Liberty Media: ‘Great opportunities in F1’
November 9, 2016
By Colin Mann
Greg Maffei, Liberty Media President and CEO, foresees great opportunities for the company following its minority investment in and announced agreement to acquire Formula 1, suggesting that an OTT product may be developed in the future subject to rights..
Commenting as Liberty Media Corporation reported its Q3 Results, Maffei said: “We were thrilled to announce our planned acquisition of F1, the iconic global motorsports business. We see tremendous opportunities and are excited for Chase Carey to bring his media and business experience to the sport.”
In the Earnings Conference call. Maffei described F1 as “an iconic global motor sports business” suggesting this was a unique opportunity to own a global sports franchise of which there are very few. “We see a tremendous opportunity in this business to improve performance on the operating side and the financial side in all segments whether it be venues, broadcast, or sponsorship, has opportunity to grow revenue and also develop new lines of revenue especially around digital and merchandise,” he advised.
In terms of F1 broadcast rights, Maffei said that Liberty was “very excited” about the idea to try and utilise the massive amounts of video feed and data that exists in a premium type product. “Given the global nature and extremely dedicated fan base we have, it would seem like an OTT product is something that makes a lot of sense for them and us,” he admitted. “We do have some things to work through on rights. I don’t think they’re impenetrable but there are things we work through and we also just need to work out relations with the teams and how we handle it all. So there’s not only some work on the product side but there is some licensing work but I don’t think it’s insurmountable. How exactly the form of any product may take or what we may do I’m not yet sure, we’re still at early days but I agree, there is a lot of potential,” he suggested.
In terms of regulatory clearance for the deal, Maffei said that he and Chase Carey had met with Jean Todt, the head of the sport’s governing body the FIA several times and had good conversations with him. “We’re proceeding forward with the necessary processes they have for change of control and I have every reason to believe we’ll have a favourable outcome,” he stated.