Published On: Wed, Feb 28th, 2018

James Allen: Football chief explains why F1 fans are switching off

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It’s always interesting to hear different points of view from outside the sport on what’s good and bad in the world of Formula 1.

On Wednesday morning at a Sports Industry Breakfast club event in London, Steve Parish, the chairman of English Premier League football side Crystal Palace FC, spelled out why the EPL must maintain its current distribution model of commercial revenues.

This has small increments between the winners and the team finishing 20th – and Parish used F1 as a case study of how a competitive organisation should not be run commercially.

The EPL is in the middle of its richest-ever TV rights deal and a new round, for rights due to start in the 2019/20 season, was recently concluded with Sky and BT Sport paying £4.46billion for three seasons for domestic UK rights alone. At £1.6bn a season, that’s almost three times as much as the global TV rights F1 yields annually.

Arguing that the relatively level playing field in payments has helped make the Premier League exciting – it’s not uncommon for a team like Crystal Palace to beat a Manchester United or an Arsenal once in a while – Parish said: “It has to stay competitive. Nobody wants to watch someone destroy a club 7-0, it’s not intoxicating.

“Take F1 for example. The big teams got all the power, demanded more and more money.

“Now there’s a spectacle where there’s one or two teams with a chance of winning a race, and people are switching off.

“If we make it less interesting, it’s not in the long term benefit of the league.”

Although the total price for the 2019-21 EPL rights has dropped from the current deal, Parish said: “This deal is indicative of how good the last deal was.

“Nobody imagined we’d get another increase like last time. Maybe the league outfoxed the broadcasters last time, and this time we got a bit of our own medicine.

“A lot of the OTT platforms – Netflix etc – are doing pretty well without sport! The hope is we’ll be in a different situation in three years’ time with those types of providers.

“The fees were probably over the top, and now we’re at the right amount of money, which is never a bad thing. The international market could balance it out anyway.”

F1 launched its new OTT streaming service on Tuesday and the response from readers of the James Allen on F1 site has been very positive.

At $8 a month the price point seems to be right for the audience, and I predict a successful roll out in the markets it is being trialled in this season.

UK fans are disappointed it’s not available, but F1 has indicated it is open to doing a deal for Sky to ‘upsell’ the OTT package as part of its offering.

How that would work in relation to the much higher prices charged by Sky Sports and its Now TV pay-per-day arm is not yet clear.



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