Germany struggling to find free-to-air TV partner for F1 after RTL deal ends

Henry Valantine
A cameraperson films outside Ferrari. F1 Paul Ricard June 2021.

A cameraperson films outside Ferrari. F1 Paul Ricard June 2021.

Sky Germany is reportedly struggling to bring a new free-to-air TV partner on board for the coming F1 season, after fellow broadcaster RTL’s contract expired.

Multiple reports from Germany have come out claiming that the pay-TV channel, which is contractually obliged to share live rights to four races as part of its long-term contract with Formula 1, is still looking for a free-to-air partner, with RTL refusing to extend its contract – preferring to focus on its live football and NFL coverage instead.

RTL had hosted Formula 1 on its channel for almost 30 years before Sky bought the full live rights to the sport in Germany ahead of the 2021 season, but other broadcasters ARD and ZDF are not believed to be interested in the sub-licensing rights for F1 at this time, with ZDF reportedly believing that the internal combustion engine element of the series does not fit in with its environmental alignment for the future.

Motorsport-Magazin in Germany report that ProSiebenSat.1 Group are also not thought to be in the running to buy F1 rights either, leaving Sky in need of finding a partner before the season starts. recommends

Top 10: The drivers with the highest winning percentages in F1 history
How Fernando Alonso had an immediate impact from day one at Aston Martin
Mistakes, strategy, Sainz: What Charles Leclerc must overcome to win the World title

Formula 1 has been increasingly moving towards pay-TV channels in recent years, with fans required to pay a monthly subscription to be able to watch the sport live, with free-to-air TV often showing highlights instead.

Sky would reportedly be able to fulfil their contractual commitment to show four races free-to-air on their own platforms, through their own channels, online or on their YouTube channel, but doing so would see them miss out on the income from sub-licensing the TV rights to F1 in Germany from next season.

Free-to-air highlights had been available on the Sky Sport News channel when the Sky partnership was first launched in Germany, but the channel was put back behind a paywall in mid-2021.