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F1 Sky deal done in 48 hours- 2 Nov 2011 00:00:00

Speaking exclusively at the Nolan Partners Sport Industry Breakfast Club in front of a packed room of leading industry executives, Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, praised the agility shown by his team to secure rights to Formula One and discussed the ongoing threat of illegal online streaming.

Francis revealed that the rights package agreed from next season for Formula One was a done deal within 48 hours of the first phone call.

‘It was presented to us in the summer. We had a very short time span to get involved and we showed great agility to move and secure those rights. It was all done in a couple of days,’ he told his audience.

The managing director also revealed to Sport Industry Breakfast Club interviewer Owen Gibson that Sky Sports had not ruled out working together with the BBC on some aspects of its Formula One programming.

‘It would make sense for us to work together in certain ways,’ Francis revealed.

Elsewhere in the interview, Francis indicated that there were no immediate plans to return pay-per-view boxing to Sky Sports’ channels.

‘If our viewers, our customers, want boxing, we will provide boxing,’ he said. ‘But boxing is in a difficult position at the moment because fans want to see that best boxers fight the best boxers. So people have got fed up.

‘We have shelved pay-per-view boxing for the time being because of a couple of bad experiences we had. There was general dissatisfaction with the Haye v Harrison fight, and then the Haye v Klitschko fight – so we don’t think it’s a great time to ask the public for more investment into pay-per-view boxing.’

Francis also discussed Sky’s ongoing expansion across platforms, noting that there were 600,000 views of Manchester City’s win over Manchester United in October on the Sky Go platform. However, online streaming has presented its own challenges.

On websites streaming live football online illegally, Francis added: ‘It’s an increasing threat, which we work with governing bodies to try and close down.

‘It’s a big threat today, it was a big threat last year, and it will be a big threat next year.’

Barney Francis succeeded Vic Wakeling in July 2009, and under his direction, Sky Sports has now moved all of its channels to HD, pioneered 3D broadcasts and extended its mobile and online offering.

It has renewed contracts for the UEFA Champions League, Football League, US PGA Championship and Tour golf, ATP Tennis, and Rugby League and secured new rights for the Masters and Formula One.

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