F1 considers online streaming

f1-lotusAs the Formula One circus enjoyed its glamour weekend in the principality of Monaco, the prospect has emerged of the sport adopting an online streaming model to complement its live broadcast TV coverage, according to Autoweek.

Under current arrangements, the rights to broadcast races online reside with F1’s national broadcast partners who are responsible for ensuring that the action cannot be accessed outside their home territory for fear of impacting viewing figures.

The likelihood of such an initiative features in the 498-page prospectus for the planned flotation of Formula One on the Singapore Stock Exchange, and would see the F1 Group, which owns the commercial rights to the series, charging viewers to watch races live on its own website – www.formula1.com.

F1’s prospectus says that “we are in the initial stages of developing our digital media assets. The right to stream races online is typically licensed out to our broadcast partners around the world but we may consider changing our model and exploiting them independently in the future. As the exclusive rights holder to the World Championship, we have the benefit of controlling both our online platform and content which gives us a wide range of opportunities to monetise our rights, including through internal and third party solutions.”

It adds that F1 will continue to enhance the digital experience over time for its fans by exploring new opportunities including allowing access to premium digital content as well as adding additional language options to its website.

Such a move could occur within a two to three year time-frame, as 56 out of F1’s 63 broadcasting contracts are set to expire before the end of 2015, and could benefit from the sport’s relationship with Tata Communications, named as official technology supplier at the beginning of 2012.

The company is using its massive network of superfast sub-sea fibre cables to transmit streams of television pictures and other high-bandwidth content online for Formula1.com using its global Content Delivery Network (CDN). Being able to tap into this network has been described by Formula 1’s CTO as “the most significant moment for F 1 since the advent of satellites”.

According to Tata Communications, Formula 1 has masses of footage from cameras placed on cars and drivers’ helmets that is not currently broadcast, as well as live, unused performance data. Maximising the potential of the CDN would enable Formula 1 to transmit this content directly on to the computer screen of an Formula 1 fan sitting at home.

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