Sky and the BBC have agreed a deal that will see them share the rights to screen live Formula One grands prix – but while Sky will broadcast all the races, the BBC will screen only half of them.
In a seven-year deal, starting in 2012 and running until 2018, it was agreed that the BBC will show half the races in the F1 calendar - including key fixtures such as the British Grand Prix, the Monaco Grand Prix and the final race of the season – while Sky will broadcast them all. The BBC will also air highlights of all the races it does not cover live.
The BBC was the home of live Formula One until 1997. ITV then took over, before the BBC won the rights back in 2009. The new deal therefore marks the first time F1 races have not been available to watch on a free-to-air channel in the UK.
Given the rate at which Sky is poaching shows of all kinds from terrestrial channels, it’s perhaps understandable that the BBC is putting a positive spin on the news.
The corporation’s director of sport Barbara Slater said: "We are absolutely delighted that [Formula One] will remain on the BBC.
"With this new deal, not only have we delivered significant savings but we have also ensured that, through our live and extended highlights coverage, all the action continues to be available to licence fee payers."
Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis said: "This is fantastic news for Formula One fans and Sky Sports will be the only place to follow every race live and in HD.
"We will give Formula One the full Sky Sports treatment, with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television.
"As well as unrivalled build-up to each race on Sky Sports News, we will broadcast in-depth live coverage of every session. Sky customers with Sky Sports will also be able to enjoy F1TM across multiple platforms and devices, including Sky Go."
Early reaction from the BBC’s Formula One team was mixed, with commentator Martin Brundle declaring himself “not impressed” with the news via Twitter, while Jake Humphrey, who hosts coverage, tweeted "Feels like the right time to say how proud I am of the whole BBC F1 production team and the programmes we've produced for you guys since '09'."
What do you think of the news? Should all live Formula One be available to watch for free?