A quick-fire guide to your motor racing streaming services for 2018

Over the years, this site has tended to cover television coverage more than other forms of media, with weekly television schedules whenever there is a Formula 1 race on. The site also has a dedicated page covering all the key UK television and radio contracts.

But, alongside your traditional methods, many championships allow you to watch their action online. Here, we look at what each championship offers directly to the consumer, bypassing the broadcasters, or not as the case may be. This article is aimed at UK readers, but the information may be useful for overseas readers as well.

Note – This is an experimentation post and may not cover every single series out there. Please leave a comment if you find this useful and would like to see this repeated in future with updated information.

Dorna Sports (review)
The commercial rights holder for MotoGP and World Superbikes, Dorna Sports have over-the-top platforms for both. Every session, including support races, airs live on the over-the-top platform with a dedicated on-site team. Full-length replays are available if you missed the action first time round, with the fan able to view the action from a variety of on-board camera angles. Access to the respective platforms also unlock MotoGP’s and World Superbikes’ rich archive.

Available via desktop, Android and Apple devices, the MotoGP package is priced at £174.36 for the complete season, or £44.45 in four instalments. The World Superbikes offering is considerably cheaper than MotoGP at £60.98 for the season, or £13.00 per month. Even considering the smaller calendar, on a per-race weekend basis, the MotoGP price works out at £9.18, whilst the Superbikes offering is just £4.69, a sign of their respective popularity.

Formula E
Despite being one of the newer series in this list, surprisingly the electric Formula E championship does not have an over-the-top platform. Fans wanting to watch the action can find some live coverage on Formula E’s YouTube channel, but the availability depends on territory. UK fans can watch live practice on their YouTube channel, but no further than that.

The geo-blocking restrictions are lifted after the session for practice and qualifying, whilst full races are made available several weeks after the race, although one might argue that they have lost their value by that point in time. The lack of an over-the-top platform currently may come and bite them back in a few years’ time, especially considering the recent developments from Formula 1.

Formula One Management
Announced in February, Formula 1 has confirmed that their streaming service will launch ready for the Spanish Grand Prix in May. At launch, F1 TV Pro will be available via desktop and will only contain Formula 1 coverage; with other devices, and the appearance of the feeder series’ coming later in the year.

However, UK fans will not have access to the premium version due to the television agreements already in place. Barring some form of new arrangement between Formula One Management and Sky, do not expect UK fans to be able to access F1 TV Pro until 2025. F1 TV Access though, is another question…

GT Sport Organisation
GT Sport created and is responsible for the Euroformula Open and the International GT Open, both of which air live in the UK on BT Sport.

As with other championships on a similar footing, GT Sport live streams the action on their two YouTube channels, covering qualifying and the race: EuroFormulaOpen and GTOPENseries. English commentary comes from Ben Evans, who fans in the UK may recognise from BT Sport’s IndyCar coverage.

IndyCar
Unlike Supercars below, IndyCar does not currently offer an over-the-top product for overseas fans of the championship. Race Control only extends as far as live timing, but no visual imagery is involved. However, its social media offering is comprehensive, with live streaming of its feeder Indy Lights series, as well as live action from practice via their various outlets.

For fans without access to BT Sport, the full US race programme from either ABC, ESPN or NBC is uploaded to IndyCar’s YouTube channel around four days after the event. With IndyCar’s domestic rights in the US changing for 2019 in NBC’s favour, the streaming picture could change as well.

SRO Motorsports Group
Not to be confused with GT Sport’s portfolio of championships, SRO Motorsports Group is the commercial rights holder for several of the leading GT championships worldwide. If you are into GT racing, the GTWorld YouTube channel, operated by SRO, is the place to be.

It is on YouTube where SRO live stream the likes of the Blancpain GT Series and the British GT, for free. In addition, the Blancpain website plays host to live streaming of the GT Series.

Supercars
Not in Australia? No problem. The Virgin Australia Supercars streaming service SuperView gives fans outside of Australia the ability to live stream, rewind and replay every Supercars qualifying and race session in 2018. The restriction that previously applied to the Australian Grand Prix weekend was lifted for 2018, meaning that all events are now available on the service.

Priced at £32.80 based on the current conversion rate for the complete season, SuperView is a steal if you are looking to watch some motor racing action at your leisure throughout 2018. With 16 races across the year, the series costs UK fans just £2.05 per race weekend.

