News round-up: F1 to remain on ESPN in US; Eurosport UK to air British Speedway

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, ESPN extends their relationship with F1 stateside, whilst British Speedway finds itself with a new home in the UK…

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 #6 (October 15th): New Brabham film released; MotoGP moves towards HDR resolution

ICYMI: Round-Up #5 (September 12th): Bratches set to exit F1 role; Eurosport executive joins Formula E

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

Site update
Some of you may remember the site update I posted at the end of September, with details on a major change for me (not for the site). The good news: I moved into my own house in the middle of October! So far, I am pleased to say that everything has gone according to plan, with no hitches.

Of course, that does mean I have spent less time on the site front in recent weeks, a situation I expect to continue until the festive period before the usual New Year cycle kicks in.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the guest articles from Jack Ainslie and Nigel Chiu focusing on IndyCar and World RX respectively, giving a different perspective on motor sport broadcasting. A huge thanks to both Jack and Nigel for their contributions in recent weeks.

If anyone else is interesting in writing a guest article over the next few months, please drop me a line, all ideas are welcome.

Formula 1

  • ESPN have retained the rights to broadcast F1 in the US through to the end of 2022 in a new three-year deal. The broadcaster will again simulcast Sky Sports’ UK offering commercial free, covering every F1 session as well as F2, F3 and the Porsche Supercup.
    • Despite earlier suggestions that NBC were interested in reclaiming the rights they lost back in 2017, I understand that NBC and F1 were some distance apart from both a financial and forward-thinking perspective.
    • F1’s US audience figures have increased significantly since ESPN came on-board, increasing by 24 percent since NBC’s final season in 2017.
  • Netflix’s Drive to Survive, which returns for season two in early-2020 has undoubtedly helped the surge in interest stateside.
    • The increased interest also applies to Mexico where circuit organisers say has caused an increase in the number of women attending the Mexico race.
    • Speaking to RaceFans, Mexico’s race promoter Alejandro Soberon said “We noticed that we have like a 30 percent increase in interest [from] women. We have tested and it’s related directly related to the Netflix series. And they answer and they comment and at least in Mexico, it was wildly successful.”
  • By far the biggest story in terms of column inches surrounded a new graphic which debuted at the Japanese Grand Prix showing the condition of each tyre. The graphic depicted the condition in intervals of ten, in percentage form from 100% (full grip) to 0% (no grip).
    • However, the graphic came under heavy criticism, with Pirelli’s Mario Isola calling the graphic “misleading“, and that they are not supplying F1 with the data.
    • It did not take F1 to respond, issuing a press release just an hour before the Mexican Grand Prix, with a full explainer of what the ‘improved’ graphic contained.
      • In their explainer, F1 noted that the graphic, powered by AWS, uses several public sources, such as live timing data, live telemetry data, tyre compound and stint length to build the overall picture.
    • RaceFans have a detailed article on F1’s thinking on the graphics front, featuring comment from Dean Locke, who is F1’s Director of Broadcasting and Media.
  • Leeds Crown Court have jailed a man for 18 months after he threatened to shoot BBC F1 commentator Jack Nicholls and journalist Clive Myrie.
    • Ian Hargreaves, 66, sent threatening messages about both Nicholls and Myrie through the BBC’s online complaints form.
    • Writing on Twitter, Nicholls said “Some people really don’t like my commentary. A huge thanks to the BBC who have been amazing throughout.”
  • Good news for fans of the official F1 season reviews: Duke Video have confirmed that the 2019 season review is reverting to the 2017 format after heavy criticism of the 2018 review.
    • As in 2017 and before, additional content will supplement the feature-length four-hour review.
  • The F1 team performed what was a herculean effort to get operations back up and running following Typhoon Hagibis ready for race day at the Japanese Grand Prix.
    • Motorsport.com interviewed Andrew James, who works as F1 centre’s technical director to get the inside story.
  • F1 came away as winners from the Broadcast Tech Awards, winning ‘Best 360 / VR Production’ award.

