How did F1’s relaxed social media rules work last week?

After last week’s testing session in which Formula One Management allowed more use of digital media from the paddock, I’m still curious as to what broadcasters like Sky Sports F1 feel about opening the spillway on the dam of content from F1?

According to Red Bull’s Christian Horner, broadcasters should embrace this new position and he feels FOM should keep this relaxation of rules for the entire season. As I mentioned in a previous editorial about this very subject, I found an article at Autosport additive to the conversation.

“The television broadcaster would never get that access to what we’re showing,” Horner told Autosport. “They need to ultimately complement each other, because we’re not going to film anything on track – that’s not within our remit.

“But by being able to personalise the drivers, give an insight into some of the bits behind the scenes, it will only encourage a growing following to turn on the television and watch the races.

“I really see it as a general benefit to the overall sport.”

There is content that the fans would never have access to and to be sure, that’s a real benefit for them to see. There is also content and access levels that broadcasters pay dearly for that becomes orbital to the kinds of content Horner himself can access or provide. You can see this devolving quickly if teams take control of the narrative, agenda and digital content surrounding their brand and information they choose to reveal.

Horner is correct in that the teams/sponsors/drivers will not be providing a professional broadcast format for viewers of the race and that’s understandable but they will be providing interviews, video and pictures that otherwise would have been the domain of the paying broadcasters. Horner is also correct when he suggests that even a paying broadcaster doesn’t have the access the actual teams do and this places a premium, if no justification, for allowing this digital media openness to remain.

“It’s that behind the scenes stuff that the fans crave, and it’s been great to get that content out there,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s an advertisement for Formula 1, because hopefully then, as the following grows, those followers will want to view the races and turn on their televisions. It’s how they complement each other.

“We’ve certainly put out a lot of content. They’ve even put me on Instagram! It’s been tremendously well received. It’s been a great way of advertising the sport, and engaging with the fanbase.

“The way people watch content these days is very, very different. You’ve only got to go on a train and see how everybody is looking at their phone.

“By opening up this avenue to get great content out there, I think it’s a real positive.”

Simple math(s) for me would suggest that if a broadcaster was paying $20m for the rights, they’d either suggest that the content be released in conjunction with their package or the price be reduced because without exclusivity to digital media and video from the paddock, the price surely can’t remain the same. This is the reason former CEO Bernie Ecclestone didn’t allow such relaxation of the digital media rules.

Is Horner correct when he says that the two kinds of coverage are complementary and can work together to promote and reveal the sport in new and meaningful ways in formats fans now demand?

It’s all a new direction and a challenge Liberty Media will have to address. How best to capitalize on digital media as well as retain value of broadcast rights as well as deliver F1 on the platforms fans desire most.

On a personal note, short videos from mobile phones isn’t really the kind of content I feel is cutting edge but for F1, who’s refrained from it, it could be seen as revolutionary. I believe broadcasters who script, produce and professionally create video content is a far better approach to professionally revealing and advertising the sport. I think NBC’s Will and Jason as well as Sky’s Ted and Crofty should keep doing what they do best. 

Hat Tip: Autosport

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jiji the cat

Baby steps. This is exactly what the testing allowed. It’s good to see but for me, I won’t be satisfied until I am fully immersed in the experience

charlie white

I’ll make 2 points here and neither will be a NBCSN rant: I worked in local television news up to 2014 as a photographer and high-priced consultants who advised us demanded that “field personnel” like a reporter and myself should be tweeting, facebooking and feeding Instagram constantly to promote ourselves, promote our daily stories and entice new viewers to the evening broadcasts. They was even a minimum number for tweets(10)! As a photo-journalist, I had no problem in social media self-promotion but I drew the line at revealing our day’s story to everyone especially our competition at other stations. And… Read more »


Not entirely on topic, but fellow F1B followers might also enjoy watching this interview with Ross Brawn, his approach to how FOM intend to develop the technical and racing side of F1, it feels like we’re in good hands :-)

Apologies Todd if this isn’t the right way to share the link


Meanwhile, on topic, opening up the use of social media in F1 throws mainstream F1 media into the same maelstrom as other aspects of the mainstream media.
That’s not working out well for most mainstream media, so I think Liberty will have to be very careful to craft a solution that elevates the span and content of acess through social media (likes of giving Todd’s F1B site direct access to teams, drivers, etc) while not destroying the business model that makes it worthwhile for Sky and others to invest in their excellent F1 coverage.

Zachary Noepe

Good point in what sphere has the quality of the information we’re receiving and the decisions we’re making with it actually improved since the great ‘disruption’ in information technology?


That would be the F1B podcasts, website and community ;-)

Zachary Noepe

Well said

peter riva

I have something small, personal but lasting to add to the conversation: When I was 16 I went to Goodwood for the return of graham Hill to racing ((Ferrari LM 250)… on the train down, a nice man had an extra paddock pass. He gave it to me. Being in close, personal, with the paddock personnel, the smells, sounds and feeling of “being there” (and not merely a spectator) made me a life-long fan way beyond the normal teenager stuff. Allowing drivers, mechanics, staff to share digital material may help broaden and solidify F1’s appeal for many. And it’ll make… Read more »