Sky Sports nails down exclusive UK TV deal
Live terrestrial coverage of Formula 1 in the UK will cease when Channel 4’s current contract runs out at the end of 2018
Sky has extended its deal with Formula One Management to include exclusive UK live broadcast rights from 2019 to 2024. The satellite broadcaster also announced that it would be offering an ‘Ultra HD’ feed for subscribers to its new Skyq 4K service from the beginning of next season.
“Since 2012 we have demonstrated unrivalled commitment to F1, offering fans innovations including a dedicated channel and the very best broadcasting talent,” said Sky Sports MD Barney Francis. “We are delighted that we are strengthening our coverage for viewers even further, with live and exclusive F1 from 2019 and the chance to watch in Ultra HD.”
The announcement came as a surprise to Channel 4, which took over the BBC’S terrestrial broadcasting contract at the beginning of this season. 10 of the 21 races will be screened live on terrestrial TV in the UK in 2016, and a highlights-only deal could be available when the channel’s current contract expires.
“It’s a bit early for that because we’ve only just picked up the news,” said Stephen Lyle, Channel 4’s head of Formula 1. “It doesn’t affect the contract we have at the moment, so nothing has really changed on that score in terms of how we are approaching it. We’ll obviously look at it and then look at what to do from 2019 onwards.”
The terrestrial broadcaster has been praised for bringing an edgier, more youthful approach to F1 programming, and lead commentator David Coulthard recently picked up a Royal Television Society award.
Under Sky Sports' new deal the British Grand Prix will continue to be shown on a free-to-air channel, and the broadcaster promised that “at least two” primetime grands prix would be shown on Sky Sports Mix, a soon-to-be-launched channel that will be free to Sky subscribers who do not have the full-blown Sports package.