Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei spoke with the folks at Motorsport.com about his ideas for the future of Formula 1 and some of them are interesting to say the least.
In Particular, what caught my eye was his comment regarding digital platforms:
“Something that intersects all of these is less than 1 percent of the revenues are from digital, they really have no organised digital effort. I think there are lot of things that can be done around gaming, VR [Virtual Reality] and AR [Augmented Reality].
“There’s an enormous amount of video feed and data that we have about the races that we are already capturing that we are not in any way processing incrementally for the dedicated fan, or opportunities around things like gambling.
“Outside the United States there is a huge gambling opportunity in the sport, none of which we capitalise on.
“I think there are a bunch of ways in which digital can play through this, from a service to augmenting other things to providing data that are interesting that we are not capitalising on, that I think will be a part of the future growth.”
He added: “Part of that is much more direct to consumer, D2C kind of experiences. How that augments, and how we work that in with traditional broadcasters, needs to be worked through. But I think that there’s a lot of material to work with there.”
After watching F1 for many years, I believe I have a limited understanding of how Bernie Ecclestone views his content as an asset and not something to be cast into the online video channel streams for free. Throwing content around from old races to key moments in F1 is not something he’s been willing to do and I’ve written on that before in detail. Even though fans just want all of F1’s content, current and past, for free, it isn’t something I felt was a good move and apparently neither did Ecclestone.
What Maffei seems to consider as digital content is the amount of data they harvest and how to productize that big data into meaningful content packages to sell. Perhaps real-time data packages for gambling locations around the world. I’m not a gambler so this is lost on me but presumably there are a lot of folks who would like a comprehensive feed package from F1 to offer their gambling patrons.
The recurrent theme of augmented and virtual reality keeps coming up and as a technologist, I’m sorry, but that’s simply parroting the hot tech talking point. I’ve used VR and it’s fine but I’m not sold on the desire for experiential viewing of a race beyond the novelty factor as most fans want a broad spectrum of data, views and race coverage in order to take in the entirety of the race. If they can devise the use of VR to provide that, then perhaps this thing has legs but right now, I’m not going to watch an entire race from the view of Lewis Hamilton’s cockpit camera, sorry. I still look to F1 for entertainment over experiential marketing and viewing opportunities.
What I would be far more interested in is a new F1 digital feed package that would allow viewers to consume the race content on demand and have that is tied to timing and scoring synced with the replay of the race and race commentary from a team of true professionals that aren’t called to be seeker-sensitive for each broadcast. Comprehensive unpacking of the sport and harvesting much more information from the paddock than fans currently get.
Silly reporting like stabbing a mic in front of a driver and saying, “looked like a tough race, talk us through it”. What a comprehensive waste of everyone’s time. If we are to continue our self-flagellating with these silly degrading tires, then a much better tire icon for each driver and team and real-time team strategy analysis as well as predictive commentary as the race progresses.
What I would like to see is F1’s own race team of mechanics, engineers, drivers and strategy wonks called F1 Race Control as the brunt of the commentary team with laptops, race simulations and strategy analysis that all comment and contribute to the race package in real time. There are a number of incredibly talented F1 journalists who are very good at tracking race strategy so it would be ripe pickings for Liberty to assemble the right team.
I would like to see a more comprehensive D2C program in this package with better marketing of the sponsors of F1 via special discounts and deals on their products and services for F1 fans. Not a damned T-shirt or $100 key fob, a meaningful discount on their products and services as well as discounts on tickets and race weekend packages.
I would like to see this package offer past races where contractually feasible and if copyright issues are present, then a new commentary offered in its place—similar to what SPEED did with F1 Decade.
In short, I think F1 can take more control of its digital destiny than simply selling the digital rights to the broadcasters they sell program packages to. No offense to Sky or NBC but I think F1 could do a bang-up job of creating a full, comprehensive digital platform on demand.
You’ll also be interested to note that they believe more races, than the current 21-race schedule, is a real opportunity too.
Hat Tip: Motorsport