F1 initiates talks with Netflix and plans streaming service for 2018


A sign of the changing times, Formula 1 has entered talks with streaming media company Netflix for a collaboration in 2018 and beyond.

The company founded by Reed Hastings in 1997, and which started off as DVD sales and rental business model, has grown into a hugely popular video-on-demand service and content producer.

As Formula 1 expands its reach into the digital arena, a Netflix deal could eventually revolutionise how F1 is broadcast and distributed.

"Liberty Media has always focused on the expansion of multimedia services," says F1 commercial boss Sean Bratches.

"We believe that in today’s world we need a greater openness to the internet and in this sense we have projects in the pipeline.

“What we are trying to do is we are trying to create content that lives outside the grand prix weekends, which has been almost non-existent from digital or linear standpoint," he added.

"Our objective is to engage with the Netflix of the world, the Amazons of the world, and create content that fans can consume, which is compelling and tells different stories about what is going on in F1.

"We are also discussing with Netflix about a partnership from 2018, but at the moment I can’t add anything."

Formula One just inked a new deal in the United States with ESPN, so anything beyond a highlights package or other feature content distributed by Netflix is unlikely.

But as F1 boosts its digital strategy, Bratches also alluded to the creation of a live streaming service in 2018, although one which would be limited to certain markets in order to avoid stepping on existing TV rights.

"We have an obligation to our fans, quite candidly, to ensure that they are able to access our content in any means that they want," he said.

"And I think we would be derelict if we pursued a path for anything other than that. Our objective is to create platforms in the direct to consumer arena that engage fans and leverage our assets – whether they are live races, whether they are archival, whether they are data."

It's therefore unlikely a streaming service would be available in the UK, with Sky holding the rights to F1 in a multi-year deal.

"I don’t want to get into specifics of any given contract, but generally speaking, our ability to exploit the digital market place will come in deals that are not prospective, rather than legacy deals.

"There wasn’t as keen a viewpoint for the exploitation of digital in the existing deals that have been done."


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