Formula 1’s Global Head of Digital and New Business Frank Arthofer has revealed further details about the sport’s new over-the-top offering, whilst speaking to selected media during testing in Barcelona.
According to Auto Motor und Sport (AMuS), the intention is for the desktop version of the service to be up and running ready for the Australian Grand Prix, although it does appear that there is a race against time for that to happen, hence the ambiguous wording of Formula 1’s press release.
For American readers, irrespective of whether there is a choice between ESPN or the over-the-top service come Melbourne, the commentary you hear will be the same. According to Italian website F1Sport, viewers watching with English commentary on the platform will hear Sky’s UK commentary line-up of David Croft and Martin Brundle.
In addition, Canal+ will provide the French commentary whilst, according to AMuS, RTL are understood to be providing the German commentary feed. This does mean that Formula One Management’s own on-air personnel, believed to include Will Buxton, Rosanna Tennant, and Tom Clarkson, will not commentate on the action, but instead provide analysis before and after the sessions, as well as additional live content for social media.
A media note at the test states that 58 territories will have access to F1 TV Pro at launch (largest ten by reach listed below). The territories amount to a cumulative reach of around 1.12 billion people, 14.9 percent of the world’s population according to the latest population figures from the United Nations.
|Country||Identified as top F1 market in 2017||Potential reach|
Of the top 20 markets for Formula 1 in 2017, as identified by Formula 1 themselves, nine of them will have access to the service at launch (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and USA), which is a very good starting point.
Formula 1 plans to prevent anyone from using VPN to access the service. Speaking to RaceFans amongst others, Arthofer said “We’re working with our technology partners who are yet to be named – with the exception of Tata – who will be part of the product to put in place best-in-class content security and protection. That’s always been a fairly conservative position we’ve taken from a Formula One perspective. Put another way, we’ve been aggressive in protecting our IP and will continue to do so on this service.”
Arthofer believes though there is a possibility F1 TV Pro could launch in the United Kingdom before 2025, if there is a will from Sky Sports to do so. “In the markets where we haven’t carved the [digital] rights out, like the UK as an example, we’re very open to working with our partners to consider a path to up-selling this product to our broadcast partners’ customer base.”
Elsewhere, F1 TV Access, which will be available to most countries launch, will include a ‘handful of races‘ on both a full and highlights basis, in a similar manner to the way WWE launched its over-the-top offering in 2014.