McLaren CEO Says Pay-TV Is 'Good For F1'
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone's switching of F1 to pay-per-view this year with the Sky/BBC tie-up "should be viewed as a positive, despite the overall audience figures for some races going down," according to Jonathan Noble of AUTO SPORT. One year from the announcement that "left many spectators outraged," McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh said that there have been "a number of benefits that have materialised" from Sky's arrival in F1. Whitmarsh said, "My inbox is less choked now with emails from Mr. Outraged from Leamington Spa. We all felt a little bit upset that it happened -- although in fairness to Bernie, everyone blamed him, the sport, and me for it, but actually the decision, the choice, was the BBC's in the first place." The BBC and Sky have shared coverage of races this year, with half the races being broadcast exclusively on Sky and the other half being shown on both channels. Recently published audience figures show that the race audience in the U.K. is "holding up." Some events like Australia, Malaysia and China are having "a greater combined audience" across both channels, while others like Spain, Monaco, Canada and Britain "are down" compared to '11 when races were all shown live on the BBC (AUTO SPORT, 8/27).