Formula One is giving a step towards changing the way the series connects and attracts the audience.
Liberty Media Formula One Group and Netflix are evaluating a future partnership in order to offer live streaming services from races.
The new Formula One owners are willing to launch a live streaming platform by 2018.
Although no official announcement has been made yet, this is a digital strategy Formula One is likely to follow. Fans all around the globe have been demanding it for quite a while.
Social media interaction between teams, drivers and fans have been notably increased since the new Formula One owner, Liberty Media has taken the wheel of the series, a year ago.
Netflix is an online media platform since 1997, with over 100 million subscribers worldwide reaching out to over 190 countries.
A wide selection of content is made available for each country, according to commercial and distribution agreements.
While other racing series have successfully incorporated streaming services through different online media platforms, live streaming is a huge step for Formula One, and it promises to touch deep down to its core, shaking tradition and transforming the way fans access to content, behind the scenes footage included.
World Rally Championship, MotoGP, FormulaE, World Endurance Championship are some of the series which already offer live streaming today, successfully.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
Broadcasting tv networks with pre-existing Formula One contracts should have nothing to worry about as their exclusivity rights are guaranteed.
The live streaming services are meant to be offered in countries where no such agreements are in place.
In Australia, since 2016, Fox Sports holds an exclusive deal for broadcasting all Formula One races.
In the UK, Sky Sports holds an exclusivity contract to broadcast Formula One as well as in Italy.
In Brazil, Tv Globo has renewed its contract, holding all tv and internet broadcasting rights exclusively, at least until the end of season 2018.
Proving rumors of leaving Formula One wrong (no Brazilian driver will be representing the country on the grid for the upcoming season) all advertisement segments have already been sold, guaranteeing Tv Globo a leadership in the sport, which started with its first open tv transmissions back in 1981.
In Spain, temperatures are raising no matter how cold the weather gets.
Movistar+, a firm owned by Telefonica (telecommunications company) exclusively holds all rights (tv and internet) in Spain but has yet to renew its deal for 2018, with many betting that it might not happen at all as audiences levels haven´t been anywhere near the expected.
As it´s well known, US broadcasting Network, NBC, through its division of NBC Sports, has chosen not to renew its contract with Formula One.
The launch of live streaming has been pointed as reason number one not to continuing as a broadcaster for the sport, due to its conflict of interests as Comcast (the firm that owns NBC Sports) would found in the Formula One platform a competitor instead of a partner for its cable tv services.
Meanwhile, ESPN, the new 2018 rights holder, plans to put more highlights online.
On the matter, Sean Bratches, Liberty Media Commercial Chief has stated: "Our objective is to create platforms in the direct-to-consumer arena that engage fans and leverage our assets - whether they are live races, archival [or] are data,"
“Generally speaking, our ability to exploit the digital marketplace will come in deals that are not prospective, rather than legacy deals,”
"We are going to put unique feeds into territories next year that reflect the metrics that are adopted by the specific territories," Bratches added.
There is really nothing new to it, most tv networks already work this way, “tailoring” the content offered to audiences, though it doesn't necessarily reflect what people prefer to watch.
Sometimes the will of the majority doesn´t accurately reflect the true, though it´s impossible to please everyone.
But the fact that you´re watching from Spain, doesn´t necessarily means that your focus on the sport is due to Fernando Alonso, while for someone watching from Mexico, specific content on Sergio Perez might not be of interest, despite on him being the local driver.
Information is Global, Formula One is a Global sport, to have a say over content is key and technology helps, creating other mechanisms, name it Netflix or Amazon to reach it.
As long as the quality of what fans see on track is over the top, meaning, racing at its best, competition at its best, a sport where drivers make the difference behind the wheel, producing spectacular moves, awakening the passion of racing, then I find no reason why fans should not engage or re-engage with the sport.
After all, that´s what Formula One has been all about since its beginning back in 1950.
If Liberty Media manages to keep the sport´s essence intact while bringing along new technologies, audience levels and engagement will certainly rise.
The public would feel more motivated to go and watch a racing weekend live at the circuit, at home on the tv or online (Smartphones, Tablets, Notebooks, Smart TV’s) wherever they are.
Formula One has plenty of work to do to get into its best shape.
Live streaming is the tip of the iceberg to move in the right direction.
Technology is more than welcome, the thrill of racing and competition is essential.