F1 expects shift towards pay-per-view services to continue

Start of the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Formula 1 boss Chase Carey doubts that the championship will return to free-to-air platforms in certain markets, instead expecting the pay-per-view shift to continue.

Pay TV platforms have expanded through the last decade while Formula 1 itself now offers a subscription-based product in certain markets, based on existing broadcast deals.

“There’s no question that it’s an ongoing dynamic, they both are important,” said Carey on the advantages of the respective platforms.

“We don’t have a formula to look at it, there’s too many factors to put a formula in place, each market is different, how penetrated is a pay platform, what’s the quality of the pay platform.

“I think what I’d say is generally, which is true in all sports content, probably content in general, the trend continues to certainly be towards pay platforms and I don’t think that’s going to change.

“I think we will continue to move towards pay platforms because that’s where the world’s going.

“I think people have to realise and get educated that reach has taken on a very different meaning.

“Historically it meant over the air, realistically if you want to reach a 20-year-old it’s in a device in your hand not a 60-inch screen you put on the wall.”

Formula 1 has not revealed year-on-year TV figures but in a conference call to discuss Liberty Media’s earnings Carey accepted it was down a few per cent on 2018.

However he attributed the deficit to an anomaly in 2018’s data, with Formula 1 profiting from overlap from the football World Cup on Brazilian TV, which remains one of the championship’s largest audiences.

“We look at it first and foremost Saturday/Sunday, we’re down a few percentage points,” he said.

“But the biggest factor in that has been some anomalies in Brazil.

“Where last year with the World Cup in Brazil, a couple of our qualifying and races got put for positive results either right before or after a meaningful World Cup event and that had an impact.

“We have 24 core countries we look at, if you look at 23 without Brazil we’re actually up a few percent year to date, with a season that probably hasn’t been as competitive.

“The last few races have been great, in all honesty you go back before that and you had some races I would not call great which is why we’ve got to continue to improve it.

“We’ve had some good races recently but overall for the 12 races to date I’d say it’s okay.

“Looking at some of the other factors, such as the shift in the UK, those things have an impact, ex-the impact of the World Cup in Brazil I think we’re up and we feel pretty good.”