Formula E

  • As first revealed by e-racing365, Bob Varsha will not be part of the Formula E commentary booth for the upcoming season, which begins on Friday 22nd November in Saudi Arabia. Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti remain with the team on commentary.
  • I am expecting Formula E to announce this week the destination of several television deals for season six, including their UK free-to-air partner.
    • Last season, the championship aired across the BBC, Quest, Eurosport and BT Sport. The Eurosport arrangement is a two-year agreement that started last season, but the status of the other three are unknown as of writing.

Meanwhile on two-wheels…

  • A new MotoGP television graphic debuted during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. First focusing on Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales, the graphic shows the heart rate of a rider during the heat of the action.
    • In the example Vinales tweeted, his heart rate is at a rather calm 112 beats per minute.
  • Eurosport in the UK have secured the rights to British Speedway until the end of the 2024 season.
    • British Speedway for many years aired live on Sky Sports, gaining a passionate following, but since 2017 has aired to a smaller audience on BT Sport.
    • The move to Eurosport, along with free-to-air highlights on Quest and DMAX, will help revitalise speedway in the UK, which has been on the decline in recent times.

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


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Scheduling: The 2019 Mexican Grand Prix

Formula 1 heads west for the Mexican Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton could become a six-time Drivers’ Champion, only the second man in history behind Michael Schumacher to reach that milestone.

All the action airs exclusively live on Sky Sports, as Martin Brundle and Jenson Button re-join the team out in Mexico City. Karun Chandhok is absent from Sky’s offering, but fans of Chandhok will see Chandhok on-screen, as Chandhok recently drove this years’ championship winning Mercedes, in a feature that Sky are airing during the Mexico build-up.

David Coulthard is back with Channel 4, their highlights airing three hours after the respective sessions have finished. On the scheduling front for Sky, Porsche Supercup airs live over on Sky Sports Mix and the Red Button, but on tape-delay on Sky Sports F1, Sky opting to prioritise The F1 Show instead.

The 2019 season continues to wind down for some, Qatar plays host to the last race of the World Superbikes season, the action airing live on Friday and Saturday over on Eurosport.

NOTE: Clocks go back one hour on Sunday 28th October, with the change from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. The times listed are for BST on Saturday and before; GMT for Sunday and afterwards…

Channel 4 F1
26/10 – 22:45 to 00:15 – Qualifying Highlights
27/10 – 23:00 to 01:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
25/10 – 15:45 to 17:45 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
25/10 – 19:45 to 21:45 – Practice 2
26/10 – 15:45 to 17:10 – Practice 3 (also Sky Sports Main Event until 17:00)
26/10 – 18:00 to 20:30 – Qualifying
=> 18:00 – Pre-Show
=> 18:55 – Qualifying
27/10 – 17:30 to 22:30 – Race
=> 17:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 18:30 – On the Grid
=> 19:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 21:00 – Paddock Live
=> 22:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
24/10 – 17:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
24/10 – 21:00 to 16:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
25/10 – 22:30 to 23:00 – The Story so Far (also Sky Sports Main Event)
26/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Show (also Sky Sports Main Event)
30/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
24/10 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
25/10 – 15:55 to 17:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/10 – 15:55 to 17:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/10 – 18:55 to 20:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
27/10 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
=> Joins BBC Radio 5 Live in progress at 20:00

MotoGP – Australia (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
25/10 – 22:45 (Thursday night) to 06:15 – Practice 1 and 2
26/10 – 00:00 to 07:15
=> 00:00 – Practice 3
=> 03:00 – Qualifying
27/10 – 23:30 (BST) to 05:15 (GMT)
=> 23:30 (BST) – Warm Ups
=> 01:15 (BST) – Moto3
=> 02:00 (GMT) – Moto2
=> 03:30 (GMT) – MotoGP

MotoGP – Australia (Quest)
28/10 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

Porsche Supercup – Mexico
26/10 – 20:30 to 21:05 – Race 1 (Sky Sports Mix / Red Button)
=> airing on tape-delay on Sky Sports F1 at 21:00
27/10 – 16:15 to 16:50 – Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)

