Voice of #F1 Fans: The Stone Age or the Modern Age?

Brought to you by TheJduge13 contributor Heidi Wolff

Formula 1 is a global sport with global.  It seems like the sport has forgotten this or doesn’t care because its digital strategy is from the stone ages.

It is a sport that has some of the world’s top engineers, information technology professionals, and other business professionals. However, Formula 1’s digital assets are so user unfriendly, have more performance related issues, billing issues, and are more unreliable than Bugs Bunny’s navigation system.

In order for Formula 1 to maintain its popularity and grow its fan base, the digital strategy must change and modernize along with the views from people within the sport on social media and Formula 1.

People blame Bernie for not moving into social media. I don’t blame him at all because he can’t monetise it. You have TV stations and media partners who pay you for exclusive content so why do you want anything to do with social media making it for free.” –Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG Petronas Executive Director

In my opinion, this is the wrong thought process when it comes to Formula 1 and social media.

It is an archaic viewpoint and makes it seem that the sport is turning its nose up at people who don’t have the means to pay the high asking prices for access. The opinion above by Wolff illustrates the fact that Formula 1 is still in the stone ages when it comes to the effective use of social media.

As television ratings, race attendance, and the sport’s popularity are on the decline, social media should be embraced and maximized even if it can’t always be monetised. Right now, given the decline that Formula 1 is experiencing in a very crowded sports marketplace, not everything should be monetised.

One day the TV stations and the media partners are going to stop paying FOM for the exclusive content because the demand will no longer be there.  If the sport’s numbers keep shrinking as they are there won’t be much left of the sport and its global brand in the near future and a strategy that includes social media will be a necessity just to help it raise from the ashes.

Social media can be used to grow the sport worldwide, sell race tickets, provide behind the scenes access and position the sport effectively in a crowded sports marketplace. There can still be exclusive content to maintain the perceived “exclusivity” of Formula 1 while still making it accessible to fans of all ages and income levels. Given that Formula 1 has such a global fan base, the sport should really put as much content online as it can.

However, rather than making lots of content availabel online, in order to make the sport as accessible to its fans as it can, the sport puts a small selection of articles and videos online and charges a monthly subscription fee for the content that they think the fans will be the most interested in.  The amount of content keeps shrinking every week instead of getting larger and, many times during a race weekend, only race edits from the previous year’s grand prix, a weekend introductory video, videos of accidents or car retirements, and short press conference videos are available. Even some of this content requires a subscription.

Unless a person is at the grand prix or has access to television coverage, their experience of the weekend is very limited. This is not good.  Formula 1 must attempt to put forward different, cutting edge content that is as diverse as its fan base and reflects the innovative, technological mindset of the sport.

One of the current problems facing Formula 1 fans  are that an increasingly number races are not shown on free to air television. Many people around the world can’t afford the high prices that the different pay sports channels charge in order to watch the races or even have access to TV stations that broadcast Formula 1’s content.

This excludes many people from following the sport because of their income level.  One of the reasons football/soccer is so popular on a global level is that anyone from anywhere in the world, regardless of their background or economic level can follow or watch the games on social media.

The sport has a plethora of intelligent, forward thinking people involved in it and they should be able to figure out a way that Formula 1 can stream races so that people using only a mobile phone, tablet, or other mobile device and a data connection can get the grands prix and other related content for a fixed, affordable price no matter where a person is in the world.

In order for Formula 1 to get itself out of the crisis that it’s in, all forms of social media need to be effectively utilized and maximized to help the sport grow and thrive because the hard times are not over yet for the sport.  People within the sport like Toto Wolff need to shed their archaic views recognize that sometimes during the difficult times things need to be given away for free in order to get the possibility of revenue later on during the good times.

Us fans have made Formula 1 a global sport… sometimes I think that Formula 1 takes us for granted and they shouldn’t because, one day, the we may move on to other sports.

