Formula 1 is back this weekend with the 2023 season-opening Bahrain GP. However, fans in India won’t be able to tune in to Star Sports or even Disney+ Hotstar, leaving the championship’s own F1 TV Pro digital streaming platform as the only option, at least this weekend.
This will be the first time since the 1990s that the sport won’t be broadcasted on TV, and naturally, that leaves a lot of questions. We answer all your key queries.
- F1 TV Pro available with monthly and yearly subscription plans
- F1 still exploring traditional broadcast deals in India
- India the most important new market for F1 TV Pro
Why isn’t F1 on TV and Hotstar this weekend?
F1’s previous agreement with Star Sports, which also included online streaming on Hotstar, expired at the end of last season. This contract has not been extended, leaving F1 without a broadcast partner for now.
Speaking to our sister publication Campaign India, Ian Holmes – Director of Media Rights and Content Creation at Formula 1 – revealed that F1 did have discussions with other broadcasters like Zee. “We looked at the more traditional channels and platforms. Star was one of them. We had discussions with Zee and one or two others too. I want to be candid about this – we felt that the valuation of many of those parties placed on our property wasn’t similar to what we felt it was worth,” he said.
“Understandably, a lot of broadcasters have a preoccupation with one of my favourite sports – cricket. They throw a lot of money into the sport. We looked at the market and connectivity. I’m not throwing a parallel between F1 and cricket, but we felt it was fascinating to see the valuation of the digital rights of the IPL versus the traditional rights.”
He added, “People are used to consuming sports digitally. That factored into our thinking while we were looking at different options and thought it was a good time to push our product [F1 TV Pro] into the Indian market.”
What is F1 TV Pro?
F1 TV Pro will stream all sessions during race weekends, including practice, qualifying, sprint events and the main race. In addition to this, subscribers can also access live telemetry, all 20 driver onboard cameras and team radio channels, along with F1’s pre- and post-race analysis. All of this is ad-free, so there are no breaks mid-coverage.
Buying a subscription also gives you access to prior races, archived footage and even exclusive documentaries produced for F1 TV. And the platform won’t just livestream F1; there’s also Formula 2 (where we have Indian representation with Jehan Daruvala and Kush Maini), Formula 3 and Porsche Supercup.
Holmes stresses that India as a market will be a key focus for F1 TV. “We have many new markets for F1 TV this year, but India is the biggest. It’s not the biggest in terms of population alone, but it’s the most important new market we’re launching in. I’m fascinated with how we go because we don’t have the traditional license agreement at this moment. So it is right up there in terms of importance and it’s not an experimental market,” he added,
How much does F1 TV Pro cost?
First-time subscribers will get a free seven-day trial, but this deal is only available for a limited period of time. Following that, F1 TV Pro will be available for Rs 399 ($3.99) a month or Rs 2,999 ($29.99) annually.
While the platform offers plenty of exclusive content for die-hard F1 fans, there’s no denying it’s a steep price, specially in a cost-conscious country like India. Hotstar’s base plan, for comparison, costs Rs 899 a year – that’s nearly one third of F1 TV Pro’s asking price. Moreover, the Hotstar plan gave people access to plenty of other sports and entertainment content.
What is the difference between F1 TV Pro and F1 TV Access?
For those who want to catch all the races live, make sure you purchase F1 TV Pro and not F1 TV Access. The TV Pro package carries all live streaming, while the Access package only carries on-demand content and delayed replays (dependent on country).
Both subscription types give full access to Live Timing, though.
Where can you watch F1 TV?
F1 TV Pro can be accessed on online browsers, mobile and tablet devices (iPhone 6 and above with iOS7+ and all Android devices with OS7 and above), and TV apps (for Apple TV, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV).
Can you cast F1 TV to your smart TV?
Yes, you can cast F1 TV Pro to our smart TVs using Chromecast Generation 2 or Apple TV Airplay (the latter is to an Apple TV Box only).
Will F1 tie up with any other broadcaster in India?
For now, F1 TV Pro is the only live streaming option for those in India. However, F1 is not writing off traditional broadcasting in the country entirely.
“Discussions are still open and we are open-minded of a more traditional deal coming into place, but we won’t look at it instead of F1 TV,” explained Holmes.
“We are committed to doing this. I’m not interested in doing something super last minute unless it’s worth it. We still have an approach that interests me, on how we can use F1 TV Pro alongside an Indian digital offering, whether it’s through an authentication bundle or one with a telco.”
Who are the presenters for F1 TV?
Will Buxton (whom many of you will know from Drive to Survive) will lead F1 TV’s analysis, along with presenters Laura Winter, Rosanna Tennant and Lawrence Baretto.
Alex Jacques will lead the commentary team, with former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer and IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe as co-commentators. Thirteen-time F1 race winner David Coulthard will also provide commentary for a number of races throughout the season, with Sam Collins coming in as a technical analyst.
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