F1 ra­ces to a big­ger di­gi­tal pre­sen­ce

George Herald - Southern Cape Property Guide & Auto Dealer - - Auto Dealer - JOHN FLOYD

I am not su­re w­het­her F1 is un­der­going re­birth pains or ex­pe­rien­cing wit­h­dra­wal symp­toms, if me­dia re­ports du­ring the past few weeks are a­ny­thing to go by.

The­re has ap­pa­rent­ly been a plet­ho­ra of meet­ings be­t­ween tho­se in po­wer and tho­se with s­trong ves­ted in­te­re­sts in the s­port’s glo­bal ex­po­su­re for the se­a­sons to co­me.

Af­ter the pur­cha­se and ta­ke­o­ver of For­mu­la One, new o­w­ners Li­ber­ty Me­dia are set to build an all-new ex­pe­rien­ce for te­ams, spon­sors, or­ga­ni­sers, ci­r­cuit o­w­ners and fans.

The­re will be a hu­ge push in­to the di­gi­tal me­dia as­pect of this en­ter­tai­n­ment se­ries to bring it in line with ot­her s­ports.

For­mer chief Ber­nie Eccles­to­ne was ne­ver a fan of this “new-fang­led” met­hod of com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, but Li­ber­ty be­lie­ve that im­ple­men­ta­ti­on of a di­gi­tal wor­ld will be­ne­fit all and at­tract a new au­dien­ce. One can un­der­stand the need to mo­ve in­to the di­gi­tal wor­ld with the aim of cap­tu­ring a new au­dien­ce and gro­wing a lar­ger fan ba­se.

But w­hat of tho­se who ha­ve been a­vid fans for ma­ny y­e­ars and are still ho­ping to view their fa­vou­ri­te s­port on te­le­vi­si­on?

That will still be pos­si­ble, but vir­tu­al­ly e­very coun­try will be put­ting the s­port be­hind a pay wall to en­s­u­re a gua­ran­teed in­co­me.

S­tran­ge, w­hen one con­si­ders that in the 1980s and through to the 2000s, F1 te­le­vi­si­on vie­wers­hip was coun­ted in mil­li­ons per ra­ce on a glo­bal ba­sis, but from 2008 on­wards the­re has been a ste­a­dy de­cli­ne.

In fact, re­por­ted fi­gu­res sug­ge­st that as ma­ny as one thi­rd of tho­se vie­wers ha­ve now tur­ned off.

It is al­ways dif­fi­cult to as­sess why this is the ca­se but it ap­pears that s­ports ge­ne­ral­ly, in­clu­ding soccer, has suf­fe­red a si­mi­lar fa­te. Put­ting spor­ting e­vents on a pay-to-view ba­sis would not seem to be a so­lu­ti­on.

Af­ter all, from 2008 the wor­ld has had e­co­no­mic do­wn­turns that ha­ve di­rect­ly af­fected the ex­pen­di­tu­re of or­di­na­ry pe­op­le.

An in­cre­a­sing cost of li­ving is not con­du­ci­ve to spen­ding mo­ney on s­ports chan­nels.

Li­ber­ty F1 com­mer­ci­al he­ad Se­an Bra­t­ches said, “The re­launch of our di­gi­tal plat­form is plan­ned. To­day it on­ly cos­ts us mo­ney. Fans can­not do­wn­lo­ad ex­clu­si­ve con­tent. That’s going to c­han­ge.

“We will in­tro­du­ce a di­rect stre­a­ming of­fer to the fans for both li­ve con­tent and non-li­ve con­tent. The fans will then get access to da­ta di­rect­ly from the cars.

“One will be free­ly a­vai­la­ble, w­hi­le the ot­her for se­ri­ous fans is be­hind a pay­ment bar­rier.”

So the­re will be internet co­vera­ge, but w­hat a­bout te­le­vi­si­on?

Bra­t­ches con­ti­nu­ed, “The mar­ket has pro­ven that both can be do­ne si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly. Ot­her s­ports are al­re­a­dy much furt­her a­he­ad.

“It’s not li­ke we are le­a­ving our TV part­ners be­hind. This y­e­ar we will be of­fe­ring a new TV graphi­cs plat­form that pre­sents con­tent in a much mo­re con­su­mer-friend­ly way.”

He al­so had so­me com­ments on free-to-air bro­ad­cas­ting.

“Free TV me­ans re­ach, but the mo­ney is on pay TV. I­de­al­ly, 25% to 30% of the ra­ces should be on free TV and the rest be­hind a pay wall.

“It works in Fran­ce and ot­her coun­tries, but the­re are coun­tries w­he­re we should not mo­ve to this mo­del yet.”

This last com­ment is in­te­res­ting, as a lon­grun­ning con­tract be­t­ween Sky Deut­sch­land and Li­ber­ty has just co­me to an end.

Li­ber­ty re­a­ched an agreement with RTL, re­mo­ving Sky’s ex­clu­si­vi­ty o­ver o­ver F1 bro­ad­cas­ts in Ger­ma­ny.

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