The F1 TV live streaming service rolled out across the Spanish Grand Prix weekend in select countries, though was met with a negative reception from those who accessed it.
Fans in countries which can access F1 TV, which are not bound by existing pay-TV deals, had to suffer through issues such as endless buffering – making the streams unwatchable.
When the enormity of what Formula One Management and the sport’s commercial rights holder, Liberty Media, are trying to achieve is considered, it makes sense that there will be teething issues along the way.
Having long neglected the digital sphere under the previous regime, Formula One has in just over 12 months made significant advancements in catching up to sports that have long embraced social media and digital platforms.
With what Liberty Media had canvassed upon taking control in 2017, the creation of an in-house streaming service for all events was inevitable. Though the time in which it made its debut is astonishing, with many expecting to have seen its introduction no earlier than 2019.
Following a string of refunds for those affected by the issues during the Spanish Grand Prix, one of Liberty Media’s chiefs, Ross Brawn, apologised to the fans, highlighting that “we are dragging our sport from a place where none of these initiatives previously existed and we will get there”.
“We have new camera angles, an all-new graphic design that we are constantly evolving and the new halo graphics which has managed to make the halo less intrusive on television to our viewers and fans,” Brawn said.
“There’s a specially-made microphone placed to enhance the sound of the power units, and we are interviewing the drivers immediately after qualifying, following the heat of the battle. We are doing that after the race too, capturing the emotions of the drivers on screens around the world.”
Add on top of that a new post-race show live-streamed on Twitter and the re-introduction of what was formerly the ‘FanVision’ handset for fans trackside, and Liberty, in concept, have all facets covered for viewers to maximise their race experience.
All that’s needed now is patience, as these niggles are ironed out and the service’s potential is realised.
Though there will be no F1 TV live streaming in Australia until the current broadcast arrangement concludes, as part of the bigger picture, Liberty Media is shaping a better Formula One for tomorrow – a future that could see Formula One innovating areas of digital distribution and engagement as much as it innovates through on-track product.
Between these developments – in distribution and the racing itself, with a significant regulation blueprinted for 2021 to create closer competition and attract new teams – Formula One is a hive of potential.
While there will be an air of dissatisfaction following the pitfalls of F1 TV’s first weekend, overall the exercise ought to be hailed as a success and a beacon of positivity for what Formula One can accomplish with its firm grasp on new media.