F1 goes fully pay-TV in Germany as Sky nets exclusive deal

Pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland has agreed a new multi-year deal for Formula 1 rights in Germany that will see the motor-racing series fully behind a paywall in the country for the first time.

The deal with Formula One Management, the sport’s commercial arm, is for exclusive rights from 2021. It includes full coverage of every F1 Grand Prix including practice sessions, qualification and the championship races, as well as rights to Formula 2, Formula 3 and Porsche Supercup.

The Comcast-owned broadcaster will be launching a dedicated F1 channel in the country to exploit the rights and has said that there will be no commercial breaks during live races.

It will broadcast four selected races per season and a 30-minute highlights show after each race on its free-to-view channel Sky Sport News HD.

The Sky Sport News channel is available to Sky television customers, plus television customers of Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, NetCologne and Unitymedia.

F1 TV Pro, the property’s premium OTT package, which launched in Germany in 2018, will remain available. F1 TV Pro will be available to Sky Sports subscribers as part of its overall offering.

Sky currently holds pay-television rights to F1 in a two-year deal covering the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Previously, the broadcaster held rights in a deal covering 2016 and 2017, but decided against renewing and it did not hold rights in 2018, only to negotiate its current deal before the start of the 2019 season. F1 did not have a pay-television broadcaster in 2018.

There is currently extensive free-to-air coverage of F1 in Germany, as the rights-holder has a three-year deal, from 2018 to 2020, with commercial broadcaster RTL.

RTL shows live coverage of the first two practice sessions on its n-tv channel, highlights of the third practice session and live coverage of qualifying and championship races on its flagship RTL channel.

RTL had held F1 rights since 1991. Jörg Graf, managing director of RTL has said that “the competition for TV rights has changed, the market has overheated” and that the broadcaster will now “focus on football”. Earlier this year, RTL acquired exclusive rights to the Uefa Europa League and the newly-created Uefa Europa Conference League, from 2021-22.

Germany now becomes the third major market in which FOM has sold rights exclusively to Sky, following deals with Sky Italia (from 2018 to 2020) and Sky UK (from 2019 to 2024). In both cases the deals moved F1 coverage fully behind a paywall.

It has recently extended its deal in Italy with Sky Italia for a further two years, until 2022.

Earlier this month, SportBusiness revealed that pay-television broadcaster SuperSport agreed a three-year renewal with FOM for rights in Sub-Saharan Africa until 2022.

Sky Deutschland’s F1 announcement comes on the same day that the broadcaster was awarded live rights to the bulk of German football’s top-tier Bundesliga, the top subscription driver in the country.