Thursday, 5 May 2011

Murdoch, Sky, F1 and Business

So circling around this week is the news that Rupert Murdoch and his partners may be lining up to buy the rights to F1 coverage from Bernie Ecclestone and his partners, CVC capital. F1 will be sold soon, its fair that Bernie has been in the top spot for years and isn't getting any younger, however i'm wary about any bid from the Murdoch Family, as i'll look it now.

Now don't get me wrong, i am a bit of a bisexual, or i suppose a bi-terrestrial when it comes to Sky and Freeview. My dad has Sky, my mother does not. I am a massive fan of Sky, when i get to use it. The choice they offer across the board is fantastic, as well as the new Sky Anytime feature, which means even when nothing else may tickle your fancy (for example in the middle of the day) there is something you can watch.

Of course when i'm not watching it, i'm not a fan. I look at what is on offer on Freeview compared to sky, and i'm annoyed that sky have all these great programmes and i want more. If F1 is bought out by the Murdoch group, then there is a good chance that it will end up on Sky - with a re writing of the current Concorde agreement, which is like F1's constitution which currently has a provision meaning it can be shown on free to air channels.

I think it's disgusting really, that there is so much sport on Sky, and so little at times on Terrestrial. There is sport that must be shown on terrestrial TV including the FA Cup and World CUp finals. F1 is not on that list.

Personally i think it is absolutely ridiculous that there are times when England aren't shown on TV, for example Wales vs England earlier this year, there weren't even highlights shown on TV.

So, what about F1? Well it is a brand all about money, and inevitably they would get more money from Sky. However, overall sponsorship may decrease for the teams as they recognise they might lose some of their audience to Sky.

As for Audiences, well Motor Sport has been done on Sky before. NASCAR and the IndyCar events from America were given live coverage but never featured beyond their midnight slot when of course it was live. Further, Sky had the rights and really bigged up the new A1 GP, a world cup of Motor sport if you like. In case you didnt realise, that went into liquidation last year following massive cash flow problems and loss of audience.

Now, F1 won't suffer the same fate as its motor sport brothers, because of its global image, not just in the UK, other deals from other Broadcasters around the world would keep it afloat.

F1 is something of a niche market. Widely, there are a lot of sports fans, most of whom follow football in the UK. The F1 demographic is somewhat smaller, there are a core following such as my family and some friends, however there are a lot of people also who will drift in and out of Formula, catch the green lights go out perhaps, see bits of it etc, etc. Its these semi-fans who might be lost, which is a shame, as if it moves to Sky the F1 demographic is decreased even further, limiting coverage to only those who have Sky.

While a move to Sky might improve the coverage available, on the red button for example, it will not do well for the sport as a whole. I do hope it doesnt move to Sky, for in recent years with the arrival of BBC HD coverage, as well as top notch, wheel to wheel racing, F1 has got something good going and id hate to lose it.