F1 TV Pro

Will F1 TV succeed where F1 Digital + failed?


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Over The Top: three words all Formula 1 fans will be hearing a lot more as the sport’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media – the owner of Formula One Management – converges F1 and digital platforms in its quest to grow F1 audiences by offering fans – both present and prospective – a richer, more varied viewing experience.

OTT has many meanings. Urban Dictionary, for example, defines the term as “something done outrageously over what it needs to be”.

But in the media sense the term describes the distribution of video and audio content via the internet, bypassing traditional service providers. Thus communications platforms such as Skype and Whatsapp are OTT, given that they bypass traditional telephone platforms, and directly connect the parties. True, telephony companies may provide connectivity, but the content does not run via their platforms.

Frank Arthofer, 2018
F1 TV will be “groundbreaking”, says Arthofer
Apply this concept to video transmission and you have the essence of Netflix or Amazon Prime. Think F1 in this context, and you have the sport’s new content steaming service, to be launched during the Australian Grand Prix weekend, in a fortnight.

Simply put, F1 plans to deliver video content directly to fans via broadband internet, thereby bypassing traditional broadcasters. As outlined here, around 40 countries have been identified for introduction at launch, with the rest to follow as and when existing broadcast contracts expire, or by negotiation.

The offering is impressively extensive, having upwards of 20 different feeds, offering in-car, paddock, pit lane, interview, data and general race channels. In short, fans can become their own producers, able to switch and swap feeds as the fancy grabs them.

“Actually it’s a bit groundbreaking from a sports perspective in that, for the first time ever, one individual sport will be streaming 24 different feeds from the same event on a live, simultaneous basis,” explained Frank Arthofer, F1’s head of digital and new business when he unveiled the service last week during F1’s first pre-season test. Just imagine the data generated by 24 streams during a two-hour race.

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That Liberty would take F1 down the OTT route sooner or later is a given, with the global connectivity requirements having been put in place by long-time F1 communications partner Tata. Liberty, though, appears to have rushed the final parts of the project through in about a third the time usually required.

In the words of Arthofer, “This [OTT] type of service would typically take about 18 months to build, and we’ve done it in six which is quite a feat from the team who’s worked on it and we have a number of partners involved, again including our partner Tata.”

Why the haste? Despite Arthofer’s comment that “the biggest pressure on us is not a fiscal one, but to deliver a great product and stable experience for fans”, it is no secret that Liberty’s 2017 payments to teams – their collective shares of the sport’s $1,8bn annual revenues – dropped by $47m over the previous season. For obvious reasons this has not gone down well.

The teams shared $920m, around 68 per cent of F1’s underlying revenues ($1,351bn), in turn around 60 per cent of gross income ($1,8bn). The reason for the reduction is largely linked to Liberty’s rising cost base – folk like Arthofer are expensive, and over the past 12 months headcount, mainly managerial and executive, has been boosted by 50 hires. Add in fancy new offices in Lower Regent Street, and it is little wonder operating costs have shot up. Essentially, the teams’ share amounts to 50 per cent of gross income.

All this has affected Liberty’s NASDAQ share price (above) – the ultimate measure of a listed company’s performance – which currently hovers at $31.90, or just $0.05 above its 12-month low. Clearly the company needs to pull out all stops to impress the markets, and what better way of achieving that objective than by rolling out a headline-grabbing, new-fangled, direct-sale, premium video streaming service in time of the for new season?

Hence the numbers trotted out in Barcelona by Arthofer – an American media graduate who interned with the NBA before moving to Disney and ESPN (where he reported through Sean Bratches, F1’s now-commercial director), and then Boston Consulting, where he worked on digital transformation. F1, according to Arthofer, has around 500m fans, or five per cent of the world’s population.

“If even conservatively one per cent of that customer base is a super-avid hardcore fan, that’s a five million addressable audience to sell this product to, who would potentially be willing to pay the incremental fee for what is really the best way to watch Formula One in the market.”

Arthofer stated that the cost of F1 TV Pro would run out at “$12 month, converted into relevant currencies” – so £8/month – while F1 TV Access, a lower tier offering providing archive material going back to 1981 would cost around three dollars (two quid). Tellingly, Arthofer did not provide a projected split between the two tiers.