Virgin Australia Supercars – Gold Coast
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
26/10 – 05:00 to 08:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 1)
27/10 – 05:00 to 07:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)

World Rally Championship – Spain (All Live)
Also airs live on WRCPlus.com (£)
25/10 – 08:00 to 18:30 – Stages 1 to 6 (BT Sport Extra 1)
26/10 – 07:45 to 17:30 – Stages 7 to 13 (BT Sport Extra 2)
27/10 – 05:45 to 12:45 – Stages 14 to 17 (BT Sport Extra 2)

World Rally Championship – Spain
25/10 – 21:45 to 22:15 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 2)
26/10 – 09:30 to 10:30 – Stage 9 (BT Sport 3)
26/10 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
27/10 – 07:30 to 08:30 – Stage 15 (BT Sport/ESPN)
27/10 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Stage 17 [Power Stage] (BT Sport/ESPN)
27/10 – 22:30 to 23:00 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
28/10 – 18:55 to 20:00 – Highlights (5Spike)

World Superbikes – Qatar
Also airs live on World Superbikes’ Video Pass (£)
25/10 – 15:00 to 19:15 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
26/10 – 13:30 to 19:30 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
31/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

World Touring Car Cup – Japan
26/10 – 06:50 to 07:50 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
27/10 – 02:00 to 03:15 – Race 2 (Eurosport)
27/10 – 03:15 to 04:30 – Race 3 (Eurosport)

As always the article will be updated if plans change.


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Scheduling: The 2019 Japanese Grand Prix [Updated]

This weekend, Mercedes could become 2019 Formula 1 Constructors’ Champions, whilst Lewis Hamilton is set to take a major leap towards his sixth Drivers’ Championship. It is all to play for as Formula 1 heads to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix!

As in Russia, both Martin Brundle and David Coulthard are absent from Sky’s and Channel 4’s teams respectively. Neither broadcaster has confirmed their commentary replacements, but expect Paul di Resta and Mark Webber to fill in the gaps.

Lee McKenzie and Eddie Jordan join Steve Jones out in Japan for Channel 4, Japan marking McKenzie’s last F1 race of the season.

Outside of the Formula 1 circles, it is a weekend of finales as the 2019 season begins to wrap-up for many. This weekend brings the curtain down on the British Touring Car Championship year, as well as the Euroformula and International GT Open seasons.

Update on October 11th at 20:00 – Typhoon Hagibis has thrown a spanner in the works for Formula 1, resulting in the cancellation of all of Saturday’s action at Suzuka. As a result, Channel 4 have extended their race highlights programme on Sunday by half an hour to also cover qualifying.

Sky are going above and beyond with their changes. The broadcaster will remain live on-air from 01:30 to 09:30 on Sunday in a marathon eight hour broadcast. Paddock Walkabout and #AskCrofty with Damon Hill fills the gap between the end of their qualifying show and their race show.

The typhoon has resulted in the cancellation of Sky’s The F1 Show broadcast for this week, and also claimed victim to Eddie Jordan, who won’t be part of Channel 4’s broadcast this weekend. Elsewhere, F1’s YouTube channel will be streaming the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix in full from 08:00 GMT / 09:00 UK time on Saturday morning.

Channel 4 F1
12/10 – 13:30 to 15:00 – Qualifying Highlights
13/10 – 14:20 to 16:25 14:20 to 16:55 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
11/10 – 01:45 to 03:45 – Practice 1
11/10 – 05:45 to 07:45 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
12/10 – 03:45 to 05:30 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 03:45 – Practice 3
=> 05:10 – Paddock Walkabout
12/10 – 06:00 to 08:30 – Qualifying
=> 06:00 – Pre-Show
=> 06:55 – Qualifying
13/10 – 01:30 to 09:30 – Race Day (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 01:30 – Qualifying Pre-Show
=> 01:55 – Qualifying
=> 03:30 – Paddock Walkabout
=> 04:10 – #AskCrofty with Damon Hill
=> 04:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 05:30 – On the Grid
=> 06:05 – Race
=> 08:00 – Paddock Live
=> 09:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
10/10 – 06:00 to 06:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
10/10 – 09:00 to 09:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
11/10 – 08:30 to 09:00 – The Story so Far (also Sky Sports Main Event)
12/10 – 08:30 to 09:00 – The F1 Show (also Sky Sports Main Event)
16/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
09/10 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
11/10 – 01:55 to 03:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
11/10 – 05:55 to 07:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
12/10 – 03:55 to 05:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
12/10 – 06:55 to 08:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/10 – 06:00 to 08:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

