One of the more business orientated assignments required me to come up with a programme proposal of my own choice.
Although this was one of many longer form assignments, I feel it serves as a nice example of how to create a programme proposal out of essentially nothing! What follows is the document completely unedited.
The year was 2001. For long time watchers of the sport, an icon of commentary in Murray Walker had announced that the 2001 season was to be his last. A 16-year-old boy had just finished his GCSE’s and his father as a treat for working so hard had agreed to take him to Silverstone to watch the F1. They had taken their seats on the main grandstand close to copse corner, excited to watch the British drivers taking part that day, especially Eddie Irvine. He was driving the striking Jaguar R2, with the white leaping Jaguar logo very noticeable on the side contrasting with the traditional racing British green.
Sky Sports F1 – My Personal Interest
20 years later I am looking at a Hot Wheels model of that same Jaguar R2 that my dad bought for me at the merchandise stand.
My Eddie Irvine Jaguar Racing R2 Hot Wheels car, still in its case from 2001
I have been a fan of Formula 1 since I was 6, which means I’m coming up on watching F1 for 30 years. That trip to Silverstone in 2001 has been the only time I’ve ever been able to go to a race day. Based off the Silverstone Circuit Events (2020) page, I doubt I will be going this year, with general admission on race day priced from £165. If I want a seat in the same stand as I was in back in 2001, those seats on race day now go for £290.
It is because of these costs, however, that I have been a loyal watcher of Formula 1 on television for many years. That is, at least, when they were broadcast live on BBC, ITV or Channel 4. Now that Sky Sports are the only live UK broadcaster, however, that isn’t so simple. Like many others who have not been engaged with the very corporate and dry presentation of Sky Sports F1, many just wait for highlights on other media or look for other, less legal options online for other country broadcasters.
It is because of this ever growing disconnect between fans and Formula 1 on Sky that made me decide to choose this channel as the point of interest in this report and it is from the perspective of a fan that I place business improvements to the existing corporate brands of Sky Sports F1 and the FiA with this proposal.
Sky Sports F1 – Target Audience
Growth or Loss of Audience?
One of the more telling aspects of the change to exclusive rights with Sky Sports in the UK can now be seen now that the 2019 figures have been released. Sports Pro Media (2020) compiled a report for the UK television audience for Formula 1 in 2019 and the total, “audience in the UK plummet by 8.6 million viewers in 2019”. It is worth noting that although other seasons F1 had both free and paid for viewing options, 2019 was the first year Sky had the exclusive rights. If you take Sky’s cheapest package at £31 a month for the 2020 season, that’s potential missed earnings of at least £3.2 Billion over the course of a year.
This loss of audience goes against the last published trend for Formula 1 globally, as announced on Formula 1’s own site formula1.com (2019) that there has been an audience growth in the years 2017-2019. Going off these published official reports, it is clear to see that there is still a demand for Formula 1 overall, plus that there is growth in other markets globally for the Formula 1 brand, yet clearly there is a disconnect between the FiA/F1 brand growth and the drop in viewership with Sky Sports F1, which will be discussed in the next section.
On 1st November 2019 ESPN confirmed that they would extend their deal to broadcast in USA due to, “an increase of 19% over the average of 561,000 at this point last year on ESPN networks and up 24% from the average of 542,000 on NBC networks in 2017. In the demographic of people aged 18 to 34 — a target area of growth for F1 — the gain from 2018 is 81% (ESPN).”
In 2019, 14% of Formula 1’s global viewership is under 25 and as of the start of the 2020 season, 62% of new fans are under 35 and Matthew Roberts (Global Research Director and Research and Analytics Director for Formula 1) in two Reddit AMA’s in 2019 and 2020 stated that, “Things like Netflix, esports, F1 TV pro, etc. have been extremely helpful at growing those audiences.”
That F1 sees a noticeable dip in numbers in the under 25 groups and a spike in the 25-34 years shows that if Formula 1 are going to push for greater audiences, they need to do this in the under 25’s.
