The BBC has shocked many an F1 fan by announcing a new TV rights deal shared with Sky Sports. Although the BBC will still show half the races live, everything else will be on Sky Sports, a subscription based channel, ending F1’s long association with being a free-to-air-sport.
But, are there any positives to come out of this deal? We’ve racked our brains a bit, and have tried to come up with a few.
Sky will devote more time to F1.
The BBC have a limited time to show F1. There’s practice sessions on the Red Button, and then just over two hours for qualifying and three for the race. So, that’s 5 hours of coverage on free-to-air telly. Sky Sports is a dedicated sports network, with 4 channels dedicated to sport, 24 hours a day. That’s really a no-brainer for us hardcore fans who want to watch it consistently. And there’d be no backlash from angry Antiques Roadshow lovers when a rainstorm delays a restart, a la Canada.
Lets take Sky’s football coverage. They dedicate quality time to matches, with coverage being second to none. It far outweighs BBC or ITV’s.
Now, imagine that money spent on Formula One – and it will be no expense spared – and probably rightly so if they want fans to be won over! Add that to extensive highlights, probable weekly discussion shows and highlights, and recaps on weekends off, you probably will be spending money on a better way to watch F1.
Prices may be steep. But there are other options.
OK, we realise that not everyone will want to to spend money on subscribing to Sky. We’ve worked out that to watch every race on HD, it’s going to cost Joe Average six hundred pounds. That’s roughly £30 for a race weekend. That, at the moment, is just too much, especially compared to just under £7 per race due to paying the licence fee – which you have to folks, it’s the law!
But, why not get around that fact?
There are free ways to watch. Yes, we said free. One is to watch online, but this can prove a little risky with some of the so-called streaming sites. We have found one – at www.filmon.com – that can provide you with free access to RTL, the German network that had F1 free until 2015. If you can understand fast, fluent German then this is the optino for you!
Most local pubs show Sky on a big screen for football, rugby, etc, why not F1 too? Think about it. Why not ring some mates up and go down to said pub, ask to put the F1 on, and watch with friends? It’s more sociable, more fun and you get to talk to other fans about the sport you love. If you’re a casual fan looking to watch the sport, where better than with a pint and a packet of pork scratchings? We’ve been doing it for Badger events, so why not hold your own – and attend ours too!
The last thing we can think of though is why not spend the money you would’ve spent on Sky and attend a live race?
Tickets are still available for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, a venue steeped in history that is always great fun for fans. You’ll get to see your favourite driver in the flesh and hear the roar of the engines live, something that sitting in either a pub or your front room can never recreate.
Let’s not forget how we got here in the first place.
The most important thing about the Sky deal is to realise just how much of a corner the BBC have been painted in to. The current government has frozen the license fee for the next 6 years, a move that hindered the BBC’s growth and made it look at what needed to be cut back. And, the BBC is a massive, muti-channel, multi-coporate business that has many other areas and aspects to cover with a budget that is now frozen. We as F1 fans are lucky that we haven’t paid for sport for so long, in consideration, it’s the last bastion of free sport left.
It’s a new dawn for F1, one that’s had an initial reaction of raw anger for having to spend money on something that was cost-free for so many years. The main positive to look at is that the sport is still accessible and it’s secure for the next 7 years – it’s not the end of the world.