Holidays, Blogging and F1 Coverage

So, it’s been a little quiet around here lately, I know. I’m still around and enjoying the F1 season. The trouble is that there’s not that much to blog about really. Yes, the new formula is super exciting and action-packed, but to be honest, there haven’t been a lot of big strategy calls made this season. I will look into the conclusion of the German GP and take a look at Fantasy Racers after Hungary though.

One thing I do want to comment on is the news that the BBC will be sharing the F1 coverage with Sky from 2012. Now, there are many great posts out there that have much better arguments about why this is bad news for F1 fans – chief among those reasons are those of costs, and the fact that F1 has to be on free to air to get the best exposure for new fans and sponsors.

But what a lot of people are doing is that they are getting angry at the BBC for this decision, which I totally disagree with. I’m not the biggest fan on the way that they operate, but the fact is that they run on public money supplied from the licence fee, which the current government decided to freeze in order to save the average household a few bob. Then they told the BBC to cut costs, and to be honest, if the choice was between axing channels and radio stations or the multimillion pound deal to host the F1, well that’s an easy choice really. Times are tough these days and something has to give. F1 fans have to face the fact that while their sport has quite a lot of viewers and exposure, it’s always going to be a second tier sport and will never take precedence over a sport like football, for example.

What interests me is the reaction on twitter. Obviously there is a lot of anger and disappointment at the decision and rightly so – F1 needs to be free to air in order to have the greatest exposure to fans and sponsors alike, along with the ‘man on the street’ who appreciates what F1 is and knows about it yet doesn’t really follow it.

But a lot of anger has been directed at the BBC for supposedly selling out. The simple fact is that the BBC have had to do this because they cannot afford it, for the reasons mentioned earlier.

Bernie Ecclestone must be rubbing his hands together in glee, because yet again he’s managed to pull off another PR coup and come out of this looking good again. He made a lot of noises about how F1 should remain free to air and that F1 going to Sky was ‘not going to happen’. Yet did he offer to reduce the already exorbitant fees he charges? I’m willing to bet it never crossed his mind…

We now all support a sport where the simple facts are that it’s too expensive for the average punter to attend a race without a lot of sacrifice, it’s too expensive for an internationally successful race circuit to afford to hold a race without making a loss, too expensive for most teams to compete in F1, and now we have got to the point where it’s too expensive for major TV stations to afford to show the coverage. The sport as we know it has lost all of it’s values and only cares about money.

F1 is now purely about greed and has completely forgotten about the fans who support it. Yet they haven’t realised that without the fans, the sport is worth nothing. It could well be that if things continue as they are, the Sky/BBC decision could well be the first nail in the coffin of F1 – as there are plenty of other forms of motorsport to enjoy out there that are just as watchable as F1, yet a lot cheaper and more accessible.

I think that F1 needs to wake up and have a good long think about itself over the summer break. I mean, we have an organisation called FOTA who says that it’s for the fans and holds a lot of waffle sessions about what needs to change in the sport, yet have they actually acted on the suggestions the fans have given them? If FOTA are really serious about themselves, now more than ever is the time to act. Because F1 has always been free to air and that’s always been it’s USP – to take that away seems like a foolish and greedy decision that will do more harm than good.

The sad part about this rant is that I know it changes nothing. I will continue to follow the sport as best that I can, but if it becomes too hard or too expensive I’ll just move on to something else. I’ve done that before and I sure can do it again. I reckon a lot more F1 fans may just do the same too.

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About rubbergoat

Hi there! I’m a mad keen F1 fan who has been addicted to the sport for 20 years. I watch every race and follow the sport in every way I can. I have a keen interest in numbers and I would like to analyse the races from a statistical point of view to see if the data shows something we can't see on TV. As always, I’d love to hear what you think and especially if we can discuss my analyses that would be great – but please no nasty stuff!