World Rally Championship (review)
From 2018, rally fans can view every World Rally Championship stage live. For £7.79 a month, or £77.98 for a complete year, fans can watch every stage either live or on-demand across a variety of devices.

However, you can only do that up and until the next rally comes along: there is no way to view the ‘All Live’ content once it disappears from the schedule a few days after the event finishes. Whilst the live element is great, WRC’s over-the-top product is still rough around the edges which is worth bearing in mind if you are unlikely to watch the action in a timely fashion. Nevertheless, WRC’s pricing structure remain extremely good value for money.

Are there any other major championships that have streaming capability that I have not mentioned? Have your say in the comments below.

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Revealed: Formula 1’s gender pay gap

Six of Formula 1’s outfits based in the United Kingdom have revealed their gender pay gap publicly. In the underlying data, all bodies reveal that a significant amount of work needs to happen to bring more women into the engineering landscape.

For the first time, UK companies with more than 250 employees are reporting their pay gap to the UK government. As Ferrari, Toro Rosso, and Sauber are based outside the UK, they are exempt from this. With less than 250 employees, Haas are also exempt. The figures reveal the pay gap at Formula One Management (FOM) amongst other organisations.

F1 gender pay gap - median

This percentage gaps above show the difference between the ‘middle paid woman’ and the ‘middle paid man’.

The median gender pay gap for Formula 1’s teams is 22.9 percent, as an example if a female earned £25,000, then a male would earn £30,725. Force India’s median pay gap is least significant at 14.8 percent, with Williams at the other end of the scale at 32.9 percent.

F1 gender pay gap - mean

The mean gender pay gap, better known as the average pay gap, stands at 28.7 percent for Formula 1’s six teams in the UK. Red Bull has the biggest pay gap of the teams that revealed their data, with men earning on average 40 percent more than women.

The difference for Mercedes and McLaren circles around 35 percent range. There are two major outliers. Firstly, Force India is again the least significant, with an average pay gap of just 7.4 percent. Although the number of women at Force India overall is smaller in the lower quartile than other organisations, the difference between them and the other teams in this respect helps their gender pay gap overall.

Formula One Management’s mean gender pay gap stands at 51.9 percent, significantly higher than other sporting bodies such as the Football Association at 23.2 percent, and 23 percent for the Rugby Football Union. In other words, if a woman at FOM earned £20,000 across the year, a man would earn £30,380.

F1 gender pay gap - women distribution

Although the proportion of women in the top quartile at FOM is higher compared with F1’s outfits, the fact that the lower quartile is filled with 53.3 percent of women means that the average is skewed in a similar manner. FOM’s average suggests that there are a small, but significant number at FOM that skews the gender pay gap overall.

The overall volumes above show that women at Formula 1 teams struggle to breakthrough to the top and middle quartile. McLaren’s figures are the most damming of the lot: only 1 percent of people at the team in the top quartile are women. Williams’ and Mercedes’ are the most balanced, but it is a very bleak picture for Formula 1.

What the data fails to reveal is whether jobs occupied by women in the lower quartile have progression paths through to the lower and upper middle quartiles. If they do, then it is possible that the percentages will move as time progresses, but it appears for every ‘lower middle quartile’ job vacancy, you may have four men and one woman vying for that role. It is also unclear if the data submitted includes contractors, as well as the two racing drivers.

Schemes such as Dare to be Different can only help, however there are still very steep barriers to overcome.

More information via The Guardian: What you need to know about gender pay gap reporting.

News round-up: F1 series coming to Netflix; IndyCar domestic rights changing

In addition to all the discussion around Formula 1’s new graphics suite, the past week saw a variety of broadcasting related announcements, covering both F1 and the IndyCar Series.

F1 documentary series to air on Netflix
Netflix are to air a ten-part documentary series in 2019 focusing on the inner surroundings of Formula 1. The deal between the two parties has been mooted for several months, with an official announcement coming on the Saturday of the Australian Grand Prix weekend.

Filming has already started, and will continue throughout the 2018 season, with the production team revealing “the intense fight for the heart, soul, and direction for the future of this multibillion-dollar business.” James Gay Rees, who was previously part of the making of Senna, and Paul Martin for Box to Box Films, are the executive producers.

