So, Sky have announced the deal that we’ve all known about for quite some time, namely that ex-F1 driver and BBC commentator Martin Brundle will leave the Beeb to join Sky’s new dedicated F1 channel, Sky F1 HD.
Sky Sports is to show each Grand Prix without the interruption of adverts and Brundle said that was a key element of his decision to switch from the BBC.
He is also excited by Sky’s commitment to bring technical innovation to their coverage of the sport, which is something he describes as being a key motivator behind what he accepts has been a difficult decision.
“The fact that their newly-announced and dedicated F1 channel will have no in-race advertising was a key factor, but most importantly I need to commentate on every race live. Recorded and delayed sports television doesn’t give me the adrenalin fix I crave.”
“There will also be more airtime for the technical features I so enjoy crafting. It’s been a privilege to be part of the BBC team, but now I have a new motivation and challenge.”[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”right”]I need to commentate on every race live. Recorded and delayed sports television doesn’t give me the adrenalin fix I crave.[/blockquote]
The presenter went on to say via his Twitter channel, “Yes, I’ll be doing grid walks in the future of course, it’s my trademark.” and “I’m convinced two mighty broadcasters in Sky and BBC head-to-head at 10 races will be great for F1 fans overall. Be patient, (there is) lots happening.”
Many enthusiasts will feel cheated by the BBC’s recent round of budget cuts, which saw it withdraw from its existing F1 broadcast contract and negotiate the new joint broadcast deal with Sky.
Even though the satellite broadcaster, partly owned by News International, is considerably more flush with cash, Brundle said this was not material to his decision, “Yes, money is better but the deals I could have put around lower key BBC role + 50% of my income going to UK taxman means that (money was) not the deciding factor.”
I worked with Sky for many years and know how seriously they approach their sports coverage, it is without doubt their most important asset and something they invest in more than any other broadcaster. That really is the important point to bear in mind. Whilst there is a price to pay, we as consumers must stop expecting content which we find valuable, to also be free. It’s an unsustainable model and those who truly wish such a costly sport to be sustained, will recognise the need to contribute to its upkeep.
Of course it always seems regrettable for a big corporation to become wealthier at our expense, but that’s the nature of economics – he who invests earns the right to benefit. Talking with a few people behind the scenes, there are several new innovations that Sky will bring to our viewing experience and lest we forget – it was Sky who partnered with the FOM back in 2001 to launch the most innovative F1 coverage in history – F1 Digital.
Perhaps the greatest shame is that BBC’s presenter Jake Humphrey isn’t joining Brundle. He will remain with the BBC during 2012 together with 13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard and Lee McKenzie.
Image: Sky Sports