Liberty Media buy F1


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Netflix making noises about buying the broadcast rights for F1. I presume this wouldn't affect Liberty Media's ownership of the commercial rights, rather the broadcasters, such as Sky here in the UK.



Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I'm only half joking when I say these are the sorts of deals that result in the creation of Rollerball or Death Race 2000.

When broadcast rights first found their way into the hands of PPV broadcasters it was to give the commercial rights holders a sudden injection of cash and give the PPV companies a solid and commited audience to pay for their product.

The trouble with this however is that with the exception of Football, the commercial companies involved over estimated the loyalty of the majority of fans to their chosen sports. This has been most noticeable in Cricket and Rugby. These sports have recognised that going PPV may have been a good solution in the short term but it has a long lasting and damaging effect on audience numbers, ticket sales and participation.

For the PPV companies they must maintain a turn over of new customers as those traditional audiences drift away. Because the core audience understood the nuances of their chosen sport they were a lot more forgiving of the less interesting events. Cricket tests that turned into a 5 day slog fest on a flat pitch and finished in a draw or F1 races that ran nose to tail for 70 laps with nothing happening. That's just the way these things are.

New audiences don't get that at all. They want and expect to see action, heroes and villains, battles and entertainment. This is when we start to hear phrases such as "for the good of the show" or "increasing entertainment"

We are now entering the next phase of the end game. We have a market that over the last decade has significantly changed due to the way we can access broadcast media.

We aren't tied to TV suppliers anymore but tied to broadband companies. What this means is that there are far more people scrapping over sports to be broadcast. Amazon have broadcast England Rugby internationals and the US open tennis. The Discovery Channel purchased the rights to broadcast the Olympics. Netflix, Amazon and Disney all have independent channels on broadband free from having to place their products in the hands of other media companies such as Sky and Virgin

What this means is that the need to attract and sustain audiences becomes even more difficult. Any commercial rights holder will come under increasing pressure to make their products more watchable. Cricket has introduced the IPL, The Big Bash and the 100 to create "excitement" in short sharp bursts. Rugby are looking at an standalone 12 a-side tournament, again to increase casual interest

Should F1 fall entirely into the hands of Netflix, the only way they could get an increasing return on their investment is to change the sport beyond all recognition.


Race Winner
We aren't tied to TV suppliers anymore but tied to broadband companies.

And the great thing about that is that VPN lets you connect from any location in the world, if it just so happens that you connect to a location where the F1 is free to air....


Champion Elect
for me this would be disastrous, this would be like when BT sport took the champions league rights off sky sports because they said about we have 9 million? customers but in fact the viewing figures dropped by 2/3rds, because obviously in those 9 million are people that dont care about football or sport in general. thats the same here on Netflix as if we thought sky sports was niche, with even less media coverage its going to be almost invisible. like when WRC moved to BT. nobody watches it

we need to get back on to terrestrial tv (in the UK) whether its ITV or Channel 4


Race Winner
I would be in favor of a Netflix streaming deal for the USA. I think they would do much better than ESPN. ESPN sometimes cuts off races because they run out of time. Plus then I can get rid of my seasonal Sling subscription since I only need it for F1.


Race Winner
P1 whats the TV situation in USA is it on pay tv as i know that Indycar are going to be NBC network TV (i assume that what you call terrestrial TV)
In the US, It is on ESPN which is a channel which part of Cable or Satellite TV bundles. You can also buy a cable TV bundle for pure streaming via the Sling App.

That said in the USA PayTV penetration is 75%, and it used to be 88% before people started moving to streaming over broadband. So the fact that it is on PayTV does not reduce the audience very much. Most people get their broadcast channels also via a Cable, Satellite or Streaming package. Very few people have an antenna.

So for most practical purposes it doesnt matter if it is on NBC or ESPN. Further F1 used to be on NBC, but it was on NBC Sports which is not broadcast but only included in PayTV packages like ESPN.

The key trend is that people are dropping these Cable/Satellite bundles in favor of streaming products like Netflix and HBO which are cheaper and have better content. This makes it harder to watch F1 because you basically have to pay $40 per month for a bundle of channels when you only want to watch one show every 2 weeks. Thats why I would love for it to go to Netflix. I pay for Netflix anyway, and i can then save myself $40 per month for 9 months a year.


Champion Elect
in other news the pope has declared himself catholic & that water might be wet

A media expert has warned Formula 1 it could “ruin itself” if it makes the full switch to pay TV.

Sky hold the broadcast rights in the UK, Italy & Germany with the 2021 season the 1st with the races behind a pay wall in Germany. The impact on viewing figures has been huge with rates down to 816,000 from 4.55 million when they were shown on the free-to-air channel. Stefan Kurten, CEO of Swiss media consultants Inmediaz
A racing series like F1 ruins itself in the long run by taking the step of running only on pay-TV, You reduce your audience to the hardcore of fans. So you become more and more a show only for motorsport freaks. You pay for higher rights revenues with an increasing loss of relevance. In the medium term, this then causes unrest among sponsors.

Media rights director of Formula 1 Ian Holmes did concede ratings were down but that they were doing everything possible to make sure fans could see the action. He told Sport Bild: “We’ve had success in the German market and appreciate the large audience RTL brought, but overall viewership and rights revenue were down. There’s still a lot of coverage on digital and social channels which keeps German fans heavily engaged.


Champion Elect
you have to laugh all the years 20-25 years, thats F1 team & Team principals have been vehemently opposed to budget caps. to the point F1 teams would rather the sport died than be sustainable

liberty media finally got it pushed through. i think teams saying voting yes. through gritted teeth. & now zak brown, toto wolff & sauber are talking positively about it. saying how pleased they that with the "franchise" system & budget cap. the value of the teams are expected to skyrocket to something at the top end near a billion pounds. like NFL MLB & NBA, because its no longer a finalical money pit for likely little reward :givemestrength:
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