Carey: Liberty aims to take F1 to the next level

08/09/2016
NEWS STORY

Widely seen as Rupert Murdoch's right-hand man, a situation what has at times not gone gown well with the Australian magnate's sons, it was Chase Carey who was the driving force behind the Fox network's move into sport in the early 1990s.

A keen sportsman, who played Rugby at university, Carey joined Murdoch's News Corporation in 1988. When, in 2012, News Corporation split its publishing and media and entertainment businesses, it is widely believed Carey was the driving force behind the move.

Perhaps this is why Murdoch once claimed that he saw Carey as his natural successor.

"Chase is my partner, and if anything happened to me, I'm sure he'll get it immediately," he said in 2012, a comment that will not have been received well by his sons.

Now, despite the fact that Liberty Media boss John Malone has often found himself at odds with Murdoch, Carey has been appointed chairman of the Formula One Group.

Speaking in the wake of the $8bn (6bn) deal that will eventually see Liberty take control of the sport, Carey was keen to set out his stall in terms of the sport's future.

"Clearly Formula 1 has been an enormous success much to the credit of Bernie Ecclestone, who has led this business for decades," he said, according to Motorsport.com. "I look forward to working with him and we both agree there is an opportunity to continue to build this business and take it to the next level.

"So what do we see as the opportunity? The opportunity is to grow and develop this sport for the benefit of the fans, teams, partners and our shareholders by increasing promotion and marketing of Formula 1 as a sport and brand.

"Enhancing the distribution of content, especially in digital, currently a very small percentage of revenue," he continued. "Evolving the race calendar, establishing a broader range of commercial partnerships, including sponsorships, leveraging Liberty's expertise in live events and digital monetization to make our events bigger than ever."

As was the attraction for CVC, Carey is aware that F1 offers an "incredibly low-risk" business model courtesy of long-term contracts, many of which extend for another ten years, worth $9.3b (6.9bn).

"We were particularly attracted by the diverse revenue drivers and low-risk business models," he admits. "There are essentially three core revenue buckets in the business: race promotion, broadcasting and advertising, and sponsorship, each with significant growth potential as we go forward.

"Formula 1 is a key player in the high-growth market for live, premium sports rights. There is an increasing demand from broadcasters, advertisers and sponsors who want access to F1's mass global live audiences and attractive demographics."

This will include not only taking F1 into new markets, but further expanding in current markets including the United States. However, at a time many fear for the future of the sport in Europe, he was keen to allay fears.

"In terms of developing markets, clearly new markets are opportunities as a global sport, and we're excited about that, to grow the sport, expand the sport in places like the Americas and Asia," he said. "But I want to be clear that the established markets – the home and foundation of Formula 1 is Europe in particular – are of critical importance. Building the sport in Europe, building on that foundation, has got to be second to none. We do want to take advantage of the global footprint of this sport, we want to focus on it.

"In the longer term," he continued, "markets like the US and key Asian markets are opportunities to develop. We're not going to do that overnight. But there are huge audiences there. If we reach those fans using digital platforms and some of the tools that haven't been exploited aggressively, we can build a whole new generation of fans in places that, historically, have been as significant a part of the Formula 1 fan-base."

Just hours into the deal there is talk of more races, cheaper tickets, better access on numerous platforms, leaving one wondering 'what's the catch?'.

Speaking before the deal was finally concluded, Bernie Ecclestone, who remains as CEO, was keen to point out that Liberty Media was not buying the sport for altruistic reasons.

"I don't know why anybody criticised CVC because they were shareholders, they weren't management," he told Autosport. "They bought the company to make money, and that will be the intention of Liberty. They're not looking at it as a hobby, so it's no different to CVC."

Thing is, all CVC did was take from the sport, never investing a penny in improving it or coming up with ideas to take it forward.

Whether Liberty Media delivers on its promises remains to be seen. Nonetheless, despite what many feel about the new era of communications and information, nothing worthwhile comes free.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 08/09/2016
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