In many respects, regarding social media, content is king when it comes to a blog or trying to link to news sites etc. Sure, a catchy headline does that too in the case of several of the world’s top-visited websites such as Buzzfeed, Jalopnik and other sites that make a lot of money from clicks to their catchy headlines and irreverent nature. Then there are the sites that are all about clickbait headlines and much worse.
When you consider the content, if it is really good you will go to a site or engage because of it. There are other times when the headlines draw you in but the content is not so good and you quickly learn not to frequent that site very often. Content is still king even though clickbait and the others—with catchy, profanity-laced headlines and a eye-catching animated GIF—may gain lots of clicks but do little for delivering quality content that keeps people coming back.
FBC is really about the F1 fan community and our stories are about the stories. We find stories that interest us and share it with our community to talk about it, unpack it further and chat about our beloved sport of Formula 1. We’ve been doing that since 2005 and while other sites are younger and much bigger and even some folks Facebook pages are their bread and butter, we still believe in our model. FYI…so does Bernie Ecclestone.
You see, content is king and Formula One Management (FOM) knows that incredibly well. You want F1 video and footage? You’ll pay for it. It’s monetized. Every part of it from track-side advertising hoardings to video and other forms of content. The one product they have to sell is content.
Romain Grosjean was complaining this week that a live video feed he had on his Facebook page had to be taken down upon request from FOM. He said:
“I ran a live video on my Facebook page during our filming day, as well as from my room yesterday,” he explained to Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview.
“And the FOM asked me to remove all the videos. We had more than a million views on all the videos.
“I think it’s great, it allows people to see F1, what it’s like inside, behind the scenes, but we’re not allowed.”
I agree with him on every point about doing these things for fans, trust me, we are fans and the voice of the F1 fan community so we get the plot here but I also understand FOM’s position. They have all rights to video and pictures surrounding F1 and F1 events. Check the back of your race ticket to see. Now, testing is a little different and credentials and other things are not as tied down but the content still is. You can’t show up to an F1 event and start a periscope session without getting clearance from FOM to do so. Sky Sports F1 pays for the right to shoot video of the race and for all pre-, on- and post event footage including Ted’s notebook. It’s expensive too.
A few years ago, it was all the rage to sell CD’s at 90% profit margins and fleece artists and do outlandish deals for the music industry. Then Napster happened and the record business was drawn and quartered but it’s not like they didn’t see this coming. No one in the industry wanted to believe their way of life was over. The massive pillars of the music industry were supposed to last forever, just like the A&R parties. Now the industry is in shambles and anyone who fancies starting a band to make money had better think twice on how to do that.
They lost control of their content and then tried to sue people for taking it instead of creating an all-new systems to deliver it and add value through the music, communication, concert and creative value they have.
Conversely, you may feel that FOM are being too draconian in their safeguarding the content they own and that they are really missing out on social media but I would argue that you may have simply forgotten what the video industry did in the wake of the public crucifixion of the music industry.
Blu-Ray and HDMI
You see, the video industry wasn’t going to get caught out like the music industry so they got their lawyers in Hollywood to create a new system of delivery that would lock down the video playback element. They created a video standard called HDCP which requires EDID tables for sources and devices to work together. Effectively this requires a digital handshake between Blu-ray players and the display before it is allowed to work. Almost overnight, the electronics industry ushered in a new video transmission format called HDMI and it is a consortium that earns several cents for every single HDMI jack on any product that is made and shipped.
As this is my day job, I was very upset because we were already sending HD digital video throughout entire facilities and enterprises just fine but the new HDMI—which started in the consumer electronics world—made this very difficult if not impossible in the infant years of HDMI. The encryption is constantly being developed and hacks are constantly being designed. It’s a game of chase but in large part, they made a big effort to lock down their content.
Now, I am not a fan of HDMI and prefer open-source video standards for a host of integrated technology reasons. I’m not working with one manufacturer in a $2 million system install, I am working with 30 manufacturers and I need all of those components to talk to each other and work together, open source would be better for that application.
F1 fans would prefer open-source racing content with no digital encryption or restrictions on broadcasting clips of F1 content, pictures or audio. I understand that but FOM is doing nothing more than what other industries have done to protect themselves.
Isn’t there a best of both worlds?
You could argue that the NBA, NFL, BPL and other sporting series have done a better job of protecting their content within reason and yet allowing enough of it to get fondled by the public community in order to intrigue and draw consumers into it’s marketing web. I would agree with you on that front and I have many suggestions for FOM on how to trickle enough out to take advantage of social media and alternate mediums but not compromise your monetized content—which is king.
Can FOM do better? They do have a Twitter account now and it’s been really good to be honest but could be a lot better for sure. They’ve improved their website too. I applaud them and while we all think they are being Neanderthals about this and are 6 years behind everyone else, I say they are taking a very measured approach and are not getting swept up in the emotion of social media and giving away the farm to be on the crest of the wave of change.
Let technology mature. Let Facebook, Twitter and others figure what they are really going to be in the future because right now they are becoming tedious. The next leap in technology will bring something else and it could be, like Napster was to the music industry, harmful for those sports who flooded a current-state platform only to be completely exploited by the future-state platform. Being judicious with your single biggest asset is not being Neanderthal, it’s being practical if not cautious.
There are several journalists I have read that are critical or frustrated about FOM’s lack of using social media and new technologies to spread the content to the public en masse. I find that a little confusing because these are the same folks who charge for a magazine, online or print, subscriptions. Their content is king too and clearly they feel it should be paid for and so does FOM.
So we still like our model of bringing stories we find interesting and feel that our community would like to talk about. FOM still like their content protected and more importantly paid for. We’re not monetized and they are, so I understand their point. FOM could easily hire a huge social media marketing group and flood the world with content so it’s not that they are illiterate about it, they simply choose not to use that medium as a way for fans to consume the sport…for free.
Hat Tip: Motorsport