Here the maths gets complicated by the take-up split between Pro and Access. Let us, though, guesstimate $5/month per subscriber. By his reckoning that pans out at $250m per annum – once the full potential “addressable” audience has been reached – or roughly a third of F1’s current TV income. On the basis of the calculations above, the teams should pull around $120m of that – more than making up for recent losses.

However, this calculation is predicated upon a take-up of five million fans globally, made up of four million Access subscribers and one million Pro hardcore viewers. Fewer Pro numbers obviously affects income – F1 and team – proportionately.

History relates that F1 fans are fickle. Whether they describe themselves as ‘hardcore’ doesn’t necessarily mean can afford to shell out for their passion. For example, in 2015 around 3m viewers tuned in to watch BBC’s free-to-air offering; Sky pulled about 20 per cent of that despite Lewis Hamilton dominating the season. In Germany, Sky TV was unable to agree terms with F1, and has now pulled out completely. Ditto Sky LatAm.

F1 TV streaming service
F1 TV subscribers will have dozens of viewing options
More illuminating, though, is the fate of F1’s first digital TV service – offering a choice of six “be-your-own-producer” channels – launched as F1 Digital + by then-commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone to much fanfare in 1996. True, at the time it was offered in conjunction with selected broadcasters, but that was a function of available technology: the internet, where available, operated on a dial-up modem basis, leaving digital broadcast technology as the only option.

For reference, the channels offered at the time were:

  • Master – A studio channel broadcasting the “super-signal” main FOM-produced Digital feed, during track sessions, cutting away to show interviews and studio analysis
  • Super-signal – The main digital world feed produced by FOM for all of Europe, combining footage from track feeds, pit lane channel and on-board footage.
  • Track A – Similar to super-signal, but focusing on race leaders.
  • Track B – Similar to super-signal, but focusing on action down the order.
  • Data – Live timing/data screens
  • Onboard – Material from onboard cameras, without commentary.
  • Pitlane – Footage from pit-lane cameras, without commentary.
  • Highlights – Rolling highlights up to the current point in the race.

This begs the question: is F1 TV Pro’s planned 24-channel set-up not a step too far? After all, the dedicated Lewis Hamilton in-car channel Arthofer referred to during his media presentation threatens to cost other teams, drivers and sponsors eyeballs. One of the attractions for sponsors is what is known as F1’s ‘adjacent moving billboard’ principle which adds colour – a dedicated in-car channel kills that stone dead.

One of the attractions of F1 for sponsors is that their brands are shown at the heart of the action. The constant jostling of images helps draw the eyes of consumers to their messages – hence, for example, the popularity of messages on trucks and buses. In contrast the human eye is not stimulated by static images in the same way. Extended in-car shots, particularly from overhead cameras, appear static while the signage-free backdrop moves.

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At the time F1’s Bernie Ecclestone invested an estimated £100m (£150m at current prices) in F1 Digital+, which charged £12 per race. It lasted just over six years before he pulled the plug, the service having attracted just 9,000 UK punters in its final year, while in Germany the subscriber base consistently ran at 50 per cent of pre-launch estimates – Michael Schumacher’s successes notwithstanding.

In short, F1 Digital+ proved to be Ecclestone’s biggest dud.

Usain Bolt, grid, Circuit of the Americas, 2017
US fans can watch the show on F1 TV – many others can’t
Against that background, what chance of F1 TV Pro – the money-spinner – gaining traction? For starters, F1’s latest Global Media Report claims 352m unique viewers in 200 broadcast territories, a far cry from the alleged 500m fans (note difference) Arthofer spoke of. Given that F1 TV Pro will stream into 40 countries (at launch), including the likes of Honduras and Haiti, but not three (Brazil, Italy and United Kingdom) of its biggest four markets (Germany being the other), take-up is expected to be slow.

Then there is the question of affordability: While 12 bucks per month is no big deal in some of the countries listed, in others it is a substantial fee. Indeed, one gains the distinct impression that some countries are listed simply to bolster numbers, particularly if F1 is vigilant, as it has vowed to be, about geoblocking and VPNs.

