Sky Sports has acquired a 6 year deal to broadcast F1 in the United Kingdom starting next year. With Sky bagging the rights, F1 will be off the ‘free-to-air television’ in UK, something that fans feel is not healthy for the sport.
In an era when F1 is trying to get more fans on board and trying to make the game more global, fans feel this is an uncalled for move.
Sky Sports is a subscription based broadcaster and thus the number of eye balls F1 will be able to get through Sky is way less than what it can get on ‘free-to-air television’.
Under the existing deal, Sky shares the deal with Channel 4, which is in fact a free-to-air platform.
Former McLaren driver David Coulthard feels that this ‘backward step’ in F1 broadcasting could hamper the growth of the sport in UK.
The Channel 4 pundit has also threatened to launch a protest outside Liberty Media’s offices to get this sorted.
“I’m planning a march to the Liberty (Media) offices at the end of the year, and I’m going to get all the Formula One fans to hunker down outside the building and we are not going to leave until they put Formula One back on free-to air television,
“I grew up watching it, but back then there was only three channels…Nowadays there are so many more options and stimulations for youngsters…When you reduce the window of opportunity to capture them (by moving to a pay platform), then you are just going to shrink the audience,” Coulthard said.
Coulthard feels that UK is the home of motorsport and hence more and more people should watch the sport. With a subscription based service, F1 is reducing its audience, something that will be drive people away from F1.
There will still be the hardcore fans, Sky do a fantastic job with a dedicated channel so there’s no fears in terms of how well served the sport will be, but there will be a smaller audience. It’s a shame for Britain. This is the home of motor racing,” Coulhard fears.
“We are too modest, we don’t shout enough about how great our engineering is. People want to come and work here…We have seven teams based here. It’s a huge industry and generator of income for the UK economy…If people aren’t seeing the sport, then maybe we lose them to other industries.” he added.