The BBC’s decision to stop covering Formula 1 in their broadcasts is not a great situation for F1 nor its fans but when you consider that they had a 150 million Pound gap in budget to cover and F1 was one of the first to go, it makes you wonder if the BBC are reading the tea leaves just fine.
Sure, you could argue that the BBC have made significant cuts in their services and as an American, who doesn’t watch the BBC, I will concede the points to those who do. However, cutting sports seems to be a very aggressive move and while retaining many other sports programs but cutting F1, I have to wonder if the sport’s appeal versus costs isn’t one of the bigger justifications for dumping it.
“The Director General announced recently that the BBC needs to plug a £150 million annual gap in its finances from next year.
“He outlined that two-thirds of the savings would come from ‘scope’ savings, meaning that the BBC would stop doing some of the things that we currently do.
“BBC Sport was asked to deliver approximately £35 million of these savings.
“This was due to the pressing need to realise the savings and the greater flexibility that BBC Sport has to deliver them compared to most other parts of the Corporation.
“No Director of Sport wants to be responsible for reducing the amount of sport on BBC TV. But the current financial position of the BBC means some tough and unwanted choices have to be made.
“There are no easy solutions; all of the options available would be unpopular with audiences.
“The BBC is announcing today that a significant chunk of BBC Sport’s remaining savings target will be delivered through the immediate termination of our TV rights agreement for Formula 1.
Summing up the move, Slater commented: “Any decision to have to stop broadcasting a particular sport or sporting event is hugely disappointing and taken reluctantly.”
I assume F1’s large price tag made it one of the more immediate objects on the hit list and one package that could take a significant chunk out of the 35 million needed. Being a premium service may cut both ways.
While Channel 4 is stepping in to fill the void and provide terrestrial coverage, the BBC’s massive appeal and coverage surely will be felt. It will also be interesting to see how the contractual obligation the BBC had with F1 is handled now they’ve terminated the contract early. One assumes a financial penalty will occur and even with that penalty, it seems dumping F1 still made the most since. Again, that doesn’t bode well for the broadcast package health of F1.
It may be purely coincidental but I had heard some folks mentioning that Sky Sports F1 is/has changed its format during the off season to darts or some other sport. Again, that doesn’t bode well for F1’s appeal either.
Hat Tip: BBC