The Netflix series builds on the foundations laid by Amazon’s Grand Prix Driver. The four-part Amazon series focused on McLaren’s pre-season exploits prior to Australia 2017, whereas the Netflix programming has a wider remit across the whole year. I enjoyed Amazon’s documentary, and if this is half as good as that, Formula 1 fans will be in for a treat.

Sean Bratches, F1’s Managing Director of Commercial Operations, said “Formula 1 is a global sport that we are actively repositioning from a motorsport company to a media and entertainment brand. This series will unleash a compelling vantage point to the sport that will delight fans and serve as a catalyst to entice new fans.”

Bela Bajaria, Vice President of Content for Netflix, said “This partnership with Formula 1 furthers our mission of working with world-class brands and production partners to produce best-in-class unscripted series. We can’t wait for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix and to embark on an incredible season across the world.”

In a second announcement from Formula 1 last week, the organisation confirmed that coverage was returning to free-to-air broadcaster CCTV in China, with all qualifying and race sessions airing live on the network throughout 2018.

ESPN’s US coverage receives complaints
Bratches’ former home ESPN was subject to numerous complaints over the Australian Grand Prix weekend. The US broadcaster, which took over from NBC as rights holder for Formula 1, was expected to take Sky UK’s pre-race build-up show ‘On the Grid’. However, the show failed to make the air at the expected time, with a variety of technical issues.

ESPN released a press statement late on Sunday evening apologising for the difficulties. “We deeply apologise to Formula 1 fans for the technical issues that caused them to miss the first 20 minutes of the pre-race show for the Australian Grand Prix. We are sorry that our first F1 telecast did not go as smoothly as we would have liked but we are taking steps to prevent those same issues from occurring in the future.”

The secondary problem is commercial breaks. Formula 1 commentary in the UK is free-flowing, as Sky Sports air F1 uninterrupted, whereas ESPN in the US take commercials. This is a major issue if something happens whilst ESPN is on a commercial break.

Historically, US viewers had a dedicated commentary team for their audience meaning that the lead commentator could re-cap the action on return. Forcing Sky’s UK commentary team to do the same thing would disturb the flow for anyone taking the UK coverage uninterrupted and would provoke a backlash from UK viewers.

One approach would be to have Sky’s F1 presentation team (i.e. Simon Lazenby) do a voice over for US viewers leading back into the UK commentary at a given point, that way the commentary flow is untouched.

In further news, ESPN’s coverage of the Grand Prix rated lower than NBC’s coverage in recent years. According to Showbuzz Daily, ESPN2’s show failed to make the top 150 for original programmes on Saturday, recording under a 0.05 share in the adults 18 to 49 metric. Last year’s NBC coverage averaged 238,000 viewers, whereas 2016’s show averaged 222,000 viewers.

International television rights for IndyCar up for grabs
The IndyCar Series is heading to NBC from 2019, with their existing US agreement with ESPN and ABC Network coming to an end after this season, the two sides confirmed last week.

The three-year deal will see eight races, including the Indianapolis 500, broadcast on NBC’s main channel with the remaining races airing on NBC Sports Network.

In addition, NBC’s over-the-top platform, dubbed NBC Sports Gold, will offer an IndyCar package consisting of every race from the feeder series Indy Lights, plus all practice and qualifying sessions from the main series not broadcast on one of NBC’s linear television channels.

As part of the press release, NBC touted the fact that IndyCar’s viewing figures have grown in recent years with the broadcaster as part of the shared contract with ESPN/ABC. “We’re honoured to bring the Indianapolis 500, one of the most prestigious events in all of sports, to NBC, further enhancing NBC Sports’ Championship Season,” said Jon Miller, NBC’s President of Programming.

“We’ve seen consistent growth for INDYCAR on NBCSN in the past decade, and we hope to continue that growth throughout the series by leveraging the television, digital, production and marketing assets that make NBC Sports a powerful media partner.”

IndyCar officials have also confirmed that the international broadcasting rights for the series are up for grabs at the end of 2018. For UK fans, it helps clear up a few things. BT Sport have a deal to with ESPN’s international arm to air a range of content up to and including the end of 2022. Separately, IndyCar’s non-domestic rights sit with ESPN’s international arm.

