BBC has got with no doubt the best F1 coverage in the world: many programmes, contents, videos, interviews and nice and expert commentators. It started to show this sport on UK screens many years ago and, after a break of 13 years when F1 was trasmitted on ITV, it came back in 2009 with great success.
UK is one of the most interested countries on F1; with great drivers like Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, the viewers for each GP are over 4/5 millions, an impressive fact. BBC is a free channel, and it must be so because the Concorde agreement says that in the countries where F1 has got huge number of viewers it must stay free-to-air. However, Bernie Ecclestone answers: “Don’t worry about Concorde: if you didn’t read it, you can’t understand it.”
Why he needed to say so? It’s because Sky Sport has bought F1 rights in the UK and will broadcast all the GPs until 2018; BBC will show 10 races, included the ones that have particular importance in the WC, such as Silverstone, Monaco and the last Gran Prix.
These are the conditions:
1) Sky will broadcast all the races in pay-per-view;
2) BBC will have the coverage of 10 races of 20 free-to-air, included Silverstone, Monaco and the last race;
3) BBC will show long highlights and contents when not broadcast the GP;
4) Sky will have the coverage of all the races in HD.
The fans are obviously against this sharing, and the teams too: everyone is sure this business will hurt F1 even it will be broadcasted in one more channel, and that’s because only few people will pay Sky to watch the races, BBC has and will have the best coverage anyway.
But the free-to-air British channel had to share his rights with Sky, otherwise it could not broadcast F1 anymore, as Chris Horner said: “It would have been a disaster if F1 was no on BBC longer; BBC sets the standard for F1 coverage across the world. This is an agreement that safeguards the sport on the BBC, albeit reduced from what we are used to. And Sky opens up new avenues. So rather than losing the sport from the BBC, I think this was the most sensible way to move forward.”
I think that this sharing will be very bad for F1 and especially for the fans; this sport has always been free for everyone and start this new deal will hurt the sport. TV will lose viewers, especially the ones who like F1 but aren’t so into it to pay and the ones who will protest ( and they’re many ) to watch it for free. It’s a very difficult question, I don’t know how BBC could mantain the coverage or part of it without this agreement, let’s see if the “Bigs” will find a solution to this problem.