With new owners inevitably comes change, so F1 fans have been curious to see just what Liberty Media are going to do to help improve the sport. Well now their President and CEO, Greg Maffei has given an idea of the company’s future plans.
So let’s start with the bad news? ‘Bad news, but these guys are meant to be the saviours of Formula One, right?’ Well their biggest plan to increase revenues comes from… yep, pay TV.
“Opportunities to grow the business, I think there are a bunch,” said Maffei. “Starting with broadcast revenue, the largest source of revenue.
“Chase Carey is pretty experienced, hard to think of a better guy who’s had the opportunity to manage sports properties or media properties, and the intersection of the two.
“I think there’s an opportunity to grow that broadcast stream. Much of it comes from moving potentially from free-to-air to competitive pay services, that’s for example what happened in the UK, when BSkyB recently bought the rights.”
The Liberty Media boss also commented about the lack of sponsorship deals in F1 right now.
“I think we have 17 sponsors, and we have three people working in sponsorship in F1. In contrast at Major League Baseball, a business we have some familiarity with through the [Atlanta] Braves, there are 75 sponsors, just in the US.
“So I think there’s an opportunity to grow, invest in the sponsorship organisation, and grow sponsors.”
But hey, if you’re going to pay for it, there might as well be more races and something else they want to do is increase the length of the F1 calendar even further!
“We’re sitting on 21 venues, I think there’s an opportunity to potentially grow that over time, particularly while we’ve maximised some of those venue opportunities with relatively high venue fees, I think there’s an opportunity to grow in the number of venues and venues that are potentially more attractive to longer term broadcast revenues and sponsorship revenues.
“The obvious optionality case is to some degree Asia in the short term, potentially Latin America, and longer term North America, and particularly the US, where we really are well under-viewed, under-monetised, under-everything.”
The good news however is that they’re finally going to do something about their poor attitude to digital media. Even gaming has been mentioned, something Bernie Ecclestone probably doesn’t even know exists.
“Something that intersects all of these is less than 1 percent of the revenues are from digital, they really have no organised digital effort. I think there are lot of things that can be done around gaming, VR [Virtual Reality] and AR [Augmented Reality].
“There’s an enormous amount of video feed and data that we have about the races that we are already capturing that we are not in any way processing incrementally for the dedicated fan, or opportunities around things like gambling.”
So to summarise. Pay TV – boo. Gaming – yay. More races??