F1 TV’s largest update since it was launched will ensure a more stable offering to viewers in the United States and globally, according to Formula 1’s director of media rights.
An overhaul of F1 TV Pro will hit the 85 territories — including the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as new locations in Brazil, Czech Republic and Slovakia — it is offered in this season, bringing with it the ability to cast to televisions and enhanced technology. The previous version launched in 2018 suffered numerous issues, but Holmes says a priority has been to provide a more consistent product to fans.
“It certainly hasn’t been as stable as we would have wished it to be, we’re not alone in those experiences,” Holmes said. “I think it definitely improved. In fact it did definitely improve. When we made a decision of what it would look like and what would be in it, we were aggressive in our desire to really make sure that it was as good as it could be from a content point of view.
“To differentiate it from the linear television experience it needed to have the 20 onboards, it needed to have the ability to personalize and interact between the different feeds, the pit lane channel etc., etc. It’s a different viewing experience from that sort of sit back, big screen to interacting, whether it’s on a tablet or a mobile device of some description.
“So we were aggressive in our desire that from the get go it had a lot of content within it — I don’t mean content in terms of ours, I mean in terms of functionality — and that made it technically a challenge. But there’s no point just launching it with the international feed and maybe one or two other things, it would be just like the television feed and there would be no point in doing it. So we did that with our eyes open and we worked very, very hard to improve it. What I hope that you will see going forward with version two is that instability addressed.”
Holmes explains there were technical challenges that needed to be met to allow the smoother operation of F1 TV for users in different territories. In the U.S. it sits alongside ESPN’s traditional broadcast offering, but in specific countries only those who subscribe to the broadcast provider also get access to F1 TV Pro, while non-broadcast subscribers are limited to the lesser version of F1 TV Access.
“There’s a lot of new elements to version two, some of which will hopefully be very visual — the whole user experience, what it looks like, how it works should come through to the viewer. There’s a lot of things going on in the background that we hope will improve its stability, and there’s another element to version two that’s important which plays into us being agile about how we put the product into the market.
“You can’t just take this product and sort of plonk it on somebody else’s service — they’ve got to be able to talk to each other. Using the Ziggo example, the system has to know that I’m a Ziggo subscriber and therefore I’m entitled to F1 TV in the Dutch market, as an example. These systems have to talk to each other. Certainly some of the technical elements of the development will assist that and will increase our ability to be a little more nuanced in our approach to working with other technical platforms.
“I think the key takeaways of version two are definitely the improved user experience, the improved look, and also the quality of the feed — it’ll be effectively UHD — the ability to cast it onto a big screen, all of that stuff. But equally important behind the user experience is the technology behind it that will allow us to be more agile in terms of how we work with other technical platforms.”