Formula 1TM is a fascinating sport and a remarkable business. And it is now at a turning point.
Where else do you get that combination of style, technology, innovation and passion in a sports platform with global reach? As a business it’s more than doubled in size in the last 10 years and now it stands on the threshold of even greater expansion.
The format for the sport is well established, with 20 events every year taking place all over the world. Asian venues now host six races, while North and South America are well represented as is the Middle East.
There is still room for growth in terms of new venues; a race is being prepared in Russia a return to South Africa is also on the cards, for example.
But what excites me most about Formula 1TM’s next steps is the potential for distributing content and building a more direct relationship with its enormous worldwide fanbase. As someone who is now fully engaged with a large world wide online audience myself, having built a 20 year career on TV, radio and newspapers, I can fully appreciate how exciting this moment is for the sport.
Formula 1TM has an established audience in Europe, as well as in Formula 1TM heartlands like Japan and Brazil. Its potential in the emerging markets like China, India and Mexico is large and so far untapped, but the key will be hitting them with the right kind of content – taking a global sport and giving it local appeal. Being in control of your content distribution and having limitless potential for sending it out from the Formula 1TM venues is the key to it.
The sport’s massive reach was built on free-to-air TV networks, with images beamed live via satellite.
The TV model is changing now, with hybrid packages involving pay TV operations increasingly combining with free-to-air offerings.
But behind that we are also seeing a shift, for example, the deal for fixed line connectivity from every race venue,
that Formula 1TM Management has done with Tata Communications, opens up the possibilities for Formula 1TM to innovate and build a whole new relationship with its audience.
The sport is poised to start distributing content far and wide on the internet, and at the same time build bi-directional relationships with fans and consumers. Multiple channels can be supported: driver focussed channels, technical channels, data rich channels and of course interactivity between the sport and its audience can all be envisaged. The multi-layered nature of this complex sport makes for almost limitless possibilities.
Live internet rights have largely been sold to TV broadcasters as part of their rights package, to this point. But licensing deals for live Formula 1TM online rights to people other than broadcast rights holders could soon start to appear. Also, there is huge untapped potential for pushing the content out to mobiles as users spend more and more of their online time using smartphones and tablets.
There are plenty of challenges in all of this and the content must always be kept exciting and engaging to capture new and younger audiences.
But, speaking as someone who likes change and the possibilities it brings,
Formula 1TM is an exciting place to be at the moment.