When the British media collectively goes up in arms, its either due to the fact that some celebrity was caught holidaying on a beach in the Bahamas or its just that it was a slow news day and they needed to cook up something. From what I understand half of the formula one races next season would be shown on free TV. This has got the British press and fans scared about the future of formula one.
BBC has made a deal with SKY in which Sky gets to show all the races whileBBC only gets some of them as Live, BBC has already taken Monaco, Silverstone and the last race in the 2012 formula one season. Now its going to be Russian Roulette style with BBC choosing 3 races then sky chooses three races and this will continue till no more races are left.
But wait, in India its always been on paid TV, Star Sports and ESPN who are known for their more than generous amount of subscription fee have been the sole owners of the F1 feed for quite some time now. I do remember some races being simulcast on Ten Sports a few years ago but without Chris Goodwin and Steve Slater, no one watched those. However despite paid TV and increases in fee by Start Sports and ESPN, formula one as a sport has only grown in India. When I was in middle school, telling someone that you watched formula one in India was equivalent to social suicide, now it’s a cool thing. People sling Ferrari and Vodafone bags, sip from Red Bull sippers all over the place. The penetration of formula one has been awesome in India despite the paid TV thingy.
The only loser in this deal would be BBC in my opinion, no ones loves watching half the season on TV and no one would like to keep switching back and forth between Sky and BBC, so most will subscribe to Sky and would dump BBC anyway. Fans also lose out a little as a few of them would not be able to afford Sky and would only get to watch half the races. This number might be big as a percentage of Britain, but it would be interesting to see this number as a percentage of the world population.
As this was progressing a scandal has also emerged. Channel 4 apparently had agreed to match the bid by BSkyB but formula one bosses did not consider it in a move that many speculate was to prevent formula one from going to BBC’s terrestrial rival.
It remains to be seen what would be the impact of all of this, all we can do is wait and watch, or we can protest, if the Bahrain Grand Prix can be cancelled, surely this decision too can be reversed if there is enough consumer pressure.