Date:Monday May 7 2012
Sky Sports presenter Georgie Thompson believes the market for Formula One in the United Kingdom is big enough for both Sky and the BBC.
The split coverage of Formula One for 2012 has been a big talking point amongst Formula One fans, from the moment the BBC cut back their coverage to the point where Sky Sports launched their own dedicated Formula One channel, there was an awful lot of negativity towards any deal that forced Formula One fans to have to pay to watch a sport that they had always previously watched for free.
Sky Sports presenter Georgie Thompson, who has gone from sitting behind a desk in the Sky Sports News studios to a jet setting lifestyle following Formula One obviously backs the move, but would appear to miss the whole point behind the negativity behind the switch from exclusive coverage on the BBC to Sky Sports.
'Beforehand there was a lot of negativity and it wasn't really very well founded. We needed to get on air to show what we were about and what we brought to the party,' Thompson told Digital Spy.
No Georgie it had zero to do with viewers needing to know what Sky were about, it was all about the cost of watching our favourite sport.
For someone who didn't previously have a subscription to Sky Sports, from this season it costs someone £30.25 a month to watch Formula One via a satellite subscription or £28.00 a month via Virgin Media, if you don't have access to either a satellite or cable and want to watch via TopUp, you can't, that's where the anger always lied, viewers didn't doubt Sky would do a good job covering F1, they just didn't need to pay for it.
'There has never been a dedicated Formula 1 channel before now. she added, obviously forgetting the previously failed F1 Digital+ service on Sky. 'And there is a market for us and the BBC. Some will watch one, some will watch the other. There may be some that watch both.
'There is a large enough market for us both to exist within it.'
Again those with access to the channel will watch it, those unwilling/unable to pay for it will continue to watch 50% of the races live on the BBC with the highlights also shown for free.
Georgie Thompson speaks like its all about choice, but for many it isn't, the deal simply just took access to live races for 50% of the season away from them.
Also the comment on a big enough market place in the UK is also debatable.
According to viewing figures posted on our Vital F1 forum, the Australian Grand Prix at the beginning of the season pulled in an average of just 0.5million viewers live on Sky, 75% down on the live coverage on the BBC last year and over 2.5million viewers less than the highlights package BBC screened later in the day.
Things improved slightly in Malaysia with 0.9million watching live on Sky, but 2.7million stuck with the BBC highlights.
When Sky and the BBC went head-to-head for the first time in China Sky peaked at 0.8million, while the BBC peaked at 4.1million.
Finally in Bahrain, with exclusive coverage back to Sky, the pay channel averaged 0.7m, while the BBC average was 3.6m.
It would seem that there really isn't the viewers to spread around, of course Formula One are only interested in revenue and the split coverage probably still benefits F1 financially.
Long term though, can the BBC sustain the interest of the average viewer who can no longer access 100% coverage of the season?
Date:Monday May 7 2012
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