British Touring Car Championship – Brands Hatch (ITV4)
13/10 – 10:30 to 18:15 – Races

Euroformula – Monza (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on YouTube
12/10 – 13:00 to 14:00 – Race 1
13/10 – 12:30 to 13:30 – Race 2

International GT Open – Monza (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on YouTube
12/10 – 14:00 to 15:45 – Race 1
13/10 – 13:30 to 15:15 – Race 2

Virgin Australia Supercars – Bathurst 1000 (BT Sport 1)
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
13/10 – 00:45 to 08:00 – Race

World Superbikes – Argentina
Also airs live on World Superbikes’ Video Pass (£)
12/10 – 16:30 to 18:15 – Super Pole (Eurosport 2)
12/10 – 19:45 to 21:15 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
13/10 – 16:30 to 21:15 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
15/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

As always, the schedule will be updated if details change.


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Scheduling: The 2019 Russian Grand Prix

From the lights of Singapore, Sochi plays host to the sixth running of the Russian Grand Prix.

There are several key changes to both Sky’s and Channel 4’s line-up for the weekend, with both commentary teams changing. Martin Brundle is stepping away from the Sky commentary box, so expect Paul di Resta to be alongside David Croft in the box.

Karun Chandhok is also absent from Sky’s team in Russia; however, Ted Kravitz is back with Sky, and should be with them for the remainder of the season. Although not working with Sky, Kravitz was in Singapore, but working with Singapore’s big screen team for the weekend as reporter (ran by Australian company ZSpace).

Over on Channel 4, Allan McNish replaces David Coulthard in the commentary booth. Coulthard and Brundle are missing the same three races this year. Both were absent from Azerbaijan back in April, and both are missing the upcoming Russian and Japanese rounds.

Due to the time difference between Russia and the UK, the race starts two hours earlier than other European races at 12:10 UK time. Channel 4 have more flexibility with the scheduling of their highlights programme as a result, which airs an hour earlier than usual at 18:00 UK time.

Russia plays host to the final round of the inaugural Formula Three season, with Robert Shwartzman set to clinch the crown.

Channel 4 F1
28/09 – 18:30 to 20:00 – Qualifying Highlights
29/09 – 18:00 to 20:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
27/09 – 08:45 to 10:45 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
27/09 – 12:45 to 14:55 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
28/09 – 09:45 to 11:10 – Practice 3
28/09 – 12:00 to 14:35 – Qualifying
=> 12:00 – Pre-Show
=> 12:55 – Qualifying
29/09 – 10:30 to 15:30 – Race
=> 10:30 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 11:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 12:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 14:00 – Paddock Live
=> 15:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
26/09 – 13:00 to 13:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
26/09 – 16:00 to 16:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
27/09 – 16:00 to 16:30 – The Story so Far
28/09 – 15:45 to 16:15 – The F1 Show
02/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
27/09 – 08:55 to 10:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
27/09 – 12:55 to 14:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
29/09 – 11:30 to 14:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup – Barcelona (Eurosport 2)
Also airs live on YouTube
29/09 – 15:30 to 17:30 – Race

British Touring Car Championship – Silverstone (ITV4)
29/09 – 10:20 to 18:15 – Races

Formula Two – Russia (Sky Sports F1)
27/09 – 07:25 to 08:15 – Practice
27/09 – 14:55 to 15:30 – Qualifying
28/09 – 14:35 to 15:45 – Race 1
29/09 – 09:10 to 10:10 – Race 2

