The Formula One circus moves to Bahrain this weekend, where the TV viewing experience is being informed by an innovative research method that captures the real-time emotional arousal of fans watching the action on screen.

During last season’s British Grand Prix, Formula One’s research team trialled what it claims was the world’s first live, in-home, in-game, biometric engagement test for sporting events.

And it showed so much potential, senior research manager Greg Morris told the recent IIeX conference, that it is being used in every race of the 2019 season. (For more, read WARC’s report: How Formula One is refining its viewing experience.)

The need for such an approach emerged when Morris found himself with conflicting information from two separate data sources.

Post-race surveys suggested that what people enjoyed most was whether their favourite driver or a favourite team had won the race; but separate research from a brand tracker indicated that how competitive a race was actually mattered more.

“We were getting two sets of information that didn’t match up and our conclusion was basically that people answer surveys in a rational way,” said Morris. “We needed a different way of looking at things.”

That involved using galvanic skin response to measure emotional arousal. But what made this research different was that the 60 participants were able to set up themselves and use a wireless, handheld, medical-grade monitor in their own homes while watching the race.

In this way researchers were able to capture the natural viewing experience, with the wireless monitors capturing the second-by-second response of participants to the stimulus of watching the race, with the data then aggregated and sent back to an online platform.

The analysis of the data produced useful pointers for how the TV production team could best deploy the cameras on board the cars and how the commentators could better discuss the action on the track.

The motor sports team (responsible for adapting the rules and regulations of the sport) also found much to interest them, Morris reported. But results from just one race are clearly not sufficient to allow sweeping changes – hence the decision to do the research in all this season’s races.

“That’s going to get us a long way to having that bank of knowledge that we need,” said Morris.

Sourced from WARC