Wimbledon, F1, Cricket Create Headache for Fans—and Broadcasters


(Bloomberg) — Three of Britain’s biggest sporting events of the year clash on Sunday, creating a headache for fans and television networks and annoying one of the richest people in world sports.

England’s national cricket team is playing its first World Cup final in 27 years, with coverage starting at 9 a.m. on Channel 4. The match, against New Zealand, could be boiling up just as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic do battle for the men’s title at Wimbledon — scheduled for 2 p.m. on the BBC, also free-to-air. Meanwhile, coverage of the British Grand Prix starts on Channel 4 at 1:15 p.m., pushing the cricket to the More 4 channel until after the race. Not forgetting cycling’s Tour de France on ITV.

For Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, the scheduling is baffling. It could mean fewer people will tune in to watch him try for a record sixth victory at his home Grand Prix.

“This is such a special weekend and it needs all the focus of the country and not a small amount,” he told reporters. “People will be switching between channels on Sunday not sure what to watch.”

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that cricket has been on pay-TV for several years and Sky Plc agreed to share broadcasting with a free-to-air channel if England made the final. Also, the World Cup takes place every four years and in different regions, so there isn’t always a clash in programming. India holds the next edition, in 2023.

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:

“It’s going to create even more of a push to second screen viewing. So you already have this phenomenon where people are watching one thing and then messing around on Twitter on their phone, but perhaps they’ll also be watching something else on their phone or on their tablet.”

John Davies, media analyst

For now, Britain’s legion of armchair sports fans will just have to make do with multi-tasking.

“The scheduling could have been better, but as a lifelong cricket fan I really can’t complain,” said Christian Taylor, a Londoner who’s figuring out his TV strategy with his family. “Being big fans of Formula 1 and Wimbledon also, there’s certainly going to be a decent amount of channel hopping, but we’re just looking forward to a day of high quality sport.”

The focus next weekend will be far simpler, and more exclusive — golf’s British Open starts Thursday at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland, and culminates on Sunday. It’s only available to U.K. fans on Sky.

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