F1’s new owners, Liberty Media, believe the UK TV rights deal they have inherited from the previous management, led by Bernie Ecclestone, is damaging to the sport – with Sky’s coverage entirely immersed behind a paywall from 2019 to 2024.
Sean Bratches, the MD of commercial operations for the Formula One Group, sees FTA television as key to the future of the sport but F1 will be shown on Sky for five years from 2019. “Free to air is critically important to us,” Bratches said, speaking at the FIA conference. “My vision as it relates to media rights is a hybrid of free to air and pay. Our plan is to balance the two but have a prominent, over the year, free-to-air voice. That is important from a fans, sponsors and relevance standpoint. There is the cauldron full of cash on the pay side and on the other side of the scale you have brand and reach. My view is a 30-70 model of free-to-air to pay, where you have a number of grands prix to be on free to air and then we can play and toil with the pay side to generate revenue that we can reinvest back into the sport.”