younger and female fans which is fantastic for the sport. More than 80 countries will continue to enjoy our world class analysis and content of one of the most exhilarating sports in the world.”
While Sky Sports will continue to broadcast F1 in the UK until 2029, it is unclear whether Channel 4 will remain involved from a free-to-air perspective following the conclusion of the 2022 season.
The broadcaster, which has aired Formula 1 on free-to-air television since 2016, issued a “no comment” statement when asked by this site whether they will continue to cover F1 next season.
Announcement in the making for some time
Motorsport Broadcasting understands that the announcement has been in the making for some time. The extension is not a surprise to this writer, who accurately predicted the timing of the announcement back in July 2021.
F1 and Sky were originally set to announce the extension on the Friday of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, however both parties agreed to delay the announcement following the death of Queen Elizabeth II the evening before.
Sky have made moves in recent months to lock in long-term deals in the UK: Scottish football (2029), England cricket (2028) and PGA Tour golf (multi-year) some of the most recent extensions, however the F1 extension is their most high profile yet.
By the end of 2029, Sky will have broadcast 18 F1 championships and close to 400 races live on their F1 channel, compared with 12 full seasons on ITV and 22 full seasons on the BBC (19 under the ‘Grand Prix’ banner and 3 from 2009 to 2011).
While Sky’s F1 viewing figures in the UK largely plateaued when coverage of half the races also aired across the BBC and later Channel 4, their viewing figures have surged in recent years.
The broadcaster was the beneficiary of a titanic championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen last year, while also benefiting from Netflix’s Drive to Survive season, increasing their younger audience.
The positive trajectory has continued for Sky in the UK into 2022, with the British Grand Prix in July recording Sky’s highest ever audience for the home round.
Sky say that their audiences are skewing younger than in previous years, their offering also attracting more women to F1.
F1 audience statistics
Sky UK and Ireland
- Average audience for 2022: 1.7 million (up 60% since 2019)
- 4.3m new viewers to Sky Sports F1 since 2019, of which 1.7m were women
- 4 of the top 5 most watched races ever on Sky during 2022
- Average audience for 2022: 1.5 million (up 20% since 2021)
- Most watched Grand Prix in Italian pay-TV history was Saudi Arabia with 1.937 million viewers
- Average audience up 24% since 2021
- Half of new viewers aged under 35
- 40% of new viewers overall are women
- Most watched Grand Prix was Saudi Arabia with 1.38 million viewers
Sky will be hoping the Drive to Survive halo continues into future seasons, as their new deals with F1 come into effect.
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