At a reported $4.4 billion, the American-based Liberty Media has bought an 18.7% stake in to the holdings of Formula One, with an additional deal to close by Q1, 2017.
As a media-based group with ownership in Charter Communications, Sirius XM Radio, Live Nation Entertainment, and beyond, the message is very clear that Formula One remains a worldwide property with a lot of potential, and equally important many new opportunities to explore.
The fundamental question is, of course, why?
Simply put, digital offerings. With many arguing that F1, arguably the pinnacle of automotive technology, remains somewhat behind in the digital entertainment space.
With this in mind, looking toward the future, here are the fairly unexplored digital mediums we should expect to see Liberty capitalize on, as stated by the incoming chairman Chase Carey.
-Virtual Reality: An increasingly hot property with both mobile entertainment (Samsung VR) and video games (Oculus Rift, Vive), the VR opportunities are only growing, and in a sport where immersion is critical, this is a large opportunity currently missed.
-Gaming: Formula One’s current foothold in gaming is merely by licensing, with the series granting licensing rights to EA Sports and their popular “F1” console title. While considered a fun, arcade style racing game, in the current era of interactive gaming, virtual reality, internet competition and the ability to garner real-time data, the “F1” franchise lacks a lot of the ingenuity and more importantly community that the gaming world has to offer. If the effort is to captivate a young audience, there is no better way,
-Digital Education: If capturing a young audience is key, then immersing them in the science and technology of the sport is critical beyond any other. With mediums through mobile, gaming applications, and social media, developing innovative ways to engage and educate a young audience on the intricacies of the sport will be unlike any other.
-Social Media: It’s a vague and overused term, but nonetheless relevant. With an increasing use of social media to immerse an audience, Formula One’s fairly passive approach, combined with challenges to capitalize on the data acquired, is one of the biggest shortcomings of the sport.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, changes lie ahead, but the relevance of Formula One has never been more clearly obvious than through this buyout.