F1 chief: FTA/pay-TV balance needed

According to Chase Carey, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman of the Formula One Group, the sport faces a major challenge as it plans the way races are viewed in the future.

Motorsport Network Formula One expert Adam Cooper says that Carey acknowledges that generating income from fans who are willing to pay for a premium service while also keeping sponsors happy by reaching the widest possible audience via free-to-air will be challenging.

“In terms of the television arena that we deal with, I guess the way to describe it is that there are three or even four potential arenas that we are engaged with,” noted Carey. “Traditional free, pay, digital and then our own probably more direct ‘over the top’ product. To some degree what you have is conflicting goals across them,” he admitted. “Probably the economic premium paid gets higher as you go up the ladder, but the reach gets less.”

Carey said that F1’s goal was to “maximise long-term growth, not to find a short-term pop” suggesting that it was trying to balance what was the right mix of reach and direct economic value.

“Clearly there are impacts on other partners we have – for sponsors the fan engagement is obviously very important. So, if you’re energising the sport I think we want to make sure we continue to position it for long-term growth that finds a balance between that reach and those economics as opposed to just where you can get the biggest buck,” he suggested.

Although Carey sees digital as the future, he feels it will not be a fast transition: “It’s more and more heading to various forms of digital platforms. I don’t think it will happen as fast as some people think – because some habits die hard, and there is a value in volume and choice,” he admitted.

“I think on the programming side there’s still value in reach. I think directionally, it’s going there, but it will take time. I think there’s no question that there will be a lot more ways that content will continue to be offered to consumers that I think will benefit consumers on both ends of that,” he concluded.

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