ITV Cutting Commercials?

ITV Cutting Commercials?

It has been reported recently that ITV may be doing away with commercial breaks on their British Formula One coverage, and instead following Germany’s lead by splitting the screen in two. One part of the screen showing the live action, and the other part showing the various purchasing opportunities. This story came from PitPass and via F1Fanatic.

This is welcoming news to me, as adverts have really hindered the viewing of races since ITV took over from the BBC in 1997. The most recent and worst offense of advert interruption came at last years San Marino Grand Prix, where Alonso and Schumacher were locked in battle in the final laps. ITV then cut away to their commercial break and the race finished without witness. Admittedly, ITV did show a replay straight after coming back on air, but it was too late for F1 fans who were already throwing their arms in the air in disgust.

ITV have also recently had a shake-up of the show, replacing the exiting Jim Rosenthal with Steve Ryder, and Tony Jardine has also recently left the show. Now all they need to do is confirm the new strategy on advert breaks and partner Martin Brundle with Murray Walker again in the commentary box.


  • So great for those people with HiDef and 42″ screens – I don’t want to lose a proportion of the screen area for “adverts” when there’s racing to watch.

    Why not do what they do for football and pack all the adverts into the pre-race/post-race parts of the show, and leave the actual racing intact!

  • That would be the ideal fix, but I don’t think ITV would do it. I think that this is a step in the right direction though. I guess the only real way Formula One in the UK is going to lose the advert breaks for good is a change back to the BBC (which won’t happen until 2011 at the earliest).

  • San Marino was far from the first time ITV has made a botch with the placement of adverts.

    1997: “Welcome back to the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Damon Hill in the Arrows has just overtaken Michael Schumacher for the lead!”

    1998: “And as you rejoin us here at Suzuka, I can tell you that Michael Schumacher has retired, meaning Mika Hakkinen is the world champion”.

  • Indeed John, there have been many occasions, and unfortuantely I cannot see it improving unless they split the screen or do what Tom has suggested above and cram all the commercials into their pre and post race analysis bits.

  • I’m not sure if it is football or not – thinking about it – maybe it’s Rugby on Sky… doesn’t really matter it’s the idea that counts… (oh, and a quick “Hi!” to John – didn’t realise you were into F1 too!)

  • Do ITV fulfill their contractural obligations? It’s always been quoted that ITV show the whole race live. Well this has quite obviously NOT been the case as they frequently interupt with adverts – up to every 10mins at times! Even if they show what you’ve missed straight away, you then don’t see what’s currently going on. – Basically they don’t show the whole race live. It literally got to the stage last year where I would tape the coverage and then immediately replay when the race has finished, so you can fast forward the adverts. You then have less stress and also has some sort of continuity with your viewing. That rather defeats the marketing objective really doesn’t it?!

  • Unfortunately, not enough people record the race and watch it later skipping the adverts. Thus, I’m sure ITV make a lot of money from the commercials. And as long as they are making a lot of money, they will continue to show them.

    I guess it is a toss up between paying £120ish for a TV license in order to view BBC, or putting up with commercial breaks but getting it for free on ITV.

    And as most people actually pay for a license anyway, I guess I would lean towards the BBC taking the sport back ASAP.

  • I would say there is no chance of losing the adverts, although the ‘split-screen’ idea is interesting. ITV will always want to show adverts throughout the race to maximise revenue and catch people like me who only turn on at the last minute to avoid all the ITV pre-race clap trap and go and make a drink/have a pee while we wait for the podium and driver interviews. I will never get used to them – I hate that blinking square in the corner of the sceen as you know it heralds yet another wretched break in coverage.

    I do remember the halycon days of BBC with fondness and let us hope Steve Rider avoids the ‘I love Jenson Button he has only come 16th but let us interview him anyway cos he is Johnny English’ which plagued the Jim Rosenthal era.

    But, before we get to rose-tinted about BBC, they committed some terrible sins over the years – not showing the French GP when it clashed with Wombledon, breaking off to the cricket (I recall this happening when a hobbled Lauda was struggling to hold the lead during an Austrian GP once – they cut away at the worst possible moment) and of course no qualifying for years unless it was the British GP.

