The majority of Formula 1 races will not be broadcast live on free-to-air television in the UK from the start of the 2019 season after Sky Sports secured an exclusive deal to show events on its subscription channels.
The new agreement between Sky and Formula One means Sky Sports will be the home of Formula 1 in the UK and Ireland from 2019 to 2024 and will offer live coverage of every grand prix.
This year Channel 4 has started showing Formula 1 on free-to-air television for the first time, taking over from the BBC in broadcasting live coverage of ten races and showing highlights of the other 11.
That deal runs until the end of the 2018 season, and it remains to be seen whether Channel 4 will be willing to show highlights when Sky’s exclusive deal begins the following season.
Sky has vowed to show the British Grand Prix live on free-to-air television. It hasn't gone into specifics of how it will be shown, but Sky owns a number of 'freeview' channels. In addition, two other ‘prime time’ races will be shown live on a new channel called Sky Sports Mix, which will cover a variety of key sporting events and will be made available to Sky customers at no extra cost.
Sky said it will also offer highlights of all other races and qualifying sessions for free. Most races, however, will be out of reach for UK-based enthusiasts unless they have a Sky subscription.
Sky Sports began showing live Formula 1 on a dedicated channel in 2012 and has a commentary team that includes former racers Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert and Martin Brundle. From 2017 every race will be broadcast on Sky in Ultra High Definition.