Scheduling: The 2020 Belgian Grand Prix

Six down, eleven to go…

The legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium plays host to round seven of the 2020 Formula One season, and the start of the third triple header.

The big news from a UK perspective is that Channel 4 are back in the paddock on foreign soil, with Steve Jones and David Coulthard reporting on-location throughout the weekend.

Most of Sky’s coverage from Spa also airs on Sky Sports Main Event, including four out of the five F1 sessions.

Elsewhere, a packed weekend of sport across ITV’s portfolio of channels means that the latest British Touring Car Championship round from Knockhill airs live on ITV2.

The start of the Tour de France occupies ITV4, with horse racing coverage on ITV3, meaning ITV2 is the next best thing for BTCC. As usual, ITV have opted to show repeats on their main channel, in this instance an old Bond film and a Marple repeat.

Speedway returns to BT Sport this weekend, with the start of the Grand Prix season. The season starts with a double-header event in Poland.

Although the Belgium weekend promises to be action filled, there will also be an air of poignancy over the Spa paddock, as we remember Anthoine Hubert, one year on from the accident that claimed his life.

Channel 4 F1
29/08 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying Highlights
30/08 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
28/08 – 09:30 to 11:50 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 10:00 – Practice 1
28/08 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
29/08 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
29/08 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
30/08 – 12:30 to 17:00 – Race
=> 12:30 – Grand Prix Sunday (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag

Supplementary Programming
29/08 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
02/09 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
28/08 – 09:55 to 11:55 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
28/08 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
28/08 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
29/08 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
29/08 – 13:55 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
29/08 – 14:30 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live)
30/08 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

British Touring Car Championship – Knockhill (ITV2)
30/08 – 10:40 to 17:50 – Races

Formula Two – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
28/08 – 11:50 to 12:45 – Practice
28/08 – 15:55 to 16:30 – Qualifying
29/08 – 15:35 to 16:55 – Race 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
30/08 – 10:00 to 11:05 – Race 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)

Formula Three – Austria (Sky Sports F1)
28/08 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
28/08 – 13:00 to 13:45 – Qualifying
29/08 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
30/08 – 08:35 to 09:35 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Gateway (Sky Sports F1)
29/08 – 20:00 to 23:00 – Race 1
30/08 – 20:00 to 23:00 – Race 2

Porsche Supercup – Spain (Sky Sports F1)
30/08 – 11:20 to 12:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)

Speedway Grand Prix – Poland
28/08 – 17:30 to 21:15 – Races – Round 1 (BT Sport 1)
29/08 – 17:45 to 21:15 – Races – Round 2 (BT Sport 2)

Virgin Australia Supercars – Townsville (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
29/08 – 06:30 to 08:00 – Race 1
30/08 – 04:15 to 05:30 – Race 2

World Superbikes – Aragon
Also airs live on World Superbikes’ Video Pass (£)
28/08 – 09:30 to 10:30 – Practice 1 (Eurosport 2)
28/08 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2 (Eurosport 2)
29/08 – 09:45 to 12:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
29/08 – 12:30 to 15:00 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
30/08 – 09:45 to 15:00 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
01/09 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

If schedules change, this post will be amended.

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Scheduling: The 2020 Indianapolis 500

“And we go green for the 500!”

There may be no fans in attendance, but the Indianapolis 500 promises to remain a spectacle on the circuit as 33 cars head into turn one for the start of the famous race.

The race itself begins in a primetime slot for UK fans at 19:30, later than in previous years owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marco Andretti followed in the footsteps of grandfather Mario, taking pole position last Sunday. Can he convert that to race victory this Sunday?

As they did last year, Sky Sports F1 are taking NBC’s stateside offering, with Leigh Diffey leading the commentary alongside the likes of Townsend Bell.

Sky are supplementing NBC’s commentary with their own commentary during the US ad-breaks. Tom Gaymor joins Formula Two lead commentator Alex Jacques to discuss the action from the UK.