Although Arthofer believes F1 will be able to prevent those outside the chosen countries from accessing the service, this is something even long-term players in the streaming business aren’t able to completely prevent. Another potential headache is the threat of hacks. As leaks such as the Panama and Paradise Papers show, there are no guarantees that systems cannot be unscrupulously accessed or held to ransom. In such instances fans could not only be left without streams – in worse case scenarios, during title showdowns – but both F1 and the teams stand to lose income, and, above all, credibility.

Data speeds and costs are also crucial factors: Some of the countries listed have average internet speeds of below 2Mbps – Netflix recommends a minimum of 3Mbps for SD and 5Mbps for HD viewing – and, of course, those speeds are likely to drop at peak periods, while data costs in southern hemisphere countries cost an absolute fortune, with most still being reliant on antiquated copper cable transmissions and having caps in place.

Talking Netflix: F1 TV Pro will be priced roughly in that ballpark – but the former appeals to the entire family, 24/7. Will F1’s service have the same allure? To justify subscriptions it will need to.

One of the rather unsavoury side effects of ‘Bernievision’ was that world feed transmissions became increasingly anodyne as content such as in-car footage and pit lane footage was moved to the pay channel to attract viewers to the premium product. Once the service died, so the footage returned to “standard” broadcasts. Will Liberty pull a similar stunt to woo subscribers?

Equally, while Arthofer has promised that there will be no commercials at launch (our accent), the caveat has clearly left the door open for what Martin Brundle refers to as “retail opportunities” – and what could be more galling than paying ten bucks, only to sit through a bunch of commercials?

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One of the strengths of the traditional broadcast model is that broadcasters use their own platforms to advertise their wares, including F1 schedules. Many a viewer has been converted to F1 simply through channel hopping or being exposed to pre-race announcements. How will Liberty reach those potential punters? Broadcasters are unlikely to point them to F1 TV Pro.

Sean Bratches, 2018
Liberty Media has trumpeted F1’s progress on social media
True, Liberty does intend advertising the service on social media, but to a large degree that is a bit like preaching to the (few) converted. While F1’s social media presence has been massively ramped up over the past year – showing the largest growth rate of all major sporting properties at 55 per cent to a total of 12m across all major platforms – it started off from a low base after being all but shunned under the previous commercial rights holder. However, the point is that social media platforms are free, and not an indicator of hardcore-ness, so will they reach their target audience, particularly given that hardcore fans is an older demographic?

There is no doubt that streaming is the future of sport television, and that F1 must inevitably (and eventually) move in that direction. While many believe that the introduction of the F1 TV Pro streaming service has not come a season too soon, one cannot help but feel that it has been hastily introduced for many of the wrong reasons. For example, at launch no mobile device apps will be available.

As with F1 Digital+, the commercial rights holder will have one shot at launching the product, and as such needs to get it absolutely spot on. But, will it be? The answer will be revealed on 22 March.

Follow Dieter on Twitter: @RacingLines


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38 comments on “Will F1 TV succeed where F1 Digital + failed?”

  1. Not available in Canada, eh? Pity.

    1. @ferrox-glideh I’m old enough to get it. Well done!!

    2. (Thanks for another opportunity to rant against TSN and it’s parent, Bell Media.)
      It wouldn’t be so bad if we (Canadians) were given access to Sky’s online F1 content since TSN has nothing on their website that makes it worth visiting.
      It was a great improvement when TSN switched to Sky for the TV feed and included Sky’s pre- and post-race coverage, but it’s also quite frustrating to hear about all the other content provided by Sky online. And this year will be worse because no doubt the world-feed commentary will constantly be referring the F1 TV Pro content that will not be available in Canada (except by illegal means).

      1. @mtlracer – thanks for the rant. Saves me stepping onto the soapbox to shout at the clouds and Bell.

        At least we don’t have to endure Donaldson in the studio calling the race, badly, anymore. The ‘Cringe-Worthy’ decade of Canadian F1 coverage.

  2. Make it available to anyone who is willing to pay and it will succeed. Easier said than done with TV rights in different regions and all that nonsense. I find it ridiculous that a paying customer for services like Netflix and Amazon Prime TV still can’t view certain programs because of their geographic location…and now they’ve blocked VPNs. The internet is getting smaller by the day.

