The new F1 TV mobile app will transform how people watch and engage with the sport, the sports rights holder and its technology partner believe. Starting with the 2018 season, Formula 1 will use the app to deliver the action live from every race to fans directly, and expand its reach to new audiences. There is a particular desire to reach younger consumers who may not be watching much live television.
Through F1 TV, fans will be able to experience the live race action in a more immersive way through 20 driver cameras. “The wealth of video content will give fans the freedom to choose which part of the action they follow at any given moment on or off-track. Practice sessions and qualifiers will also be offered live, along with press conferences pre and post-race interviews,” the companies involved said recently.
A premium version of the app with all these features, called ‘F1 TV Pro’, will be available in around 12 markets at launch (including Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Austria and Hungary). It will cost $70-120 per year, depending on market. A ‘light’ version, called ‘F1 TV Access’, will be available in almost every country around the world.
“With the launch of F1 TV, we are beginning on the journey to build a cornerstone of our digital transformation,” says Frank Arthofer, Director of Digital and New Business at Formula 1. “F1 TV subscription products are firmly aimed at our most hard-core fans.
“We are strong believers that while we are bringing a new audience to the sport, we must always remain focused on delivering products and experiences that serve the most avid F1 fans. Our objective with F1 TV is simple: provide these fans with the best available service to watch live Grand Prix and provide them with the best sports OTT customer experience in the world.
“Our team and our partners are singularly focused on delivering on that vision: not just for launch but over the long-term. Live streaming video is an exciting space, changing almost daily.”
Tata Communications, the Official Connectivity Provider to Formula 1, is powering the new F1 TV mobile app with its Ultra Live Video Delivery Network (VDN) underpinned by a super-fast global transport network. Together these will minimise latency for video content and ensure an immersive, high-quality entertainment experience for fans.
“F1 is the first global sport to adopt such an ambitious mobile strategy and we are excited to be part of it,” says Mehul Kapadia, Managing Director at Tata Communications’ F1 Business. “People do not want to just passively watch TV anymore. A single global OTT video platform, with multiple live feeds and hundreds of hours of past highlights, gives fans the power to create their own unique, immersive motorsports experiences.
“This is a way to keep existing audiences hooked and attract new fans to the world of F1, too. I expect other sports to follow Formula 1’s lead and re-imagine through mobile platforms how they bring the action from the stadium, pitch or track to millions of people worldwide.”
Tata Communications says it has laid the digital foundations of F1 during its six year association with the sport (as the Official Connectivity Provider). UHD and live OTT broadcasting have both been introduced in that time.
This new app is a good example of how sports rights holders are using streaming and apps to engage fans more directly while balancing these ‘direct-to-consumer’ activities against their established distribution partnerships. It also demonstrates the opportunity to provide a complementary or enhanced experience online.
It is worth pointing out that Tata Communications was the first customer for Net Insight’s Sye solution, which enables multiple live OTT streams to arrive on different multiscreen devices in perfect synchronisation. This means consumers can watch different angles of a sports event without any delay between them, so that the experience is truly unified.
As you turn from one camera angle shown on your tablet to another camera angle displaying via your smartphone, you will not find yourself re-watching the last half-second of action due to a streaming delay on one of the devices. This is essential if you want each screen in a room to become part of the joined-up action.
Synchronised live multiscreen streaming is a good example of how companies can super-serve fans in future without necessarily cannibalising existing distribution deals. You can offer something that is not possible on broadcast TV and leave existing distributors to provide the main coverage on the widescreen television in UHD.