F1TV issues might not be resolved until 2021, admits Carey


When Liberty Media - a media company - bought F1 at the beginning of 2017, from the outset it was made clear that delivering the sport to fans around the globe in exciting new ways was the cornerstone of its plan to boost audiences and thereby profits.

With senior executives like Chase Carey and Sean Bratches coming from media backgrounds, fans who had tired of the dinosaur-like approach to new media under the sport's previous management, were thrilled by the promises of a seismic change in the way their sport was to be delivered.

However, following a difficult start in 2018, the problems continue, and as recently as the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the failure of the much-lauded F1TV streaming service means that subscribers were unable to watch the race and as a result, for the second time in a year, refund were made.

As previously reported, a casual glance at the 'replies' timeline on the official F1 help Twitter account, reveals a litany of frustration and failure that is not restricted to Baku and is set to continue over the coming months.

Indeed, in a conference call with financial analysts today, Chase Carey admitted that it could be 2021 before the issues are resolved and F1TV is fully delivering.

"The issue that arose in Azerbaijan really was unexpected," he said. "That's the nature of these platforms. You have to deal with it, and to some degree the unexpected is obviously always troubling.

"The unexpected will occur occasionally," he continued, "but I think we felt we'd made pretty good headway. We're not far enough to say there won't be another problem.

"But the problems before that had been probably quite manageable. These things aren't perfect, and it will probably take us another year to get all the small bugs out of it. But the significant glitch that we had there was something outside the core of what we've been building in the platform.

"We need to make sure that we're looking at it in the wider context, but I think the core of what we expected to be the platform is, we feel, functioning pretty well. Not perfect, but pretty well."

Fact is, at the height of last year's issues, Carey admitted that F1TV was a work in progress, and that the various issues would be fixed this year.

However, as any subscriber will tell you, many of the (basic) issues from last year remain unresolved, and all the while fans are having to pay - for what is essentially beta testing - while their enjoyment of the sport is severely compromised.

Carey also admits that much of the promised extra content, including data and archive footage, will not be available in the immediate future.

"Some of that takes time to build," he said. "Making accessible to consumers some of the expanded data that we think will be interesting and compelling to them is still a work in progress.

"We certainly have forms of content, broadly defined, that we will be adding at the end of this season, that we're working on.

"We still have not tapped in really at all into things like the archives, where I think you want to have the great races of the 90s, the great races of the 80s, great finishes, great passes, those sorts of things, in a digestible form, it really isn't there.

"There's still a lot going on to expand and build the content, and in all honestly we'll probably never stop. It's probably between the beginning of next year and the beginning of the following year that we get to the 'Phase One' of what we feel is the over the top product that we envisioned going into it.

"We initially probably thought we could get there in two years, obviously last year we were a bit behind. What we thought was two is probably likely in three. Dealing with problems always sets you back a little bit, but I think we actually feel we are making headway and getting to where we planned and hoped to be."

Whether subscribers feel F1TV - and the wretched Timing App - are "making headway" and getting to where they'd been promised and "hoped to be" remains to be seen, but judging by that Twitter timeline a lot of them are not prepared to wait and are already cancelling their subscriptions.

And who can blame them?

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Published: 09/05/2019
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