    1. Its not ridiculous really as Netflix / Amaxon Prime themselves haven’t paid to broadcast them, someone else probably has or the distributor is holding out for more money. Their business model is based on paying as little for TV / Movie rights as possible while maximising their subscribers. If they paid for everything they would lose their ability to bargain for cheaper shows. They might have more subscribers but they would find it harder to make money.

    2. This is exactly what the media companies want: another cable/satellite service that keeps the consumer locked in to their programming exclusively. Which the Internet distinctly *IS NOT*… at least, for now. However, those same conglomerates are busy buying politicians and laws in order to shut down the freedom of the Web, and screw the consumers yet again.

  3. I cut the cable cord over 10 years ago, having long realized that 20th century viewing modes are, well, very last century. Just as I won’t ride a penny-farthing or wear a bowler, I don’t want to subscribe to advertising supported media. So this is exactly what I want to have – as long as it remains commercial free. Should they introduce commercials… well… Arr! Hoist the mainsail, we’re returning to the seas!

    Cable is a dinousaur, and who wants to make an appointment to watch TV? Such a primitive way to live. ;-)

  4. Strongly believe it will work, but it needs to be available to more fans.
    I will pay the fee in a heartbeat, including a bespoke VPN connection when I’m overseas.

    But to grow the channel it should have a free entry-level channel as well. They can use that channel (even via YouTube) to promote the pay channels and show some sponsor friendly documentaries.
    They missed an opportunity by not live streaming the Barcelona test (I still recall how many people watched when a single rookie drove an Indycar last year).
    The free channel could also show previous year races, and maybe even current highlights after a certain period of time (week?). Most national broadcasters won’t mind if you give them free advertising for the next live race via their channel (win-win).

  5. Few things regarding F1 Digital+.

    The master & Highlight channels were exclusive to the UK coverage in 2002. The master channel was produced by FOM from a studio in Biggin Hill & used a mixture of the other channels with studio commentary & analysis as well as extra interviews from the track.
    Broadcasters outside of the UK got just the main 6 channels (Super-signal, onboard, track a, track b, pit lane & timing).

    The £12 a race cost was also a UK only thing. In most other country’s the service was simply a part of existing sports packages similar to how the Sky Sports F1 channel is part of the overall Sky/Sports package today. In Germany for instance if you were a subscriber to the premiere world satellite service & had there sports package you also had the F1 Digital+ coverage which was broadcast on one of there normal sports channels rather than one of it’s own.

    It’s actually interesting that a lot of what we were doing from a technical standpoint back then is commonplace in motorsport broadcasting now & more than a few of the things we were aiming at doing down the road are things that are finally starting to come about.

    The F1 Digital+ service was about a decade or more ahead of it’s time in a lot of ways.

    1. @gt-racer, Yes, I remember seeing it advertised in France alongside wide-screen cathode ray TVs but hugely expensive from my point of view at the time.

  6. I am already paying some $200 monthly for cable subscription and watch at most 10% of the channels coming to my converter box via bundled packages offered by Comcast. I have no intention to pay another fee (even if it is only $12 monthly) for access to 24 feeds during an F1 race. I just want to watch the race, if it is not too much to ask. As I have said million times before, the TV broadcast should include footage from moving and rotating cameras…among other things they provide great close-up shots of sponsor logos. IndyCar is doing this for decades, so why can’t Formula 1?

    1. @gpfacts The reason you don’t see rotating cameras used much in F1 is because those sorts of things just aren’t as popular outside of the US. The reason the 1 that FOM introduced last year didn’t get used much is because feedback towards it was negative from both broadcasters & there audience.

      It should also be considered that even with Indycar they tend to be stuck looking forward or backwards most the time on road/street circuits and that the rotation is only really useful on the ovals where you can have cars running side by side for several laps which is a situation you never see in F1.
      Even then I know plenty of Indycar fans that really don’t like them, Especially since there are many cases of cameras been rotated & subsequently missing something they would have caught if they were static & had stuck looking forward.

