Formula 1 auto racing is a global brand generating more than $3 billion in revenue. It attracts an audience of 500 million people – largely older than Madison Avenue’s coveted 18-34-year-old demo. In the U.S., the rival to IndyCar remains a niche TV sport.
A survey by Ampere Analysis found just 6% of U.S. sports fans identify F1 as a sport they would watch on TV. Indeed, domestic viewers will rely on a repurposed feed from U.K. satellite TV operator Sky to watch any coverage of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.
F1 TV, the sport’s newly-launched over-the-top video service, is seeking to buck its older demo fan base by targeting younger viewers (under the age of 40) usually associated with streaming video.
London-based Ampere contends the $8-$12 monthly service – available in four languages (English, French, German and Spanish) and in nearly two dozen markets, including the U.S., will appeal to younger viewers because of the OTT element.
“As more sports become available OTT, it gives less popular leagues an opportunity to monetize markets where they are not mainstream enough to be attractive to a major broadcaster,” analyst Alexios Dimitropoulos wrote in a blog.
Even mainstream sports are taking the hint.
In the U.S., Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and World Wrestling Entertainment have launched OTT platforms — MLB with spectacular results.
The national pastime spearheaded the OTT movement among U.S. professional sports through its MLB Advanced Media division. The unit – which is co-owned by all 30 MLB franchises – recently sold backend digital tech subsidiary, BAMTech, to Disney in a deal worth more than $3.5 billion.
“Sports fans face a myriad of distractions and while commercial opportunities are still developing, it’s critical for rights owners to build their presence on social platforms to help maintain loyal audiences, support tune-in and provide a content experience which meets the needs of viewers who watch much less linear TV,” Gareth Capon, CEO at digital media aggregator Grabyo, told consulting firm KNect365.com.
Indeed, WWE, which makes millions marketing pay-per-view wrestling entertainment, generates significant ancillary revenue from WWE.tv, an OTT platform with almost 1.5 million subscribers.
“We expect more leagues and events to follow the same route … over the next few years,” said Dimitropoulos.