HOME / Technology and a new world of Formula 1TM: James Allen, Formula 1TM Commentator

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.

James Allen

Commentator, writer and leading blogger on Formula 1TM

James Allen is one of the most experienced and insightful broadcasters and journalists working in Formula 1TM today.

He is currently the Formula 1TM correspondent for BBC Radio 5 Live and is the network’s lead Formula 1TM commentator. James became ITV Sport’s lead TV commentator on Formula 1TM in October 2001, having deputised for Murray Walker at six races during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

During James’ tenure as commentator, ITV’s race coverage won three consecutive BAFTA awards and the Royal Television Society’s Sports Programme of the Year award. In 2008 James and Martin Brundle were presented with an Autosport Award for their dramatic coverage of the final laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix, ITV’s last Formula 1TM race. The BAFTA judges also indicated that the commentary on the final laps had been the decisive factor in swinging the BAFTA ITV-Formula 1TM′s way.

James was born into a racing family: His father Bill was a works Lotus driver in the 1960s, enjoying success in sportscar events like the Le Mans 24 Hours. He is one of the most passionate Formula 1TM commentators on the circuit and is trying to pass this on to his sons Enzo and Emerson although the boys prefer motorcross to Formula 1TM.

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