Target Improvement (age groups): Ensure that the content stays interesting for existing age groups, while increasing focus on the 25 and younger age ranges to boost viewership.
Unfortunately for Formula 1, it started out at a point in history and was setup in a way where they clearly now have a gender bias in their current market. You only need to go back to 2018 to when grid girls were at every event to reinforce the stereotype of fast cars and beautiful women. Yet for the longest time that was the norm. In The Motorsport Survey (2015), the gender split was 92.2% male and 7.8% female and in the 2 years to The Motorsport Survey (2017) this split had changed slightly to 90.5% male and 9.5% female.
Target Improvement (gender): although the sport is still going to be male dominated for several years to come due to such a large bias, more work clearly needs to be done to improve the gender disparity shown in Formula 1. Aspects of this will be approached in the programme proposal, yet there is recently the beginnings of the groundwork needed to improve the presence of women in the sport with the start of the W Series in 2019 and various women in engineering degree and apprenticeship programs with a pathway into Formula 1.
Chart taken from The Motorsport Survey (2017)
Back in F1 “classic” era the races were held in Europe and spaced well apart to help with the running of the events.
Formula One circuits and countries for 2020 Formula One season
As you can see from the world map, Formula 1 is far more global, yet there are still several notable spaces on the world map. When you compare the above map to the previous graph, it is little surprise that many viewers are currently in Europe.
64.2% of The Motorsport Survey (2017) participants coming from the region. The lowest percentage audience are also the parts of the world which are not visited by F1.
Target Improvement (regional groups): Continue the F1 flagship Grand Prix events in Europe, remove multiple GP in the same countries and branch out to areas they do not support, either with new races or a grass roots program to build interest.
One advantage to my programme proposal is due to it being predominately online based, you don’t have the same regional issues of the races themselves.
Sky Sports is an exclusive partner to the Formula 1 live broadcast and part of having that partnership requires a certain level of brand control to protect the main Formula 1 brand. However, additional programming and overall package design is handled by Sky Sports on their Sky Sports F1 channel.
Sky Sports F1
Nomad re-design for Sky Sports F1 compiled by Armin (2017)
The Sky Sports F1 visual branding was created in line with the overall Sky Sports brand update in 2017. Although having a set colour palette and fonts, the overall feel is very generic and flat. The only update to this has been when F1 themselves updated their logo. This can be seen more clearly with the design of the Sky Sports F1 website, which itself feels lifeless and has little to draw attention to the viewer.
What is interesting is a lack of the programming typeface and overall colour palette being used on the webpage. What is also frustrating for a younger viewer is the lack of social media specifically for the brand, with only a twitter link to the Sky Bet page and then general Sky Sports link for Facebook and Twitter, again showing a bit of a lack of a grasp of brand awareness.
Although Sky Sports seem like an obvious fit for F1, with them having brand recognition for showcasing the big sporting events as well as HD broadcast and streaming, having a high cost to entry compounds the issue of cost in regard to watching F1 in person at race events. At the time of the original deal, this made sense for F1 as Sky Sports’ target group is the 18-30 years middle and upper class. However, as Formula 1 is now trying to reposition its brand, the Sky Sports exclusivity and branding looks a little out of place.
This could still be turned around with Sky Sports as their weakest markets are India and South Asia, so they could push into those markets with the help of Formula 1 as they both seek to expand into those markets.
To say that the brand identity for Formula 1 is tightly controlled is an understatement. Outside of the Guidelines for the use of trademarks and intellectual property rights on the FiA F1 Guidelines (2020) website, the main re-brand in 2017 was undertaken by Wieden + Kennedy, a well-established advertising agency specialising in big brand updates from Nike “Just Do It”, Bud Light “Dilly Dilly” to Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” and Honda “The Impossible Dream”.
The update to F1 included a new logo, typography and brand behaviours for live broadcast.
The new logo is a lot cleaner when compared to previous generations and was well received by both fans and sponsors alike.
It is this red gradient colour that Sky Sports F1 adopted to match that of the main Formula 1 brand.
