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