F1’s owners keen on free-to-air TV…still

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I was reading the comments of new F1 CMO, Sean Bratches, and it did bring to mind a few considerations about how Formula 1 has been ran in the past and what Liberty Media would like to do in the future.

Sean was very clear that a free-to-air broadcast option is very appealing but only on a territory-by-territory basis. That makes sense and to be fair, it was also an option for the previous owners who originally understood that free-to-air in China has a tremendous reach versus pay-TV. However, the revenue stream of pay-TV was very alluring and they chose, instead, to move to that option. This reduced overall viewership dramtically in the country.

Sean certainly understands the broadcast business and which territories would be more advantageous for F1 to be free-to-air. He also mentioned more digital options when queried about Sky Sports F1’s hold on the broadcast rights through 2019.

“There are going to be a number of consumer touchpoints going forward that we are going to be very proactive around, and one of them is going to be digital,” he said.

“We are in the process right now of re-imagining our entire portfolio of digital assets – and we really look at that as an opportunity to engage with fans.”

There is no doubt that fans are clamoring for this option and right now, in the US, I have that option via NBC Sports and the NBC app or on Playstation Vue, which I just dumped U-Verse for. You’re welcome Sony.

You may or may not agree but from my perspective, the entire notion of bundling is dying and it will continue to die for ala carte digital streaming services. Untying premium content you’re interested in from the bloated cable packages that you never watch is the “cord-cutters” dream. A recent WSJ article (linked below) discusses the death of some of the channels that populate the bloated cable bundle but even with their demise, the cable bill won’t go down. A sure way to indoctrinate new cord-cutters.

I’m curious how Liberty Media’s free-to-air, pay-tv and direct digital package will all play with each other and what impact the ubiquity of content distribution might have on individual broadcast packages.

In the end, consumers are inundated with content and finding ways to curate their information will be important. F1 would do well to get ahead of the leviathan that is the “bundle” and into the idea of un-bundled, digital, free-to-air (market basis), pay-TV and more.

Hat Tip: Autosport and WSJ

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Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

more races more pay per view and more profits are what they are really interested in.

Alianora La Canta
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Alianora La Canta

The cord-cutter philosophy depends on people having the technical option to switch to internet-based viewing ubitiquously (which even in the most promising territories, is about 15 years away from being able to be assumed), and being wealthy enough to pay for it (which in a lot of the most profitable markets, isn’t even on the horizon yet for much of the fanbase). Apart from countries with no reliable free service (the USA is one of those places), the free-to-air element is going to continue to be an essential part of building the fanbase back up and maintaining it. And the… Read more »