Australia’s position as one of the few remaining countries to offer complete free-to-air coverage of Formula 1 could be about to come to an end, possibly as soon as this year.
Fox Sports and current free-to-air broadcaster Network Ten look set to announce a deal which will see the pay TV station offer live broadcasts of every Grand Prix, while the cash-strapped Network Ten will split 50-50 between live broadcasts and a delayed highlights package.
Split rights between Foxtel and Network Ten have been on the cards for months, but it was initially anticipated that Ten would get to broadcast the entire F1 season live – with Fox getting more exclusive pre- and post-race broadcasting – as is the case with Fox/Ten’s recent breakout of the MotoGP broadcasting rights.
Our sources tell us, however, that Ten will only get to broadcast half of the season’s Grands Prix (qualifying and races) live, while the remainder would be run in a one-hour delayed highlights package.
The model will follow the Fox / Ten V8 Supercars Championship broadcasting deal, as well as that seen for Formula 1 in the United Kingdom where the Sky Sports / BBC have joint rights. In both cases, the latter of the pairings has its airtime split 50-50 between live broadcasts and delayed highlights packages.
Formula 1 broadcasting in Australia has remained the sole prevail of free-to-air television since the 1980s, where both Channel Nine and subsequently Network Ten have held exclusive full-season rights.
Neither network has received great praise from fans, however. Channel Nine regularly earned heat for lengthy delays of its race broadcasts, while Network Ten made a controversial decision in 2013 to stop broadcasting F1 from its high-definition channel, One.
The new broadcasting deal is awaiting the sign-off from Formula One Management before it will be formally announced.
Network Ten has suffered a horror financial run in recent years, posting losses amounting to over AU$250 million in the last 18 months. In May 2014, the company had to shed 150 jobs from its news and operations divisions in a bid to stave off further massive financial bleeds.
Network Ten has been contacted for comment, but did confirm to RichardsF1.com that their completed broadcast schedule will be announced later this week.
Image via Network Ten