The re-brand also included a number of font variations, with the overall focus to make the brand look unique as well as a touch less aggressive than the font choice that Sky Sports F1 picked, perhaps showing a greater desire from Formula 1 to be more appealing to all.
The logo, fonts and colour palette are then applied to the live graphics package for a universal design.
Despite spending a significant amount of funding on the re-design, Formula 1 (either willingly or otherwise) did not apply this to its online presence. Instead using the update for live broadcast, streaming and catch-up footage only.
Having a standardised package for broadcast footage however does put Formula 1 in a far stronger position when selling the rights to other parties like Sky.
Formula Fan: By the Pros for the Fans
This is a deep fan experience aimed at bridging the gap from the cutting-edge live broadcast of Formula 1 to make it more accessible to the fans throughout the year. Firstly, unlike current products outside of broadcast, the fan experience will utilise the updated fonts and colour schemes, allowing for a feel of inclusiveness in the main race day experience that the fans see on TV. At the same time, the fonts and colours used are a little softer and less aggressive, with the aim to have a wider appeal while still being recognisable with the main Formula 1 brand. Second, the aim of the experience is to provide different options for viewing than what is currently available with the existing broadcast partners and as such will be aiming for a headline sponsor from the web, ideally through Google Alphabet for additional YouTube integration.
Main Platform Idea
Greater Fan Integration with the races themselves and outside with the main Formula 1 brand through Online and Gaming Integration.
Feature 1: New Livestream and Fan Support Integration
With higher resolution, compact 3D cameras coming to market in 2020, there is an excellent opportunity to provide a different live broadcast without interfering with the existing contracts with traditional broadcasters.
3D cameras can be provided by a manufacturing sponsor, allowing for a direct 1st party development of the hardware and output while preserving costs to Formula 1 in exchange for a sponsor overlay on the stream.
Viewing of the 3D stream will take place either on F1 app or F1 online and will be provided by online headline sponsor Google Alphabet, taking advantage of their in-player 3D streaming technology.
Stream 1: Highlighted Driver – A Fan Highlight driver for the race, where one stream of a selected driver on a poll on the F1 app before the race who will always be streamed.
Stream 2: #FANBOOST – integration of FiA FANBOOST system to Formula 1, allows fans on social media to support their favourite drivers through the race by using the name of the driver #DriverName and #FANBOOST on the official F1 Facebook page and Twitter. Allow one additional choice of driver to users of the app.
Broadcast Integration: although the 3D stream is unique to the F1 app and online, #FANBOOST can be advertised on normal broadcasts as well as the Highlight Driver 3D stream, to further encourage social media interaction during the race. This will need to have additional #FANBOOST graphics added to the main overlay, which are already present in FiA assets.
Technical Integration: in order to best facilitate FANBOOST, all Formula 1 cars will need to have a small additional storage battery which access to which can only be unlocked via Race Control based on current FANBOOST voting. The number of times to allow for activation during the race will be on a track-by-track basis and volume of voting. Harvesting of the power is done through the normal Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). Additionally, LED lights are attached to the top outer edge of the safety halo to act as a visual guide for viewers and other drivers when FANBOOST is being used.
Advertising Integration: Advertising can be handled through existing and new partners both by embedding on the main 3D stream itself, as well as available wrapper space on the F1 app and F1 website. Additionally, virtual assets can be placed into the 3D video, providing advertisers new and exciting ways to promote their brands on top of standard web practises.
Feature 2: Become the Best in the World
Bringing the existing Formula 1 esports series to the masses, the Best in the World feature allows for professional esports drivers as well as fans to win experiences at Formula 1 races throughout the year from the comfort of their home or at qualifying events in the Fan Zones at race hospitality.
An early version of the game Formula 1 2020 will be used for Esports Pro brackets, as it’s an enclosed environment which allows for an early look at the new game, thanks to a closer collaboration with Codemasters. This allows an active cross-promotion to build anticipation for the new game release across Formula 1 before it releases during the traditional summer break.
