For­mula 1 to set up fully-fledged lo­cal en­tity in China

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Sports -

FOR­MULA One’s planned Chi­nese joint ven­ture will have its own mar­ket­ing, li­cens­ing and me­dia rights arms ded­i­cated to grow­ing the sport’s pres­ence in the vast but still nascent mar­ket, com­mer­cial man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Sean Bratches has said.

“What we will do is ef­fec­tively set up a sim­i­lar struc­ture to what we have in Lon­don,” the for­mer ESPN ex­ec­u­tive told Reuters at the week­end’s Chi­nese Grand Prix in Shang­hai.

“With a head of mar­ket­ing, a head of li­cens­ing, a head of me­dia rights, a head of spon­sor­ship, a head of dig­i­tal, etc. and re­ally ac­ti­vate the brand here like its own en­tity,” added the Amer­i­can.

Sources told Reuters last week that Lib­erty Me­dia, who took over as For­mula One’s com­mer­cial rights holder last year, was talk­ing to po­ten­tial lo­cal part­ners in­clud­ing In­ter Mi­lan owner Sun­ing and La Liga rights holder DDMC to form a joint ven­ture that would help man­age busi­ness de­vel­op­ment in China.

For­mula One held its first grand prix in China in 2004. De­spite a steadily grow­ing fan­base, a Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion of 1.3 bil­lion means there still re­mains a vast op­por­tu­nity for the sport to tap. Last year the sport struck a deal to build strate­gic part­ner­ships in the coun­try with mar­ket­ing agency La­gardere Sports and En­ter­tain­ment. The com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive told Reuters then that the growth of the Chi­nese mid­dle classes could see 400 mil­lion peo­ple over the next 12 or 13 years hav­ing dis­pos­able in­come to spend on en­ter­tain­ment and life­style.

Ef­forts to reach out to fans are al­ready un­der­way, with the sport or­gan­is­ing a fan­fes­ti­val in the heart of Shang­hai last week and strik­ing fresh tele­vi­sion and dig­i­tal broad­cast­ing deals with state net­work CCTV and Ten­cent. Bratches said the lo­cal joint ven­ture would be re­spon­si­ble for agree­ing such deals in fu­ture. It could also help the coun­try, which hasn’t yet had a For­mula One driver, es­tab­lish driver de­vel­op­ment schools and look at or­gan­is­ing a sec­ond race in China, which Lib­erty are keen on but re­mains some years away.

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