This is a rant. It will be long. Can't promise it will make a whole lot of sense. But my inner keyboard warrior spirit must not be caged...
I Don't know if this has been brought up, but I've wondered from the start why they don't do a shared production, wouldn't change which races are live on the BBC, or that SKY has more comprehensive coverage in general (all practice sessions in HD etc). Surely it's completely unnecessary duplication that is more or less doubling the cost to British taxpayers and BSkyB shareholders (which isn't just News Ltd). This sort of shared production (or one company doing the production, but it being broadcast over a paytv and free to air network) is not without precedent and with F1 being such an expensive sport to produce coverage for, I'm surprised we have two British companies producing live coverage at every race (BBC goes live to several other English speaking countries for every race of the year, even for the races they don't show live in the UK).
From a hardcore fan's (pretty much everyone here) point of view, it would also mean that we get the best people together. Martin and David were amazing together imo, it was great to have a lead commentator who's default reaction to anything remotely interesting is to shout. DC was and still is a great colour commentator. For me, with a sport like this, how it's presented and by who, have a significant impact on my overall enjoyment of the show and current perceptions of the sport.
In my opinion at the moment, Sky have slightly better race commentary, Crofty is less shouty (and seems to be getting better in this area) than Ben Edwards and more knowledgeable (due the years he spent on 5live no doubt), but again I feel that by having to choose one or the other we miss out by not getting the insights from Martin or DC. Nothing against Edwards of Croft, they are both good at what they do, I just feel we had a really good thing going last year. Overall, I think for casual viewers, they are more or less equal.
Taking into consideration the whole show, including pre and post race, the BBC wins hands down in my opinion. Two things in particular really sum up everything I dislike about anything sky/fox/murdoch touches (but have trouble articulating):
The Skypad really feels like I'm being talked down to and generally having my intelligence insulted. I completely understand that the majority of people that tune in to watch races are far more towards the casual end of the F1 fan spectrum than myself or most on this forum. Still, it's possible to explain things to a casual fan without being condescending and pretentious. Why is Ant standing in front of a TV, controlling it himself with gimmicky touch controls, only to go to full screen as soon as he hits play? Just so they can show Georgie in a tight dress? (why is she there?). Plus, I have found him to often have outdated information for the post-race Skypad 'installments' as information has often come to light between the race finishing and them crossing to him that he is unaware of. On top of all of this, the topics they cover are always covered in more detail and in a more natural/genuine way by the other Sky Guys post-race anyway. To summarise, the Skypad is redundant, gimmicky, insulting, but very Sky.
Simon Lazenby comes across as immature and chauvinistic and reinforces the stereotype that Sky is a bit of an old boys club. Now he could be the nicest guy off-camera and this is all very subjective anyway (I'm sure plenty of people have different views on him), but there is something about his mannerisms, facial expressions and lack of confidence (comes across as insecure around the people he's working with and interviewing) that really rubs me the wrong way - feels overly scripted and not very genuine. Jake on the other hand, while not perfect, to me comes across as genuine and confident in himself, his surroundings and being genuinely liked by the people in the F1 paddock he interviews and does segments with (and has from the start). Can you imagine Lazenby doing that segment with Lewis and Jensen in the Monaco pre-show? Combine him with Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert and you have an incredibly stiff and dull pre and post race team. Jake, Eddie and DC on the other hand come across and genuinely passionate and enthusiastic about the sport. This is what rubs off on casual and first time viewers. F1 isn't a sport that most people just 'get' ("It's just cars going around in circles"). It takes exposure to the aspects and layers of the sport that make Formula 1 that make it so compelling once someone does 'get' it. But again, this has to be done with genuine passion and enthusiasm, something Eddie and DC are particularly good at.
Unnecessary duplication of production costs aside, unfortunately the best on-camera people seem to have been reasonably evenly split across the two shows. Ideally I would like to see to following people on the one broadcast:
David Coulthard (as well as pre and post show duties)
Lee McKenzie (also driver interviewer)
Eddie Jordan (as well as pre and post show duties)
Pre and Post Race:
Jake Humphries (host)
Martin Brundle (for part of the post-race and the grid walk)
Anyway, like I said - just seems like a waste, when they could either do a joint production, or use one of the existing production crews, but jointly funded and co-branded on air. I think the benefits would outweigh the seeming perceived need to differentiate and compete for ratings, as I don't think someone's decision on which coverage they are going to watch will come down to the presentation/commentators. The vast majority that have paid for Sky will almost certainly choose them for all the race weekends (it's Human nature to perceive a paid service as better AND to justify a purchasing decision after the fact). I know there are exceptions on this forum, but again I would imagine we are statistically insignificant as a percentage of the overall audience
Ratings are important and comparisons between BBC numbers and Sky numbers will affect the bidding/negotiation process for the next UK rights deal. But, for the BBC, they have made it clear that F1 is too expensive for exclusive rights and really they don't have the same responsibilities as Sky in terms of trying to market the sport to attract viewers. Their primary responsibility is to deliver content that the public (their stakeholders) want, not to attempt to shape demand for something in order to justify high broadcast rights costs (that are clearly disproportionally high on a per viewer basis).
It is very difficult for the BBC to leverage and benefit from the potentially higher per viewer value of that audience. Sky, on the other hand can. They can directly benefit by selling more subscriptions, directly taking advantage of the per viewer value of the F1 audience. Targeted advertising is the other means of course, again not something the BBC can benefit from. The obvious dilemma for the teams is that they need to share in this by receiving a greater share of the rights sale, as they will lose out on advertising revenue from their own sponsors with less eyes, on average, on their cars at any one time.
Regardless of whether Bernie would like to pay more to the teams, I don't think anyone would expect them to agree to anything else moving forward, when sponsorship money so fundamental. Therefore Bernie needs to charge a pay tv broadcaster more, in order for FOM to maintain their revenue from a given market, while making sure the teams are sufficiently compensated for lost advertising/sponsorship revenue. Hence, Sky's ratings are crucial to the final price they will pay if they bid on the next UK broadcast rights (the higher the better for them).
With all that in mind, what does everything think is more important for Sky in terms of getting more existing Sky subscribers watching F1 regularly and converting more existing F1 viewers into subscribers? Trying to differentiate themselves from the BBC or broadcasting the best F1 show possible? For me it's the latter - the more they can sell and communicate what makes F1 special, the more likely people will want to see every race live, as well as getting access all the other bells and whistles that go along with Sky's dedicated channel. Overall the BBC coverage does this a hell of a lot better in my opinion (especially when it comes to things casual views are more likely to notice and enjoy). Specifically, the pre and post race shows on the BBC really have the potential to allow casual viewers to develop a deeper connection to the sport. Sky just don't have they presenters to do this in my opinion and if anything could even have the opposite effect.
If you've managed to read all of this, I'd love to hear your thoughts
Edited by zztopless1, 30 May 2012 - 05:53.