After Overcoming Max Verstappen Debacle, Sky Sports Now Faces $10 Million Headache

Published 01/19/2023, 7:30 PM EST

“Press your red button if you are a Sky Q or a Sky Glass customer” is a familiar statement for every F1 viewer. Sky Sports are official broadcasters of F1 but they have not been in the news for the right reasons recently. A couple of months ago, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had boycotted the broadcaster and their star presenter. As the dust seemed to settle on that, the F1 broadcaster now has another challenge at hand. And it may cost them a whooping $10 Million.

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As a part of their contractual obligations, Sky is bound to broadcast at least four races free-to-air in 2023 and 2024. Only then will their new contract take effect. But the issue at hand is to find a broadcaster willing to do so.

Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – November 20, 2022 General view at the start of the race REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

No German broadcaster is open to doing so. The ZDF and ARD don’t want to air motorsport with combustion engines, as it is against their policy. As it stands, both of them broadcast Formula E. This leaves Sky Sports with only one option, that is ProSiebenSat.1, which already broadcasts Formula E and the DTM. However, even they have shut the doors saying they are not interested in F1. This can be attributed to the high cost of the rights.

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According to bild.de, Sky should pay $54 to $60 million per season. With 23 races, that is  $2.6 million per GP approximately. For four free TV races, it would cost them $10 million approximately.

Even though Sky has to provide these free races to validate their contract, if it doesn’t work out, then there may be some other way of obligation fulfillment. But all in all, it looks like the past couple of months have not been ideal for the Broadcasting Network.

Why did Max Verstappen and Red Bull boycott Sky Sports?

Last year, the Milton Keynes-based outfit had boycotted the media activities organized by Sky. They did not take part in any media commitments during the Mexican Grand Prix, 2022, as a sign of protest.

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Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – November 17, 2022 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during the press conference REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Red Bull’s actions were triggered by the comments that were made by Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz, who had suggested that Lewis Hamilton had been “robbed” of the 2021 title. The Raging Bulls and their Lion didn’t think it was impartial commentary. However, they settled the matter later.

But for now, another challenge to find a broadcaster for their ‘free to air’ clause of the contract stands in front of them.

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Sky Sports has become as integral as the sport itself with their commentators. With them facing trouble repeatedly in recent times, one is intrigued to know what their future is with F1.

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Anmol

46 articles

Anmol is an F1 writer at Essentially Sports. She is a Law graduate from National Law University, Lucknow, and currently pursuing PGD in Journalism and Mass Communication from Symbiosis. Being a Rallyist herself she began watching F1, the apex of motorsports, and eventually fell in love with the sport.

Edited By: Ranvijay Singh

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