F1Fanatic reports that ITV will be hiding the Canadian Grand Prix on their digital channels ITV4 and ITV2. Only highlights will be shown on ITV1. Perhaps ITV think that nobody will notice because of the World Cup. Well they are wrong. You would understand if there were World Cup matches clashing with the F1, but there aren’t. Instead of the race analogue viewers will be subjected to ‘Animals Do The Funniest Things’!
Curiously, ITV1 will be showing more of the qualifying session than the race. The late-night qualifying re-run is due to last for 1 hour and 45 minutes. The race highlights show will only last an hour! What kind of idiots are responsible for these decisions?
I am quite sure that they have shown every race live on ITV1 for about five years now. They were flamed about half a decade ago for not broadcasting the United States Grand Prix. So this marks a bit of a departure. Maybe ITV think that enough people have Freeview now for them to get away with it. I’m lucky because I have Freeview, and probably about two thirds of the population has access to ITV2. But that still leaves one third of the viewers high and dry.
It is more common for ITV to avoid broadcasting qualifying sessions, particularly for races in the Americas where sessions take place during prime time. The last time ITV didn’t show qualifying live — last year’s Canadian Grand Prix, as it happens — Jenson Button took pole position! The British hope’s big moment was not shown live on ITV. But even then they still showed the race live on ITV1.
Having had their fingers burnt, ITV decided to improve their coverage. At the last minute they decided to show qualifying for the US Grand Prix. Over the past year or so, ITV seem to have been eager to treat F1 better, even in the light of Indygate. But it looks like they’ve got bored of this season (which I guess is understandable!). Let’s just hope that Jenson takes the bloody chequered flag now though, because then ITV really will have some explaining to do.
ITV’s relationship with Formula 1 fans has been patchy to say the least. The fact that they have to show adverts during the action was never going to be popular. Their antics at last year’s San Marino Grand Prix, where they decided to cut away from one of the most exciting climaxes to a race in years in favour of a commercial break, sent every F1 fan in the country into an apoplectic rage. I can’t think of another sporting event where adverts are shown during the action.
But then again, I struggle to think of any sports where play lasts non-stop for 90–120 minutes. It isn’t reasonable to expect ITV to stop showing adverts — they have to fund the F1 coverage somehow. But they have an hour-long ‘race build up’ programme which contains only two commercial breaks! Could they not do what they do in football and bunch all the ad breaks in before and after the race?
Update: It seems as though ITV1 will be broadcasting the race. It seems as though the confusion was down to the fact that they hadn’t decided which World Cup match they were going to show.