Chase Carey: F1 OTT in 2018 'almost a beta project'

Formula 1 Chairman Chase Carey believes the sport’s OTT products will step up a gear next year after accepting it has been “almost a beta project” in 2018.

Liberty Media was keen to explore a subscription-based service in certain territories for 2018 and opted to launch F1 TV, with two payment levels, from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards.

However teething problems have affected the service through 2018, and Carey accepted that “there’s been more technical bugs” than series chiefs anticipated.

“It’s a multi-year project to get it where we believe it can get to,” he said of F1’s OTT [Over-The-Top] products.

“But I guess I’d say this year ended up being almost a beta project.

“We didn’t launch it at the beginning of the season, and for a sport like ours to really achieve our potential it’s a season buy, more than a sort of race [by race] buy.

“Initially there’s been more technical bugs than we’d have liked, we probably were not surprised, we hoped they wouldn’t be there but they were.

“To me there’s three steps in building this out, first is the technical platform has got to be reliable. Customers just don’t tolerate glitches.

“Second we’ve got to define the content offering, people buy content, they don’t buy technology, so the technical [side has] got to work but then we’ve got to define the content offering.

“Then we’ve got to sell and market it. We didn’t really do the latter this year because we were focused on getting all things done sequentially.

“So I think 2019 will really be the first time we bring it to market as a commercial proposition to market and sell it.”

Carey added that Formula 1 has worked with existing broadcasters in order to develop digital opportunities for 2019, rather than regard them as competitors.

“One of the exciting opportunities we’re developing is with our traditional broadcasters, some of the deals we did, renewals we did for 2019, we’re partnering with them to partner and promote the OTT platform,” he said.

“We’re working with them as opposed to against them, as I think it is compatible.

“I think this is a product targeted at your hardcore customers who will pay more for a richer experience than the basic linear one and I think it benefits everybody to find a way to tap into the demands that those customers have for the product.

“It will continue, certainly evolve, it’s going to be early days next year but long-winded way of saying next year really will be the first time we take it to market as a commercial proposition. Again it will vary by country how we will take it to market.”