F1 to stream Mexican Grand Prix on Twitch in selected territories

Formula 1 has announced that it is to stream the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix on Twitch in selected territories.

The weekend will air live and free on the streaming platform in Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in addition to F1’s usual offering.

However, the World Feed will come with an additional layer in the form of interactivity and gaming elements. An influencer will “co-stream” each session, with German influencer PietSmiet getting in on the act in Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.

In addition, F1 will ask fans to predict the performance of drivers during 10-minute segments which they say will provide an “interactive gaming element to the broadcast.”

Frank Arthofer, F1’s Director of Licencing said “Twitch has incredible reach, a unique creative spin on sports media coverage and an engaged digital audience; they are a perfect partner for us to be working with on this project.”

Farhan Ahmed, Twitch’s Strategic Partnerships Manager added “We’re thrilled to partner with Formula 1 to bring exciting motor racing content to our community in a way that’s unique, shared, and interactive.”

“It’s a pleasure to work with a partner who embraces our community experience, creating something truly exciting, enhanced through co-streaming and extensions.”

> Insight: The over-the-top challenge facing motor sport

Formula 1 meets Voltage, sort of
Influencers? Tick. Live action? Tick. High-profile motor sport? Tick.

To regular readers that all sounds very familiar considering it was just under a year ago that Formula E announced their attempt to enter the influencer space in the form of Voltage.

Formula E entered a partnership with YouTube and GOAT Agency, with the likes of KSI appearing on Voltage from YouTube’s Space Station.

A trailblazer maybe, but Formula E axed Voltage after just six races (although there is some speculation making the rounds that Voltage may be returning for the upcoming season in a different format, we shall see).

The electric series clearly struggled to get the traction they were looking for with Voltage for a myriad of reasons, and made the decision to stop the experiment early on.

Considering Formula E’s Voltage failure, it makes sense for F1 to do a one-off experiment to begin with on Twitch, seeing what works with the possibility of expanding further into 2020.

It is the first time a major motor racing championship (outside of E-Sports) has streamed live on Twitch, although the geo-blocking in place will restrict the amount of people F1 can reach.

Twitch has made the waves in recent months from an F1 perspective with both Lando Norris and Max Verstappen regularly streaming on the platform.

Norris’ Twitch following has tripled since July, moving from 46,000 followers to 143,000 followers, the growth helped by his and Verstappen’s victory in iRacing’s Spa 24 Hours earlier this year.

Clearly F1 has recognised the obvious overlap and is now making in-roads into that area.

There is a good chance that Norris’ typical Twitch viewer does not consume traditional methods of television viewing, hence why F1 wants to experiment with live streaming on Twitch.

Influencers is less of an issue here for me than it was with Formula E: fans watching F1 on Twitch will have specifically chosen to watch it via that platform, whereas some fans watching FE’s Voltage on YouTube had no other choice of platform to watch it on.

Although YouTube is more popular than Twitch on the whole, the opposite is true from a live-streaming perspective, with Twitch outstripping YouTube massively, no doubt influencing F1’s decision making (and may also explain where Formula E went wrong with Voltage).

The move says a lot about F1’s and Twitch’s strategy moving forward. F1 wants a younger audience, Twitch wants to move beyond its roots.

Both brands are at cross-roads in their journey, which is why it is a perfect partnership for the two.


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News round-up: Bratches set to exit F1 role; Eurosport executive joins Formula E

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, news emerges of potential upcoming changes to Formula 1’s leadership team.

The round-up gives a bite sized view of the latest news making the waves, as well as interesting snippets that I have picked up along the way.

