Channel 4 retains free-to-air Formula 1 rights for 2019


Channel 4 and Sky have announced a new collaborative deal which will keep Formula 1 coverage available on free-to-air television in 2019.

The one-year arrangement, which the broadcasters say is the first of its kind, will see Channel 4 broadcast the British Grand Prix live, along with highlights of the other 20 races on the 2019 calendar.

Sky Sports will broadcast every race weekend exclusively live next season, except for the Silverstone showpiece, on its dedicated Sky Sports F1 channel.

Whilst the new collaboration ensures Formula 1 remains on a mainstream terrestrial network, both broadcasters have confirmed that the deal only covers the 2019 season at this stage.

Alongside the F1 deal, Sky and Channel 4 will also be sharing drama content, such as Tin Star, which will be screened in prime-time on terrestrial TV later this year, ahead of the new series on Sky Atlantic in 2019.

Selected Channel 4 and Walter Presents drama series will be released on the Sky and NOW TV platforms in one go. The first full box set, available from Thursday 12 September, will be the third series of the award-winning Channel 4 drama, No Offence.

Commenting on the partnership with Sky, Alex Mahon, Chief Executive Officer of Channel 4, said:

“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to establish such an exciting and innovative partnership with Sky which will ensure that the British Grand Prix and highlights of the 2019 Formula 1 Championship remain available on free-to-air television for UK viewers.”

Sky’s deal with Formula 1’s previous owners, led by the sport’s former supremo Bernie Ecclestone, had given the satellite broadcaster exclusive UK rights to show all races from 2019 to 2024, with the proviso that the British Grand Prix would be broadcast on a free-to-air platform.

Channel 4 has been the home of free-to-air F1 coverage in the UK for the past three seasons, showing live coverage and highlights packages since taking over the terrestrial rights in 2016, after the BBC pulled out of covering the sport due to budget cuts.

Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of Sky UK and Ireland, added:

“Today’s partnership is the start of a new era of collaboration between Sky, Channel 4 and, we hope, other British broadcasters.

“Not only will this innovative partnership benefit viewers, watching via Sky or free-to-air, but it will further strengthen the ecosystem of UK broadcasters and British-originated content.”

Channel 4’s continued coverage of Formula 1 in 2019 will sit alongside its newly acquired live rugby union rights, including the Heineken Champions Cup and Ireland’s autumn internationals, plus coverage of Paralympic sport in the build-up to Tokyo 2020.

Further details of Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage for next season will be confirmed in due course, although the broadcaster has confirmed to the RadioTimes it will retain its own presenting team, rather than use highlights from Sky Sports.

Whisper Films, founded by David Coulthard, Jake Humphrey and Sunil Patel, all formerly part of the BBC’s F1 coverage, has produced Channel 4’s F1 programming since 2016, with the broadcaster owning a stake in the production company since 2015.

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