From next year, the excellent BBC coverage of Formula One will be shared with Sky Sports. That means all the practice and qualifying sessions, plus the race itself can be only be seen on the pay channel, while only highlights will be available on the Beeb.
But at least the Radio 5 Live commentary will continue in all the Grands Prix next season.
Why the change? The BBC was forced to cut costs significantly and even though the coverage this season has been great with record numbers of television audience at every Grand Prix, the lost to ‘free-to-air’ broadcast is bad news for Formula One fans. There were rumours that it was heading back to ITV or possibly to Channel 4 and Five, but in the end it went to Sky.
I will certainly miss the in-depth analysis on the red button, plus the live broadcast on all the sessions available on the BBC Sport website. Can Sky Sports provide a better ‘show’? We shall see.
As for the deal, both the BBC and Sky are happy with the outcome.
BBC Sport director Barbara Slater said: “We are absolutely delighted that F1 will remain on the BBC.
“The sport has never been more popular with TV audiences at a ten-year high and the BBC has always stated its commitment to the big national sporting moments.
“With this new deal not only have we delivered significant savings but we have also ensured that through our live and extended highlights coverage all the action continues to be available to licence-fee payers.”
Barney Francis, the managing director of Sky Sports, said: “This is fantastic news for F1 fans and Sky Sports will be the only place to follow every race live and in HD.
“We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television.”
This is a sad day for true Formula One enthusiasts. Even though I have a Sky subscription (High Definition), I don’t think it is good value for money to watch twenty races next year, even with advert breaks!
Which means I have to resort to the radio and some kind of television feed available on the interweb to get my racing action.