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F1 rethinks TV strategy

News, 09 June 2017
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GLOBAL: Formula One, the global motor racing brand built on TV coverage, intends to develop its own, paid OTT offering while making future TV deals shorter.

"We're just starting to market [F1], we're just starting to engage fans in areas like digital platforms, so we think we can create some real momentum and energy in the next couple of years," Chase Carey, Formula One chairman, told Autosport.

"We were really a non-player in the digital platforms," he said, "so whether it's free, pay or digital, we want to make sure we're engaging with them all."

He sees OTT as "a tremendously important opportunity", one that will vary from market to market. And with its wealth of data and information, and the sport’s history, he believes, F1 is ideally placed to offer a digital services: "we have the ability to create unique packages".

Such packages will clearly be aimed at the dedicated fan, but the precise nature of these – and the price – have yet to be established.

"We're spending a lot of time with a whiteboard defining what's the product, what is the experience, what is going to motivate the hardcore F1 fan around the world to pay?" said Carey.

He acknowledged that a move towards pay would have an impact on broadcast agreements, but added that most sports were following a similar path.

"Part of what we have to do is make sure it's more than free-to-pay, it's digital, and how you engage fans across the broader spectrum of free, pay and digital," he argued.

F1’s success has largely been built on TV contracts negotiated by Bernie Ecclestone, the previous chief executive who was replaced when Formula One was acquired by Liberty Media in January this year.

Carey is already looking at those deals. "In two-to-three years we have well over half of the TV agreements coming into some form of renewal," he said. "We're carving out the flexibility. As we go forward, the agreements will be structured to make sure we can exploit all our rights."

That is expected to mean shorter TV deals in the future as the sport seeks to maintain its 500m-strong global audience that is so attractive for team sponsors while at the same time fully exploiting digital opportunities.

"We're going to be much more analytical about trying to evaluate the trade-off between reach and dollars."

Data sourced from Autosport, Guardian, additional content by WARC staff

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