F1 TV has this evening (Wednesday 9th May) launched for fans worldwide, with fans in the United Kingdom gaining access to Formula One Management’s (FOM) rich archive.
The over-the-top service comes in two forms: a Pro version where fans can watch live 2018 race action, and a basic Access version, where fans can access archive material. UK readers have access to that basic product, but not the premium level tier.
At launch, 72 races are available to watch in their entirety for viewers on a near worldwide basis:
- 2017 – Bahrain, Spain, Azerbaijan, Belgium, USA
- 2016 – Spain, Austria, Malaysia, Brazil, Abu Dhabi
- 2015 – Bahrain, Britain, Hungary, USA
- 2014 – Bahrain, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Abu Dhabi
- 2013 – Australia, China, Bahrain, Britain
- 2012 – Spain, Abu Dhabi, USA, Brazil
- 2011 – Monaco, Canada, Italy, Japan
- 2010 – Australia, Turkey, Canada, Belgium, Abu Dhabi
- 2009 – Australia, Germany, Belgium, Brazil
- 2008 – Britain, Italy, Belgium, Brazil
- 2007 – Canada, USA, Brazil
- 2006 – Bahrain, Turkey
- 2005 – San Marino, Monaco, Europe, Japan
- 2004 – Bahrain, USA, France, Belgium, Brazil
- 2003 – Australia, Malaysia, Brazil, Britain
- 2002 – Malaysia
- 2001 – Malaysia, Brazil, Austria
- 2000 – Germany
- 1999 – France, Europe, Malaysia
- 1998 – Belgium
- 1997 – Hungary
Every race from 2002 onwards has highlights on F1 TV, taken either from the DVD season review of the time, or more recently from highlights uploaded to the F1 YouTube channel.
The archive starts to shrink prior to 2002 with only a few archive races present, but this will no doubt increase over time. Outside of the documentaries, the earliest archive footage is from the 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Each of the races covered runs from the start of the five-minute introduction, through to the end of the press conference, with UK commentary provided (ITV until 2008, BBC from 2009 to 2011, and Sky from 2012 onwards).
Alongside the race archive, F1’s over-the-top service also contains documentaries that Sky have aired on their UK channel since 2012, such as Legends of F1, Tales from the Vault and Architects of F1. However, these documentaries are only available to those outside of the UK and Ireland.
Fans in the UK can purchase F1 TV Access for £2.29 a month, or a discounted £17.99 across the whole year.
Better than anticipated for UK fans
When F1 TV was first announced in February, it was unclear whether UK fans would have any access to the over-the-top service. As it turns out, UK have access to the rich archive at least.
The full-length races that FOM have added are like those Sky have aired as part of their Classic F1 strand of programming, although there are some differences. Over time the number of classic races will increase, in the same way that WWE’s Network has grown substantially since launch.
Uploading every classic race from 1981 onwards in the very beginning would be bad business from FOM. The logical method to upload the races would be through a series of ‘drops’, based on the season or a given theme (i.e. every race in the 1999 season, or every Malaysian Grand Prix).
This way, F1 can promotion the uploads via their social media channels, driving attention towards the service. At some stage, F1 needs to strongly consider having a @F1TV social media presence to promote content, especially as the service matures. The launch so far appears to be deliberately low-key.
Every click gives F1 access to viewing statistics, including not only the video watched, but also how long the fan continued to watch the video for, helping FOM to influence future content additions further down the line. There are some key additions that need to occur (such as the ability to search based off tags and a no spoiler option).
It is great to see F1 TV off the ground, both Access and Pro, for those have access to the latter. Now, it is time to see the platform grow and mature…