Cameraman, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

F1 exploring live race streaming options with Amazon and other online broadcasters

2021 F1 Season

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Formula 1 is looking into new ways of bringing its live race broadcasts to internet streaming platforms.

The sport’s director of media rights Ian Holmes described the exploratory talks under way with major online broadcasters, such as Amazon, whose interest in the series was revealed last month.

“We’re in pretty regular contact – ‘negotiations’, ‘discussions’, that’s a little more advanced, I would say ‘contact’ – with the likes of Amazon, Facebook, YouTube,” said Holmes.

Holmes said F1’s conversations with Amazon centre on whether they would purchase broadcast rights to the world championship, as they do other sports, or become a host for ‘over the top’ streaming service F1 TV.

Will Liberty turn to streaming to replace Ecclestone’s record £1.1 billion Sky F1 deal?
“On the Amazon front, we’re actually engaged with them in a couple of discussions at the moment, specific discussions and two types of discussions.

“One is, you might be familiar with Amazon Channels. So that would be an example where you’ve got Amazon Prime, which is where you see the films, the content they buy – quite a lot of tennis, depending on where you are – and that sits within their content offering. If you’re Prime subscriber, you get that content for free.

“They have a thing called Amazon Channels where they carry additional OTT offerings – in some cases linear channels, in some cases OTT offerings.

“We are in discussions with them on both fronts. We’re talking to them about specifically acquiring our rights in the same way you would sell to any other media company. But we’re also talking to them about a channels arrangement, where where we have got the opportunity of putting F1 TV into the market.”

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Existing rights deals present a complication, Holmes admitted, as does the potentially difficult balance between sale of rights and hosting F1’s channel.

“Could you do a deal where on the one hand they acquire your rights, we carve out F1 TV and F1 TV’s carried on channels? Maybe.

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“For them it’s different: They’re no different from any other pay TV offering in the sense that if they are acquiring the rights, they might want exclusivity. But in some markets, they’re not acquiring rights. And some of the markets we’re talking to them about channels, we already have a deal in place with another party, so we couldn’t do the rights side.”

Apple’s streaming service is another potential future destination for Formula 1, Holmes added.

“Apple have made no secret of the fact they’ve already launched Apple TV. They’ve got a similar sort of situation.

“Maybe they acquire rights for Apple TV, but they also offer – probably not quite technically correct -an equivalent of that channel’s model. If you have Apple TV on a device, you will see that they carry the stuff on there but they also carry other OTT offerings. So there’s different types of discussions to have with them, depending on where you’re talking about.”

Netflix, which is about to debut the third season of its F1 series Drive to Survive, is not a likely candidate for live race broadcasts, Holmes explained.

“Netflix we talk to any way, different situation, they maintain their positioning that they will not be in the business of acquiring live sports rights. It would be nice if they did, but let’s see.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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  • 35 comments on “F1 exploring live race streaming options with Amazon and other online broadcasters”

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      17th March 2021, 8:51

      If this can happen at a reasonable price Sky can say goodbye to the monthly ransom I have to pay.

      1. It is specifically because of Sky that you will see none of this content. At least not until Sky’s exclusivity arrangement expires.

      2. I suspect in markets where existing agreements are in place other platforms won’t be allowed. Same as it is in the UK with F1TV unavailable due to Sky’s blood-sucking deal.

      3. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk Is it not possible to just watch F1 TV using a VPN? I’m not from the UK, but that seems like a considerably cheaper option.

        1. I don’t believe you can set up an account with a UK payment method..??

          1. Officially you can’t through the F1TV site as you said you need a payment method from the country you are trying to buy from. However you can buy F1TV from the UK using the F1TV app from iOS or Android as you can use Google Pay or Apple Pay which bypasses this restriction for some reason, however you pay a 30% premium ontop as these app stores want to take a cut of the money. It cost be £71 for the whole season so it’s definitely cheaper than SKY.
            You will still need the VPN to buy and access of course.

