Mercedes is doing too well says Liberty boss Maffei


The billboard just down the road from Pitpass HQ proclaims that F1 is only "live and exclusive on Sky", the words writ large over a picture of Sebastian Vettel hunting down Lewis Hamilton.

The reality however is somewhat different, the Briton has just claimed Mercedes fifth 1-2 of the season, while Ferrari is all at sea, in terms of its car, its drivers, its updates, its strategy and its diminishing challenge.

While Max Verstappen is looking to be the only realistic challenge to the might of Mercedes at present, a more honest billboard would have shown the Silver Arrows... but such is the world of advertising.

Speaking at the annual MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York, Liberty boss Greg Maffei admitted that Mercedes domination of the sport this year - some tipping the German outfit to win all 21 races - is not best for business.

"Unfortunately Barcelona was not as exciting as we would have liked," he said. “Mercedes has done very well. Credit to Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff.

"They are doing too well," he added. "We would like to see a lot more any given Sunday but we will see."

The increasing move to pay-per-view is already hitting the sport in the pocket, however continued domination by Mercedes, not to mention the well-documented issues with F1TV are also going to hurt. A major worry, when Maffei already considers the sport to be "under-monetized".

"21 races, in 21 countries, and only one in the US for now," he said. "I still think that growing the US fan-base is a very big part of the opportunity. That's a longer term play.

"I have seen some studies that show that if you take the top sports, we are monetizing F1, I think at 8% or less than what the Champions League is doing on a per user basis. We are way under-monetized.

"We have a lot of opportunity to grow in markets like the US," he added. "That's not going to happen in a week.

"We will likely get a second race in the US and probably continue to generate fan interest. We have gone from being with NBC on the second or third channel to being on ESPN and even some on ABC. So it's higher profile.

"I think the growth opportunities in the US are real. I think the opportunity to get better monetization, not only on traditional broadcast, but potentially digital entrants down the road, is real," he insisted, a brave claim when you consider that, according to Chase Carey, the various issues affecting F1TV may take until 2021 to fix.

"I think China is another opportunity like the US," he concluded, having previously admitted that he hopes to see a second race in China even though he had questioned the rationale of having a race in Azerbaijan. "We understand the US market better perhaps but China has a lot of opportunities as well."

Check out our Wednesday gallery from Barcelona, here.

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Published: 15/05/2019
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