ICYMI: Round-Up #4 (July 23rd): New Formula Two documentary coming soon; Facebook touts MotoGP success

ICYMI: Round-Up #3 (July 1st): Sky F1 to air special Williams documentary; Formula E wins award for TV product

ICYMI: Round-Up #2 (May 28th): F1’s US audience figures increase; Formula E hits the big screen

ICYMI: Round-Up #1 (May 13th): Turner returns to F1 fold; F1 adjusts OTT pricing; Barrat joins Formula E’s TV team

Formula 1

  • Earlier in the season, news outlets revealed that Netflix’s cameras would be getting up close to Mercedes during the German Grand Prix weekend, as part of filming for series two of Drive to Survive. Unfortunately for Mercedes, race day turned into a bit of a disaster.
    • The Press Association reports that, after the Germany disaster, Mercedes invited Netflix back for the closing phase of the Hungarian Grand Prix one weekend later. The race saw Lewis Hamilton come from behind to take victory away from Max Verstappen in the closing laps.
  • According to RaceFans, Formula 1 and Sky are rumoured to be working on a multi-part documentary to be released in Summer 2020. The series will coincide with Formula 1’s 70th anniversary, although no details have been officially confirmed as of writing.
  • Sean Bratches is set to leave his role as F1’s Managing Director of Commercial Operations at the end of the year, the BBC’s Andrew Benson is reporting.
    • Bratches joined F1 following Liberty Media’s acquisition of the group in 2017, and has spoken in recent times about F1’s free-to-air and pay TV mix.
    • Benson also reports that Chase Carey and Ross Brawn are set to remain in their existing roles.

DTM / W Series

  • The DTM touring car series is holding a joint event with Super GT at Fuji in November, in what both are billing as a ‘Dream Race’. The joint event presents many decisions about which drivers will take part.
    • However, speaking to Autosport last month, Audi motor sport boss Dieter Gass said that having drivers’ share duties is unlikely as DTM believes there are “complication[s] in explaining the rotation to TV audiences.”
  • As of last month, there was no word on where W Series’ documentary will air. I understand that series bosses are flexible as to where the series eventually ends up, and in what format. Production company Whisper filmed documentary content throughout, from the first driver selection test through to season finale.

Formula E

  • One of Eurosport’s leading figures is to join Formula E, e-racing365 reports. Sebastian Tiffert, who was Eurosport’s former executive producer for their Olympics Games offering, is to join Formula E as the head of their media content department. Tiffert is set to “manage the broadcast, social and digital media elements” of Formula E.

MotoGP

  • Vislink Technologies have extended their contract with Dorna to be MotoGP’s official RF systems supplier. Vislink, who have held the contract since 2002, will continue to partner with MotoGP for the next three seasons.
    • “The continuation of our engagement with Dorna is testament to our leadership in live sports broadcasting, and delivering reliable, crystal-clear video to MotoGP fans around the globe,” said John Payne, President and COO of Vislink.

Elsewhere…

  • Dieter Rencken reports that negotiations are ongoing to sell Motorsport Network.
    • Billionaire Mike Zoi leads the group, which owns the likes of Motorsport.com, Autosport and F1 Racing, as well as a stake in Formula E. Other stakeholders within the group include McLaren boss Zak Brown (chairman) and James Allen (EMEA President).
    • Rencken adds that Dmitry Mazepin, whose son Nikita Mazepin races in Formula Two, is in the running to purchase the group.
  • The promotor of the World Rallycross series is reporting strong interaction figures over on Facebook. Using figures from Crowdtangle, IMG’s Vincent Haas notes that the series has the highest interaction rate of any motor sport series on the social media platform, as well as over 50 million video views.
  • Netflix subscribers will soon be getting a slice of NASCAR action, but maybe not in the way they expected. The two parties are collaborating on a new comedy series starring Kevin James.
    • The Crew sees the action play out in a NASCAR garage, with James acting as crew chief.
    • NASCAR’s Matt Summers (Managing Director, Entertainment Marketing & Content Development) and (Senior Vice President & Chief Digital Officer) will serve as Executive Producers from NASCAR’s perspective.

See anything else worth mentioning on the news front? Drop a line in the comments section below.


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In conversation with Ellie Norman

Over the past two years, Formula 1 has undergone a digital transformation since Liberty Media acquired control of the sport.

