Netflix Drive to Survive season three

‘Drive to Survive Live’? Streaming? Credit cards? Domenicali hints at F1’s future plans

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On Thursday during the Qatar Grand Prix weekend, while the paddock was consumed by chatter around whether the stewards would grant Mercedes’ request for a review of an incident in the previous race, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali gave some widely-overlooked insights into the sport’s future direction.

Following his appointment to the role at the beginning of the year, Domenicali was addressing Liberty Media’s annual Investors Day for the first time. The sport’s owners encompass a wide variety of interests, including, for example, the Drone Racing League and a 30% stake in the Meyer Shank IndyCar team. Even TripAdvisor and live concert promoter Live Nation are hidden in there, somewhere.

Domenicali began by summarising the year’s achievements. These are considerable, including the arrangement of a record 22 events this year despite Covid, and plans to break that record with 23 rounds on the 2022 F1 calendar.

Will F1’s longest-ever season also be its most exciting? Domenicali also talked up the sport’s plans to improve the racing through the introduction of new technical regulations.

“With current rules the aerodynamic disruption felt as a car gets closer to another is dramatic,” he said. “Once you are within three car lengths of the car in front, you have 75% of the downforce you want; at one car length downforce drops materially lower and only 55% is retained.

Feature: A technical director’s verdict on F1’s 2022 car model
“With the [2022] car, modelling shows that at three car lengths a car will retain 95% of the downforce and at one car length it will reduce to only 85%. That is a huge difference and we expect it will have a noticeable impact on the track.”

The implication is that F1 can expect vastly increased overtaking from next year – and thus better on-track action, in turn boosting TV and gate income.

While F1 fans have been eagerly anticipating this change for some time, Domenicali also hinted at future developments of interest during a question-and-answer session. In the main his responses were carefully-worded for the slightest misrepresentation or slip could lead a securities investigation, but even the most guarded comments are worthy of analysis.

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For example, Domenicali was asked about internet giants Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google – collectively known as FAANG despite some recently changing their names – coming into F1 in the near future. Could future F1 broadcasts be streamed ad-free on YouTube (or similar) – for a fee, of course?

Netflix Drive to Survive season three
Could F1 create a live version of Drive to Survive?
“We have said before that we will continue to monitor the landscape and are open to discussions in this area,” said Domenicali. “I would add there is certainly interest from this market but at this stage I would say we are in a strong position and expect that to increase,” he replied.

“We have already introduced several digital initiatives such as the Sprint in Brazil being available on Twitch and our YouTube stream of the German Grand Prix in 2020 so we have shown we can increase the diversity of our broadcast offering to fans.” Fans can therefore look forward to greater choices of interactive platforms, with considerable knock-on effects.

However, his answer to the next question – whether a live version of the successful ‘Drive to Survive’ Netflix series was in the offing – made analysts sit up and take real notice. Consider live streaming from paddock immediately after some controversy, particularly if fronted by a hard-nosed moderator rather than some pally presenter.

“It is something I will discuss with my colleagues,” Domenicali said, adding, “We have seen huge growth in all our digital platforms with follower growth year-on-year, engagement is high and F1 TV is continuing to perform well. We also have augmented the content on F1 TV with greater interaction and choice for the viewers.”

The technology for ‘Drive to Survive Live’ already exists and could readily be turned into reality. Bye-bye binge-watching the new series in March each year?

Start, Melbourne, 2011
F1 is planning a record 23 races next year
Moving on from broadcasting matters, Domenicali was asked whether an F1-branded credit card – which enables users to accumulate points towards race tickets and merchandising, book ‘early bird’ seats and attend exclusive promotions – was in the offing. Imagine presenting a gold or platinum F1 card in payment for dinner and gaining Paddock Club entry.

Domenicali admitted they had not specifically considered an F1 credit card, but that “it is another topic that I think merits further discussions.

“We are also focused on CRM [customer relationship management] and using that more effectively to use first party data in our operations and this could be an idea to help in that area.”

All or some or none of the foregoing may over time come to fruition – but that is not the overriding criterion. Of greater importance is that F1 is listening to its customers, be they buyers of stocks and shares or race tickets or team jackets.

The F1 credit card will likely happen first for it is the easiest to implement. But FAANG streaming and ‘Drive to Survive Live’ are probably the most exciting of all, for that is likely to attract a different demographic to the sport – and the more, the merrier. It’s no wonder that, at the time of writing, F1’s stock (FWONK) is trading at an all-time high of over $60.

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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...

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22 comments on “‘Drive to Survive Live’? Streaming? Credit cards? Domenicali hints at F1’s future plans”

  1. They need to start thinking about what they are going to do once they cannot milk the Drive to Survive cow anymore. Expanding the sport into more platforms, potentially streaming races and behind the scenes stuff, might leave little to offer in a docu-series like DTS.

  2. Live DTS is good. I felt pining for a special episode or 2 during the summer break. All episodes once a year for 1 weekend of bine watch is honestly no fun.

  3. Maybe they could offer to sell us a comprehensive OTT streaming service covering all sessions so millions of us don’t have to steal it. I’m willing to buy but they refuse to sell. So I get it for free. I don’t need a stupid credit card.

    1. I’m sure they would sell F1TV to you if they could, it’s most likely the government of the country you live in or the media providers that are blocking them from doing so.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        30th November 2021, 13:33

        In the UK, it’s Sky blocking them from doing so. They paid a ridiculous amount of money to Bernie to have F1 exclusive until 2024 so we can’t have F1TV here. I accept there’s not much Liberty can do about that so I’m willing to pay at the moment but from the end of 2024 onwards, I will be streaming F1. In an ideal world, I’ll be able to pay for F1TV and can watch it that way but we’ll see what’s available at the time.

