Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Ready for high definition Formula One // The BBC confirm an HD element to their F1 coverage

Published by Mr. C

Okay, it was pretty much a given from the moment the BBC announced they'd acquired the rights to broadcast F1 in the UK, that HD was factored into the deal somewhere. But it's nice to get some form of vague confirmation from the beeb anyhow.

Yesterday, the corporation's head of HDTV Seetha Kumar posted a blog entry responding to consumer feedback regarding the channel's recently launched Freesat service. One of the first questions answered was related to F1 and of this Seetha said:

Regarding F1, we hope that this will be available in HD as soon as possible within our new contract, but this depends on demand from other international broadcasters as well as from us.

So by the sounds of it, the BBC at least have the technology side of things ready and following the launch of Freesat, potentially everyone in the UK now has access to a subscription-free HD channel.

Take your brain to another dimension

On this subject Dominic Wells of The Times recently noted that in addition to any planned HD transmissions, the BBC are also investigating the possibility of showing F1 races in 3D.

Yes, three-dimensional television, the kind where we'll get to sit on our sofas wearing a daft pair of glasses, although hopefully they'll be slightly more subtle than the red / green cardboard variety popular with cinema-goers in the '80s.

The wheels are apparently in motion and Dominic points out that:

The BBC made a test broadcast of the Six Nations rugby in HD 3D, and plans to do the same with Formula One.

It's beginning to sound like there's more to this new rights deal than meets the eye.

Apparently Bernie's also turning up to every race this year with a new broadcasting facility described by some as a "tented town" such is the vastness of the operation. This appears to be reminiscent of Formula One Communications digital television facility (dubbed 'Bakersville', after the guy that ran it) that debuted during the '96 season.

Back to Bakersville

Bakersville was ludicrously ahead of it's time in terms of both technology and consumer requirements, but a number of events are pointing to a comeback.

For example Digiflag, F1's much vaunted electronic marshaling system - which is due to debut this year in Singapore, but has already been partially tested and was visible during last Sunday's race - has coincidentally been in development for the last decade, with the original plan presumably being for Bakersville to control it.

It's taken over ten years but finally consumer demand has caught up with Bernie's original vision, and although he appears to be taking it more steadily this time, the plan for a cohesive broadcasting operation coupled with an integrated and intelligent circuit management system, at last looks to be coming to reality.

Digital switchover

As a final thought, while television broadcasts have taken a whole decade to catch up with Bernie's ideas, the Web has literally exploded during that same timeframe. Of course once you've got your data as zero's and one's, putting it online is but a trivial process.

The business model still needs to make sense of course and that depends on consumer demand, which takes us right back to Seetha's quote.