Last week at the Black Book Motorsport Forum, Motorsport Broadcasting caught up with one of the faces leading the effort to bring F1 into the modern world. Ellie Norman (@ChikinCS) is Formula 1’s Director of Marketing and Communications, and we got her view on how things have gone so far.

Before Formula 1, you had stints at both Honda and Virgin Media, just talk to us about what you were involved in there.

I first spent five years on the agency side, where Honda was my client, and then directly with Honda for eight years, always in a marketing and advertising role.

Through that period, it was always about building meaning and value in the Power of Dreams brand. It was about elevating Honda at that time in the UK and Europe where the perception was that they lagged behind the more established European brands.

I spent five years in between Honda and F1 at Virgin Media. My focus shifted into being one market specific in the UK, so it was great to deepen learning versus working across international markets.

Interestingly it is an entertainment company, so they’re really understanding the landscape of TV consumption, the role that entertainment plays, cord cutting, the involvement of digital platforms, direct to consumer. Moving to F1 is a perfect combination of both automotive and entertainment.

Honda and Virgin Media both have huge marketing teams, yet you join F1 and find that is greenfield in nature, with little marketing, which was quite a culture shock I imagine!

F1 is such an incredible brand with a huge history. Bernie [Ecclestone] did an incredible job to build it into the business that it was, but my perception was that it had been underutilised, and that there was a role marketing could play.

Part of the appeal was having the ability to come into what is close to a 70-year old start-up and to be able to establish marketing from the ground up, agreeing what the infrastructure needed to be, shoring up the fan base, bringing in new fans. And that was exciting, too good of an opportunity for me not to take.

How difficult has it been in your role to attract new fans into F1, without alienating the existing fan base?

You are always treading a balance between holding onto your current fans, knowing who you are and what you stand for, but also needing to adapt and be contextually relevant to the fans of tomorrow, understanding what their motivations are, what platforms they are on and how they can be engaged, and bringing them into your sport.

Ultimately, we are a means of entertainment. The appeal of Formula 1 is that we have an ability to bring large groups of people together around live events. The on-track product is vitally important, but it is the entertainment that surrounds that as well.

15 to 20 years ago, there was one entry point for new fans, in front of the television, whereas now there are many different entry points. Does that make the job more complex?

It is very, very complex, the marketplace is fragmented.

The one thing I think we’re very fortunate with is that live sports is one of the last bastions that does bring millions of people together around a fixed time.

What can you learn from other brands, such as NASCAR, or non-motor sport brands, like the Premier League or Netflix?

It’s always interesting I think to look outside of your own echo chamber. Aside from other live sports, I’m always fascinated to know how entertainment properties operate, for example music festivals such as Glastonbury.

How are they engaging with fans, at a digital level in terms of insight, access, experiences that bring them closer? We can take learnings from that and pull that into Formula 1. I think part of the mentality needs to be an openness to try and to test things.

The fan festivals are a great example of where you can take the richness of the sport out of a race track and into city centres. It’s a visceral sport, the closer that people can get to seeing teams, drivers, hearing and smelling the cars, it moves you, and that’s what we know people love.

You did the ‘Engineered Insanity’ promotion last year, and have continued that this year.

‘Engineered Insanity’ is our brand positioning. It’s man and machine pushed to their limit; it’s opposing forces working together in harmony. We launched that brand platform and positioning in 2018, and this year we continued that work.

We brought it to life this year through a partnership with The Chemical Brothers, which was again a way to look outside the echo chamber of motor sport and to work with renowned musicians in their field, who are renowned for engineering their music and to bring those two audiences together. We knew there was an overlap of passion between a Chemical Brothers fan and Formula 1.

It’s interesting when you look at actually where people, and what they’re passionate about, it shows up through gaming, through music, food experiences, and there’s a way where Formula 1 can partner with many different brands within the wider world to take Formula 1 out to that fan base, and be relevant to them.

You cited Netflix earlier as a competitor of someone’s share of time. The Netflix series has been incredibly popular for us, and that was a way for us to reach a light, lapsed or a non-F1 fan through engaging long form content.