6 thoughts on “Holidays, Blogging and F1 Coverage

  1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Bernie and CVC decided that for the future of the sport they would reduce their fees. If nowhere can affored to host the series and the fans stay away because they can’t afford it then their Company is worthless, 50% of nothing is still nothing whereas if they took less, more would be able to attend, it’s so short sighted really (maybe they need Sir Alan Sugar put them on the right track).

    What upsets me about the whole carry on is that they have created a two tier fan base, those that can afford to watch and those that can’t, I also question Bernie’s wisdom in letting Sky, whose parent Company was involved in dodgy goings on at the NOTW to provide coverage, it’s like he doesn’t care for the sports own disrepute rules.

  2. Being in Australia at the moment I’ve missed a lot of anger directed at the BBC, but I agree with all the points you’ve made there is no basis for ‘blaming’ the BBC.

    I think it’s a shame the races are going to be on Sky. Watching Test Match cricket used to be a big part of my summer and when it went to sky that stopped. I listened to the radio sometimes, but generally I just read the news at the end of the days play. I think I’ll do the same with F1. It won’t make my buy a Sky package, but I would possibly pay for the odd races if they do a pay to view type deal (not that I have a dish).

    Being on Sky only hasn’t harmed the Premier League too much, so it needn’t be bad for the sport overall. The financial side of the sport is heavily inter-linked with the Concorde agreement and not just the BBC TV deal. Changing that is a whole different post…

  3. I’m sure that the costs to subscribe to Sky sports can be justified for a dedicated football fan, even following one top football team will enable them to watch all of that teams 50+ matches/season plus all the internationals and finals, and any other important matches they care to watch. To subscribe for 10 extra F1 races doesn’t seem so attractive.
    For me if I subscribe then my youngest son and I will not be able to attend Silverstone each year, as we have for most of the last 15 years.

  4. I don’t really see problem with F1 being on paid channel. After all over here we have been forced to pay for channel showing F1 for as long as I can remember. Actually we have to pay for everything we want to watch as those 2-3 free to air channels we have here should pay us for watching them :-)

    Where I do see the problem is the price one has to pay. Those who already have the subscriptions for the channels that will carry F1 will probably have no problems with the change, they will probably be happy they are going to get more for their money. But having to pay GPB50 or so a month and only to be interested in F1 that does not sound too nice … However these days it does not have to be (if the will is there). There is always the possibility for the races (race weekends) to be streamed online for a reasonable amount that would not require the fans to pay all the cost required with getting the paid TV on the actual TV… If the will is there …

    I hope that while this change is not so good news for viewers in UK it can turn into good news for us in Asia. As Star Sports is part of the same empire as Sky one would hope that they would use whatever they produce for UK also for Asia and finally get rid off that hopeless Star Sports team … They do it for other sports (Champions League in the past before the rights went someone else over, Premier League uses the original Sky commentary until now etc…). I can only hope that what I see at the end of the tunnel is not another train :-)

  5. Unfortunately everyone here seems to have missed the point. The Beeb are to blame (and I have NEVER had a bad word to say about them previously) as they had the rights til the end of next year and should have had this budgeted already. now I understand times are tight and that someone probably realised they didn’t have the money to carry on providing the broadcast at it’s current level. However as Beeb execs have previously stated the deal with sky allows them to carry on showing half the races for the next 7 years. Well that doesn’t seem to be in the license fee payer’s interest when the other public broadcaster (Channel 4) was willing to take over all of the coverage so that it remained on “free to air” TV. Instead the Beeb seem more concerned with letting one of their most prized assets be taken over by a direct rival. Now call me old fashioned but doing a deal with sky (where I would be forced to pay approx £400 a year for the privilege) to save their own bacon as opposed to just letting it go is NOT good value for the tax payer-afterall (as the Beeb keeps reminding us) times are tight and money needs to be saved. Therefore it makes perfect sense to ask individuals who are struggling to pay their basic utility bills to fork out an additional £400 to watch their sport. Idiots

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