Elsewhere, MotoGP concludes its triple-header of races with a second race weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

Closer to home, the British Touring Car Championship heads to Oulton Park, with the action starting on ITV4 slightly later than usual at 11:50 on Sunday.

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 (Sky Sports F1)
21/08 – 16:00 to 18:30 – Carb Day Practice
23/08 – 18:00 to 23:00 – Race

MotoGP – Styria (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
21/08 – 08:00 to 10:45 – Practice 1
21/08 – 12:00 to 15:00 – Practice 2
22/08 – 08:00 to 15:15
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
23/08 – 07:30 to 15:00
=> 07:30 – Warm Ups
=> 09:15 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Styria (Quest)
24/08 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

British Superbikes – Snetterton
22/08 – 13:00 to 18:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
23/08 – 13:00 to 18:00 – Races 2 and 3 (Eurosport 2)
26/08 – 19:30 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

British Touring Car Championship – Oulton Park (ITV4)
23/08 – 11:50 to 18:35 – Races

DTM – Lausitzring
22/08 – 12:15 to 14:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 1)
23/08 – 09:45 to 10:15 – Qualifying (BT Sport/ESPN)
23/08 – 12:15 to 14:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)

As always, I will update this article if broadcasters change their plans.

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News round-up: Study published into “excessive alcohol advertisements” during F1 races; Alonso docuseries to premiere in September

In the round-up, a leading university has published findings looking at alcoholic content during F1 broadcasts, whilst two big documentaries are hitting the airwaves this September…

Where possible, Motorsport Broadcasting endeavours to link directly to the original source instead of linking to a third-party site that may have misinterpreted the original headline.

The round-up gives a bite sized view of the latest news making the waves, as well as interesting snippets that I have picked up along the way.

All the round-ups to date are located here, and as always, all feedback on the site, positive and negative, is more than welcome.

Formula 1

  • The University of Nottingham has published a paper looking at advertising of alcoholic products during Formula 1 coverage on Channel 4.
    • Unsurprisingly their research, which focuses on the 2018 season, finds that young people “are being exposed to excessive alcohol advertisements during televised sporting events,” which they believe could lead to increased consumption for children.
    • The research shows that F1 is heavily reliant on brands such as Heineken and Johnnie Walker, with 56 percent of Channel 4’s F1 broadcasts containing some form of alcoholic content during one-minute intervals of race footage.
    • “Our study clearly shows that alcohol content was highly prevalent throughout the 2018 F1 Championship broadcasts,” study author Dr Alex Barker said. “This is worrying given the young viewers this branded content would have reached.”
    • “Previous research has already shown that advertising of this kind can lead to alcohol consumption in young people, and this is one of many sporting events that uses advertising in this way. We would urge Ofcom to consider the implications of this, and whether restrictions need to be put on this kind of advertising.”
  • For those not watching, Formula Two’s World Feed has featured a raft of commentators this season.
    • Alex Brundle (Austria, Britain, and Spain), Matt Gallagher (Styria), Alice Powell (Hungary) and Peter Windsor (70th Anniversary) have all stepped into the hot seat alongside lead commentator Alex Jacques.
  • Viewing figures for the feeder series have surged in the UK since the start of the 2020 season according to consolidated audience data from BARB for the TV set.
    • At its peak, an average audience of 177,000 viewers watched the Formula Two feature race during the British Grand Prix weekend on Sky Sports F1, a significant increase on the equivalent race last year which failed to make Sky F1’s top 15.
    • More recently, 141,000 viewers watched the feature race during the 70th Anniversary weekend. The sprint race on Sunday morning failed to make Sky F1’s top 15 however, this a likely result of the audience being split across Sky’s F1 channel and Sky Sports Main Event.
  • Formula 1 is to live stream coverage of the Eifel Grand Prix on YouTube across several territories this October.
    • All three practice sessions, qualifying and the race itself will air live on the platform in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. The deal is in addition to their existing rights deals in place within those territories.
    • F1 says the partnership is an opportunity “to give back to those fans” who would have attended the Nürburgring round, but cannot due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Tomos Grace, YouTube’s Head of Sport in the EMEA territories, said “70% of Formula 1’s YouTube audience is under the age of 35. Sports broadcasters and organisers increasingly recognise YouTube’s ability to reach these new audiences and generate incremental revenue.”
  • The long-awaited documentary series focusing on seventy years of Formula 1 will premiere from September 12th, as first reported by RaceFans in Summer 2019.
    • Race to Perfection will air exclusively for UK fans on Sky and Now TV, with the series also being made available to TV channels and streaming services worldwide via NBCUniversal Global Distribution, although further concrete details are unavailable – including whether it will be available to subscribers of F1 TV.
    • The series interviewed over 40 of F1’s biggest names, with new archive footage contained within the seven episodes. Full synopsis details are available on the Sky F1 website.
  • A recent survey on F1 Fan Voice has hinted at some documentaries that F1 are looking to produce in the forthcoming months and years.
    • The choices on offer include an origin style series based off Netflix’s Drive to Survive; a ‘Last Dance‘ style series focusing on the 2021 season; and a Bernie Ecclestone biopic.
  • F1 has extended their rights deal with AMC Network in Czech Republic and Slovakia to broadcast the sport until the end of 2023.
    • The action will remain on Sport1 and Sport2, with every session covered live. In addition, fans will be able to access F1 TV Pro for the first time, the platform launching in those territories prior to the 2021 season.


