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F1 defends pay TV deals' shrinking audiences

F1 defends pay TV deals' shrinking audiences
© Reuters
It is an "oversimplification" to say that Formula 1 is suffering because of the move away from free-to-air television.

It is an "oversimplification" to say that Formula 1 is suffering because of the move away from free-to-air television.

That is the view of the sport's director of media rights Ian Holmes, off the back of reports that in Britain alone, Sky's exclusive live rights have cost Britain 8.6 million TV viewers.

Writing in the Independent, F1 business journalist Christian Sylt said the pay deals boost Liberty Media's coffers "but has driven fans away from the sport".

Indeed, while F1 has just extended the Canal Plus pay TV deal in France, Alain Prost said just days ago: "We used to have 8 million fans in France watching TF1, but now that it is on Canal Plus it is 750,000."

F1 media rights director Ian Holmes acknowledged that pay TV deals mean audience numbers go down.

"That said, it is a bit of an oversimplification," he said.

"Firstly, there are always commercial elements to be considered, but equally as important is to look at who the viewers are, what the demographics are, and therefore who you're addressing."

Holmes also said pay TV broadcasters usually offer "far more in depth coverage".

"I think it would be fair to say that in the likes of Sky and Canal Plus they have and continue to strive to improve the overall standard of F1 coverage, bringing to the fan far more than ever existed in the past," he added.

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