Formula 1 entered its summer break after last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix giving us time to reflect on the season so far, at this instance, the refocus of broadcasters back on the sport itself.
As the wind blows the tumbleweed across the empty car parks of the ghost town Formula 1 factories emptied by the enforced annual leave of absence, it is a good opportunity to navel gaze and reflect on the season that has been to date, the good and the bad.
Regrettably for readers, what the break means is an arduous three weeks ahead for them void of interesting and exciting news that has been replaced with the typical and boringly generic mid-season reviews and rankings, the stuff that is usually so mind-blowing that it forces you to fall asleep.
Well, guess what? The team at GrandPrix247, myself included, will endeavor to keep offering our readers with interesting material to survive the draught over the coming weeks, that is until the F1 cars are fired up once again in Spa.
On my part, what I’m going to do is something that those who read my work regularly will hardly be surprised by. I’m going to get the things that have peeved me so far this year off my chest in a series of whinges and gripes starting with my biggest issue so far in 2022, the broadcast feed available to me is appalling.
Not your typical Formula 1 consumer
I’m probably not the typical F1 consumer by a long stretch as I have a long professional history in the sport, a technical one to be precise, and so my interest in the sport is not only on a deeper level that has me trying to consume as much as I can from a technical aspect, which frustratingly for me isn’t always quite enough, but I also endeavour to watch every free practice session, along with qualifying, and the race, and luckily for me I use the fact that I need to research for my writing as an excuse to convince my beloved that all the time I spend on this is all necessary.
The unfortunate thing about being an F1 consumer in Australia, though, is that all broadcast feed rights belong to Fox who take the Sky Sports F1 feed, and because of the contractual arrangements between F1 and Fox, the F1 TV feed is geo-blocked and unavailable to the Australian consumer.
If only I had the option of watching a race with all the noises that come with it, and had the option to simply turn the commentary audio off like F1 TV subscribers can do, but here in Australia we can’t do that.
When I watch an F1 broadcast I have two options, either to turn the audio off, or I am forced to endure what I find is the brain numbing tripe that is the Sky commentary.
The broadcast should focus on the sport, and its participants
From my point of view an objective sporting broadcast, regardless of the sport, should be produced under three principles, to be a vehicle for an objective description of the event as it happens with the inclusion of expert commentary, to be a vehicle for the promotion of the participants individual sporting brands, and to be a vehicle for the promotion of the sport’s own brand.
Now, I don’t know about the non-English speaking feeds because I wouldn’t understand them, but insofar as the English speaking feeds are concerned F1 has a big problem because the only feed available to me, the one that I am unwillingly forced to endure has an agenda of morals and politics that goes far beyond that which I find is necessary to provide a broadcast of an F1 weekend.
Far too often in recent years has the English speaking F1 viewer that is forced to watch the Sky F1 broadcast because they have no other option been precluded of the opportunity to learn more about the actual operations going on, the drivers and teams, and the sport itself more broadly because of a focus on social and more programmes associated either directly or indirectly with the sport.
That is not to say that there is no place in a broadcast to inform the consumer of such initiatives, because there most definitely is, but it should never be to such an extent that it overshadows the primary product itself, which in this instance is F1.
Let’s refocus on what’s important, F1
We live in a time now where the next generation has been educated and brought up to have a greater general awareness of the world, and F1 itself rightfully has several concurrent awareness programmes focussing on the environment, racial discrimination and social equality, and acceptable behaviour, while many drivers are also driving their own initiatives, all just as important as each other.
However, we also live in a time where media platforms are on multiple levels for the promotion of all sorts of initiatives and it is not necessary to compromise the purity of a sporting broadcast as much as it has been recently.
It seems to me that the time has come for F1’s commercial rights holder to hold those licensed to broadcast the product of F1 accountable to the three tenets of objective broadcasting that I have already mentioned so as to not marginalise the consumer base.
It is time for broadcasters, such as Sky F1 to refocus and get back to giving the consumer what it really wants: Formula 1.