F1 TV delays launch; no OTT this weekend

I’m slightly curious now if ESPN’s plan was always to offer the Formula 1 broadcast pre-race coverage and online digital features or was that a late add-on given today’s news? I must assume it was always planned but today’s announcement that the F1 TV streaming service will not be ready for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix is a bit of a buzz-kill for F1 fans.

The long-touted OTT (Over-the-Top) service that F1 has been working diligently on for the past six months isn’t going to see prime time for mass users this weekend despite initial suggestions. Instead, F1 will use this weekend as a beta to test the service to smooth any rough edges. I found this article by Autosport interesting.

“We will do a stress test/beta test session during the Melbourne weekend with the aim to be fully operational as soon as possible,” an F1 spokesperson told Autosport.

“It’s a normal process when you develop a new product. It won’t be a public test, it will be an internal test.

“We will have people spread in various locations in the world, testing the system and functionalities.”

Asked about the likely timing of F1 TV’s introduction, the spokesperson said: “As soon as possible. There is not a set deadline.”

There is also a plan to introduce the new portable F1 Vision device, which was known as FanVision when it was last used in 2012, for the Spanish Grand Prix on the weekend of May 13.

“We should launch it by the start of the European season,”

To be fair, F1 wouldn’t be too keen to release a product that was buggy or had issues that provided a challenging user experience. That would be a very bad move to be honest so I applaud their desire to get the issues worked out ahead of a mass launch. Although I would say that I was hoping they beyond the beta testing phase but let’s be realistic, they’ve been working in anger on this for six months and that’s not much time for a global streaming service to be honest.

I fully understand the Silicon Valley notion of “good is good enough” but I don’t agree with it. It may work for tech giants and that’s great but it isn’t how many people make choices in their life. Someone once said that good is the enemy of great and I tend to agree with that.

I would much rather F1 measure twice and cut once so to speak. It seems they understand the disaster that would befall them if they rushed a half-baked streaming product to market and one that they’ve been continuously calling “Over-the-top”. So Europe it is then. That’s why I am wondering if ESPN’s quick, last-minute announcement of expanded online streaming services were announced this week.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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sunny stivala

Today at 7:0 am on ESPN page I told “the captain” that the music and dance is not going to happen and there is as yet no date set when it will happen. and I don’t follow autosports any more, stopped wasting my time and money a long time ago.

Eje Gustafsson

last used in 2012? FanVision was offered in Austin last year to my delight.


I think it was optimistic on Liberty’s part to believe they could get this service up and running properly in just 6 months. However the cynic in me sees this last minute additional pre-race content as a bit of intentional special one-time preview for everyone(in the USA) to see this new material and remind us that it will only be available afterwards on the sport’s streaming service exclusively

The Captain

Nah, 6 months is plenty of time. IF you have a grasp on the complexities and limitations of live streaming production. I’ve put together very popular streams in monumentally less time (in man hours) than I’m sure Liberty had working on this. And they already had the actual broadcast production team in place. My guess is that Liberty didn’t want to partner with any backend streaming provider (in the same way they didn’t want to partner with NBC on the streaming). They probably viewed that as the same as partnering with a network which they wanted to get away from… Read more »


I don’t know whether this is fortunate or unfortunate, but it’s nothing like you suggest, the partners that Liberty has engaged are major players and know what they are doing. It sounds like Liberty started too late for the level of complexity that they’re trying to implement. The mistake being biting off more than they could chew and announcing the laundry list of features rather than simply starting by delivering the produced feed in a basic app on select platforms and adding features as they were ready throughout the season.


I wonder if the ESPN broadcast will shorten when the OTT service is available. Looking forward to checking out the coverage this weekend! I found ESPN 3 on my AppleTV.

Tom Firth

You might be right, along with The Captain above that ESPN made a late change to the broadcast to accommodate the lack of an OTT service, but it should be said that Sky didn’t announce its new look structure for race programming until March 8th so ESPN might have just waited until Sky scheduling was officially confirmed. I don’t know they will shorten the broadcast when the OTT system goes live because all ESPN is offering is the 35 minute “Martins Grid walk”, national anthem etc etc Of Sky’s 1.5 hour race build up show, most of the actual analysis… Read more »


Watching Practice 1, and it’s pretty much the SkyF1. “There are no cars on track” —insert commercials—also, random cuts to 15 second commercials for the cable provider or a bank. Curious what the non-streaming broadcasts will look like. If the OTT is a commercial free version of this, I’ll be quite happy.

Tom Firth

Yeah, you are going to get some ads in practice anyway as even Sky puts ads in practice.


Maybe Liberty need to hire a good media company to deal with this…?


I predict this is going to be an ongoing fiasco and bag of hurt for hopeful fans for the better part of this season. Don’t be a sucker. Buy by the month–when you get a chance to buy it at all.


So…given that you have to have the ESPN TV app loaded on your “oh so smart” TV, and then track down which of the ESPN shrublets (ESPN Ocho?) each session plays on…it was an ok “watch”.
The commentary was generally good, I liked Martin Brundle trackside watching the cars transition the esses (in fact, I would have enjoyed a bit more from him).
While I’d like to see the OTT from F1, I’m happy with this step up from NBC (although I do miss Steve Matchett).


Uh oh… finally got an email after signing up for notifications regarding the F1 TV APP… under the “F1 TV APP” section there is a “Watch Now” link to ‘get yourself in the mood…’ what is it? A freaking crash reel. The NASCARization of F1.

R. Taylor

I’m not anxious to see jumpy macroblocking images offered up as a replacement for a good satellite feed. Keep your OTT and fix the espn mess Liberty.