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UK fans of Formula One will not be able to see live coverage of the sport free-to-air after 2018 following a new broadcast partnership between Sky and Formula One Management, save for the home British Grand Prix and at least two others. Sky also confirmed that coverage would be available in Ultra HD from next season. Channel 4 is showing 10 races live for the next two seasons, having taken over the rights which were surrendered by the BBC in a cost-cutting measure.
The new agreement comprises:
Sky Sports F1 will continue to be the only place to watch each Grand Prix weekend live for the next three seasons in the UK, with 21 races live in 2016 beginning with the 2016 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix last weekend.
The new agreement builds on the success of Sky Sports F1 since the launch of the channel in 2012. More than 13 million viewers have already enjoyed its live coverage with many more following F1 racing across Sky Sports’ digital outlets.
Bernie Ecclestone, CEO Formula One Group said: “I am delighted that we will continue to work together. Sky’s commitment to the Sport and standard of coverage is second to none.”
Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports said: “This is a brilliant deal that takes Sky’s partnership with F1 to the next level. Since 2012, we have demonstrated unrivalled commitment to F1, offering fans innovations including a dedicated channel and the very best broadcasting talent. We are delighted that we are strengthening our coverage for viewers even further, with live and exclusive F1 from 2019 and the chance to watch in Ultra High Definition for the first time from next season. We are pleased to support F1 and look forward to working with them to progress, develop and enhance coverage of the Championship during the agreement.”
Martin Brundle, commentator and analyst for Sky Sports F1 added: “I joined Sky Sports because I wanted to be part of a dedicated F1 channel with a total and long term commitment to the sport. And we have certainly delivered on that. In a fast changing media landscape, our coverage will get even better for F1 fans.”
Sky Sports began showing live F1 in 2012 and coverage includes every practice and qualifying session together with live coverage of each race. Viewers can enjoy the opinions and analysis from a broadcasting team that boasts three former F1 drivers, including 1996 World Champion Damon Hill together with Martin Brundle and Johnny Herbert.
As well as launching a channel dedicated to the sport, Sky Sports F1 became the first broadcaster to introduce touch-screen ‘SkyPad’ analysis from within the paddock, offers fans a multitude of additional viewing options via ‘F1 Race Control’ and offers an extensive schedule of features and support programmes.
Sky Sports won ‘Best TV Broadcaster Award for Outstanding Coverage’ for each of its first two seasons.