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Sunday, November 27, 2011

How the BBC picked which F1 races it would cover live in 2012

Found this about how the BBC picked which F1 races it would cover live in 2012

It has been interesting to see the response to the BBC/Sky announcements today regarding their coverage for next year (you can read about their plans 81 Comments). Most of the feedback coming my way from fans, it has to be said, has been pretty damning of the BBC. Here's a selection of Twitter reactions I have received:

"Absolute joke. 3rd round before a LIVE race. No full re-runs either (another Lie) sadly Black Friday now has a meaning in F1"

"it's not great Tom, 4 out of the 10 are iconic #f1 tracks with history and excitement, the rest well… VALENCIA says it all."

"I'll be going to sky… I want to see everything!!"

"I'm devastated we're only getting highlights of 10 of the races. I could cope with non-live full race replays but not this!"

"Surprised TBH! If they did get the first pick of the pot, why didn't they pick Oz? Or Canada or Japan?"

The 'extended highlights' rather than full re-runs is clearly a sore point – not helped by the fact that there has been confusion over this issue from the start. Martin Whitmarsh said when the deal was first announced that Bernie had promised the teams full re-runs on the BBC and fans had got their hopes up (although 90mins and 120mins of highlights is pretty comprehensive).

As far as which live races the BBC picked – another sore point – I think it is worth mentioning the selection process.

My understanding is that the BBC had the first three picks. It went for Monaco, Silverstone and the season finale in Brazil. You can't really argue with any of those. The first two speak for themselves while the third – well, imagine if we get a repeat of 2008 next year with Lewis Hamilton going for the title at Interlagos… the BBC couldn't afford to take the risk.

Sky then had the next three picks and then there was a system whereby I'm told they alternated. But there were stipulations. Neither channel could pick three consecutive races. In other words, the BBC was not allowed to have three consecutive races live while Sky was not allowed three consecutive races exclusively live, which made it rather tricky. Try it for yourself.

For instance, the BBC could not have Monza – one of the classic circuits and one which most F1 fans would want – because that would have made it three in a row with Spa and Singapore on either side. The BBC also had other considerations such as the Euros next summer, which clash with Canada.

All in all I don't think BBC has done too badly with its picks considering the limitations imposed on it by the contract (it's the contract which is the real bone of contention here, of course, but remember the BBC coverage could not stay as it is now forever, cost-cutting etc – but that is a separate debate). Having both the Spanish races is a bit of a drag. And not having a race until China is also a blow with Sky having a golden opportunity to steal a march.

But Sky will be sweating, too, particularly on the outcome of the Bahrain and Austin grands prix, both of which it has exclusively live. One or both of those could be dropped at the WMSC meeting in a couple of weeks.


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