Following the French pay-TV operator’s successful acquisition of the exclusive live rights to Formula 1, Canal+ Group director of sports Cyril Linette has suggested the broadcaster would be putting “considerable resources” in providing quality coverage of Grands Prix for its subscribers.
In an initiative mirroring UK pay-TV service Sky’s approach, Canal + will broadcast the races without being interrupted by ad breaks, a bugbear for Formula One fans watching on previous rights holder, free-to-air commercial broadcaster TF1. The service will also provide reports and other documentaries on F1, covering free practice and qualifying in the run-up to race day
“We’ll be doing some great things with the broadcasts,” revealed Linette. “It’s not a problem for us to allocate considerable resources.” As well as reports and documentaries, Canal+ would be using leading F1 pundits. He admitted that this was all in its very early stages, just a day after securing the rights, but confirmed that Canal+ would invest in producing the best show for its subscribers.
Similar to its Canal Football Club magazine programme, the pay-TV service would also be showing a free-to-air show on the Sunday night, featuring a race summary.
According to Linette, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had no worries about the quality of the sport’s handling by Canal +, but admitted there were concerns about its public and sponsors, hence the decision to air the magazine programme in the clear.
Canal+ was looking to attract F1 fans who were not yet subscribers to the service by offering a quality of coverage that would without doubt be superior to that provided when the sport was broadcast on TF1.
“On TF1, Formula 1 was losing audience, the same as with football. Sport is experiencing a slowdown because of the plethora of channels available, and a dearth of French representation in leading sports. Interest in Formula 1 can fade for a national channel such as TF1,” suggested Linette.
“For Canal+ it’s different,” he claimed. “We have a base of sports fans, who are already heavy viewers of F1 on TF1 and are going to watch it with us, because they will find Canal+ values. What’s more, we hope that fans of Formula 1 who are not yet Canal+ subscribers because it’s not their world will be attracted to do so. Formula 1 can be part of that process.”