F1 should embrace not resist ‘new media’

Thu, 10 December 2009, 10:01

Dec.10 (GMM) Formula one should embrace the challenges posed by “new media”, figures at the Motor Sport Business Forum held in Monaco said this week.

Neville Wheeler, business development director of the technology company Cisco, said the sport’s commercial rights holder faces a “major challenge” in adapting from the rapidly outdated television broadcast model.

“We all know the pace of change is so fast that unless you are prepared to break away from the shackles of the old way of doing things you are often left behind and you will find that the passionate fans will seek out other ways of viewing your content,” he is quoted as saying in a New York Times column.

Wheeler said “smart organisations” are “embracing new opportunities” provided by “new media” rather than maintaining the “walled garden” approach.

“We have to get to a point where the new media is a key component to the way the sport is delivered to the global audience. If we can’t get to that point then advertisers, sponsors, suppliers and teams will not be able to monetise their investment in the way they would like,” he added.

Gerard Lopez on Wednesday confirmed his interest in buying into the Renault team, and agreed that current TV broadcasting contracts are “based on the ways people watched television 20 years ago”.

“We’re really interested in something we call ‘Freemium’,” said Lopez, who was involved with the launch of the internet communication software Skype.

“This stands for free and premium. You give free content, via the internet, to as many people as possible and you make it important to them to buy additional content,” he explained.

Andrew Barrett, the global sponsorships chief of the official F1 technology backer LG, agreed that the rights holders should embrace rather than spurn the new online age.

“The MTV generation watches television in a different way, but the broadcast needs to evolve to capture that viewer, both on television and online.

“Also this is one of the few professional sports in the world that is not broadcast in high definition,” he said in the Financial Times.

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