Product Type: Sky TV channels
Newest Review: ... summer they have a monopoly over the county matches too. The cash inflow into Sky enables them to buy out all the most popular pundits, c... more
Televised sport at its best
Sky Sports 1
Member Name: Dunks
Sky Sports 1
Advantages: Professional, modern, comprehensive live coverage
Disadvantages: Takes sport away from many casual viewers, losing some to Setanta
This is the flagship channel of the Sky Sports package and as such hosts Sky's biggest sporting events. In our house the buttons '4' '0' and '1' are virtually worn away on our Sky remote as it is probably the most watched channel after BBC 1, ITV and maybe Channel 4!
The main attraction is of course English Premiership football and their coverage of this is second to none. There is a Sunday game at 4pm and sometimes a Saturday and Sunday lunchtime game, although the latter two are sometimes on Setanta now. Sky Sports 1 showed every game involving a clash between the 'Big Four' last season and will do so again this year. My favourite part of their Premiership football coverage is Andy Gray, he is so enthusiastic and he is at his best on The Last Word with Richard Keys, where he analyses the game in detail with a host of gadgets - electronic touch screen and pens! My knowledge of the game isn't great but he puts it over in a very approachable way. Another highlight for us is Jeff Stelling on Gillette Soccer Saturday, he gets more and more excited as the final whistle approaches, and you've got other pundits shouting out scores from other matches. How he keeps the show together is beyond me! This is all of course because of the rule that no broadcaster can show live coverage of games that kick off at 3pm on Saturday, but it has developed somewhat of a cult following. When international friendlies are on England will take priority on SS1 with the other home nations on the other sports channels. This is understandable from Sky's point of view but in Scotland it causes much consternation, which is also understandable! England's World Cup qualifiers are now split between Setanta and ITV but Sky still hold the rights to Scotland's home qualifications (usually SS1) in addition to Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. From this season they no longer have the FA Cup but continue to show the Carling Cup and more importantly, games from the UEFA Champions League. They also sometimes show Football League and Spanish football, La Liga. Their coverage is modern, slick and professional and it makes BBC look very tired and dated by comparison.
Sky have shown the England cricket team's tours abroad more or less since they began broadcasting but two years ago they obtained the rights to live domestic test cricket. This is a shame in some respects because without terrestrial coverage the game tends to lose much of the nation's interest and I doubt very much whether I'd have got interested in the game if it had been on a specialist sports channel (a friend taught me the rules whilst watching it on Channel 4). But in other respects it's great because Sky's coverage is superior to that of Channel 4 and the BBC before it - no interruptions for racing or news and some of the best names of the English and international game commentating - Sir Ian Botham, David Gower, Michael Holding, Nasser Hussain. David Lloyd (known as Bumble) is the funniest commentator and is an absolute legend! In addition to the test matches they have all of England's ODIs, coverage of the World Cup, ICC Trophy, Pro40, Twenty20 Cup and usually two or three County Championship matches. Domestic internationals will usually be shown on SS1 but move to another Sky Sports channel nearer the end of the season, as football will then take priority.
Sky Sports 1 covers European Tour golf and two majors, the US Open and the USPGA as well as the jewel in their golfing crown, the Ryder Cup. I don't watch much of this but my dad tells me the commentators, Bruce Critchley and Ewen Murray are awful. Peter Alliss for him! The USPGA Tour is another casualty to Setanta.
They also cover rugby union Guinness Premiership and the Heineken Cup, as well as rugby league competitions the Super League and the Rugby League World Cup, but no-one in our house watches these. I prefer the rugby union World Cup and Six Nations, on ITV1 and BBC respectively.
One of my favourite parts of that lazy week between Christmas and New Year is settling down to watch the PDC World Darts Championship. This has the best darts players in the world including Phil 'The Power' Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld and is thus generally regarded as superior to the BDO Championship (the one on BBC). Sid Waddell is another commentator who really livens up his sport and some of his quotes have become legendary - "Jocky Wilson ... what an athlete.", "This lad has more checkouts than Tescos.", "There hasn't been this much excitement since the Romans fed the Christians to the Lions.", "The players are under so much duress, it's like duressic park out there!" They cover other darts competitions like the Premier League.
They have lost a lot of British boxing to Setanta but still retain some British boxers. Many of their flagship fights are on pay-per-view rather than the main channel. So if you want to watch Ricky Hatton lose, you'll have to pay extra for Sky Box Office ;)
They cover many extras in between and have lots of archive programming as well, but these are the cream of Sky Sports 1's sports coverage. This isn't even to mention many of their other great events like ATP Tour Tennis and the US Open, but they are usually on Sky Sports 3 or Xtra and I have tried to keep this a Sky Sports 1 review as far as possible. Their live sporting calendar is 52 weeks a year, and if you are a sports fan and can afford it, it really is a must!
Summary: I would highly recommend this and the other Sky Sports channels.