F1 on free TV could be phased out warns Ecclestone

sky tv televisionJun.8 (GMM) Free-to-air television coverage of Formula One could end in Britain, chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has indicated, following the announcement that Rupert Murdoch’s pay-channel Sky Italia will broadcast the sport in Italy in 2013.

A similar arrangement is already in place in Britain, where Sky shares the rights with the BBC’s now limited free-to-air coverage until 2018. The next step for Britain, Ecclestone suggested to F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, could be Sky getting the rights exclusively.

“We will never move all countries to pay-per-view only though it wouldn’t make any difference here in the UK,” said Ecclestone.

The 81-year-old said Sky already reaches about 10 million of Britain’s 25 million households.

“We don’t get 10m on the BBC, normally about 6m or 7m,” said Ecclestone. “The thing that TV stations want to buy most is live sport. People don’t want to watch delayed stuff because nowadays it’s hard not to know the result if you don’t want to.”

He said Sky has done “a super job” so far, adding that the BBC had become complacent.

“The Beeb were sure we wouldn’t be able to go anywhere else,” said Ecclestone.

Subbed by AJN.

  • Bec

    Sky (UK) is averaging 701k viewers per race.

    Sky may be in 10m households, but most of those do not subscribe to any pay channel, and only use it to watch the FTA services.

    Sky F1 channel Monaco GP viewing figures:

    LIVE MONACO GRAND PRIX (SUN 1130) 565 k
    LIVE MONACO GP QUALIFYING (SAT 1200) 388 k
    LIVE MONACO GP PRACTICE 3 (SAT 0945) 148 k
    LIVE MONACO GP PRACTICE 1 (THU 0845) 89 k
    LIVE MONACO GP PRACTICE 2 (THU 1245) 80 k

    As you can see Sky F1 has very low audience reach, and this is severely effecting the sponsors AVE rating.

  • Andy – London

    If the country didn’t value the Sports package due to the huge football following then I’m not sure if Sky F1 would even have half of those viewing figures.

    Sky have a very “circus” way of doing everything – Race Control is a joke, and it’s not really a sport that thrives on “couch-based chat” – people just want to see the action, and a little build up and a bit afterwards.

    Croft always talks right over Brundle – a trait of a radio commentator. He got so carried away during Monaco qualifying that he missed Schumachers lap – Brundle was trying to get a word in about the sector times but Croft was going on and on about Webber’s time.

    My ideal pairing of DC and Brundle have been split, so I tend to watch a bit of both if the BBC have the race live too. I’m sure if the BBC lose the rights completely then everyone apart from ‘BBC Bred’ Jake will go to Sky, and why not?

  • fools

    i hope to God that F-1 NEVER charges to watch live Grand Prix. That would really upset me.

    Why doesn’t Ecclestone just donate some money to teams. He don’t need it. I’m sure all these millionaires could too, too save the F-1 Sport

  • Ian

    Bec has hit the proverbial nail right on the head: Pay TV doesn’t get enough of an audience to satisfy all those F1 sponsors who are paying ridiculous sums to have their logos on the cars and at trackside. It never will get the audience that FTA TV does, especially at the exorbitant rates charged by SKY’s F1 channel. The BBC was doing a superb job of promoting F1 and only the usual greed-factor of the Commercial Rights Holder brought about this change. Watch the viewing figures plummet in Italy once SKY ITALIA takes over, and wait for the popular uproar from the Tifosi when they can’t see their beloved Ferraris without paying through the nose. How much money does Ecclestone need?