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Motorsport Network buys Autosport

NEWS STORY
06/10/2016

Media group Motorsport Network has bought Autosport as it tightens its grip on F1.

In the last couple of years the group, owned by the mysterious Miami-based Russian billionaire Mike Zoi, has quietly built an impressive stable of companies including news websites, merchandise companies and even model making companies (Amalgam), despite the fact that much of the industry is notorious for its failure to make money.

Along the way, as it expanded globally, the group recruited some of the biggest hitters as writers and contributors… all clearly under the watching eye of Bernie Ecclestone and long before talk of Liberty Media first emerged.

Only last week it was revealed that Zak Brown, marketing guru and a non-executive chairman with Motorsport.com, revealed that he had quit his role as CEO at CSM Sport & Entertainment as he sought to take new role in F1. Indeed, many believe he is being lined up to run the marketing side of the sport following the departure of Ecclestone.

Today the Motorsport Network took another huge step towards domination of the sport as it announced its acquisition of six business operations that comprise Haymarket Media Group's interests in motorsport publishing, photography and events.

The acquired businesses in the portfolio include Autosport.com, Autosport Magazine and F1 Racing, Motorsport News, LAT Photographic, Autosport International and the Autosport Awards.

"This milestone in acquiring the businesses that Haymarket has grown over decades will be recognised by everyone in the industry as a mark of our intent," said Brown. "All that is best about Autosport and its sister businesses will be preserved.

"Supported with investment and aligned with our dynamic organisational culture and high-speed growth that is attracting younger demographics to motorsport, the fusion of these two organisations presents tantalising opportunities for our staff and our clients alike.

"This acquisition is part of a broader consolidation strategy and is aligned with a series of significant changes we're witnessing across the motorsport landscape."

While Pitpass understands that a number of journos have already been targeted to move to Motorsport Network, the fact that one of Motorsport.com's main rivals has now been bought out is almost certain to lead to job losses.

While America might only have one race, what with Liberty Media's ownership of the sport and Motorsport Network's increasing influence it is clear that certain aspects of Formula One have shifted from Europe across the Atlantic.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Suzuka, here.

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1. Posted by Oldbuzzard, 06/10/2016 20:27

"These motorsport.com and Liberty Media folks must know something I don't (not hard to do these days lol). Perhaps they are looking at the industry outside the US. Either that or they have discovered a magic lantern and the genie told them a secret no one else in US motorsports knows.
Almost across the board in the US, attendance at events and television audiences are dwindling by the month. NASCAR is losing at event attendance at alarming rates and TV viewing is dropping with every race, and by record numbers. NASCAR has an advantage in their TV contract, which provides funds for NASCAR, the venues and the teams. But, when that runs out, what then? Sponsors are already shying away from the once golden promotional tool of good ol' boy racin'.
Indycar is fairing not much better. Attendance at the cornerstone event of the series, The Indy 500, was down so much this year that you could see the empty seats on TV. Not as bad as every NASCAR race this year where the stands are all but empty at some tracks. TV viewing is also down, but again not as bad as the stock car races. But, those Indycar race figures are 70% below the levels seen in the CART heydays. SEVENTY PER CENT!
NHRA is also down in both categories, although not as dramatic as the other two. Again, though, sponsorship is getting harder and harder to come by for the teams.
Motor sports in general in the US is not high on any sponsor's list these days. In order to help the front gate ticket sales, many events will book well know recording artists to put on a concert before or after the race, which results in a concert with a race added on just in case anyone's interested.
As for F1, we'll have to wait until the Austin race, but, of course, they have already booked the concert in so the stands will have some people for the race.
Does the US really need a second race when the one now, run on the best circuit ever in this country, is struggling to stay afloat. Without the Texas state dollar subsidy, the COTA race would be a dead duck already. And, it is reported that the amount of public funding will be less this year than last.
Beyond all the bright shiny lights of the "big leagues" are the hundreds of small tracks that run weekly and bi-weekly around the country. For the most part, they are struggling to stay in business. Most of them survive by charging large entry fees to the competitors and paying back stingy prize money. The sport of weekly oval track racing and drag racing has become an entrant-funded activity.
Events that do do well here, at least for event attendance as there is no live TV and little post event coverage, is historic car racing, usually combined with a concours d'elegance and vehicle auctions. At the prestigious Monterey Historic Car Races in August, the attendance on Saturday was in the neighborhood of 30 to 40,000. A crowd many a NASCAR or Indycar track owner would die for. Of course the attendees are much older than the fans sought for the stock car and open wheeled car races. Young Americans are losing, or never had, that automobile love affair.
I wish the new owners of F1, if indeed the deal is ever consumated and the way the EU folks are sounding it may not happen unless FIA gives up its investment, the best of luck as I still love the sport. But, IMHO unless they have that genie in the bottle they will be in for a hard road to follow. "

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