        2. Yes it is. I do it for all sports.

      4. Don’t worry, the other company will also want a lot of your money. F1 is not selling it to them just to be kind.

        1. Well said. Sky, Amazon, Apple. It will be a pay-through-the-nose job whatever happens.

          F1 needs to make races available to watch free, or very low cost. Going behind a paywall has been very profitable for a few, but terrible for many, including fans. Consider Japan, which was once F1 crazy. Getting a ticket for Suzuka was nigh on impossible back in the 80s and 90s. Now you can rock up on the day and get in. How is that good for F1 overall?

          If they want more eyeballs, they have to give it away – at least a basic service. Maybe charge for extra channels.

          1. I don’t engage with Amazon as I consider them a dangerously predatory, ethics-devoid void but I’d expect it would cheaper than Sky. If this was the only option in my region – VPN and choose a good one.

    2. Stephen Higgins
      17th March 2021, 9:46

      If I were SKY my bowels would be considerably loosening themselves by now, especially now that they no longer have Bernie to deal with.

      It’s somewhat ironic after decades of domination, SKY are now the ones coming under pressure from competition from newer media.

      1. In the long term, Sky are in trouble. Youngsters don’t watch TV in the same way that the older generation do and the idea of paying huge amounts of money to have a very restrictive TV service like Sky is a bit archaic. They are used to watching whatever programme they want when they want to watch it and on whatever device they want to watch it on. They’re not going to have a satellite dish attached to their home and a 12 month contract etc.

        Sky rely heavily on having exclusive deals because once there is a cheaper alternative, people will go for that. One similar setup was their coverage of wrestling. WWE created their own streaming service that was available to the rest of the world but not the UK. Once the deal with Sky ended, they signed a new one that allowed them to offer their service to the UK – you could pay £9.99 a month to use the streaming service or £30 per event (one per month) to watch it on Sky PPV. Why would you pay 3x the price for the same thing? Ultimately, Sky dropped WWE entirely and BT Sports picked it up instead.

        F1 are quick to crow about how much money they get from Sky but it’s at the detriment to UK fans because it locks them out of the other services that F1 seems to heavily promote. It’ll be interesting to see if Liberty sign a new deal with Sky allowing these other services to be available to the UK or whether they put shareholders above fans and sign another exclusive deal.

      2. I was thinking the same thing, that services like Sky were on the way out and that the UK would finally be free to use (the admittedly in development) F1TV but F1 went ahead and pulled the rug under the legs of fans in Germany (including myself) and took F1TV away by signing a new deal with Sky. So clearly Liberty Media dont view Sky in as outdated a light as the rest of us do and I am worried that the UK deal being renewed is not out of the question, if Sky can offer enough money.

        I am no expert but it seems to me that getting new fans on board should be a priority and the combination of things like Drive to Survive and F1TV was a great one-two. With Sky there is no way to try the sport out and see if you like it so you are basically banking on existing fans who are already invested. I personally would not be here if it wasn’t for F1TV and I am guessing that there are others like me that, at least in the UK and now in Germany (both big markets I would imagine), are left outside. Apologies, rant over…

        1. Spot on my friend. F1 knows they are not reaching any new fans & sponsors know this.

    3. How about you actually support F1 in the UK and put it back on a TV channel that people can freely access? Viewing figures have plummeted since 2012 and it’s frankly insulting for Liberty to say they want to open up F1 for more people when this paywall is in place.

    4. I hope and pray Amazon or even Apple take up F1 and get worldwide rights eventually. I’m in the UK so I’m horribly aware that we have Sky until 2024 and the absolute fortune you need to pay to follow this sport in the UK is disgusting. Amazon or Apple buying F1 rights and I’d expect either a similar subscription fee or something reasonable like £8 a month F1 subscription in addition. That pales next to the >£35 a month during the season to follow on Now TV (in HD and not even with catchup, you have to watch live). Please someone save us from Sky suffocating F1 in arguably its home country. The fan base will grow when it’s cheaper and more accessible!

