Last year the BBC decided to sell out and give half their F1 rights to Sky in a move that can only be described as a bloody outrage. Sky have also taken Martin Brundle, David Croft & Ted Kravitz, meaning that their coverage will be excellent – probably the best we’ve ever had.
I’ve looked into how much it will cost, and whether that cost is justified, to see all races live. The BBC will have 10, although their coverage will undoubtedly be inferior. (That said, it’s the race that matters, not the commentary team and pundits.)
There will be highlights of the Sky exclusive races on BBC, but I wouldn’t always consider these an acceptable alternative; I watched the Turkish GP highlights last year and it was almost impossible to follow the story of the race. (That’s an extreme example – the tyre degradation and DRS meant last year’s race had far more overtakes and pit stops that usual – but I still prefer to watch a race in its entirety.)
Virgin Media have now announced the only way to watch it on their platform (which I currently have,) is to add the Sky Sports package (which I do not,) so I’ve been able to do some mathematics and see how much it’ll cost per race.
Doing the math(s)
The VM package I’m on now costs £48 a month for HD TV, phone & 10 Mb (soon to be 20 Mb) broadband. To add Sky Sports would mean another £22.50 a month. I’d need that for 9 months (the season runs from March to November and I’d drop the sports pack after the season ends,) meaning a cost of £20.25 per race in order to be able to watch the races exclusive to Sky. (Albeit with Sky Sports 1-4, though I’m not factoring in their value as I just wouldn’t watch them.)
But it’s not as straightforward as that. Not all races are as good as others, and while it’s nice to be able to watch every race live, for the past few years I’ve recorded all early races and watched them later on.
So what I need to consider is how many races Sky have exclusively that I would actually miss watching live. If I’d have recorded the race and watched it later anyway, is there that much difference to find a torrent of said race an hour or two after the chequered flag? I’d say no. And I have no moral qualms about doing so – I’m perfectly happy to watch Sky’s content without paying them a penny.
Even if I did have a moral issue with this, the early races are an exception to the ‘highlights are crap’ rule – they’ll be extended on BBC, so not too dissimilar from watching the whole race later on.
Another exception to this rule is the shit races. I love F1 and I haven’t missed a race for years, but I have to admit that some of them (Bahrain, Valencia) are plain boring. Although still not ideal, those races lose less in highlights than others.
So I’ve gone through the calendar to work out which races I’d miss seeing live, and of those, which I’d actually lament missing, using the following criteria:
- If it’s only on Sky but it’s early, I’ll download it
- If it’s only on Sky but is a shit race, I’ll download it or watch highlights
|Round||Location||Date||Availability||Will I see it?||Will I miss it?|
|1||Australia||18/3||Sky||No||No – early|
|2||Malaysia||25/3||Sky||No||No – early|
|3||China||15/4||BBC & Sky||Yes|
|4||Bahrain||22/4||Sky||No||No – shit|
|5||Spain||13/5||BBC & Sky||Yes|
|6||Monaco||27/5||BBC & Sky||Yes|
|8||Europe||24/6||BBC & Sky||Yes|
|9||Britain||8/7||BBC & Sky||Yes|
|11||Hungary||29/7||Sky||No||No – shit|
|12||Belgium||2/9||BBC & Sky||Yes|
|14||Singapore||23/9||BBC & Sky||Yes|
|15||Japan||7/10||Sky||No||No – early|
|16||Korea||14/10||BBC & Sky||Yes|
|18||Abu Dhabi||4/11||BBC & Sky||Yes|
|20||Brazil||25/11||BBC & Sky||Yes|
Of the races that are Sky exclusives, I’d only actually miss five. So my ‘real’ value actually works out at £40.50 per race. No matter how much I love F1, there’s no way I can justify that.
Thanks, BBC. Thanks a fucking lot.