Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

UK F1 coverage returns to its rightful home // The BBC regain rights to broadcast Formula One from 2009

Published by Mr. C

Formula 1 fans in the UK received a second helping of good news this month when it was announced today that F1 television coverage is returning to it's natural home, the BBC. Last week Formula One Management finally caved in to pressure and allowed races to be broadcast online, and next year they will also be shown uninterrupted and commercial free.

This is excellent news for any Formula 1 fans living in the UK, and as pointed out by Lou in a comment earlier:

We are gonna get to watch the WHOLE race!

For many years ITV has been the subject of criticism from fans for it's poor coverage and incessant advertisement breaks, ruining the flow of the action during what are often the most important points of the race.

When asked about the move, BBC Sport director of sport rights Dominic Coles said:

We were delighted when Bernie Ecclestone approached us about the return of F1 to the BBC.

While Bernie suggested that for once this deal wasn't motivated by greed or profit:

I think they will be able to service us an awful lot better, a little bit more time.

Having sat out the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, maybe Ecclestone finally grasped first hand the disruption the commercial breaks cause? Or maybe not.

The deal will run from 2009 to 2013, cutting ITV's agreement short by two years. In response to the announcement ITV said:

This was a straightforward commercial decision for ITV and we are pleased that F1 will continue to be broadcast free-to-air.

ITV seem to be suggesting that it was their decision alone to end the agreement early, but seeing as they made so much additional revenue on the back of the Hamilton effect last year, this seems a little unlikely. They recently tried and failed to land a high grossing sponsor on the back of 2007's success, and instead have been left with Sony, who pay an amount similar to the money Honda invested the previous year. That may have hurt them, but year-on-year income from ad-breaks should still have increased.

As yet there has been no confirmation as to whether ITV's current presenting team will be retained by the BBC, but given that this has been another source of negative opinion amongst fans it seems unlikely. Although on our Facebook Group Dan did say:

One thing though: they better keep Brundle

Interesting times ahead for F1, but all this good news has me suspicious, since when did Bernie ever give fans what they want? Next up he'll be guaranteeing Silverstone a place on the calendar.

As ever, let us know your thoughts. We're especially interested to hear opinions from anyone outside of the UK, the fans who have thus far been left out in the cold when it comes to the online and ad-free revolutions that Formula 1 is currently undergoing.