      1. Fair enough @gt-racer, and I agree that the few try-outs we have been presented thus far in F1 were not impressive at all. But if nothing else, the first corner action can certainly use these shots. The cars are bunched-up then and an on-board we normally get is the nose of the car with the camera and glimpses of someone’s front wing plates on either side. But if you rotate to that car alongside…that is all different action shot altogether. And it could only be used for replay to ensure that nothing is missed live. Also love the shots of the fixed camera lens (no idea how to call them properly) that does not move but highlights the speed and vibrations of the car around it. So yes, those should not be overused, but used to enhance the broadcast. I have been watching Formula 1 long enough to admit that some races can get boring.

        1. This is exactly the reason why I didn’t want to pay for Sky anymore. I was only watching F1 and the NFL, so I had a choice. I either pay for what I want to watch or i give up my free will and watch everything on Sky to make it worthwhile. I chose freedom, cancelled Sky, bought NFL Gamepass and am looking out for F1 tv pro.

    2. some $200 monthly for cable subscription

      Is it even possible to pay that much for cable?
      I’d reckon that you can get all you want for a lot less via IPTV (including F1).

      1. In the US, yes $200 per month for cable TV is typical. I have Comcast and $230, but that includes high speed internet and landline phone service.

  7. “offering a choice of six “be-your-own-producer” channels – ”

    forget the ‘producer’ bit, for me this is a chance of ‘hanging around’ at an F1 race from various angles without the restrictions and snobbery in place. F1 has never been truly open to fans. also not having the hyped-commentary in place will be great, some sub-text to inform on any engineering facts and strategy would be a nice addition as theyre the best bits from the commentary, the rest is just speculation and hype in what is often a forgone conclusion

    1. what i’m hoping for next is a few 360′ cameras placed in key locations around the track that you could view live with a VR headset. There are some really cool opportunities as this thing expands.

  8. Malcolm Smethurst
    7th March 2018, 14:22

    Wow. Impressively erm … detailed article.. I’ll merely observe that F1 Digital failed in the UK at a time when there was a so-called FTA alternative. Now, shortly, there won’t be although at the moment that’s irrelevant, thanks to Ecclestone and Sky. If Liberty’s offering were available in UK I’d take it, but I won’t have Sky at any price so bye bye, F1.

  9. Biggest problem of F1 Digital was that it had to compete with free-to-air TV. Since F1 is more and more shifting to pay-per-view like Sky F1, adding F1 TV does not seem to be so bad, when it replaces the current pay-per-view broadcaster.

    But the best thing for F1 would be going back to free-to-air TV as it attracts more audience and thus more sponsors and thus more income for the teams. But apparently Liberty wants more income from Pay TV so I hope they will redistribute the price money so teams can compensate for the loss of income from sponsors.

    1. I forgot to mention that I would like a pay-per-view broadcaster broadcast more races than just F1 and support races. My current broadcaster also broadcasts IndyCar, NASCAR, DTM, WTCR, WEC (highlights), F3, V8 Supercars, etc.

      I don’t want to pay for plenty of subscriptions to watch everything, I want to pay more for watching everything in one subscription. That’s why I also don’t like OTTs like Netflix, HBO and Amazon Prime for example, because they just offer a subset of what’s available (and most of it I don’t even like). Just give me one (or a couple) streaming service which offers the things I do like.

    2. @silfen The issue with FTA isn’t simply that Bernie/Liberty wanted the money (Although it is a factor), It’s also that FTA broadcasters struggle to even be able to afford to produce it because producing live sport is so expensive now.

      ITV backed out of there contract early in 2008 because of how much producing there coverage was costing them at a time when they were seeing a drop in advertising revenue & budget cut’s across the organization.
      When the BBC brought the rights they badly underestimated how much it was going to cost them to produce the coverage & the license fee cap & other cuts been introduced after 2009 put them under real pressure which is why they ended up dropping most of the sports they had the rights to.

      One of the biggest problems the FTA broadcaster have now is rules & regulations regarding advertising. There no longer able to advertise tobacco, junk foods & more which has taken a massive chunk of there income away which is handicapping there ability to broadcast something as expensive as live sport is.
      Subscription based PayTV broadcasters such as Sky are not hit by these things as much because they rely on what they make from subscriptions as much as they do ad revenue.