All other brackets will use Formula 1 2019 as it’s the currently available version of the game, allowing easier access for fans.
#FANBOOST – integration of FiA FANBOOST system to Formula 1 game, allows fans on social media to support their favourite esports drivers through the race by using the name of the driver #DriverName and #FANBOOST on the official F1 Facebook page and Twitter. Allow one additional choice of driver to users of the app.
Brackets for the live streamed races will all be shown on the F1 app and allow fans to take part in the same way as a traditional race. They can watch a simulated 2D broadcast or take part in a 3D broadcast as voted by fans for the events as part of #FANBOOST
An example concept for the brackets could be as follows:
- Esports Pro – registered professional esports racers, pushing the limits of sim racing to the extreme in a full duration race simulation. All FiA F1 rules and regulations apply.
- YouTube Pro Streamers – a global selection of YouTube streamers, based on viewer data provided by Google Alphabet thanks to being the head sponsor for online for Formula 1. Selection is handled to allow for a number of that race’s “homegrown” streamers, as well as top streamers for Formula 1 2019. Races will be 25% distance.
- YouTube Rising Stars – as with the above bracket, only specifically designed to highlight new and smaller streamers who might not have broken into the larger established group of streamers. Races will be 25% distance.
- Google Stadia Streamers – taking advantage of the new Google Stadia game streaming service, this bracket is for gamers playing on Google Stadia. Races will be 20% distance. Additional Promotion: the current version of the Formula 1 game will be made available for free on Stadia, as part of a cross-promotion between Codemasters, Google Alphabet and Formula 1 for the new platform.
- Xbox and PlayStation Open Contest – want to prove that you are the best console gamer in Formula 1? Take part in the heats through the week to qualify for the final race to prove you have what it takes to be the best Formula 1 racing fan. Cross-Promotion: Fans who play on console can login to the F1 app to get a unique discount code to purchase Formula 1 2019 on Xbox or PlayStation. Code can change through the weeks to allow for internal tracking of usage of codes.
- SteamTM Open Contest – want to prove that you are the best PC gamer in Formula 1? Take part in the heats through the week to qualify for the final race to prove you have what it takes to be the best Formula 1 racing fan. Cross-Promotion: Fans who play on Steam can login to the F1 app to get a unique discount code to purchase Formula 1 2019 on Steam. Code can change through the weeks to allow for internal tracking of usage of codes.
With Formula 1 race events taking place on Friday (practise), Saturday (qualifying) and Sunday (race), the key focus for the 6 online brackets will be to ensure that they do not overlap with with both the build-up and the race weekends themselves, while assisting with promotion of the Formula 1 brand.
Advertising Integration: with 6 weekly (mainly) fan-based events during the season, it allows for a great deal of advertising space to be made available, either through direct integration on stream or App and webspace advertising.
The focus of the concept is to drastically shift the focus of the sport back to fan interaction and engagement with Formula 1 branding. Although Formula 1 has a lot of the pieces in place in some form or another (through production of things like games and other FiA events), on the whole Formula 1 is a traditionally run sport.
As such, all the existing media and platforms follow a very traditional broadcast method which although is often acceptable for a part of the audience, does not provide enough in of itself for younger fans as well as providing options for participation for other types of viewers.
Public voting systems are something far more comfortable and familiar to a wide variety of viewers and gaming events as well as FANBOOST are far more established in other FiA and events hosted by competition for Formula 1 and these new features allow an excellent integration of both. The overall aim will be to provide a huge boost globally in the 35 and younger across both male and female audience.
The key metadata to use is as follows:
Title and Product
Title Name: Formula Fan
Version: 0.1a (rolling with updates)
Production: Formula 1 Management
Distributor: Google Alphabet
Copyright: FiA / Formula 1
Genre: Online Live Events
Synopsis: Fan Support Integration for Formula 1
Crew: Formula 1 Broadcasting
Rating: E (Everyone)
Content Advisory: The FiA, Formula 1 and Google Alphabet are not responsible for user interaction reactions if user streams content themselves online or during live events.
