For the first time ever, Formula 1 will upload a classic race to YouTube in full, in Liberty Media’s latest move to bolster the series’ social media presence.
To mark the nineteenth and final Malaysian Grand Prix, fans are being asked via the official Formula 1 website for their favourite Sepang race. Voting is open on both the website and Twitter, with 2001, 2003 and 2012 the three choices.
In a sign that Formula One Management (FOM) are testing the waters at this stage, a caveat is that the classic race will only be available for fans to watch for 19 days. Formula 1 follows in the footsteps of the IndyCar Series and MotoGP who have uploaded full-length races to social media for several years.
For UK fans, it is the first time that full-length races have appeared legally on a platform such as YouTube. From 2009 to 2011, the BBC uploaded a selection of their ‘Grand Prix’ highlights shows from 1982 to 1996 onto their website, again based on fan voting, with shorter edits for ITV races from 1997 onwards.
Since 2013, Sky Sports F1 have aired classic races during the season primarily in a 21:00 time slot, but the last classic race ‘new’ to the channel aired two years ago, with the same races on rotation since. Races after 1996 are covered in full, with the races from the original BBC era covered in highlights form. Of course, whilst the classic races help fill a lot of air-time for the channel, the audience for races behind a pay wall in that timeslot are minuscule.
There are two points of interest with the upload, depending on the chosen race: the feed and commentary used. For 2003 and 2012, the answer is simple, the UK commentary with the World Feed. In the case of the former, James Allen and Martin Brundle will be the voices fans hear, with David Croft and Brundle expected for the latter.
However, in 2001, FOM had two feeds: the F1 Digital feed and the local World Feed, which most viewers saw. In terms of commentary, there are three options: the ITV commentary with Murray Walker and Martin Brundle, a re-dubbed version of the race, or just the raw sounds. I hope we hear the ITV commentary, but that may be complicated if FOM want to use the F1 Digital feed, as the pictures will not match the commentary. Either FOM could splice the pictures together to create a hybrid feed, or re-dub the commentary.
From a strategy perspective, uploading a complete classic race to YouTube is a significant step from Liberty Media, as they continue to exploit Formula 1 on social media. There is no doubt that FOM will be chewing over the YouTube numbers as demand (or lack thereof) will dictate whether we see more of this content. Broadcasters’ such as Sky will have approved the latest change from FOM.
If numbers are strong, but those viewers are on average watching an hour of the race, truncated versions may appear in the future. It also helps Liberty plan their future over-the-top platform. Is there genuine demand for full classic races, or is the demand exaggerated in certain quarters? The viewing figures are key for FOM in many respects.
Formula 1 conducts successful live 360º video trial
Elsewhere, on the Formula 1 spectrum, a successful live 360º video experience was conducted during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.
Historically for sport, the latency between 360º video and the television feed has been greater than 30 seconds. However, the prototype from Tata Communications and FOM during Singapore has reduced the latency to zero, with the 360º pictures completely in sync with the other feeds, something that the official F1 website is promoting as a world first in any sport.
Two 360-degree cameras were present during the race weekend, one in the paddock and one situated track side. The new development could allow fans to follow the action live in the future via 360º feeds on an over-the-top platform.
“In a sport like F1 where every millisecond matters, there are huge opportunities to empower fans to take control of key Grand Prix moments and create their unique, personalised race experiences through the powerful combination of live TV and 360º video,” said John Morrison, Chief Technical Officer, Formula 1.
“We want to unleash the full potential the F1 fan experience through the latest digital technologies,” said Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations, Formula 1. “Through this proof of concept, we’ve explored how live 360º video, and next VR, could transport fans from across the globe to the middle of the thrilling world of F1 and enable them to immerse themselves in each Grand Prix like never before.”