  10. I don’t think the comparison with sky is a good one, they managed to grab a small part of the market with their paid service, but I assume they work with packages, and before sky you have to pay for cable TV plus the the packages to finally have access to F1 (at least it is how it works here with Sport TV, which is basically the same thing)

    The thing that makes me believe the F1 TV will work (as soon as they actually sell it in their biggest markets) is that nowadays fewer people are interested in channel packages and prefer to pay for things that they will actually benefit from. Hence the success of Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’m a subscriber of there two services and I’ve cancelled my cable TV subscription, if F1 goes the same route I know at least that I’m paying for something that I will watch, instead of paying around 100€ for things that I don’t have any interest.

    The price comparison between current streaming services and the F1 TV subscription, I see why it is mentioned, but none of those previous services transmitting live events, I at least accept that it will cost more, even though it might offer less content.

    The future of TV is customisation, it may take some time, but F1 (and I think I haven’t said this in a while) is going in the right track

  11. Duncan Snowden
    7th March 2018, 15:57

    It’s been obvious to me for about 20 years that the future of all media is packet-switched. It’s only a matter of time. So I’m certain that something like this is where we’re all headed. However, Deiter’s question, “Is F1 TV Pro’s planned 24-channel set-up not a step too far?” is apposite, but not quite right. I don’t think it’s a step far enough. The very name suggests they don’t quite get it. We’ll see once it launches, but they seem to be trying to create their own old-style TV network with a few interactive bells and whistles, rather than embracing the new technology, streaming the on-track sessions live and leaving the rest for the user to decide how to watch. And the geoblocking is just typical boneheaded old-media thinking. The whole thing is simply, as one of the internet pioneers (I always forget who) once said of Facebook, not internet-shaped. (Granted, that never harmed Facebook – yet – but look at the reputation it’s gaining for itself.)

    That said, I think it’ll “succeed” more than F1 Digital did, and it’s a step in vaguely the right direction. But not exactly the right direction, and not a bold enough one in the long term. Ultimately, it’s probably destined for the same fate, at least in the form it’ll be in when it launches.

    I still say they’d have been better off saving their money and sticking the world feed, without commentary, on YouTube for free. It would be a huge risk, so I understand why they don’t, but it would increase the attractiveness to sponsors – think of all those eyeballs – and, indirectly, the value of radio rights. It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

  12. I’m still not 100% clear on this, according to F1’s website F1 TV Access will be made available “near globally” at launch, so does this mean it will be available in the UK? I know F1 TV Pro won’t be.

    Also, has it actually been launched?

    1. @geemac It hasn’t been launched yet. I’ve not seen a confirmation about F1 Access yet however it seems Sky UK aren’t showing classic races any more on their F1 channel which is perhaps a hint that content will be available somewhere else.

  13. Once upon a time, motogp was on BBC who lost it to BT Sport (pay, pay, pay) however, for a long while there has been the official motogp service, currently £178.32 (199.99€) for the season. It provides multi-screen, multi-audio, onboards, full live timing and 45000 videos with all races since 1992 and more. Even official tests are covered fully.
    Of course, the British are stuffed as usual because if you sign up in Germany for instance, it costs 139.99€. That’s about £10/month, which is a fair price for such a service.
    Surely, this is the model to follow without re-inventing the wheel. I doubt Scrooge McSky would tolerate such incursions into ‘their’ patch though. Pity.

  14. If I am able to watch the race at the time of my choosing I’ll be happy to pay the money. I live on the west coast of the US and 5:00 am start times really suck. I’d love to be able to watch in the afternoon and drink a few beers whilst doing so. Is there that flexibility?

    Excellent article Dieter! Thanks.

    1. If you watch the video on http://www.formula1.com, it says “watch all sessions live or catch up on demand.” I assume that means you can watch the sessions at a later time other than live. I’m also in the US and have no interest in watching at 7 AM, but will probably subscribe if I can watch anytime.

  15. So im forced to pay another guy my money to see his version of what he thinks Formula One should be instead of the other guy who pitched his version of Formula One that was fine for the last ten years.

    All these promises of the New Formula One and l thought it was just fine as it was. Bernie was pretty much spot on with his antics. Loved his tit for tat with media interviews. Whats wrong with grid girls for gods sakes.

