The Future of F1 broadcasting

There was a very interesting article written by Jonathon Noble on autosport.com (subscription required: http://www.autosport.com/features/article.php/id/1988). It talks about how Max Mosley has at last understood the Internet. It talks also about how you could put lots of the video streams on to the internet during the race, amongst other things.

When people talk about these things they rarely go far enough in their vision of what is truly possible. I ended up talking about this briefly on sidepodcast.com‘s weekly podcast last night and I thought I might expand on a few ideas I’ve been having.

The problem with a system like this is that you make everybody the tv director. They have to chose between the tv directors feed, the Jenson Button cam, the tv or radio commentry, etc. Whereas what you want is for people to be able to create viewing layers between the consumer and the feed.

Here is my vision for how it could work:

First up anyone can take any feed online free and choose for themselves between the different camera angles and audio solutions. Most people won’t do this because it’s too much work.

Also anyone can set up a branded version of the feed. Say the SofaF1 feed. To set up a feed like this would cost about £100. This low price would act as a bozo filter to stop there being too many feeds that nobody is doing anything with.

If you want to give away access to the sofaf1 feed for free and without adverts then you don’t have to pay FOM any more money.

If however you want to include ads or charge a subscription fee then you have to do a revenue split with FOM.

This is modeled on the App Store model of development for the iPhone. To say that this system has worked well for creativity and revenue for Apple is the understatement of the decade. It allows people to try things out in a low risk environment and then offer a premium service which pays for all their work.

So how would it work? You would need to have a online full vision mixing desk which you could use to control just what you see, or push “broadcast” pay your £100 and whatever you mix and choose is now a “channel” under your name. FOM would also provide an API to this mixing desk, this would allow clever programmers to create a truely collaborative effort that would be fantastic.

You can imagine the Sidepodcast community, for example, offering their tv experience. They could, for example, offer their show for a small fee, but for free if you offer to help make the show. These helpers would have the combined Sidepodcast feed broadcasting with sound as their main screen and then have in addition, say, a corner and a driver cam. Feeding information to the editors. And the editors would just be other members of the community.

Developers would even be able to sell or give away their API interfaces creating a whole community of sites able to work together promoting F1.

The insane thing is that of course Bernie would never allow such a thing when it has such a potential to make him money. Network effects like community create far stronger brand penetration. And advertising, something that doesn’t really work on television because of arcane rules would be far easier on this new platform. Adverts can be nearby but not stop you from seeing the race.

I have seen the future, and sadly it will probably never happen.

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About Alex Andronov

Alex Andronov is a writer who lives in the UK. He is currently working on 7 novels, 5 film scripts, 2 plays, 2 TV series, 1 history of the United States, 1 travelogue and trying to find some focus.
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