F1 may need another year for TV subscription fixes - Chase Carey

Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey says the sport’s Over-The-Top subscription service may need another year before all of its problems can be ironed out.

The F1 TV subscription service is seen as an important revenue stream for Liberty Media, which last year launched the product in a bid to bring Formula 1 in line with other sports.

But its platform was plagued by issues at the most recent grand prix in Azerbaijan with many fans receiving refunds.

Carey has accepted that further problems are likely to arise, hinting at the manner in which the product’s introduction was accelerated as the root cause of the setbacks.

“I think, we actually felt pretty good about the product,” said Carey during an investor call to discuss Liberty Media’s 2019 Q1 results.

“The issue that arose in Azerbaijan really was sort of unexpected.

“That’s the nature of these platforms. So, I think you have to deal with it. And to some degree, the unexpected, obviously, is always troubling.

“But it was not in the main stack of what we’re trying to build there. I think that the unexpected will occur occasionally but I think we felt we made pretty good headway.

“We’re not far enough along to ever sort of way, there won’t be another problem, but the problems before that had been probably quite manageable.

“These things aren’t perfect and it’ll probably still take us another year to get all the small bugs out of it.”

Carey went on to explain that Formula 1 still has to tap into a wealth of archive footage that it will eventually make available on its subscription service.

“We still, clearly, have not tapped in really at all into things like the archives, where I think you want to have the great race of the 1990s, the great race of the 1980s, great finishes, great passes, those sorts of things, in a digestible form,” he said.

“It really isn’t there. So, there’s still a lot of work going on to expand and build the content and in all honesty, it’ll probably never stop it.

“But I think to get the content, sort of where we want it to be in I guess what I’d call Phase 1, we’ve got a fair amount on that we’re working on now.

“And so it’s probably between the beginning of next year and the beginning of the following year that we really get to sort of the Phase 1, what we feel is the over-the-top product that we probably envisioned going into it.”

Carey added that Formula 1 chiefs initially underestimated the timescale involved in needing to work through the material.

“I think we initially probably thought we could get there in two years,” he said.

“Obviously, last year, we were a bit behind. So, probably what initially we thought we’d get there in two is probably more likely in three.

“Starting with, again, we didn’t get the platform launched to begin the 2018 season. But I think we’re getting there.

“Dealing with the problems are always going to set you back a little bit, but I think we actually feel we are making headway and feel we’re getting to where we plan and hope to be.”