Feature 1: watch your favourite drivers in 4K 3D and support them through the race with #FANBOOST
Feature 2: become the best in the world with exclusive fan racing events and VIP exclusive prizes in partnership with Codemasters’ popular Formula 1 2019 game
Color Space: sRGB (web)
Aspect Ratio: 2:1
File Format: 4K Stereoscopic 360
Codec: HEVC (H.265)
Color Space: sRGB (web)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
File Format: 4K UHD
Codec: HEVC (H.265)
Distribution Rights: All rights are at the sole discretion of Formula 1 Management. Online distribution is hosted by Google Alphabet web services.
Rights Windows: All hosted content is exclusive to the F1 App for the first year after broadcast, at which point it will be made available on YouTube (via Formula 1 channel) and Formula1.com
Silverstone Circuit Events (2020) FORMULA 1 PIRELLI BRITISH GRAND PRIX 2020 [online] Available at: https://www.silverstone.co.uk/events/2020-formula-1-british-grand-prix/ [Accessed 1st March 2020]
Sky Sports F1 News (2020) Sky Sports F1 launches 2020 advert and offer ahead of new season [online] Available at: https://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/11946350/sky-sports-f1-launches-2020-advert-and-offer-ahead-of-new-season [Accessed 1st March 2020]
Virgin Media Shop (2020) Compare our TV deals [online] Available at: https://www.virginmedia.com/shop/tv/compare [Accessed 1st March 2020]
Sports Pro Media (2020) Report: F1 sees UK TV audience fall by 8.6m in 2019 [online] Available at: https://www.sportspromedia.com/news/f1-uk-tv-audience-fall-2019-sky-sports-channel-4 [Accessed 1st March 2020]
Formula1.com (2019) Formula 1's TV and digital audiences grow for the second year running [online] Available at: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.formula-1s-tv-and-digital-audiences-grow-for-the-second-year-running.OqTPVNthtZKFbKqBaimKf.html [Accessed 1st March 2020]
Roberts, Matthew (2019) I'm Matt Roberts - Director of Market Research at Formula One Management - Ask me Anything! [online] Available at: https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/a7cm46/im_matt_roberts_director_of_market_research_at/ [Accessed 1st March 2020]
Roberts, Matthew (2020) Hi Reddit, my name is Matt Roberts and I am the Research & Analytics Director at Formula 1. My job is to explore how F1 can use research and data analytics to drive strategic + commercial decisions around the sport. AMA! [online] Available at: https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/ekyids/hi_reddit_my_name_is_matt_roberts_and_i_am_the/ [Accessed 1st March 2020]
Motorsport Survey (2015) Full Formula 1 fan survey results revealed [online] Available at: https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/120142/full-f1-fan-survey-results-revealed [Accessed 1st March]
Motorsport Survey (2017) Formula1 in 2017. Global fan insight into the world’s largest annual sporting series (2005–2017) [online] Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20181105045206/https://cdn-3.motorsport.com/static/documents/Fan_Report_Final.pdf [Accessed 1st March 2020 – note: recovered document via Wayback Machine, original host link not available]
Cherkash (2019) Formula 1 all over the world-2020 [online] Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Formula_1_all_over_the_world-2020.svg [Accessed 1st March]
Armin (2017) The Sky set the Limit [online] Available at: https://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/new_logo_and_identity_for_sky_sports_by_nomad.php [Accessed 1st March]
FiA F1 Guidelines (2020) Guidelines [online] Available at: https://www.formula1.com/en/toolbar/guidelines.html [Accessed 1st March]
ESPN (2019) ESPN extends U.S. F1 broadcast deal for three years [online] Available at: https://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/27983349/espn-extends-us-f1-broadcast-deal-three-years [Accessed 1st March]
Assorted Wieden + Kennedy Adverts Nike “Just Do It” Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yO7xLAGugQ Bud Light “Dilly Dilly” Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mGNhvkVT8Q Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owGykVbfgUE Honda “The Impossible Dream” Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtnhmy_KcgM [Accessed 8th March]