Monday, May 18, 2015

F1 Broadcast: Free-to-air, Pay TV, online

Television and broadcast rights.  It's an issue not just for Formula One but plenty of other sports.

What do fans deserve when it comes to being able to watch their favourite sport?

Deserve?  That's an interesting word.

Recently in Australia, Formula One signed a 5 year deal with pay TV operator Foxtel.  This involved extended coverage for pay-TV subscribers and 10 races on free-to-air for everyone else.  It's happened before in several countries.  F1 fans who want to see every race need to subscribe to pay television.  It's not new and its growing.

Formula One is a truly global sport.  In every country it's perception and popularity can be vastly different.

Therefore the quality and frequency of the TV coverage in any particular country is whatever Bernie can sell.  Plain and simple.  And now, or soon, you will subscribe and pay if you want all of the races.

What is happening in Australia now is a compromise - 50% of the season on free-to-air.  How long until the entire sport is behind a pay-TV wall?  How does that affect your fans?  Your future long-term viewership?

And of course there is the online world.

The NBL in America have an interesting concept.   "Buy NBL" is an online subscription providing access to the basketball season via internet, phone, tablet etc.  This means that the NBL can sell global TV rights and global online rights.   This is the future.

The problem for Formula One broadcast right now is hinted above.  Bernie and FOM have not embraced the internet and the online world.  They sell traditional TV rights country-by-country.  One day, they will have to sell online packages.

Current and next generation F1 fans need to see races on TV or their computers, tablets/phones.  The first race I ever watched was a brilliant 1986 Adelaide Grand Prix on a Sunday afternoon.  Being witness to this started a lifetime love of Formula 1.

In conclusion - F1 needs to be accessible to people in the way they want to view it; television or internet.  There MUST be a large free component that is comprehensive, enticing and shows-off Formula One for what it is ... the best sport in the world.

Thanks for reading.


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