ESPN International are the ‘middle man’ here, if that man changes then BT Sport will need to negotiate with the new ‘middle man’ if they want to continue to air IndyCar, unless IndyCar go direct to a broadcaster, for example Eurosport (see below).

Mark Miles, the CEO of IndyCar’s parent company Hulman and Company, said “We will now move to working on the international rights licensing right away. We’ve had a lot of those very early conversations to understand both from an agency perspective and individual broadcaster perspective who wants to talk to us.”

“[The NBC deal] does not preclude an ongoing involvement by ESPN International. Although with any result, I think it will change. There may be countries where we go direct to broadcasters in any major country with IndyCar interests. I see us being at the table, even if we go with a distributor or packager like ESPN International.”

“There are a number of agencies that would love to compete with ESPN International for whatever we’re willing to license as part of a package, and there are a number of countries where we’re already having direct conversations with broadcasters. It will be some kind of a mixed approach undoubtedly.”

Poll: Which F1 graphics set do you prefer?

The 2018 Australian Grand Prix saw Formula One Management (FOM) unveil a new-look to their television product, with a new introduction five-minutes before the race and a new graphics set.

Admittedly, some of the riskier and controversial options on the table, such as introducing a highlights reel half way through the race, did not make it to fruition, for Australia at least. Inevitably, comparisons will be made between this set of graphics and previous iterations. But which set is your favourite? Here is a look at each graphics set, along with a poll at the bottom of this post.

I have made a conscious decision to leave out any of the graphics set from before 1994, as my knowledge of what happened before then in this area is limited. I also am unaware whether there was a consistent graphics set used for complete years, or whether it was the decision of each of the local hosts. What I do know though, is that from 1994, things became a lot more consistent.

Also, the content in this article is copied from the equivalent 2015 version, except with a few minor rewording tweaks here and there, plus a new section for 2018. When I ran this post in 2015 to mark the introduction of the previous set, 748 people voted as follows:

  • 14.4% – 1994 to 2003
  • 7.1% – 1996 to 2002 (F1 Digital+)
  • 9.0% – 2004 to 2009
  • 27.1% – 2010 to 2014
  • 42.4% – 2015

How will you vote this time around? First, here is a summary of the different packages…

1994 to 2003
Anyone who began watching Formula 1 in the late 1990’s will remember this graphics set fondly. Probably dubbed as the classic graphics set, the World Feed graphics were standardised for the beginning of 1994 and remained in place for a decade.

The classic graphics set on display during the 2000 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying session.

For its time, the graphics did their job perfectly, but towards the end, the graphics set had outlived their welcome as viewers wanted more data and detail, especially those that had returned to the World Feed from the defunct F1 Digital+ platform. Plus, it is fair to say that those graphics would be unsuitable in a widescreen era, and unusable in a three-part qualifying session if not tweaked significantly.

1996 to 2002 – F1 Digital+
Whilst the majority of the world were accustomed to the classic graphics set seen above, a small portion of the audience who subscribed to the F1 Digital+ service across Europe (and in the UK through Sky during 2002) received a different graphics set, which was arguably ahead of its time.

The F1 Digital+ graphics set in action during practice for the 2002 United States Grand Prix.

Those who watched via the standard World Feed did see the F1 Digital+ graphics set once, during the 2002 United States Grand Prix, but apart from that, it was hidden away on the pay-per-view service. Once the service collapsed, the graphics set was discontinued, although the collapse of the service was what probably led to the World Feed graphics getting an overhaul for the beginning of the 2004 season.

2004 to 2009
The 2004 to 2009 graphics set was notable given the number of new features that came with it, such as the timing tower, which I do not believe was included in the F1 Digital+ set. This was also the first graphics set that made heavy use of the three lettered abbreviations that are now commonplace in motor sport. What I do not know is whether these were FOM innovations within motor racing, or a trend that began elsewhere – anyone who watches football will know that abbreviations have been around for decades.

The no flash, more modern graphics set on display during qualifying for the 2006 Australian Grand Prix.

Items such as the rev-counter, which commonly appeared on F1 Digital+, soon became integrated into this graphics set. As with every graphics set, the set was adjusted as time progressed, but the basic template remained the same throughout. As FOM made the transition to widescreen for the 2007 season, the graphics set remained within the 4:3 safe area until they were replaced at the end of 2009. It may not have been the flashiest graphics set ever, however it did its job fine.

