F1 to redraw TV landscape


As it seeks to recoup the money it laid out in buying Formula One, and then set about making the sort of profits CVC could only dream of, Liberty Media is planning some major changes for the sport.

The engine rules and the division of the prize pot aside, Liberty is looking at how to not only keep current fans happy but win over many millions of new ones.

It is hoped that taking the sport into new territories - Vietnam for example - will not only mean more race promotion fees to add to the coffers but win over millions of new fans in the region... ignoring the fact that such projects spectacularly failed in Korea, India, Turkey...

As part of its masterplan, Liberty is looking to seriously revamp the way the sport is delivered to the world, ironic really when at one time Bernie Ecclestone's TV coverage was setting the standard for all sports.

In recent weeks a number of deals have been announced that essentially see the sport moving in the same direction as it looks to be heading in the UK, with live coverage only available on pay-per-view, while free-to-air fans are left with the scraps.

Furthermore, the sport is looking to advance in areas Ecclestone gave scant regard to, delivering race coverage and more into fans homes and to their various devices courtesy of its own streaming service.

Last week saw Liberty in a number of meetings including the teams, race promoters and TV broadcasters, not forgetting the infamous Strategy Group.

Though some of the plans have been quicker to leak out than others, a picture is beginning to emerge, and for some it will not be pretty.

First off, it is being proposed that all sessions, including the race, at a majority of the races, be moved back by an hour, with races scheduled to start at 15:10 as opposed to the current 14:00.

Ignoring the fear that the extra ten minutes might allow more travesties such as Michael Buffer and his Austin fiasco, one can only presume it is for comfort breaks and additional "words from out sponsors", while the extra hour is intended to make the timing more 'viewer friendly'.

Thus far it is thought the timing change mostly applies to European races, but while it is said Singapore and Abu Dhabi will be unaffected, Bahrain is likely to become a full night race.

However - and this is where it gets really worrying - while we can expect to hear an improved sound this year - courtesy of the repositioning of microphones on the car as opposed to changing the engine formula - there is talk of TV camera angles being adapted to make the cars look quicker and thereby more exciting.

Also - and those fans of a certain age and high blood pressure should look away now - there is even talk of a music soundtrack being played at certain parts of the race along with an in-screen highlights display... which in the case of Abu Dhabi last year would have involved Chopin and a blank screen.

More will become clear in the weeks and months ahead, but as Liberty's vast army of marketing men get to work, perhaps one should be heading to Amazon and investing in a few box sets for Sunday afternoons. We've recently purchased Gomorrah, Follow the Money and Spiral… when we've finished them we'll be happy to swap.

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Published: 27/01/2018
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