Sky Sports to launch dedicated F1 channel
12.58 Europe/London, November 25, 2011 By Julian Clover
Sky Sports is to launch a separate channel for its coverage of Formula 1 motor racing. The channel will go live next March ahead of the new Formula 1 season, when Sky will share the rights with the BBC.
Sky Sports F1 HD will offer live coverage of practice and qualifying sessions with interactive being used to allow fans to follow on board cameras, the pits, and essential race data. The BBC will be restricted to highlights of many of the races.
The launch will throw up a potential regulatory dilemma. When Ofcom began regulation of the wholesaling of Sky Sports 1 and 2 it promised to monitor if coverage previously available on the two prime channels made its way onto Sky Sports 3 and 4. However, the Formula 1 coverage is the first major rights win since the wholesaling was launched.
Although there are new carriage agreements with Virgin Media in place for basic channels, there is still no distribution for the new Sky Atlantic, which has become the home for HBO content. Without an agreement for Sky Sports F1 HD, Virgin faces missing another key element of the Sky portfolio.
On Sky’s own satellite platform, Sky Sports F1 HD will be carried on channel 408, following a reshuffle of channels in the genre. A standard definition version will also be available.