After years of sitting on the sidelines, Formula 1 motor racing is coming direct-to-consumer over the Internet. Here are four reasons why this is a very good idea.
Until recently, Formula 1 (F1) had followed a very conservative media strategy. It worked exclusively with traditional broadcasters and pay TV operators to distribute the races worldwide. However, with the takeover by Liberty Global, the auto racing body has adopted a new more aggressive attitude. F1 announced it would launch an online live streaming service in 2018. Sean Batches, F1’s commercial director, commented:
“We have an obligation to our fans, quite candidly, to ensure they are able to access our content in any means they want. We would be derelict if we pursued a path for anything other than that.”
Here are four reasons that F1, and any other sport that is underrepresented on TV, not only has a fan obligation but also stands to benefit greatly from going direct-over-the Internet right now.
Reason #1: OTT F1 can enhance live TV
F1 will not be able to deliver live races in markets where it has sold the exclusive rights to local broadcasters. However, the service can still provide added value in those markets. Some features, like multiple camera angles and in-car-cams, are difficult to execute because of latency issues. However, instant highlight reels, data feeds, extended pre-and-post-race coverage, pit crew cams, VR experiences, and much more can bring real value to the live experience.
Reason #2: Will grow the international audience
F1 is growing in popularity around the world. A streaming service that leverages the huge library of video assets in the F1 library and brings live coverage to areas that don’t have it can only help to extend the reach of the sport.
F1, like so many sports these days, is truly an international sport. Drivers, teams, and sponsors come from all over the world. The races run on courses all over the world. This strong international flavor can only help to make the online service globally appealing.
Reason #3: Large but geographically dispersed audience
F1 attracts a very large audience for the races. Unfortunately, it is widely dispersed, both regionally and globally. It is, therefore, difficult for local and regional broadcasters to aggregate together sufficiently large audiences to justify licensing the races and allocating time on the schedule.
The aggregation of large dispersed audiences into an addressable market is what the Internet does best. A direct-to-consumer service is the best way to tap into the full market opportunity, rather than take it market-by-market with traditional TV providers.
Reason #4: Deliver deeper engagement
F1 race fans are passionate about their sport. However, because the sport is frequently limited to coverage of live races, the fans are relatively starved of good video content. As well, F1 is one of the most technical sports in the world. There are many details about the cars, crews, and sponsors to which fans would like access. A direct-to-consumer service is a perfect vehicle to provide expanded coverage and to engage and expand the fan base.
Why it matters
Formula 1’s move into the direct-to-consumer OTT market is long overdue.
The large geographical disperse fan base is not well served by traditional media.
An Internet service will allow for additional monetization and will help grow the audience for the sport.