If there is one thing that will get Formula One Management (FOM) focus and CVC Capital’s attention, it’s the notion that broadcasters may not be willing to cover Formula or pay for the broadcasting packages.
That could be the situation in the UK as BBC are heading toward serious budget cuts and F1’s half-live, half-highlights package could be at risk…meaning the free-to-air coverage of F1 would be over as the races would only be on Sky sports F1.
I was reading the coverage over at AUTOSPORT this morning and they do quote F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone from earlier this year regarding the BBC’s commitment:
“I hope they continue,” he said in August. “We’re not interested in the money.
“We’re interested in entertaining the public and doing a service. That’s what we are there for.
“The continuation of the Sky/BBC deal would be good.
“It works at the moment so there is no reason why we should change.
“Sky has done a super job. They have lifted the level, and they have lifted the BBC.”
If you’re new-ish to F1, this is actually relatively conciliatory language for Ecclestone. Think back to his positions with circuits and their inability to pay. Recall the types of words used and the overall tone of those comments as juxtaposed with this one? Mr. E rarely uses such praise when discussing people paying for access to F1.
I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, he’s just a shrewd deal maker and offering glowing praise for a group who is paying for his product isn’t usually his game. Also, he usually isn’t caught suggesting that FOM isn’t interested in the money.
I was chatting with our own motorsport monk, Tom Firth, and he was explaining that Sky Sport F1 has decided to roll up the sidewalks and convert their coverage this off-season to darts. Imagine that? The once 24/7 F1 channel goes dark for the winter.
It’s critical that F1 is covered in the UK and FOM will do what they have to in order to make that happen. It will be interesting to see what other broadcasters do as well. Has F1 lost it’s broadcaster appeal? Are the viewer numbers not justifying the cost or is it that the BBC are just in the tank and need to cut everything?
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT