Joseph O'Halloran ©RapidTVNews | 29-07-2011

While most of the attention on BSkyB has fallen on its excellent yearly financials, the UK DTH operator has grabbed excusive UK Formula 1 rights from arch rival the BBC with whom it will now share transmission.

Much to the chagrin of the UK Formula 1 aficionados who have grown to enjoy tremendously the return of top quality motor racing to free to air screens, BBC and Sky Sports will begin shared rights between the 2012 and 2018 seasons. Even though unpopular for viewers, the deal will from a business perspective benefit the cash-strapped Beeb as it rolls out its cost-cutting programme.

In a clear indication as to who the deal benefits most, the partnership will see broadcast of all races, qualifying and practice sessions live on Sky Sports across TV, online and mobile and tablet devices. Half the races and qualifying sessions remain live on BBC TV, online and mobile including key races such at the British Grand Prix, Monaco Grand Prix and the final race of the season. Sky revealed that if there are an odd number of races in the season, the final selection will be screened exclusively live by Sky Sports.

The BBC will also offer extensive highlights on TV, online and mobile, of all races and qualifying sessions that BBC is not covering live.

Commented Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: "This is fantastic news for F1 fans ... We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television. As well as unrivalled build up to each race on Sky Sports News, we will broadcast in-depth live coverage of every session. Sky customers with Sky Sports will also be able to enjoy F1 across multiple platforms and devices, including Sky Go."

Trying to put the best face on a move that will be hugely unpopular for existing viewers, Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, added: "We are absolutely delighted that F1 will remain on the BBC. The sport has never been more popular with TV audiences at a 10 year high and the BBC has always stated its commitment to the big national sporting moments. With this new deal not only have we delivered significant savings but we have also ensured that through our live and extended highlights coverage all the action continues to be available to licence fee payers."