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Disclaimer: TheJudge13 provides a platform for Formula 1 fans to publish their voice on matters relating to Formula 1. The views expressed in Voice of #F1 Fans are those of the contributor and not those held by TJ13.

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11 responses to “Voice of #F1 Fans: The Stone Age or the Modern Age?

  1. It’s basically free marketing, so it should be a nobrainer.
    There’s nothing that contraditcts my view that Bernie’s just bringing down the value of the sport to buy it back. Tamara will know how to utilise social media…

  2. Social media won’t turn chicken $hit into chicken salad. F1’s problem is the product stinks. Processional races that are as dull as dishwater. I haven’t watched one race in it’s entirety this year – I record them and fast forward through the race. I never even bothered doing that with the British GP. I was once a hardcore F1 fan – not now. And no matter how much F1 “social media” there is, it won’t bring me back. What might is competitive racing.

    • Agreed. I would never pay $ to watch F1. It’s quite boring, more often than not.

  3. Formula 1 should seriously think about rebroadcasting Qualifying and Race, in all languages available to Pay Services, in condensed form a few days after the actual race. Do this on a regular basis, such as Wed. or Thurs. after the race. It would make the sport more accessible and attractive to those that may decide to subscribe. There is no better way to attract attention.

    • They are constrained by the exclusive territorial ‘all-platform’ broadcasting rights they have awarded to various media organisations. As these contracts unwind, it is almost certain FOM will offer more ‘direct’ services and the new territorial rights will be more restrictive and less exclusive.

  4. Your use of the term “social media” is misleading. I think you mean the Interweb in it’s entirety, not just Failbook and Twatter. You are incorrect in believing FOM don’t use the Interweb, they do. They have a website F1.com, which Bernie has turned into a paysite and they also run the F1 timing app. Both of which are failures.
    I’ve never bothered to use F1.com, it’s too much like one of them state organised newspapers, where everything is sunny and perfect. Since they started charging, I hear it’s turned into a mess where you can’t find anything and all the graphics are the size of a broadsheet. It’s almost as if someone has buggered it up deliberately.
    The timing app has gone from free to £2 a race or thereabouts. It’s also become an artform in cockupery. At the beginning of the season, the Autosport forum was full of complaints about it, I’ve no idea if it’s improved or disappeared.
    Just remembered, there’s an official F1 YouTube channel, which show titbits of stuff, whilst enabling FOM to takedown anything the public put up that might be of real interest to race followers.
    If Bernie has any kind of a clue, news of FOM’s attempt at getting onto the Interweb will have reached his ears, and I can’t see that he’d be too impressed. Unless, too many fools are paying for what little FOM are putting on “social media”.

    • @Gregor: Formula1.com is a huge mess. I briefly mentioned it in the post. It has more problems than the navigation system Bugs Bunny uses and it has so much potential. The people running the website, the Facebook page, the Twitter feed, and the other social media outlets for Formula 1 don’t really know what they’re doing. It’s sad and frustrating for me because I have so many ideas for how to turn things around as far as Formula 1’s presence on the web and make it top notch and for the fans. They just wouldn’t fit in one post.

    • “artform in cockupery” – Gregor

      Pretty much this. 🙂

      I’m reminded of a quote from a sage, old Jedi master on accomplishing tasks.

      “Do… or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

      The powers that be just can’t seem to lift their crashed sport out of the swamp on Dagobah.

      • @WTF_F1: I love that quote from Yoda. My feelings are that from the day that the new Formula1.com was launched that they didn’t even try. It had so many problems and was so unusable that it shouldn’t have been launched at all because it made the issues that the old site had worse.

      • ‘And that is why you failed’..(after lifting our once clean sport from the swamp). Nothing is too big when you have the force and a master as allies. Could Eddie Jordon have a high metaclorian count? Maybe Bernie is the sith lord we have been looking for and Horner is the apprentice? As you know,there is always two.😇

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