Can F1 boss Chase Carey help renegotiate Sky TV deal?

02/03/2018
NEWS STORY

Formula One Management's (FOM) long awaited confirmation of its OTT streaming service on Tuesday, had fans and the media salivating alike. After all, what's not to like, an almost personalised F1 TV service on demand, on the go and at a fraction of the price of many of the current alternatives where subscribers are also locked into long-term agreements.

Sadly however, fans in Britain, home to seven of the current F1 teams, not to mention FOM, could only read the announcement and look on longingly.

The UK was notably missing from the long list of countries where the new F1 TV streaming service will be available, a list that includes Croatia, Ukraine and Haiti.

At present, fans in the UK have two choices; pay Sky for live coverage of all races (and practice sessions) or stick with (free-to-air) broadcaster Channel 4 for live coverage of ten races.

Unfortunately however, as from next season, all live coverage will be exclusive to Sky in a deal that runs until 2024.

Such is the deal that unless it can be renegotiated F1 fans in the UK will either have to subscribe to Sky for their live fix or find an alternative means of accessing the new F1 TV service.

Needless to say FOM's boffins, not to mention its vast army of lawyers, will be on the case.

"We're working with our technology partners, who are yet to be named with the exception of Tata, to put in place best-in-class content security protection," warned Frank Arthofer, F1's head of digital and new business, when asked if fans in the UK might attempt to use virtual private networks (VPN) to access the streaming service as opposed to using Sky.

"That's always been, I'd say, a fairly conservative position we've taken from an F1 perspective. Put it another way, we've been aggressive in protecting our IP, and we'll continue to do so on the service."

As Pitpass previously reported, the new F1 TV streaming service will cost between 6 - 9 ($8 - $12) a month which compares very favourably with the current Sky deal which costs 18 ($25) a month for the F1 package plus a basic subscription to the main Sky service, at the very least fans would looking at around 40 ($55) a month and face being locked in to a mimum one-year contract.

Of course, news that UK fans will miss out on this revolutionary service comes at a time they are already facing the loss of their home race, with the British Grand Prix due to drop from the calendar after 2019 following (Silverstone owner) the British Racing Drivers' Club's decision to end its contract.

Exasperated, fans are calling for FOM to renegotiate the deal with Sky or at least work out an agreement that would allow them to access the new F1 TV package.

If only there was someone who could help, someone with a bespoke brogue in both camps.

Perhaps Chase Carey, for not only is he chief executive officer and executive chairman of the Formula One Group, but is also a Non-Executive Director at Sky.

Although this has been a matter of public record since he joined the board in 2013, it isn't something that has been widely reported, certainly by the F1 media.

While there is talk of a deal being done with Sky by which historic content might be made available to fans in Britain via F1 TV, and perhaps even delayed contemporary coverage, at present it appears that the live race content will not be available until 2024.

Interestingly, another country with a legendary history in F1 is also missing from the list of countries able to access the new service, Italy, where once again, in a country that has seen its free-to-air coverage decimated, Sky has the contract for live coverage.

"Fans" has been the buzzword of Carey and his team ever since Liberty Media bought the sport last year. Attempting to renegotiate Sky's deal, thereby allowing some access to the new streaming service, might convince said fans that the sport really does have their interests at heart.

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

Published: 02/03/2018
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