Liberty Media arrived at F1 with the big promise of changing major aspects of the sport, which had been labelled ‘boring’ by the younger generation.
Under Bernie Ecclestone’s reign, F1 became a very exclusive VIP club. Teams were becoming richer, but at the same time it lost the main aspect of the sport… entertaining people or what Bernie used to call “customers”.
He himself once declared: “I don’t know why people want to get to the so-called ‘young generation’. Why do they want to do that? Is it to sell them something? Most of these kids haven’t got any money.”
Ecclestone was an incredible manager for many years and F1 became a $8bn business thanks to his abilities. But with the rise of the internet and digital platforms, he wasn’t able to keep the pace with other sports such as Moto GP. In March 2017 it boasted an impressive 17.7m followers (combined followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) compared with the 7.9m for F1 across the three social media platforms. A major aberration for the most advanced sport in terms of technology.
So, how is Liberty Media trying to modernise F1?
Since its takeover, F1’s new owners have made small but significant changes, such as adding post-qualifying interviews and increasing its digital media presence.
Liberty Media also understands the importance of engaging the millennials along with keeping the old core fan base.
“We want fans to get closer to the action on and off the track, with new levels of entertainment and engagement. If we can do this, Formula One will continue to be one of the biggest sporting brands in the world,” said Norman Howell (Director of Global Communications).
One of the first steps was to reduce the social-media restrictions around the sport with the goal of building deeper bonds between the drivers and fans. Lewis Hamilton is one of the drivers that got the most from this new move, being one of the most active on Instagram and Snapchat.
In order to increase the younger fan base last year, Liberty also started a collaboration with Snap Inc with the aims to create Snapchat stories for every GP.
The decision to pour resources into social media platforms immediately paid off and it obtained a 20% boost in followers in just four months (Moto GP had ‘only’ 8% during the same date range).
The revolution is still going on
At the end of the last season Liberty decided to introduce the new logo and at the beginning of the new season it launched F1’s first global marketing campaign in its 69 years!
This must come as a surprise to anyone reading this. But F1 never promoted the F1 brand. What you saw down the years were campaigns drive by the brands, promoters and manufacturers. So hats off to Bernie for managing to make F1 famous worldwide without spending a penny!
Jokes aside, the time is now right for Liberty Media to finally launch a campaign which it has called ‘Engineered Insanity’.
Sticking to its mission, it’s put fans at the heart of the campaign and it’s produced a video clip that shows F1 through the eyes of fans.
The sport is also undergoing other changes. Frank Arthofer, Director of Digital and New Business at F1 recently commented: “We look to provide these fans with the best available service to watch live Grands Prix and provide them with the best sports OTT customer experience in the world.”
Backing up these promises with actions, it has just announced the launch of a new digital channel. The service will offer a live experience bundled with real time data, highlights, archive footage and radio commentary over mobile, TV apps and desktop.
At TheNewsMarket, we’re predicting exciting times ahead for F1 and indeed for all brands that are looking to gain younger, global, tech-savvy and highly engaged audiences by investing in and launching digital channels to host their content.