Ever since Formula One announced that they were going to offer a new livestreaming service, people have been eagerly rubbing their hands together waiting for its debut. F1 TV was finally announced to be in action for the Spanish Grand Prix after several issues caused its release to be pushed back from the start of the season in March—and it’s been a total disaster.
For essentially $100 a year (or $12 month by month), fans can purchase F1 TV Pro, which would give them access to live races and practice sessions, along with a whole host of other cool stuff like replays, highlights, and even old races. The other tier of F1 TV, F1 TV Access, is a lot cheaper, but doesn’t offer livestreams or anything from the archives.
But, apparently, even the fans who bought F1 TV Pro haven’t been able to watch sessions live.
According to Jonathan M. Gitlin at Ars Technica, he paid for the full F1 TV Pro access… only to run into stumbling blocks trying to sign in before being stuck with constant buffering and lagging as the first practice session got under way. Anyone who has ever tried to watch a video with shoddy Internet service understands the frustration of trying to piece together 2-second fragments to understand the whole story. It’s even more annoying when that’s, y’know, a video you just paid actual money for.
To add to that, live timing and scoring wasn’t available on F1 TV, only on the actual F1 website. Fans took to the Internet to let F1 know what they were getting wrong. Thankfully, they seem to be aware of the problems and have been working to solve them.
So far, it seems like the archival footage is pretty much the only redeemable factor of F1 TV Pro—which, Gitlin notes, you can find in other places around the Internet. Otherwise, you’re basically paying to watch the same commentary team and get the same feed that you’d see on ESPN, just with some added control over which driver radio you want to listen in on.
Now that ESPN is airing races commercial-free, fans are understandably upset that they’ve paid for something that doesn’t even work that they can get with their cable subscription. And fans who don’t have cable and were looking forward to finally being able to nab a legal F1 stream are disappointed that they’re still scrounging Reddit for another stream.
F1 might have jumped the gun on releasing F1 TV. It’s not going to be a great look if the site still isn’t functioning come race day.
Update, May 14 at 8:46 a.m. Some emailers to our tips line forwarded along a message from F1, saying that F1 TV would be issuing a refund for the first two weeks of the service because it did so poorly during the Spanish Grand Prix. F1 also said over the weekend that it was working to get the problems fixed.
Considering that the service ranges from $8 to $12 a month for people who paid for the version with live coverage, that’s about $4 or $5. But hey, like F1 said, “With this refund, the [Spanish] Grand Prix this weekend is on us.”
If it worked, that is.