The BBC’s departure from Formula 1 was inevitable. However, this is a bit of a shock compared to what was announced by broadcast now last Friday. Last Friday it looked set that ITV would regain the Formula 1 coverage from 2016 through to 2018, seeing out, what the original contract set by BBC and Sky said.
However on Monday morning, a shock announcement was made, Channel 4 would take over the Free to air contract rights of Formula 1 in the UK. I, alike many were relieved to see it go to Channel 4 and not ITV. However, many have been disappointed to see the sport disappear off the BBC.
Channel 4 and Formula 1 goes back to 2011, when they tried to take rights off BBC exclusively, with a £45million bid. However, just days before the contract was done, the combined bid of £60million between BBC (£20million) and Sky Sports (£40million), threw Channel 4 out of the window, and took the chance to keep F1 completely on FTA television out the window.
When I found out that it could’ve been on Channel 4 exclusively, I got rather annoyed, and started to dislike Sky and BBC after that, despite the combination of both their coverage being immense.
A return to ITV, as foretold, would’ve disappointed me immensely, as there would’ve been a massive likelihood of a return to breaks, and a lot of bias towards British drivers. But I’m very happy that Channel 4 have become the successor of the UK’s Free to air Formula 1 coverage as I believe that this will open up the door to Formula 1 returning fully to FTA, with Channel 4, which would be brilliant for everyone. And also, if they use some of what they listed in their 2012 takeover bid, would be fantastic. However, only some would be taken into account as they are only getting half of want they were aiming for 4 years ago.
In terms of who I think will be the presenters and commentators, I can see Ben Edwards and David Coulthard moving across to Channel 4, but some of the tweets from the now ex-BBC F1 team aren’t that reassuring. Pit Reporter Lee McKensie and Analyst Allan McNish have wished Channel 4 well, therefore I would guess that neither will make the switch. 1 person who I wish will not feature in the line up is Charlie Webster, who presented GP2 back on ITV and Channel 4’s coverage of Race of Champions this year, and i wasn’t that impressed with her. If they do take the BBC’s team onto C4, then i think it would be really good.
Either way, I am really excited for Channel 4’s coverage, and can’t wait to see how they do in 2016. Best of luck Channel 4!
Update on 23/12: I’ve had a think about the line-up that Channel 4 could produce. Expect that sometime around new year.