      I have confidence this will happen because the new owners realise making money at the expense of the fan base is a false economy. They’ve jumped aboard Youtube to drop highlights and features and the Netflix series has been fantastic as well. They absolutely don’t want a small hardcore of fans paying through the nose when they could have millions of fans paying more reasonable amounts. Fans that will then go on to spend more in the F1 economy in one way or another. Please please no extension with Sky!!!

      1. Perhaps Amazon has sufficient clout to create some pressure on Sky.
        Most money wins, I’m sure.

        Sky has only been able to charge these fees because customers allowed it.
        A massive Sky boycott a few years ago might have changed their minds.
        It didn’t happen – enough people still opted to pay, and Sky got away with it.
        I can only congratulate them.

        Been walking the dog on Sunday afternoons instead, for a few years.
        The dog is happy, his owner is in slightly better physical shape and several hundred pounds better off.

        1. Several hundred pounds is a huge amount of weight lost. Congratulations! ;)

      2. I hope this happens at no extra charge , but the chances are Amazon being Amazon would look to capitalise on this by creating yet another premium channel. This means where sporting events are currently free, it might bundle those with F1 into a single channel and charge a monthly subscription. IMO This would make it no different from Sky or any of the other only F1 sources.

        On the other hand if this is free, it might attract even more people to Amazon to enjoy all its other services for just its yearly prime subscription.

      3. I must say that I on the contrary would hate to see this happen @davidhunter13!

        I finally got F1TV access where I live instead of the dreadfull local option (which is only available through 1 IPTV option, some limited local cable offers or satellite).

        I would certainly not sign up with Amazon – they do not even offer anything but signing up to Twitch etc here currently (the company leeches off 50% of that too) , not even buying locally (since the market is quite competative already). As for Apple TV – that is an even larger non starter here, they don’t exist as far as I am aware.

        I am fine paying F1 itself for the service. And I know that probably a large part of the infrastructure already runs on Amazon servers (the AWS stuff is just everywhere). But I refuse to pay it to any such company to take a share of it on top.

    5. I guess from France it looks like a British-market related issue caused by that Sky deal. France had the same issue in year one of F1TV caused by private channel rights holder Canal +. We had to pay the whole Canal service for about 40€/month as opposed to the F1TV 8€/month.

      On the Amazon Prime stuff, I don’t get it as they just funded an improvement to F1TV services. It only raised my subscription numbers with Netflix, F1TV, Disney, Spotify and so on.

      What we want is quality and F1 is doing it at the moment with its numerous videos on Youtube and F1TV.

      I just hope that Britain will soon get the chance to experience F1TV.

    6. A platform like Amazon would be the perfect way to broaden F1s appeal.

    7. I’d love for it to move to Amazon, and since Bernie has gone, with the new content on Youtube (I quite like Sam Collins), I feel F1 is moving in the right direction. I live in the UK predominately, least since lockdown, and a Sky contract is just silly, where they’ve positioned themselves in the market doesn’t make any sense, least to me, and I imagine many others.

      If I could just purchase the content I want (i.e F1TV, gosh I wish there was F1TV in Britain), I’d happily pay, I’d buy a season pass and not be locked into a two year contract, where you have buy a box etc.

      The reality is, I use illegal streams, I’m saying this because I think it adds to the conversation, and I can’t be the only one here who does, and Liberty (and Sky), must know that. Unlike football which seems to have a much tighter policing policy, I never struggle to find a perfectly good one within a minute.

      The reality is that I’m an F1 fan who wants to pay for content, but not on the ridiculous terms Sky offer, especially when you can get it for free. Hopefully come 2025, there can be a simple subscription service.

    8. I’m fully on board with Amazon. I have Prime and they record all their own content in 4K.

      1. F1 is already filmed/broadcast in 4K & has been for a few season now.

        The Amazon deal also wouldn’t be an Amazon production. They would simply be picking up the F1 produced world feed like any other broadcaster. So there wouldn’t be any difference compared to now other than the platform your watching it on.