  • A five-part documentary following two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso premieres on Amazon Prime across 240 territories on September 25th.
    • The series, produced by Madrid company The Mediapro Studio, sees the team follow Alonso as he embarks on the Indianapolis 500, Le Mans 24 Hours and the Dakar Rally.
    • “Fernando has been one more challenge in my career, a commitment with myself and with the public to show the work, the sacrifice and the high requirement that implies competition at the first worldwide level, as none of this never transcends beyond the circuits,” Alonso said. “Only two companies with the experience of The Mediapro Studio and Amazon Prime Video could make it possible with a powerful storytelling and global reach.”
  • Formula E has launched a talent call aimed at 18 to 24-year olds to join their presentation team for season seven.
    • The series will whittle candidates down to four finalised, who will “be assigned experienced mentors and receive professional media training,” with the winner joining the team from the season opener in Santiago in January.
    • The competition, open to residents of the UK, Germany, and France, closes on 12th September.
  • Meanwhile, the electric series will air live on free-to-air television in Germany for season seven on SAT. 1, taking advantage of F1’s recent decision to move to pay television in the territory.
  • Stateside, MotoGP debuted on NBC to 527,000 viewers on Sunday 19th July, beating both IndyCar races that weekend.
    • The two IndyCar races that weekend aired live in primetime, but on NBC’s sister station NBCSN, to an audience of 356,000 viewers and 334,000 viewers.
    • Things have improved for IndyCar recently, with live coverage of Indianapolis 500 qualifying on NBC averaging 824,000 viewers and 933,000 viewers this past weekend, beating the Spanish Grand Prix on ESPN earlier that morning.
  • BT Sport are continuing to cover MotoGP from Triumph’s HQ in Hinckley. Keep an eye on Motorsport Broadcasting over the coming weeks for behind the scenes content from Triumph…

If you have spotted anything else making the rounds that I have yet to mention on this site, drop a line in the comments section below.

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Scheduling: The 2020 Spanish Grand Prix

After Max Verstappen’s shock victory at Silverstone, Formula 1 heads to Spain to complete their second triple header of the season.

Channel 4 are remaining in the UK for the next hurdle of races. After basing themselves at Silverstone’s Experience Centre for the first three rounds, the team move to the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking for this weekend’s race.

