ESPN Star Sports and F1 – How are they doing so far in 2009 ?

Back in September 2008 ESPN Star Sports revealed their new 5 year F1 broadcasting contract for 24 Asian markets. The good news is that we continue to have F1 coverage in this part of the world. I hoped (or it was my wishful thinking) that there will also be something in their new contract that will force them to raise their game. But after watching their Malaysian GP coverage all my hopes were dashed.

While viewers in other parts of the world are treated with live broadcasts of all practice sessions either on TV or online, interactive features are a touch of a button on their remotes away and their broadcasters’ websites offer lots of additional programming, here in Asia we are still in 20th century courtesy of ESPN Star Sports.

Again there is no coverage of practice sessions, neither on TV nor on their website. The only marginal improvement seems to be that the live coverage of qualifying now starts 10 minutes before the green light goes on instead of 3 minutes in the past… Still, the commercial break cuts the Q1 in half. I would like to point out that this is not free to air TV and we have to pay monthly subscription to watch it. So having the ad break cutting in half even 15 minutes long qualifying session well that really annoys me… Interactive features ? That we can only dream about … Post race press conference live ? No chance, we have to go through several commercial breaks before we can get the delayed taped version …

What also annoys me is the poor quality of the TV picture – still only in 4:3 ratio and in horrible resolution. I am not sure if that is the problem of our cable provider or the ESPN Star Sports, but hello … This is 2009 !!!

The team of commentators remained unchanged so as feared Steve Slater is still on

The ESPN Star Sports online coverage of F1 does not look like a website of broadcaster that covers 24 countries and territories … Not much writing or analysis, all the news look like a feed pulled from GMM … There is now a video channel but … Since the 2008 Brazilian GP the only videos available are the USF1 team launch, video highlights from Australian and Malaysian GPs (I believe that is the same that we can see on the official F1 site) and a show called “Liar ?” (something on Lewis Hamilton). That’s it. How is the quality of those videos I can’t tell, they would not play on my Mac…

The highlight of the website however is The Greatest – that is where you are “to decide which star from a whole host of drivers has made the biggest impact on the high-octane, adrenaline-pumping world of Formula One”. The whole host of drivers are in fact the 16 they offer you. How on Earth have Alex Yoong and Narain Karthikeyan made that list ? I have nothing against either of them but lining them up with the likes of Senna, Stewart, Schumacher, Fangio, Hakkinen ? I do not mind a bit of humour, but this is a bad joke …

Looks like Asia is only good for paying the FOM bills, but when it comes to fans, no one really cares. What do we, F1 fans in Asia, have to do, to finally get some proper Formula 1 coverage ?

Has the F1 coverage improved this season in your country or territory ?

18 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Aaron MullanNo Gravatar says:

    Wow. Poor F1wolf. Where in the world are you based. In the UK we get all practice sessions, full qualifying with an hour build up, full race with an hour build up and all this with a choice of 3 comentary feeds. On race day there is also interactive features with onboard camera, live timings and main picture. Add to this the unbelieveable website from the BBC, which you might beable to use, and it looks like we are getting alot for our money which I might point out is £0.00. You are being had big time.

  2. Aaron MullanNo Gravatar says:

    Also, not to rub it in to much, one of the 3 comentary feeds is done by a childrens TV channel so kids in the Uk can understand things properly……………. Sorry

  3. @macdonmtNo Gravatar says:

    You know, I’m saddened to read this review of your coverage. In America, we suffered through nearly 5 seasons of really sub-par coverage. My entire memory of the the Hak’s first world championship seems to be from a blimp shot with a handicam. The coverage from the late 80’s really was better. I more vividly remember the ’89 World Championship than the ’98 World Championship.

    Now, the silver lining is that the coverage has improved 1000%. Speed Channel here has finally bought the rights, installed some brilliant commentators (most have been around forever, but we’ve had the nice addition of Peter Windsor at the track for the past few years), and the picture quality is top notch. It’s still 4:3 where I get it, but that’s about the only complaint. We get to see 1 Friday practice, live quali, live race with 30min pre-race show and live podium / presser. It’s really quite good.

    I’m not saying this to make you more depressed, but my point is this: In America, no one cared about F1, but in less than 5 years, everything from a coverage standpoint really turned around. Now our coverage is solid, and I hope that your coverage improves in the same way so you can really enjoy the races. (or just move, or go to the races live, those are your other options).

  4. danielNo Gravatar says:

    “Has the F1 coverage improved this season in your country or territory ?”
    in sweden theres been a new channel for motorsports, meaning that yet fewer has access to it unless you buy or extend your subscribtion for cable.. on the other hand, maybe a good thing to get f1 to one specific channel..
    good thing theres something called proxy to order instead, the bbc broadcast is excellent!

    daniels last blog post..Är Kanada + USA på väg tillbaka till F1-kalendern? Och blir det då New York..

