F1 eyes China venture and plans May launch for OTT platform
Liberty Media, the owner of Formula 1 motor racing, is in talks with potential Chinese partners to set up a new local venture in a bid to grow the sport in the country, according to reports.
Ahead of Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, Liberty has engaged with Suning, the electronics retailer that owns Italian soccer's Inter Milan, and Wuhan DDMC Culture Co, the sports and entertainment firm that recently acquired media rights in China to Spain’s top-tier LaLiga, sources told Reuters.
Other companies have also been contacted.
The plan is for a joint venture to be formed that would help manage business development in China, which has been on the Formula 1 calendar since 2004.
A year ago, Liberty teamed up with Lagardère Sports, the international sports management agency, to attract new commercial partners for Formula 1 in China.
Lagardère Sports said at the time that it would use its existing network and experience in China “to identify and secure strategic partners for Formula 1 in areas including event promotion, media rights, digital and brand partnerships, merchandising, talent development and racing team development.”
Last month, Formula 1 agreed a media rights extension in China with state broadcaster CCTV and the series today broadened its exposure in the country, announcing a much-anticipated streaming deal with Tencent, the internet company.
Tencent becomes a digital media partner in China. Throughout the remainder of the 2018 season, Tencent’s platforms will provide a combination of video and data feeds along with short-form content.
Caitlyn Chen, vice-president of Tencent, said: “Leveraging its advantages in distribution, production, broadcasting, intensive operation and social engagement, Tencent will provide abundant and scenario-based content services to our fans. The cooperation between F1 and Tencent will provide users with better understanding of passion and speed, so as to achieve the maximum IP value of F1 in China.”
Ian Holmes, Formula 1’s director of media rights, added: “The exposure across their array of platforms and the variety of audio visual and data content they are so well placed to carry will further enhance our opportunity to address all demographics throughout China.”
Regional broadcasts deals were also agreed with Guangdong TV and Shanghai TV.
Meanwhile, F1 TV, Formula 1's new over-the-top streaming platform, will now launch prior to the Spanish Grand Prix on 13 May.
F1 TV was scheduled to go live in time for the 25 March season-opener in Melbourne, but that launch was delayed with beta testing ongoing.
Once up and running, the service will be available in four languages (English, French, German and Spanish) and will be live in various territories including Germany, France, USA, Mexico, Belgium, Austria, Hungary and much of Latin America.
The platform will offer a combination of free and subscription content across the season.
All of practice, qualifying and races, will be offered live to F1 TV Pro subscribers, along with press conferences and pre- and post-race interviews to subscribers. Exclusive coverage of all 20 driver on-board cameras will also be available throughout every race session.
Subscribers will also be able to watch live races of the main support series, the FIA Formula 2 Championship, GP3 Series and Porsche Supercup.
The Pro service will cost between $8 and $12 per month, depending on the market.
A cheaper, non-live subscription package, ‘F1 TV Access’, will provide live race timing data and radio commentary, as well as extended highlights of each session from the race weekend. It will also carry archive video content and will be available on a near-global basis at launch.