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The Problematic Paywall in Motorsport

Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Ishani Aziz

Credit: Sky Group

The paywall is a frustrating new development for the F1 community, especially since sports generally used to be free to watch in the UK on channels such as BBC and ITV. Liberty Media (the owners of Formula 1) themselves, believe that the paywall, a conception of Bernie Ecclestone’s, was “detrimental” to the sport. MotoGP has experienced similar problems, and is now behind a paywall in the UK with BT Sport, as F1 is with SkySport until 2024.

In the past, Formula 1 was broadcast on BBC, ITV and Channel 4 - who arranged an agreement whereby they could show 50% of the season live, and the other 50% as highlights. Nowadays Channel 4 can only show highlights of races and only 3-5 hours after the race has ended. They are only permitted to show the British Grand Prix live.

Credit: Mark Thompson

The paywall is naturally disappointing for motorsport fans, as many are actually unable to pay for Sky Sports and BT Sport, specifically younger fans with less disposable income. It has historically damaged viewing numbers of Formula 1, narrowing mainstream viewing slightly. As a result, fans have naturally found other means to watch motorsports. Illegal streaming is common, particularly on Twitch. On a less quantifiable level, F1 fans are also frustrated that because they cannot watch the race live, they have to avoid social media platforms to risk spoiling race results.

Credit: SportsProMedia

There was an exception, as last year Sky and Channel 4 organised a deal which allowed the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale of 2021 to be shown in its entirety for free, live on Channel 4, complemented with Sky Sports footage and commentary. Fans are keen to see more deals being struck to increase viewing accessibility to F1, especially as the fanbase is rapidly growing.

(Credit: Getty Images)

With SkySports continuing as the current F1 rights holder until 2024, fans can only hope that a new deal is struck between Liberty Media and Channel 4, and even to return to the older 50-50 formats.

Let me know your thoughts and opinions on the Paywall - should it stay, or should it go?

If you’d like to give me any feedback - or just talk pure racing - then please leave a comment below, or you could get in contact by following my Instagram:

And if you’d like to check out a video I made about the 9-time MotoGP champion and legend, Valentino Rossi, then follow this link:

Finally be sure to check out the second episode of the Divebomb Power Rankings Podcast:

Thanks for reading guys, means a lot!


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