  5. AlvinKNo Gravatar says:

    espn star sports suuuuuuccckkkkkkksss!!!!! like hell..our coverage here is non existant as half the airtime is ads..forget about features or extras..they can’t even make the main course properly..i live in malaysia so the only way to enjoy my f1 fix is to go online, log into f1fanatic for the live blogs, goto for the live timing and every race search for live feeds..i use the feeds to fill in when star sports goes on ads or when steve slater starts babbling that barrichello is leading the race when button is the one..

  6. TombongNo Gravatar says:

    Does everyone notice that Star Sports coverage is delayed for about 10 or 15 seconds than the “actual” live?
    In my country (Indonesia) our local tv station (Global TV) is broadcasting F1 live with the original BBC format (pundits, commentators) tharefore i can compare that Star Sports coverage is actually delayed

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      yes, there seems to be a delay, it is obvious when comparing the live timing on and the action on the screen. On TV the cars may be only entering the start finish straight but on live timing we can already see the lap time …

      I would however be extremely happy if that was the only problem with Star Sports F1 coverage …

  7. JourneyerNo Gravatar says:

    A slight lag isn’t an issue with me – it would still be easily ahead of JTV or other online feed.

    I ignore their online coverage. They DID cover the FPs once – Singapore last year. But it looks like that was just a flash in the pan.

    The Greatest – that was the greatest farce. Why would you matchup Senna and Schumacher in Round 2, when that is a potential finals matchup? That’s ridiculous! Was also honestly surprised that Fangio lost… to Hakkinen. And why are Yoong and Karthikeyan there when people like Jim Clark, Gilles Villeneuve, and Nelson Piquet Sr are missing?? Maybe it’s because they do part-time work for ESPNStar?

    Karun Chandhok is still VERY good in his analyst role, and is a keeper – assuming FI don’t pick him up for a drive next year. Steve Slater, on the other hand, is as horrible as ever – that’s why I keep a BBC online feed running, to mute him out if he starts rambling too much. It also helps out with the ad breaks.

    To be fair to ESPNStar, they have reduced their ad breaks significantly. They are now just at 60 seconds per break, which is a lot shorter than the old ITV ad breaks (which is at 120-180 seconds, I think).

    Now, if only our local Solar Sports channel actually decided to pick up the British feed again (as we had in 2005) – but, nah, ESPNStar won’t let it happen.

  8. UbaidNo Gravatar says:

    ESPN Star has absolutely no presence as to what is going around on and off track. I am basically at my wits end to try and figure what has to be done (I have sent a few emails and messaged Sanjeev Palar). I was waiting for the 2009 season so I could watch races on Super Sport 2 (South African channel) which feeds the races from BBC’s coverage. But now Super Sport has not shown the first 2 races live and I had to settle for the inept lineup of ESPNStar. As the fan of the sport, where Bernie and Mosley, as mentioned through various forums trying to unsettle the sport, I don’t need this kick in the balls with the I-really-do-not-know-what-is-happening coverage. An earnest request for all motorsport fans (whichever country – sympathies (read: Please Join) accepted from UK and US fans who have better broadcasting standards, to kindly join my community on Facebook, an attempt as drastic as ESPNStar’s coverage to try and mobilise your comments and help in numbers, before I know what to do next.
    Hoping for an overwhelming response from ESPNStar sufferers.
    An irate and disappointed F1 fan.

  9. PaulRSNo Gravatar says:

    I have not seen a race on Manila’s Star Sports this year, but last year i noticed that in Manila the sound of the cars/race was louder than the voice of the ***** slater while in Malaysia the ***** Slater was louder than the cars.
    For the Australia GP i watched in Malaysia, i started with Star but switched to the local Malaysian station as soon as the ***** slaters voice came on. Picture quality was better, that commentary was better goes without saying! But the sound was not as good as Star’s. I can live with this.
    I have sent emails to Star about the ***** slater but of course they never answer, even my girlfriend screams at the TV and corrects the ***** slaters mistakes.
    Hmm, get rid of the ***** slater, replace him with my girlfriend….Paula and my girlfriend, has a nice ring to it, plus less mistakes and no more straggly hair or stupid laughter. I could continue for hours on how much i detest the ***** slater……..i want a discount

  10. shuNo Gravatar says:

    I feel for you. I am stuck with the same crap in singapore. And i’m PAYING for it.

  11. PaulRSNo Gravatar says:

    Just to clarify, i am english, lived in asia for 30 years, do not consider myself an expat as i am not paid as one, and have never been told i was stuck up.

    But i have followed F1 since 1964, so do think i have the right to complain about bad service, i.e. star’s slater.

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      well, that was quite interesting bunch that showed up here last night. I normally do not remove any comments unless they are pure spam. but those attacks on other commentators and the foul language left me no other option. The rules of commenting on this blog are clear. Civilized discussion is welcome, attacks are not.

      I am sure that there are many fans interested in some civilized discussion with people over at Star Sports if that was to help the quality of the show. Problem is that no one at ESPN Star Sports is willing to listen and reply …

  12. There is no audio currently in the commentary at ESPN star here in the philippines…! IS ESPN aware of this problem?? Please check and advice…thanks

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