Formula 1 warned it could ‘ruin itself’ with switch to pay TV

A media expert has warned Formula 1 it could “ruin itself” if it makes the full switch to pay TV.

Sky hold the broadcast rights in the UK, Italy and Germany with the 2021 season the first with the races behind a pay wall in Germany. The impact on viewing figures has been huge with rates down to 816,000 from 4.55 million when they were shown on the free-to-air channel RTL.

“A racing series like Formula 1 ruins itself in the long run by taking the step of running only on pay-TV,” said Stefan Kurten, CEO of Swiss media consultants Inmediaz.

“You reduce your audience to the hardcore of fans. So you become more and more a show only for motorsport freaks. You pay for higher rights revenues with an increasing loss of relevance. In the medium term, this then causes unrest among sponsors.”

Media rights director of Formula 1 Ian Holmes did concede ratings were down but that they were doing everything possible to make sure fans could see the action.

He told Sport Bild: “We’ve had success in the German market and appreciate the large audience RTL brought, but overall viewership and rights revenue were down.

“There’s still a lot of coverage on digital and social channels which keeps German fans heavily engaged.”

Fans are missing a thrilling title race as Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton by six points with six races to go. The next event in the formula 1 calendar is the United States Grand Prix on 24 October.

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