Over on 5 Live F1, Jack Nicholls is back in the booth after Marc Priestley substituted for him last weekend while he was out in Berlin covering Formula E.

Elsewhere, the World Endurance Championship returns with three races between now and November to complete the 2019-20 season.

The action from Spa airs live in full behind BT Sport’s Red Button, with the opening and closing phases of the race also airing on Eurosport 1.

The weekend also marks the start of the Indianapolis 500, with qualifying airing across the weekend on Sky Sports F1.

Understandably given other scheduling clashes, coverage is less than in previous years, with four of the 7.5 hours airing live on Sky, Sky taking a simulcast of America’s main NBC broadcast.

Channel 4 F1
15/08 – 19:30 to 21:00 – Qualifying Highlights
16/08 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
14/08 – 09:30 to 11:50
=> 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
=> 10:00 – Practice 1
14/08 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2
15/08 – 10:45 to 12:10 – Practice 3
15/08 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying
16/08 – 12:30 to 17:00 – Race
=> 12:30 – Grand Prix Sunday (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag

Supplementary Programming
14/08 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
19/08 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
13/08 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
16/08 – 14:00 to 16:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

MotoGP – Austria (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
14/08 – 08:00 to 10:45 – Practice 1
14/08 – 12:00 to 15:00 – Practice 2
15/08 – 08:45 to 15:15
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
16/08 – 07:30 to 14:30
=> 07:30 – Warm Ups
=> 09:15 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Austria (Quest)
17/08 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

Formula Two – Spain (Sky Sports F1)
14/08 – 11:50 to 12:40 – Practice
14/08 – 15:55 to 16:30 – Qualifying
15/08 – 15:35 to 16:55 – Race 1
16/08 – 10:00 to 11:05 – Race 2

Formula Three – Spain (Sky Sports F1)
14/08 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Practice
14/08 – 13:00 to 13:45 – Qualifying
15/08 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
16/08 – 08:35 to 09:35 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
15/08 – 20:00 to 22:00 – Day 1
16/08 – 18:00 to 20:00 – Day 2

Porsche Supercup – Spain (Sky Sports F1)
16/08 – 11:20 to 12:05 – Race

Virgin Australia Supercars – Darwin
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
15/08 – 06:45 to 08:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 3)
16/08 – 04:30 to 05:45 – Race 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)
16/08 – 06:45 to 08:00 – Race 3 (BT Sport/ESPN)

World Endurance Championship – 6 Hours of Spa
15/08 – 12:00 to 19:00 – Race (BT Sport Extra 1)
15/08– 12:15 to 13:30 – Race Start (Eurosport 1)
15/08– 16:30 to 19:00 – Race Finish (Eurosport 1)

This article will be updated if plans change.

Update on August 15th – For the first time since their coverage started in 2012, Simon Lazenby is not with Sky for the action, with Natalie Pinkham stepping into his presenting shoes for the weekend.

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F1 and Sky exploring F1 TV Pro options for UK fans from 2021

Formula 1 and Sky are exploring making the premium tier of their over-the-top platform available to UK fans from 2021, but only to Sky Q subscribers, a survey from F1 reveals.

Since F1 launched their over-the-top platform back in 2018, UK fans have only had access to the basic tier, F1 TV Access. The basic tier allows fans to delve into F1’s rich archive, but crucially prevented fans from watching live content.

The only way to watch live content on F1 TV is by subscribing to the premium tier F1 TV Pro, which is currently geo-blocked to fans in the UK. Sky hold exclusive television rights until the end of 2024, with free-to-air highlights and live coverage of the British Grand Prix sub-let to Channel 4.

What does 2021 hold?
Now, a new survey issued through Formula 1’s official online community for fans, F1 Fan Voice, suggests that UK fans may receive access to F1 TV Pro as early as 2021.