        1. @petebaldwin Same in Aus, I don’t now when the contract runs out.

        2. @petebaldwin does Liberty Media necessarily want the situation to change in the UK? That same deal for Sky UK also gives Liberty Media a disproportionate amount of their revenue from TV rights – how keen are they going to be to change that?

      2. It’s not the government. It’s the licencing deals between F1, Sky and national FTA or pay TV broadcasters. As a consumer, this is not my concern. I don’t want to pay inflated proces to buy a bundle of rubbish I will never watch in order to watch F1. I only want F1. If they fail to offer to sell it to me, I will pirate it. Their business model failings are not my problem.

    2. With Now TV, it already is streaming. It’s not On Demand but it’s definitely streaming. The downside is as I mainly watch it for F1 and Cricket I’m overpaying as most is going to the Premier League (probably)

  4. They sure like to talk themselves up when they’re re-inventing the wheel.
    I’ve definitely streamed several races via the Sky Go app and I don’t see myself as a revolutionary!

    A live broadcast is a live broadcast, its just:
    1) how you access it (what platform)
    2) what you pay for it (more than now!)
    3) what content you’re offered for your money.

    A live drive to survive sounds like more of what I don’t want while the race is actually happening.
    I already have commentators with various levels of drivel and opinionated nonsense. I can choose to watch or not watch the pundits (friendly or otherwise) in the pre/post race (and the dreaded grid walk).
    I just want to watch the action on track, or briefly anything relevant in the pit lane.

    If they offer these things via alternative methods (different channel, red button, simulcast that you an watch on another device, etc), then fine. The team radio and pit lane channels are great added bonuses cos they’re very relevant and if you pay to access them, they can enhance your experience.
    I like the technical analysis by Ant Davidson and Karun Chandhok, but I don’t really care for general opinion when its not backed up with something.
    Immediate to the minute discussion is devoid of any actual detail and full of partisan opinion. All it will do is highlight how difficult it is to be a steward!

  5. Perhaps they could stop pandering to “fans” and improve racing for actual fans.

    1. Oh, @peartree, the former option is easier and faster, the latter is beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced marketing department on wheels. ;-)

    2. You mean like the cost cap, restructured prize money, sliding scale areo development, and complete regulation change they’ve researched, planned and are now implementing?
      Just because what’s visible and catches headlines for the casual viewer, doesn’t take away from the work that’s been done to fix the core of F1.

  6. None of this really matters to me. At the same time, unlike what they may think (I feel as if they do), I (a regular, “old” fan) can and may stop watching F1 if they go in the direction I’m not really OK with. They care about attracting new fans which is understandable and necessary, but I hope they’ll keep the foundation intact. So far I’m not an optimist, also I don’t appreciate being lied to by mister D. every time he speaks.

  7. What Netflix did with Grosjean’s crash was truly horrendous, and they manipulated quotes from Bottas and Sainz to make it sound as if they hate their teammates, all in the name of entertainment. Just awful.
    I can´t even fathom what Netflix could do with 2020’s season…

    1. *2021*….

  8. I don’t understand how live DTS would work. It’s all edited snippets from throughout the season mashed together. Wouldn’t live DTS just be redundant F1 coverage? It would make sense for them to release an episode after each race and forgo the drama manufacturing of the last seasons in exchange for timeliness. It would be much more interesting to watch the episodes covering the race that happened a few days prior but live will just split viewers. Insane idea to come from a media company?

    1. @ryanoceros I agree, a “live DTS” isn’t really DTS at all.

      A weekly spin-off format is an interesting idea. SailGP does something similar, where a new episode of their “Racing on the Edge” series drops before every regatta, roughly once a month. Each episode focuses on one driver or team and does a decent job of weaving character development material into the ongoing championship storylines. Which is no small feat, given the amount of preplanning to get B-roll and interviews with the featured characters at home, etc. But still, the storytelling isn’t on the same level as DTS.

      What makes DTS work is the access, and it helps both the production team and everyone in the paddock that the series doesn’t come out until the next season. I can’t imagine F1 teams allowing the same sort of access and providing the same kind of candid moments — for instance, eavesdropping on Horner and Marko discussing Gasly’s struggles at Red Bull — if what was filmed would be revealed days later and affect the ongoing championship.

  9. I’m rather hoping that the new designs actually provide us with much better racing so they can stop throwing “ideas” at the wall to see what sticks.

    DTS has surely run its course and done its job of attracting some new interest. Now what they need to do is deliver on the promise of better racing capability.

    If that happens, all this gimmickry will be redundant.

    My fear is that marketing will completely miss the value of that improvement in its search for something “new” that they think an audience might want and destroy what promises to be the best thing to happen (completely new designs) in decades, or at least fail to capitalise on that.

  10. How to survive 30+ years following F1….

    Tune in Sunday
    Tune out Monday
    Rinse an Repeat…..

  11. I dont consider people who watch Drive To Survive as F1 fans.

    ….but thats just semantics, or was that statistics?

    1. Didnt get past the first ones of season 1 either. Nice for Liberty though to attract some extra revenue. Hope they do realise however these are customers that do not return and only watch a handful of races. So have the mechanics in place to milk them, but do not let them determine the programming of the weekend. I am 100% confident Liberty will fall for it however.

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