        1. The sports network that has the rights here doesn’t broadcast the races on their 4K channels.

    9. Online? Streaming? Not on the TV?!

      Ohhh, someone please think of dinosaurs!! /sarcasm

    10. Seems an over complicated plan just to get rid of ‘croftie’

      Worth a shot.

    11. If it were to end up on Amazon I’d just hope that F1TV continues to exist as it’s own thing as it does now as I really don’t want to end up having to buy an Amazon prime subscription on top of an F1TV subscription to watch on Amazon (Should it be one of the Amazon channels). Would just work out as been an extra cost for some extra stuff I don’t really want or need.

      I also really don’t like the Prime video app, Always seems way harder to navigate to find stuff you may want to watch when compared to things like Netflix.

      Given the Sky deal though I don’t think it’s something those of us in the UK will have to think about for a few years as I still don’t think any Amazon deal would get past the Sky exclusivity anyway. And TBH I think that if Sky decided to extend the UK deal & insist on maintaining there exclusivity beyond 2024 I think they would get it. Look at Germany for instance, They signed a new deal last year which gives them exclusivity & blocks F1TV even though it was available in Germany the past 3 years.

    12. FYI any deal done with Amazon wouldn’t interrupt any of the existing broadcast deals so in places like the UK where a broadcaster (Sky in that case) have an exclusive deal the Amazon offering wouldn’t be available just as F1TV Pro is blocked in the UK right now.

      And going forward even if a deal was done with Amazon there is no guarantee it would ever be available in the UK as if Sky opt to renew then they would almost certainly ask for & more than likely end up getting to keep the exclusivity clause that would continue to block alternatives.

      And before anybody points out that Liberty aren’t Bernie & won’t do those sorts of deals; Some of there recent TV deals point towards them been just as willing to give PayTV broadcasters exclusivity deals as Bernie/CVC were. Both Sky Italy & Germany did deals with Liberty last year that give them exclusive rights & block the streaming platform (F1TV will now only be available to Sky subscribers in Germany) & in the case of Germany it also took away the FTA option that used to be available via RTL.

      1. Yeah @gt-racer, I think that while F1 TV might play a role in discussions in markets where a player like Sky is interested, it will either be by offering an alternative way to view it for subscribers to that player (like Sky Germany, or Ziggo in the Netherlands) or just to be able to say that F1 actually HAS an alternative even if no TV station picks up the feed.

        So it would only help forge bigger/stronger deals to lock the content into the highest paying bidder.

    13. I wouldn’t hate Sky so much if I could buy just the F1 as I have no interest in the other sports. Amazon or F1TV would be perfect if they didn’t block it because of the Sky deal.

    14. F1 TV failed to give me promised live coverage of Bahrain practice. Everytime I tried over 3 days it defaulted to trying to get me to subscribe/pay again. They have a lot to learn. Yes £35 per month from Sky to receive F1 is daylight robbery. I have cancelled Direct Debit so they are threatening to sue. Bring it then I can expose racketeering.

    15. Best way to reach the post-broadcasting crowd? Make an unedited world feed available to anyone who wants it, with a limited redistribution license. Inject it with tolerable adverts if you need to sell it to the shareholders, although the point is to attract true fans who will then buy merch, attend races, sub for F1TV. Superfans like me could playback this feed over whatever livestream service they want (Insta, Twitch, YouTube) along with their own rudimentary commentary, graphics, etc. basically “crowdsourcing” production.

      It’s the “Freemium” model, and it works.

    16. I would be completely happy with switching from the Spanish TV broadcaster Movistar to what I tested over a three months-long F1 TV trial… but prior to that, some luminary has to solve the huge delay that still exists in streamings; otherwise, I will never accept to watch a driver starting a lap when in reality he is approaching the end of the second sector.

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