However, F1 has tailored the survey towards fans thoughts towards receiving F1 content exclusively via Sky Q, a statement which encompasses F1 TV Pro.

“F1 TV Pro is F1’s live and on-demand owned and operated direct-to-consumer application which includes every GP live, archive races, original content and support races,” one part of the survey reads.

“If F1 were to make F1 TV Pro available to Sky Q customers only, here are some of the features that would be made available exclusively through Sky Q…,” the survey continues.

Features such as live on-board content, which F1 TV Pro subscribers can access, would require a Sky Q subscription for UK fans to access. The survey asks whether fans would be willing to subscribe to Sky Q, and whether they would pay £25.00 a month to access.

Sky Q is Sky’s newest product, allowing customers to record up to six programmes at once. The product supports 4K and HDR, and integrates with apps such as Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube.

If this comes to fruition, it means fans hoping to ‘cut the cord’ to watch F1 live will have no choice but to subscribe to Sky Q.

F1 TV Pro would sit on top of Sky’s existing F1 offering, as opposed to alongside it. From a business perspective, it makes perfect sense for Sky, although it clearly limits F1’s ability to reach new fans in the UK.

How the UK development stacks up versus other territories
Hiding F1 TV Pro behind a pay TV wall, as opposed to a digital wall, is starting to become a trend, and not a trend that is likely to boost Formula 1’s reach in the longer term.

In June, F1 and Sky revealed that F1 TV Pro will only be available to Sky Sport subscribers in Germany from 2021 onwards, Sky having agreed an exclusive partnership in that territory through to the end of 2024, with free-to-air broadcaster RTL exiting the sport after this season.

Speaking to BlackBook Motorsport before the start of the season, F1’s Global Head of Digital and Licencing Frank Arthofer alluded to the possibility of similar deals being struck elsewhere.

“Going forward, there’s clearly a lot more we can do. On F1 TV we have an opportunity to tell more stories now that we have a more stable technical platform that really goes deep inside the sport, and we know that’s an avid fanbase,” he said.

“Equally, as we think about distribution, there’s probably more we can do with F1 TV alongside our core broadcasters. We announced that in the Sky Germany deal we’ll work together on F1 TV, and I think that may serve as a template for additional markets going forward.”

The UK news is not surprising, however as F1 considers more deals such as, the pricing disparity for F1 TV between different territories increases every further.

In America, fans can watch F1 TV Pro for $9.99 per month. Closer to home, residents of France can access F1 TV Pro for €7.99 per month, yet F1 fans in Germany and UK from next year may need to pay substantially more to access the same content.

Why should a fan in Germany or the UK not feel ripped off at paying three times the price (if not more) for an identical offering?

A two-tier fanbase?
I worry that F1 risks creating themselves a two-tier fanbase in countries such as the UK. Person A subscribes to everything because they can afford it, Person B on the other hand watches the free-to-air offering combined with highlights on YouTube, because they are not as fortunate.

Person B is not less passionate, but circumstances (maybe out of their hand) prevent them from joining Person A.

We want F1 to become more diverse, hence #WeRaceAsOne, which Arthofer says F1 coined before the 2020 season started, but COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter accelerated F1’s plans.

In my view, hiding your key digital asset behind a pay TV wall contradicts the overall strategy that F1 is trying to achieve. Some of the demographics F1 wants to attract to become more diverse may live in communities where deprivation is higher than average, and where pay TV is not the norm.

The two natural paths should be free-to-air to F1 TV Pro, or free-to-air to pay TV. Instead, it appears the only path will be free-to-air to pay TV, and onto F1 TV Pro.

Sky are a business, and if this comes to fruition, I do not blame them for this one, they are protecting the asset that they bought for a reported £1 billion over seven years.

However, F1 risks locking a future generation out of the sport – now more than ever considering recent developments. To quote a recent political phrase, albeit the other way around, F1 risks in the UK being a sport that caters for the few, not the many.

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