E-Sports is massive. We know younger audiences spend an awful lot of time within an E-Sports environment. Now, whether that’s watching it or playing it, Formula 1 is very closely aligned to E-Sports. You’re sitting in a seat, you’ve got your pedals, your steering wheel. We know all our F1 drivers spend hours and hours perfecting their laps within a sim.

So, this is how we can converge those worlds together.

Have you seen the demographics on your social media platforms change because of E-Sports?

Social media has grown ferociously. In the last two years, Frank [Arthofer] and our digital team have grown that to over 23 million people, a 54 percent year-on-year increase, making us the fastest growing sport across social media.

75 to 80 percent of the audience watching E-Sports is below 34 years old, so it’s really shifting the dynamic. We’re taking Formula 1 out, and showing a different side of Formula 1 to these audiences in places they’re already passionate about.

You’re now starting to scrape the surface of both of Formula 1’s feeder series, Formula Two and Formula Three. People may not realise this, but both are Formula 1 properties. [Note from David: this interview was done prior to Anthoine Hubert’s fatal accident at the Belgian Grand Prix]

They are incredible series, very competitive racing, wheel-to-wheel competition, you always have the interesting sprint races, for example with reverse grid in F2. And what we see is a lot of our Formula 1 drivers coming through the ranks of having either raced in Formula Two or Three, and there’s some really interesting characters and stories within those series.

Again, this is about us demonstrating the journey that racing talent goes through to get into Formula 1. There’s much more focus internally on what we can do with Formula Two and Formula Three to bring those closer to Formula 1 and to give them their own spotlight.

It’s F1’s 70th anniversary next year, is there anything in the pipeline that you can tell us?

We are busy back in the office, we have a range of ideas that we would love to see next year. All I can say is watch this space!

My thanks go to Ellie Norman for spending the time with me on the above piece.


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News round-up: New Formula Two documentary coming soon; Facebook touts MotoGP success

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, initial details surrounding a new Formula Two documentary emerge, whilst Facebook touts MotoGP’s success on the social media platform.

The regular round-up is intended to give you a bite sized round-up of the latest news making the rounds, as well as interesting snippets that I have picked up along the way. The snippets I mention would not normally be mentioned in longer pieces, so consider the round-ups additional to the other material posted.

ICYMI: Round-Up #3 (July 1st): Sky F1 to air special Williams documentary; Formula E wins award for TV product

ICYMI: Round-Up #2 (May 28th): F1’s US audience figures increase; Formula E hits the big screen

ICYMI: Round-Up #1 (May 13th): Turner returns to F1 fold; F1 adjusts OTT pricing; Barrat joins Formula E’s TV team

