This week FOM, the Formula One Management company run by Bernie Ecclestone, has announced it will be providing native High Definition Formula One coverage for the very first time. This heralds the entrance of the sport into the super clear broadcast territory.
High Definition television has been available for some time now in the United Kingdom, initially with the Sky satellite service, and then later with both Cable and free to air boxes and solutions. HD is said to reach over 25% of homes in the UK alone. Europe is playing catch up to the United States of America however, who have had a super high definition broadcast for many years.
While the UK is playing catch up to the USA, F1 is playing catch up to other sports. Soccer, Cricket and American Football are just three sports which are all regularly broadcast in the clear definition, which provides a stunning amount of clarity over a normal SD broadcast. For some reason, despite being one of the most commercially driven sports in the world, F1 was slow on the uptake to HD. That commercial edge is somewhat surprising.
It has to be assumed, that part of the reason why soccer made it onto HD so quickly was this commercialism. Consumers drove the change. With the number of advertisers on F1 cars and around the tracks, one would assume they would be “chomping at the bit” to get it into the greater clarity viewing. But alas not, and 11 years into the 21st century will be the first time we get to see it.
Perhaps it is the investment into equipment that FOM were struggling with. After all, the number of cameras needed for a decent HD broadcast at an F1 circuit would be huge. And think of all of the cameras on the cars too, one can only presume micro HD cameras will be installed for the new season. Indeed some are now calling for F1 to go the whole hog and invest into 3D coverage. While a lovely concept for the novel new viewing of television, there are an unbelievable number of pitfalls and problems surrounding the ability to broadcast such things – the technology really isn’t there yet.
Bernie Ecclestone had always said HD would only come to F1 when the broadcasters really demanded it. “I said to the broadcasters, are you going to get more viewers, will more people watch F1 because it is HD or will less people watch it because it isn’t? They really need to have a check and see who has got the right televisions.
“I don’t think the average public realise that it is not the television, they have to have something to receive it as well. It is like producing a colour signal when people only have black-and-white sets.”
The decision however seems a good one. With both television companies and fans applauding the decision. Forums, and the popular micro-blogging service Twitter have been full of praise for the move. Some viewers have written that they will now be investing in HD receiving equipment in order to watch the new service. People without the ability to view HD should also see some improvement in the standard definition coverage, with BBC saying that their British SD channel viewers will receive a downscaled edition of the HD feed.
Brian Sullivan, CEO of Sky Germany, said: “The broadcast of Formula 1 in true HD is something that millions of racing fans in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have yearned for.” Meanwhile, Danielle Nagler, Head of BBC HD in Britain said “It’s fantastic news that FOM has decided to green light HD broadcasts, and we’re looking forward to sharing with the fans all the races in all their detail on BBC One HD and BBC HD.”
So far, confirmed broadcasters of HD F1 are:
- BBC – Britain
- Sky – Germany, Austria & Switzerland
- Network Ten: One HD – Australia
- Speed – USA
- Globo – Brazil
The BBC, who have won back coverage of Formula One from ITV, have announced today that they will be reviving the iconic song “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac for the introduction titles of their coverage.
It is the first time the song, which epitomises Formula One for many people, will have been used since the coverage was lost in 1996.
However, the song, recorded in 1996 by Fleetwood Mac will be back and could be recovered just for the introduction. It’s bass ending will be sounding out in living rooms across the country every Sunday afternoon.
“There has been one enormous issue on all the message boards and that was the question of what music we are going to use,” said a BBC spokesman. “Whether it’s a surprise or not, we’ll leave for you to decide.”
Murray Walker, who will be working as an online correspondant for the BBC’s F1 coverage, was absolutely delighted with the news.
Enjoy BBC’s 1990 Introduction before the Monaco Grand Prix with the iconic soundtrack
The BBC, who are set to take back F1 coverage from ITV in the UK for 2009 onwards are believed to be on the verge of confirming their commentators for the forthcoming season.
Jonathan Legard is believed to become the new main commentator, with contract talks right in their final stages. Legard has been a F1 commentator on 5Live for sometime, alongside football work.
Martin Brundle is also said to be close to a deal, he has stated his desire on many occassions but formally denied he had signed on the dotted line.
Brundle said: “Nothing is signed yet. I am hopeful that I can move to the BBC and continue my current role, and we are still in discussions.”
Jake Humphrey is set to take over from Steve Rider, and the rumour mill has it that David Coulthard is going to become an expert pundit.
The BBC has managed to get the Formula One rights to show F1 on TV, radio and other platforms from 2009 onwards back of ITV.
The BBC showed F1 from its entrance onto TV until the end of 1996 when ITV took over.
The coverage ITV has offered has been heavily criticised because of many advert breaks which often mean the viewer misses imporant moments, and the poor choice of commentators after Murray Walker’s exit.
Bernie Ecclestone appears to have taken the coverage from ITV and given it to BBC in an unprecedented step.
“I am delighted to conclude this new deal with the BBC,” Ecclestone commented.
“It is an exciting time in Formula One and the BBC has some innovative new ideas to consolidate and expand our UK fan base.”
Dominic Coles, BBC Sport Director of Sport Rights, added: “The biggest motorsporting event in the world is returning home after 12 years.
“We were delighted when Bernie Ecclestone approached us about the return of F1 to the BBC. F1 is a crown jewel of sports broadcasting, so to bring the rights back to their traditional home from 2009 is tremendously exciting.
“Fans will be able to enjoy uninterrupted, state of the art and innovative coverage from BBC Sport, across all of our TV, radio and new media platforms, for the first time since 1996.”