2010 to 2014
All of the previous graphics set up until 2010 had featured straight lines, either horizontally or vertically. The graphics set introduced at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix went for a more slanted approach, this was presumably done so it matched the slanted aspect of the F1 logo. Yes, the graphics did look ‘sexier’ than previous versions, but did it provide anything that the previous versions did not? Well, not really.

A picture of FOM’s graphics set, as seen during Q2 at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.

When I compared Dorna’s MotoGP graphics with FOM’s graphics in October 2013, I concluded that “if you are looking for something easy on the eye, then FOM wins, but if you want a data driven set, then Dorna with their MotoGP graphics is a clear winner.”

Like the previous version, this set of graphics went through multiple iterations from 2010 until 2014, but the overall vision remained the same, with not much changing under the surface during the five years.

2015 to 2017
Minimalist was the name of the game, and with branding around the world heading that way in the past five years, this iteration of FOM’s graphical package followed that trend. ‘Keep it simple’ is another way of saying it, and I was a fan of this set.

The 2015 to 2017 graphics set on display during practice two at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

Maybe this set was too clean for what the ‘new’ Liberty Media style Formula 1 brand is trying to be? In terms of value added, again you could argue that FOM did not revolutionise with this graphics set, leading to a stale television product. But what they had was good, in my view. Part of me wishes that FOM iterated with that set, rather than ripping up the form book again for 2018.

But, if the code that generates the graphics is unwieldy, complex and has what is known in the field as ‘technical debt’, then starting back from square one is worth it in the long term.

2018
It was inevitable that with Liberty Media’s take over a new graphics set would arrive ready for 2018. Whilst the new package has potential, and already has several strong points, there are one or two areas that need to change.

2018 Australian GP - Qualifying.png
Looking at McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne during the 2018 Australian Grand Prix qualifying session.

The very basic point to start with is that the font size on the timing wall needs to be larger. Compared to the previous two iterations, the size of the font is smaller, making it difficult to read on different devices – squinting at the television is not the best method for watching Formula 1! Secondly, FOM need to iron out the colour clashes (the ‘purple sector’ problem is one of these).

One the other hand, the timing wall is clearly more flexible than the previous iteration with information about the driver, such as their team logo, displayed occasionally to help the newer fan coming into the sport. The wall also clearly identifies when a driver has overtaken someone else in practice or the race, through red and green markers.

A further post will be coming up in the next week or so with detailed analysis looking at all aspects of FOM’s package for 2018. Of course, there are always room for improvements with any graphics set, but, as with the 2015 set, these are mainly tweaks. If the font size does not change moving forward, there should be cause for concern. But, where does the 2018 graphics set stack up for you historically?

Do you like the approach taken by FOM, or do you wish we could travel back in time to the 1990’s and get the ‘black and yellow’ colour scheme back? It is time to have your say in the poll below and as always, your views and opinions are welcome.

Will Buxton joins Formula 1’s in-house team

After much speculation and intrigue, Will Buxton has announced that will be part of Formula 1’s in-house team covering the sport this season, including their brand new over-the-top service.

Buxton joins the commercial rights holder, having previously commentated on F1’s feeder series GP2, and more recently was part of NBC’s F1 coverage over in America. He will present content across Formula One Management’s digital platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and their new streaming service.

Writing on Twitter, Buxton said “Touch down in Melbourne. No better time to be able to say that I’m over the moon to have joined the Formula 1 family as presenter of digital. Incredibly proud to become part of the @F1 team as it begins a tremendously exciting new era. Can’t wait to get started.”

Joining Buxton is his NBC sparring partner Jason Swales, who will produce some of Formula One Management’s (FOM) output. Swales historically produced BBC’s 5 Live Formula 1 coverage, more recently producing NBC’s output stateside.

As previously revealed, race commentary on the over-the-top service will be provided by broadcasters who already cover Formula 1, such as Sky Sports for the English based version and Canal+ for the French version.

Outside of the on-air roles, various Formula 1 personalities are joining FOM. Former BBC and Autosport website writer Lawrence Barretto moves to F1 as the sports Senior Website Editor, whilst RACER writer Chris Medland is also writing pieces for F1 this year.