Formula Three – Russia (Sky Sports F1)
27/09 – 10:55 to 11:30 – Qualifying
28/09 – 08:05 to 09:00 – Race 1
29/09 – 07:45 to 08:40 – Race 2

World Superbikes – France
Also airs live on World Superbikes’ Video Pass (£)
27/09 – 13:55 onwards (Eurosport)
=> 13:55 to 14:55 – SBK: Practice 2
=> 14:55 to 15:55 – SSP: Practice 2
28/09 – 09:30 to 14:15 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
29/09 – 09:30 to 15:15 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
01/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

As always, the post will be updated if plans change.

Update on September 28th – a post-transmission mention to #AskCrofty, which aired today at 11:10 on Sky Sports F1, with David Croft asking the questions to Jenson Button.


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The over-the-top challenge facing motor sport

Over-the-top broadcasting. It is a phrase many visitors to this site will have seen referenced repeatedly, and it is only going to become more prominent as time progresses.

What it means is relatively simple: to deliver a service direct to the customer watching at home, rather than through a third-party satellite television channel or cable platform.

In the modern media landscape that poses many questions as to what the right or wrong approach is to take, if there is such a simple answer.

Motor sport faces a major challenge in not only understanding the landscape, but also exploiting it, satisfying stakeholders, and most importantly broadening the reach of the sport in the process.

An upward struggle
Whether it is MotoGP, World Rally Championship or Supercars over in Australia, most of motor racing’s big entities have an over-the-top platform now of some nature. All vary to different degrees, and hold a different level of importance for each series.

Late to the game and trying to catch up on the digital front, Formula 1’s over-the-top platform went live in May 2018 with F1 TV. However, the platform struggled on the technical front, with a variety of teething problems, leading to suggestions that the platform launched too early.

Speaking in front of industry experts at the Black Book Motorsport Forum, their Director of Marketing and Communications Ellie Norman was unashamed to admit that it has not been the smoothest of starts for F1 in the OTT world.

“It’s been a bumpy ride, I would suggest that we definitely launched F1 TV too soon,” Norman says.

Norman points to a ‘growth hacker’ mentality that F1 now has, the organisation unafraid to try things out to see what works, and what does not, even if it backfires.

“Working within digital is a really different space to working in broadcast, and often you are always in beta mode. But one thing I think we’ve done is, we’ve listened to the fans, and responded quickly by refunding them,” Norman told the audience.

“Twelve months on, the product is more stable, and I think it’s in a much better place now with the fan input, seeing how users engage with it, use it, and what they want for it. And that has been invaluable.”

The battle between pay-TV and OTT
But F1’s roadblocks on the over-the-top front expand far beyond the first twelve months.

Whilst most of the world can access F1 TV’s basic offering, many countries, including the UK, cannot access F1 TV’s premium tier. The only way UK fans can access the live race action is via Sky Sports, thanks to an agreement signed between Sky and ex-F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone back in 2016.

For many, this is a source of frustration, with some fans feeling locked out of live F1 for the foreseeable. For F1, and sport in general, the balance is ‘delicate’ between over-the-top and pay television.

Over-the-top pricing
A snapshot for UK fans

MotoGP (live) – £177.26
WRC (live) – £79.76
WEC (live) – £38.99
Supercars (live) – £32.98
F1 TV (archive and non-live) – £19.99

Pricing per year.
WEC covers 2019/20 season.
WEC excludes Le Mans.

Do motor sport brands throw live content onto their over-the-top platform, allowing them to target a different audience directly, but potentially miss a key revenue stream?

Or, do the brands air their content live on pay television, helping the bank balance, but not their reach?

Gernot Bauer, Eurosport’s incoming Head of Motorsport, puts it bluntly. “As a broadcaster, I won’t pay a lot of money if every federation has a competing product because it puts so much challenge on us as a broadcaster.”

For broadcasters such as Eurosport and Sky, the emergence of a new over-the-top platform could cause their audience figures, and therefore revenue streams, to fall.