Formula 1

  • Formula 1 are working on a new documentary shining a light on their feeder series Formula Two, this site can reveal. Details are sketchy, but I understand Martin Turner and Formula Two’s television producer Mark Tomlinson are two names working on the documentary, filming interviews during recent race weekends.
  • Joe Saward reports that Formula 1 could be returning to NBC in the US, taking F1 away from incumbent rights holder ESPN.
    • F1 left NBC for ESPN at the end of the 2017 season, following a dispute between F1 and NBC. At the time, NBC wanted to retain exclusive digital rights to F1, something F1 were unwilling to let happen, as this would have prevented the over-the-top F1 TV product from launching in the US.
    • Since then, NBC’s owners Comcast have bought Sky UK, so a return to NBC for F1 would make strategic sense for all parties. Maybe NBC no longer sees F1 TV as a major threat either, which does not spell good news F1 TV’s subscriber numbers if that is indeed the case…
  • Readers may remember that back at the Canadian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas spun coming out of the second corner during qualifying.
    • The spin aired live on some outlets, such as Radio 5 Live and Channel 4 (during their highlights show), but other outlets, such as Sky Sports F1, did not air it live.
    • Each camera operator has a ‘push to live’ button meaning that, if an incident is unfolding in front of them, they can push a button that bypasses the director and allows them to go live to air (although clearly this should only be used under exceptional circumstances).
    • In Canada, the feed Sky was taking was different to that Radio 5 Live, Channel 4 and others took – there are four different ‘World Feed’ options, catering for different regions.
    • At the time of the Canadian qualifying session, the ‘push to live’ mechanism was only being sent to two of the four feeds. The issue was rectified for race day.
  • Formula 1 has launched F1 Tracks, a music playlist that will be updated on a weekly basis across major audio streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple and Deezer. The tracks are filtered into four categories (Pace, Mechanical, Spirit and Fan).
    • To quote F1 themselves in response to a fan question on Twitter, F1 Track “gives us a dynamic platform for fans that brings [music and sport] together – and allows us to create exciting promotional opportunities within F1 such as getting talent in to races for performances, DJ sets, interviews, and others.”
  • Fans heard a new voice on the World Feed during the British Grand Prix weekend. Jake Sanson commentated on Formula Two practice and qualifying, as well as all of Formula Three’s sessions alongside Alex Jacques.
  • The most recent series of Top Gear featured a segment looking at the Lotus 79, which won the 1978 Constructors’ Championship. Honestly, this is an excellent VT from start to finish, and is Top Gear at its strongest.
    • Chris Harris narrates the piece, and takes the Lotus 79 out on-track in the latter half of the segment. The piece also features contributions from Peter Wright (R&D at Lotus from 1975 to 1983), Mario Andretti and Clive Chapman.
    • UK readers can watch the segment on BBC iPlayer here (46 minutes in), the episode available on iPlayer for the next eleven months.

Elsewhere…

  • Facebook are touting MotoGP as one of their success stories on the platform. The social media outlet says that MotoGP “aimed to drive incremental referral traffic to its website differently, through a strong links publishing strategy on Facebook with a video focus.”
    • After implementing the strategy, MotoGP saw their referral traffic from social media to their website increasing by 40 percent year-on-year, with referrals from Facebook leaping by 90 percent year-on-year.
  • The new electric SUV off-road racing series Extreme E, which is operated by Formula E, has signed a multi-year broadcast deal with Fox Sports. The deal, which covers USA, Canada, and the Caribbean, will see Fox Sports cover the first three campaigns beginning with the inaugural series in 2021.
    • Bill Wagner, who is Fox Sports’ EVP and Head of Programming, said “FOX Sports is excited to add Extreme E to its programming line-up in 2021. Extreme racing in extreme environments, all using the latest electric technology makes for inviting programming across multiple audiences.”
  • The BBC published an article looking at Shiv Gohil’s Formula E photography which is worth a read (here).
  • Greenlight Television have announced that King of the Roads will air on Motorsport.tv. All ten Road Races will air on a same day basis on the over-the-top platform.

Spot any stories making the rounds worth mentioning? Drop a line in the comments section.


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News round up: Sky F1 to air special Williams documentary; Formula E wins award for TV product

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, Sky Sports ramp up preparations for their British Grand Prix coverage, whilst Formula E have won an award focussing on their television offering.

ICYMI: Round-Up #2 (May 28th): F1’s US audience figures increase; Formula E hits the big screen

ICYMI: Round-Up #1 (May 13th): Turner returns to F1 fold; F1 adjusts OTT pricing; Barrat joins Formula E’s TV team

