Channel 4 is in preliminary talks to takeover the BBC’s Formula 1 broadcasting rights’ when their current contract expires at the end of the 2013 season.
Speculation has been rife that the BBC is looking to dump the sport in a bid to save costs – it currently pays £40 million a year to broadcast F1 exclusively in the UK and to many other countries with an audience topping 50m per race worldwide.
The Evening Standard claims Channel 4 has held early talks with the bosses at FOM to discuss taking over the contract, possibly before 2013 if the BBC are keen to quit before it’s up.
The channel is primarily aimed at the younger audience between the ages of 18 and 28, a demographic which is very popular with F1 and advertisers – C4 is, unlike the BBC, an advert supported channel, therefore program breaks would return to fund the license.
The channel isn’t known for its sporting prowess, instead opting to show American imports and Reality shows, though after dropping the expensive Big Brother, it has money to spend and recently acquired the Paralympics and IAAF athletics, suggesting a move to more sports is on the horizon.
BSkyB, a subscription service, is also keen on acquiring the rights’ as are ITV, which showed the sport before the BBC tookover. However, with the sports sponsorship-funding structure, a free-to-air channel is the preferred option.