Sky Sports has been given permission to use its P2s during practice sessions
Sky Sports' Martin Brundle interviews Australian Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo at the 2012 season-opening Melbourne Grand Prix
New Formula for Sky
Philip Stevenslearns how Sky Sports is producing its coverage of Formula One races for the home market — for a new dedicated 24/7 F1 channel
COVERAGE OF Formula One races has proved extremely popular to UK audiences. And that has meant negotiations for the contract to secure broadcasting rights have been intense. In fact, the rights to show Formula One races in the United Kingdom have changed hands several times over the past few years.
The BBC has been the
exclusive broadcaster in the UK since 2009, but its contract with Formula One Management was due to expire after the 2013 season. However, under a new rights deal, both the BBC and Sky Sports will broadcast the sport in the UK between 2012 and 2018. Sky Sports will show every
race, qualifying session and practice live. BBC Sport will broadcast half the races live, as well as the qualifying sessions from those races. In addition,
races screened by the BBC will be live on the BBC Sport website for UK users. Until now, races and other sessions were shown as part of the regular channel programming of the broadcasters’ schedules, but to coincide with its new agreement, Sky Sports launched a dedicated F1 channel in March. “We wanted to offer a
product that is very important in our channel line-up,” explains Darren Long, Sky Sports’ director of operations. “Having a separate channel enables us to focus solely on the breadth of F1. It will enable us to spotlight the practice sessions and then continue the excitement all the way up to the races themselves.” Long emphasises that this is a
new business model that will allow Sky to show the race fans that the broadcaster is very serious about the way it
approaches the sport. “By making it part of our normal HD entertainment package we are allowing fans of Formula One, who are not necessarily supporters of other sports, to enjoy the races and all that is associated with them without paying for a Sky Sports line up.” When the qualifying sessions and the actual races are not taking place, the channel runs a number of features and promo material. Obviously, building the material that is needed for a dedicated channel will take time, but Long is happy to acknowledge the help he has received from the BBC with respect to archive footage. In fact, he says that the co- operation that has been achieved with the Corporation has been quite significant. “I have been working closely with the BBC every step of the way, and looking at how we can
continue that collaboration. And our long term commitment is to work in partnership with them and to offer our on-site resources. For instance, we are happy to provide our camera crews or feed material.” Sky Sports will be using Studio 6 at its facility at Osterley (see February issue of TVBEurope) for the new channel. This will host the F1 magazine programme on non- race weeks and provide presentation facilities as needed. Included in the studio is a
Virtual Eye system that centres on a simulator of an F1 car. This enables the presenters to analyse closely a car’s performance during a race and to scrutinise tactics.
Location facilities In addition, Sky has commissioned three portable studios that can be shipped to