Formula 1

  • Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has confirmed that the team will feature in the Netflix’s second season of Drive to Survive, having played no part in season one. Speaking to Motorsport.com, Wolff said that Netflix will film with the team at one race this year, which will “probably be Hockenheim.”
  • Ahead of the British Grand Prix next month, Sky Sports F1 have been busy filming different features.
    • Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert have been revisiting the 1995 British Grand Prix in Sky’s own cinema. Herbert won the race after Hill collided with Michael Schumacher in the closing stages.
    • A documentary celebrating Frank Williams’ fifty years in Formula 1 will premiere following the Silverstone qualifying session. The documentary features current Sky analyst and Williams Heritage driver Karun Chandhok driving the Brabham BT26, which was entered in 1969 by Williams as a privateer. Piers Courage raced the car to second place in the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix, their first ever podium.
  • F1’s in-house digital team have filmed two excellent pieces of content in recent weeks.
    • The team gave fans a peek behind the scenes with McLaren during the Monaco qualifying session.
  • F1’s in-house digital team is now also producing the content for Formula Two and Formula Three across social media, which explains the recent surge in video content across both of those championships.
  • To help with Formula Two’s growth, Formula 1 has launched an official podcast for their feeder series. Following in the footsteps of Beyond the Grid which launched a year ago, the Road to F1 podcast sees Alex Jacques and Rosanna Tennant interview the stars of Formula Two on their way to F1.
  • W Series commentator Claire Cottingham substituted for Jennie Gow during 5 Live’s coverage of the Austrian Grand Prix. Gow will be back in pit lane for 5 Live at Silverstone.
  • Recent audience figures in the Netherlands make for interesting reading. Live coverage airs on pay-TV outlet Ziggo Sport, and according to audience agency SKO
    • The Monaco Grand Prix averaged 547k (34.3%) for the pre-race build-up, 1.24m (46.1%) for the race itself and 637k (22.8%) for the post-race analysis.
    • In comparison, coverage of the French Grand Prix averaged 396k (26.5%), 824k (40.9%) and 357k (19.8%) respectively.
    • Max Verstappen’s dramatic victory in Austria averaged 479k (29.1%), 1.20m (49.5%) and 878k (36.9%).
    • France rated lower across all metrics. Austria rated lower than Monaco for both the pre-race build-up and race, noticeably closing the gap for the latter. Amazingly, Verstappen’s victory meant that the post-race segment for Austria rated higher than the French Grand Prix itself!
  • ESPN in the US continue to tout their own F1 audience figures. Live coverage of the Canadian Grand Prix attracted 1.1 million viewers on ABC, an increase of 17 percent on last year’s figure.

Formula E

  • Formula E TV won the ‘Best in Sports Media’ prize in 2019 Sports Business Awards. Formula E fought off competition from the likes of BBC Sport and the PGA European Tour to win the category.
    • The SBA said that Formula E’s television content “creates jeopardy, develops character and narrative throughout, uses technology and innovation to create a point of differentiation, and educates consumers about electric mobility while giving global manufacturers a platform to test and develop road-relevant technologies.”
  • The BBC’s technology programme Click went to Berlin at the end of May to find out more about the innovations driving the electric series (link).
  • On the social media side, Formula E’s team have been busy linking the championship in with popular culture. Heading into the Bern E-Prix, Formula E put their own spin on Crash Team Racing across their social channels.

Elsewhere…

  • IndyStar posted in the run up to the Indianapolis 500 an excellent behind the scenes look at NBC’s IndyCar coverage. The article is well worth a read, even if a little late noting on my behalf.
  • According to Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal, an audience of 1.10 million viewers watched the IndyCar Grand Prix at Road America on NBC in the US, their highest IndyCar audience on record outside of the Indianapolis 500.
  • The remainder of the 2019 VLN Series will air live on Lets Go Racing’s YouTube channel. The channel, which also airs the Japanese Super Formula championship, was founded following the demise of Nismo TV at the end of last season.
  • Fans of the British Superbike championship in the US and Canada can now watch the championship live via MotorTrend On Demand platform.
  • A trailer for the new Ford versus Ferrari film was released last month ahead of its theatrical release in November. The film, which starts Matt Damon and Christian Bale, focuses on Ford’s attempts to beat Ferrari in the run up to the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. For UK readers, the film will premiere under the title of Le Mans ’66.
  • The Le Mans Esports Series generated some big numbers across digital media during the 24 Hours of Le Mans weekend. Ben Rossiter-Turner, the Managing Director of Virtually Entertained, gave readers a behind the scenes look at the series on his LinkedIn page.
  • In today’s unusual mention, Channel 4 Weather is now sponsored by W Series.

Spot any stories making the rounds worth mentioning? Drop a line in the comments section.