Sky Sports Managing Director Touts F1 Coverage, Says BT 'Spurred Us On'
Sky Sports' coverage of F1 tops the BBC's and has indulged racing fans like never before, while the arrival of BT as a significant rival in the pay sports TV market has simply “spurred us on,” Sky Sports Managing Dir Barney Francis said. Since '12, Sky has shared the U.K. coverage of F1 with the BBC in a deal that runs until '18. Speaking of the dedicated F1 channel Sky created, Francis said, “We decided let’s indulge the F1 fan like they have never been indulged before. And when it comes to race day, when we are exclusive, then that’s great.”
A UNIQUE POV: Francis, speaking at the SportsPro Live conference in London on Thursday, stressed, however, that when the races are being simulcasted with the BBC, it is important to have a point of view different than the BBC. He added, “And that is where talent, innovation and a slightly different editorial approach is needed.” Francis said that Sky’s coverage was more appealing to F1 fans than the BBC's, saying there was no point trying to "mimic" its rival’s coverage. Francis was also questioned about the arrival of BT as a genuine contender in the U.K. sports-pay market. He said, “Listen, it spurs us on. We always say that. It makes us try new things. It pushes us harder. The fact that our Premier League viewing is so strong this year gives you indication of how we’ve progressed since they [BT] came on board.” To support his argument, Francis pointed to what he claimed was Sky’s strong Premier League end-of-season program of games, countering suggestions that it was BT which had landed the better end-of-season games.
John Reynolds is a writer in London.