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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F1 Broadcasting tackles Silverstone’s Single Seater Experience

Most of the motor racing world this past weekend was in Goodwood for the annual Festival of Speed. However, instead of watching the festival in person or via Sky Sports, this writer instead took a trip to Silverstone…

Despite having watched Formula 1 and other forms of motor sport for nearly two decades, I have never been near a live single-seater racing car to race in. The nearest I had ever come was through various go-karting outings for leisure, or sitting in the Jaguar R2 at the local factory many moons ago. So, Silverstone’s Single Seater Experience was a first for me, one day after my 25th birthday. I should note that this article is not a paid article, or an advertisement for that matter, but instead just somewhere for me to jot my musings.

RK7_0081.JPG
On-track at Silverstone.

Before the experience is a 30 minute debrief, which for the motor sport nut, is nothing of surprise, but instead it serves as a reminder about the inherent dangers that single-seater racing brings. The key terminology, such as understeer and oversteer, is described language that the layman can understand. It is fundamentally clear from the outset that any transgressions will be immediately dealt with: safety comes before enjoyment.

The experience around Silverstone’s Stowe Circuit is 30 minutes long: 10 minutes behind the pace car and 20 minutes without, with eleven other drivers alongside you. Sometimes you hear Formula 1 drivers’ say that after 10 minutes of testing, you know whether you have a good car underneath you. The same can be said here. The first lap out of the pits is frankly nerve wracking. Where are the braking points? Am I in the right gear? Do I feel comfortable? Am I too close to the pace car? It sometimes can look so easy from the outside, but from the inside it is like juggling multiple balls.

As the laps progress, you start to get a better understanding of the car and those around you. You take that line here, this line there. It gets easier, but concentration must remain throughout. The instructors do a brilliant job beforehand to prepare you for the experience, but on the track, it is you making the split-second decisions.

I required a helmet change to a smaller size half way through, mainly because the wind and fast speeds down the back straight was ‘lifting’ the helmet up. I could have soldiered on for a few more laps, but (as the above video shows) I did the right thing by changing helmets to a smaller size.

As the instructor said: safety before enjoyment, and in this case the helmet issues was slightly detracting from the overall enjoyment. As the laps progresed, the lap times decreased, confidence growing, although at one point the car underneath me did come perilously close to the gravel trap at the North hairpin!

I had a huge amount of respect for motor racing drivers before I completed the Single Seater Experience. No matter how many times you watch motor racing on television, nothing can prepare you for the real machinery. The likes of Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo make it look easy, when in reality it is completely the opposite, even when going down the one kilometre straight in Baku.

If anything, my experience at Silverstone solidifies the admiration I have for the drivers that race to entertain the viewing audience at home and in the grandstands. I would strongly recommend this (or any other Single Seater Experience) to other fans of the sport, it is seriously worth the price tag. Overall, it was a pretty amazing experience.

A few words about Danny Watts, and why it matters

Before I get into the main subject, I want to make it clear that this piece strays away from motor sport broadcasting to a degree. Whilst this is a broadcasting site, if there are other elements that I wish to talk about, then I will do so.

If you have read the AUTOSPORT or Motorsport.com website in the past few days, you will have learnt that ex-Le Mans driver Danny Watts has announced that he is homosexual. Whilst the reaction was largely positive, a few wondered why motor sport outlets were covering this as news.

A bit of back-story as to why this matters to me: I can relate to Danny’s story, having come out as bisexual last year after debating whether to for a long time. It was a weight off my shoulders, as it probably is his. Coming out should never be trivialised in the media, behind every decision is a long battle that each individual has faced.

People accepted me for who I was, bisexuality is not a taboo subject in my circle of influence. Generally, in society, LGBT matters are becoming less of a taboo subject. Now let us look at the motor sport world. How many LGBT role models are there in the motor sport landscape? As far as I am aware, there is not one LGBT role model for LGBT fans to look-up to. That changed this week. For LGBT motor racing fans, this matters.

Watts’ comments suggest to me that LGBT matters are a taboo subject in motor sport. For a variety of reasons: the media attention, the sponsorship, the countries that motor sport visits that might not be so receptive, even down to the grid girls that gives off a badly out-dated impression and so on. I can understand the predicament that Watts faced during his motor racing career.

With no major LGBT representation in the paddock, it makes it difficult for people, such as Watts, to be themselves in the eye of the media and the paddock, which in turn could affect an individual’s performance. You have to make a stand, and that is exactly what Watts has done. I applaud him for being brave and coming out. The idea of stars not coming out for fear of a negative reaction, or worse still losing their job or drive is frightening.

Is it a news story? In general culture, I would be starting to argue, not really. However, in motor sport, when you consider the taboo nature of LGBT in motor sport and what Watts faced, it absolutely is news. Danny brings into the public spotlight issues that were previously not in the spotlight. With that in mind, the stance that AUTOSPORT and Motorsport.com took in covering Danny Watts’ announcement was spot on.

Congratulations Danny 🙂

A high-level overview of who owns what in the motor sport media landscape

With many different take overs and acquisitions recently, it is easy to forget who actually owns what. To my surprise, there was not an easy to view diagram which shows all the different connections.

As a result, I thought it was worth putting together a handy diagram to show the relationships:

motor-sport-media-landscape
Link to full sized version here.

The above shows that control lays in the indirect hands of a select few people. Mike Zoi is an unrecognisable name to myself, but appears to be a key figure as the Pitpass link below shows.

The diagram has been sourced using information from the following links:

Formula E secures minority investments from Liberty Global and Discovery Communications (March 2015, Formula E website)
Motorsport Network – About
Discovery Communication agrees to take full control of Eurosport (July 2015, Discovery Communications)
Liberty Media: Who are Formula 1’s new owners? (September 2016, BBC News)
Zak Brown joins McLaren as Executive Director (November 2016, Sky Sports)
Liberty Global to buy Virgin Media for $23.3bn (February 2013, BBC News)
Liberty Global and Discovery Communications Renew Long-Term, Comprehensive Distribution Partnership (August 2016, Discovery Communications)
– Motorsport Network buys Autosport (October 2016, Pitpass.com)
– Chase Carey key to F1 digital media success, says Zak Brown (September 2016, Motorsport.com)
US media firm Liberty Media to buy Formula 1 (September 2016, BBC News)
– Rupert Murdoch’s Fox makes Sky bid five years after hacking scandal (December 2016, The Guardian)

This is a second version, there may be parts that I’ve missed off. I’ve omitted anything without an indirect connection to motor sport. If anyone does find any additional links, please add a link to the source in the comment and I’ll produce further iterations.

Version 2 updated on Sunday 8th January 2017 at 19:00.