Having invested £1 billion over six years, unlocking F1 TV in the UK would cause consternation between F1 and Sky.

“Our investment is significant as one of the one of the investments that underpins F1, as all our rights do in every sport,” explained Scott Young, Sky’s Head of F1.

“I think that’s one of the differences between an OTT platform right now and major sporting broadcasters, like Sky and Eurosport, that actually invest a large amount of money that goes into those sports of which they need to help fund the teams to compete.”

Young denied suggestions that Sky’s relationship with F1 had become ‘strained’ because of F1 TV, but warned of the consequences if the balance between pay and over-the-top changed too quickly.

“There’s an ecosystem in there that is quite delicate, and if you unravel it too quickly it can have some lasting effects,” he said.

The NASCAR approach
The World Endurance Championship and World Rally Championship are examples of series that are nicely suited to the modern OTT way.

Both are long in duration, meaning that they can play out live in their entirety on OTT, without interruption from other sports on linear television.

Not every championship uses their over-the-top offering for live action though (for contractual or strategic reasons), which leads to the question of just how valuable OTT is without much live content to bring the viewer in.

“As each racing series creates their own OTT product it forces us, and them, to rethink that philosophy,” Bauer says.

“What is OTT, are you an alternative broadcaster for life? Are you a video on demand for archive material, or are you an app where you combine everything from Instagram to Twitter and so on? There is not one answer.”

For NASCAR, the situation is tricky, as all their premium-tier live content is exclusive to Fox and NBC in the US through until 2024, meaning that the series has no choice but to get creative with their domestic OTT offering.

NASCAR owns the Fans Choice platform and the RaceView service, but neither offer fans domestically live coverage of NASCAR races (overseas fans have access to Trackpass which offers live coverage).

“If we’re doing OTT, then it’s got to be driver lifestyle content, or it’s got to be some of our other series that we broadcast internationally,” explains Jill Gregory, NASCAR’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.

“I think as we look to the new media landscape, as everybody is today, we’re trying to decide what is the right mix.”

“We need to think about what goes on to traditional broadcasting, and what do you keep out for either your own OTT product, or even partnerships with social media platforms, the Amazon’s, and the Hulu’s.”

“For us, it’s about knowing where the fans want their NASCAR content and maximizing our exposure,” Gregory concluded.

2019 WEC - 6 Hours of Silverstone - OB Truck.jpg
Inside the World Endurance Championship OB truck at the 6 Hours of Silverstone, WEC one of the many tackling the OTT hurdle head on.

Second screen “has become first screen”
Of course, the likes of Sky, Fox and NBC have their own over-the-top platforms.

In the case of Sky, Now TV is becoming a more prominent player for cord-cutters due to its lower entry price. As Young alluded to however, Sky “need to do a better job” of promoting their other services to audiences.

That job is becoming increasingly important because, as Motorsport Broadcasting pointed out last month, research from UK’s communications body Ofcom shows that traditional viewing is falling quicker than ever before, with around half of UK homes now subscribing to at least one streaming service.

“You don’t need to be at home in front of your TV anymore [to consume sport]. Many people still think that way but they are not acting this way,” Bauer told the audience.

“I am constantly on my phone, watching on my phone on my iPad, on my laptop. I consume not the whole race anymore but certain bits of highlights, and that is interesting to me as it helps smaller federations to get a direct engagement with the fans.”

Young added that Sky’s current F1 audience is viewing other streams alongside the main F1 channel. In his opinion, the second screen “has become first screen.”

“We’re seeing a lot of data now on people actually not only watching data channels but watching other streams, watching our highlights, watching social feeds come through whilst they’re actually watching the live race.”

“And that to me is an amazing opportunity that we’re focused on tapping into.”

For broadcasters and championships alike, it is a constant battle to try to not only retain existing audiences, but to bring in a new, younger audience. That battle will only intensify over the forthcoming years.

Is over-the-top going to become the long-term destination for F1 and motor sport, replacing pay television for the next generation, or can the two entities coexist side-by-side? Could free-to-air television even make a resurgence?

Only time will tell.


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