Two months ago, Formula One announced that U.S. investor group Liberty Media had agreed to a two-stage acquisition of the racing series for a total of $8.5 billion dollars.
The sale, which is currently being investigated by the U.K. government and is not yet finalized, includes all commercial rights to F1, broadcasting and otherwise, which is the most significant source of revenue for “the pinnacle of motorsports.”
In an age of cord-cutting, one of the most talked about outcomes of Liberty Media’s acquisition of F1 is the possibility of a direct-to-consumer streaming service for the exclusive racing series.
Currently, F1 offers F1 Access, a premium subscription service for its mobile app that provides comprehensive analytics of almost every technical detail you could imagine during races. From live sector times and team radio transmissions, F1 Access is impressive, but the one thing its missing is live video content.
That might not be the case for much longer, though. In its quarterly earnings call Wednesday, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei addressed the possibility of a streaming service, saying he’s “very excited about the idea” and that it “makes a lot of sense for [F1] and [Liberty Media].”
There are still “things to be worked through”, according to Maffei, referencing the current contracts F1 has with broadcasters. But he doesn’t believe it’s impossible. Maffei acknowledged the rising popularity of streaming platforms but says “we don’t yet see wholesale substitution” for traditional broadcasting channels.
Were Liberty Media to create a streaming service for F1 weekends, the most obvious question is how much they should (and would) charge.
F1 has long been considered an exclusive sport, due to the finances involved, so it’s not far-fetched to imagine a premium price point for a streaming service. However, Liberty Media knows the potential for a revival in American F1 interest, and a lower subscription cost might just tempt more casual motorsports fans to take the dive.