Formula 1 risks being watched only by “motorsport enthusiasts” if it is only available in pay TV, according to a media expert.
Gone are the days when all the big prices were broadcast for free on traditional TV channels, with Sky now owning the rights to the major markets of the UK, Germany and Italy. With a few exceptions, non-subscribers from these countries can watch a race live.
In Germany, this is the first season that F1 has, for the most part, been broadcast exclusively on the Sky pay TV channel.
As a result, audience figures have been reduced from an average of 4.55 million in 2020 when the races were also broadcast on RTL to just 816,000 on Sky this year.
Ian Holmes, Formula 1 media rights director, quoted by Sport Bild, said: “We have been successful in the German market and appreciate the large audience that RTL has brought, but the overall audience and rights revenues have declined. “
He added that audience figures are “about as expected” this season but Formula 1 is “happy”, adding: “There is still a lot of coverage on digital and social channels which keeps German fans going. strongly committed. “
But Stefan Kurten, CEO of Swiss media consultant Inmediaz, believes Formula 1 could “ruin itself” by making live TV access available only through pay channels.
“A racing series like Formula 1 is ruining itself in the long run by making the decision to only run on pay TV,” said Kurten.
“You reduce your audience to the group of die-hard fans. Thus, you become more and more a spectacle reserved for motorsport enthusiasts.
“You are paying for higher rights revenues with increasing loss of relevance. In the medium term, this then causes troubles among the sponsors. “
Meanwhile, Formula 1 has made deals with several broadcast partners in Asia until the end of the 2022 season after announcing the closure of Fox Sports channels in the region.
Since the Turkish Grand Prix, agreements have been made with PCCW (Now TV) in Hong Kong, Singtel in Singapore, TrueVisions in Thailand, Tap DMV in the Philippines, Astro in Malaysia and Brunei, Emtek Group in Indonesia, VSTV in Vietnam and Canal + in Burma. The agreements for Brunei, Indonesia and Myanmar are subject to final confirmation.
“Following the closure of Fox Sports channels in Asia, we are very excited to enter into these new partnerships to ensure that we can continue to bring the F1 action to our fans there,” said Michaella Snoeck, Head of media rights at Formula. 1.