UPDATED: F1 on Sky and the BBC – Will it be on TopUpTV/DTT/Freeview and BT Vision??

The BBC has announced that it and Sky Sports will broadcast Formula 1 jointly from 2012 and 2018, with the BBC only showing 10 race weekends live, and Sky Sports will show everything live.

Details we know:

  • 10 BBC race weekends live
  • The BBC will have extended highlights for the rest
  • Radio 5 live keeps full coverage
  • Live BBC  events include Monaco, Silverstone and the season finale

Details we don’t know:

  • Will Sky put coverage on Sky Sports channels 1 and 2 on Digital Terrestrial (Freeview) and will Sky encrypt its coverage? [UPDATE – as of 3pm July 29th Sky has confirmed in responses to queries on its website that no decision has yet been taken on which channel it will be on]
  • What are the other 7 races and how and when will they be determined? Time of day? Location?
  • Will Sky and BBC share a single production organisation?
  • If so, who’s production organisation will make the shows?
  • Will Sky and or the BBC both send journalists to cover all events?

The first question is important. If Sky puts F1 on Sky Sports HD 3 or 4 (as with IndyCar at present) people with BT Vision, DTT/Freeview will not be able to watch at all. If they do go with Sky Sports 1 or 2 the first obvious question would be where’s all the football going to go? [UPDATE – as of 3pm July 29th Sky has confirmed in responses to queries on its website that no decision has yet been taken on which channel it will be on]

It might make sense for Sky to buy the production service from the existing team producing F1 shows for the BBC. I don’t know how much of that team is internal and how much contracted out. Although Sky Italia do have a production on the F1 circuit.

It can’t make sense to have two sets of production or commentary teams, unless the BBC’s production is limited to piping in the World Feed and setting up a cheap studio in Manchester.

Speaking of piping in the World Feed and setting up a cheap studio, I hope when Sky say they’ll “give it the full Sky Sports treatment” that they’ve got more in mind than their IndyCar coverage…

The final thought from me is that this is a terrible outcome, actually it’s so bad I didn’t even realise it was an option. Splitting the coverage confuses the coverage and dilutes it. They do something similar to this in the US with Speed TV and Fox and it’s actually worse when the shows are on Fox. I understand that it’s a hard thing to justify for the BBC in the current budgetary times, so they should just drop the lot and let it go to Channel 4.

I wonder how Channel 4, ESPN, Channel 5 and Virgin are feeling about the BBC working actively with Sky (a commercial broadcaster) to keep the rights out of their hands.

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