    Look the only thing constant in life is change. So Liberty you want to raise the interest in your version of Formula One, THEN OFFER IT FOR FREE ON TV.

    Understand investing money to make money will require patience for the big payday to come. Give a piece back to the fans and it might open the doors to the bank like never before.

    The more F1 l can see makes me want to attend my countries Grand Prix with my Family and spend spend spend.

  16. @geemac No it hasn’t launched yet, It may not even be ready for Melbourne.

    The F1TV Access will like the Pro version be dependent on existing contracts. Some broadcasters brought access to the archive & full/highlights archive races as part of there contracts & that may end up blocking that stuff in those regions.

    I believe the UK may be one of those regions as Sky have been showing full/highlights archive races for a few years now & were granted additional access to the archive for there tales from the vault program.

  17. Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
    7th March 2018, 17:15

    Like someone else here said (@gpfacts) – I just want to watch the race. Being able to flick between cameras is great and some will find that to be a superb feature. But I just want to have a race, well commentated and with the professional commentators pointing out the info in the replays from the main feed.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think opening up options to view from different perspectives is excellent, but for me personally – I like to sit on the sofa with my wife and cheer/shout/swear at the screen without having to press any more buttons. The death of free-to-air has been a real disappointment to me. I’ve found alternatives ways to watch but those are dwindling.

    I’d be happy to pay directly to F1, but I just want a well covered and commentated race. I feel that both Channel 4 and Sky do that really well – but I can’t justify £500 a year for Sky just to watch F1.

    1. Yes!! Agree with everyone you’ve said. It’s a nice gimmick to be able to switch views, and that might be fun for practice or qualifying, but I just want to watch the race! Excellent commentators giving expert opinion and in-race interviews is also a must for me.

      I would happily pay F1 direct the kind of prices they’re predicting (along the lines of the Netflix £5-10 a month model) because this is so much more affordable than Sky. I don’t know many who can justify the high price Sky charge when all we want to do is watch the F1.

  18. I think there is also another reason for f1 to do this. It allows f1 to see what the value of their product really is locally around the world and then use that information to either sell tv broadcasting rights or use the rights and broadcast the events themselves. Take some place like UK for example. F1 will be counting whether it makes more money by selling their rights to sky or channel 4 or bbc. Or whether they make more money by selling their own service. They can choose which option earns them more money.

    For tv audiences this can be double edged sword. The good thing is that technically this makes it possible to watch f1 everywhere as the option is either provided by f1 or by local broadcaster. The bad thing is that if the local broadcasting contract is very valuable it simply means prices will increase while the medium stays the same. If f1 decides they can make more than channel 4 in uk by broadcasting themselves then they probably ask channel 4 for more money first. The higher the f1 license costs for channel 4 the more it costs for the consumer.

    This has been proven and has happen many times. Companies like netflix and hbo sell exclusive rights of their shows to local broadcasters and then remove those shows from their own local streaming services. When these shows are just one show included in some tv packages the costs can become hugely more expensive to the end consumer. Netflix or hbo is about 10$ per month but the tv options can run up to 30 or 40$ per month. That being said the prices are already very high.

    It is also problematic for the broadcasters. They are essentially competing against the same company who sells them the product. This can lead to situations where f1 on purpose does things to harm the local broadcaster to get out of bad deal if f1 for example values the local market too low. It is basically the same thing as trying to locally sell a product and competing against the original manufacturer who also sells the same product locally. In the end it stifles the competition.

    In a way it is bold move for f1 to try to become a streaming service and not just use the already existing streaming services. Whether that is the right move remains to be seen. On short term it looks promising.

  19. Great article! One thing I didn’t see was what would out of this world numbers look like for overall subscribers the first year? I think the US audience could surprise even Liberty’s bold numbers.

  20. No-one has mentioned the offer for nine months subscription to NOW TV F1. The cost is £150, for nine months. This works out at £16.66p per month and, as far as I can make out, it broadcasts Sky F1 coverage of all sessions of a Grand Prix weekend. This means that Each Grand Prix costs £7.14p. Am I missing something here because I am tempted.

    1. If Liberty cannot make this Netflixian thing work, then piracy will win.

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