  • Can anyone tell me exactly what happened to Jim “the imp” Rosenthal? Was he sacked or did he simply part company with ITV? Though Steve Rider is clearly a talented broadcaster (I met him when I was a twelve-year-old national swimmer and he was perfectly nice – and I got his autograph – ooh!) but I regret to say that he ain’t no Jim Rosenthal, regardless of his many flaws! His parting was treated as though it didn’t even matter (unlike when Murray “his Royal Highness” left ITV).

    Lest we forget – when Martin Brundle first started on ITV, he was absolute sh*te and took about three years before I’d say he started to get any confidence (-anyone remember the fantastic Jonathan Palmer?) His contradicting Murray every ten seconds, notwithstanding of course!

  • Is the ITV commentary streamed on the internet ? Does anyone know ? I’ve been hunting around and it doesn’t appear to be. I watched last Sunday’s Monaco race in a hotel room with bad satellite reception (audio signal kept dropping out – sou……Webb….ou…rac…. you get the idea). I fired up the laptop on the in-house broadband figuring that surely I’d be able to stream the audio from SOMEWHERE. But no. Perhaps Bernie could look into this ?

  • Shane: The official F1 website at has live timings as the race progresses, but it requires a reasonable connection and you also need to register (but if I recall properly, it isn’t too detailed of a registration).

    As for live streaming of the commentary, I’m not aware of anyone doing this. The ITV commentary is completely separate from the video footage. Most Grands Prix use the official FOM video (Ecclestone’s company), and the commentary is local to each country (although UK ITV is used in many countries). I guess it is down to the Television Channel as to whether they broadcast it on the net or not.

    BBC Radio Five Live have their own live commentary which is useful to tune into during ITV’s ad breaks!

  • Thanks Oliver. I’m not in the UK so cannot get BBC Radio – I tried the Live Five audio streaming on the web but it had been replaced with an announcement that ‘owing to contractual obligations, they were unable to stream their F1 coverage’. I presume BBC have the rights to broadcast their commentary within the UK, but not further afield. My guess is that it is not in FOM’s interest to allow streaming commentary since one licence to cover the whole world is not as lucrative as multiple, localised broadcast licences. A legal solution to this would be ‘pay-to-listen’ model (either subscription and/or ‘one-off’) that pays a percentage to FOM.

  • Im fed up of the advert debacle. ITV ruin their coverage by messing around with breaks at really inopportune times. I remember once (I think it may have been the French GP) when they went to a break right at the moment the winning driver (Ralph) crossed the line.

    Also do they think we are stupid and don’t notice when we don’t get to see the post race debate and interviews?

    This would never happen in football, how is 22 men kicking a bag of air around a muddy pitch in Manchester any more important than F1? Why can it take over our TV viewing much in the same way as snooker and athletics do on the Beeb. Motosport gets a raw deal all the time. And the BBC is by no means whiter than white, their coverage of the BTCC towards the end of its tenure was aweful. It seems to lose interest in motorsport (2 and 4 wheels) very quickly. While ITV is ok, it MUST compete with the quality we can get from Eurosport and Motors TV. And please please please can we have the F1 Channel back from 2002. It was an awesome idea, only ruined by the least exciting season in years.

  • I couldn’t agree with Matt more! Bring back the F1 Channel. Only this time make it affordable. If it were sold in the same way and similarly priced to Sky’s Prem Plus it would have a huge subscription base.

    Then Bernie could make a slice and we get the excellent coverage that was the F1 Channel and get rid of the adverts!

  • I agree, Rick and Matt and the millions of unspoken voices. If Bernie could do what he originally intended to do, F1 would be better off. Well, at least for me it would! An affordable dedicated channel to Formula One, accessible by the mojority of F1 fans that cut out al the adverts. Could ask for a better gift from Santa?

    There was a good article in either a paper or online publication that springs to mind that discusses Bernie’s attempt at this. If I can find it again, I’ll publish the (biased) highlights. 😉

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