New channel Sky Sports F1 HD will be free of ads during races and is BSkyB’s first channel devoted to a single sport
BSkyB is to launch a new sports channel devoted entirely to Formula One motor racing and will use it to drive takeup of high definition television.
Sky Sports F1 HD will be the satellite broadcaster’s first channel devoted to a single sport. Sky bagged UK TV rights to Formula One for the first time earlier this year in a joint deal with the BBC, which previously had exclusive coverage of the sport.
The channel, which will broadcast for the entirity of the nine-month F1 season from next year, will be available to subscribers to Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2, and to non-sports customers who subscribe to its HD services. Sky Sports subscribers without HD will receive a standard definition version.
Sky Sports F1 HD will broadcast between March and November and feature live coverage of all practice and qualifying sessions and every race in the calender.
The broadcaster has also taken the decision to broadcast each race free of ad breaks. When ITV had the F1 rights for a decade up to 2007 it attracted criticism for breaking away from key moments in races for ads.
The BBC will broadcast half of the season’s F1 races live, including showpiece events including the British Grand Prix, Monaco and the final race of the season.
Sky Sports F1 HD will be at 408 on Sky’s electronic programme guide. The slot is currently occupied in HD homes by Sky Sports 1 in standard definition, and in standard definition homes by Sky Sports 1 HD.
Sky included it in the HD package because it believes a large proportion of F1 fans are interested only in motor racing and no other sports.
The Sky Sports managing director, Barney Francis, said: “Formula One followers are hungry for more and we want to give them the ultimate experience. It’s not just every minute of every race but a channel devoted to Formula One.
“We can now tell the whole story of the season, from every Grand Prix, from start to finish. Formula One will get the full Sky Sports treatment. We have big plans for live shows and a rich lineup of Formula One programmes; getting to the drivers, exploring the technology and lapping up the drama.
“With a dedicated channel for Formula One we can also give all sports fans the depth and breadth of sports they demand every weekend, right through the year.”
The BSkyB chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, added: “This brand new channel again proves Sky’s commitment to investing in the best content for customers. It will give even more value to Sky customers and create another reason for others to consider pay-TV.
“This is another example of the value we are creating for customers through our content leadership. It follows the recent launch of other high-quality new channels like Sky Atlantic and Sky 3D as well as our growing commitment to UK original content in areas such as drama, comedy and the arts.”
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