After a successful trial during 2016, Formula One is now capable of broadcasting the sport over the internet.
Tata Communications worked with Formula One Management last year during the Singapore Grand Prix to test the technology’s capability. The test was successful in proving that it is possible to stream the sport directly to fans via what is known as ‘Over the top’ broadcasts, aka ‘OTT’, and bypass the need for TV channel access, which is the current mode of delivery.
Mehul Kapadia, Tata’s managing director of F1 business, said that his team had worked hard to eradicate the delay that so often plagues internet-reliant content.
“One of the challenges that OTT has faced in the past is that what you see on your television versus what you see on your iPad or phone would not be synced up,” he told Autosport.
“That was the one big technology challenge that we have worked on solving, and demonstrating that we can do it. This was something we ran at the Singapore race and I would say the technology is now there to do it.”
This switch is not going to happen overnight; the commercial viability of selling exclusive rights to channels is too fruitful to simply turn their backs on.
“OTT has a couple of answers needed from a commercial standpoint,” Kapadia added. “It is a commercial challenge about whether sports franchises want to directly reach to consumers and then not have the scale that comes to them from broadcasters.”
Instead of OTT broadcasting becoming the sole solution, the technology does offer a great opportunity to improve the viewing experience of fans, as demonstrated and utilised by other sports.
“Whether you are watching football, F1 or cricket, the entertainment value is coming from being immersive and closer to the sport,” he continued.
“While some part of that immersion has been solved by what sort of data you can get on your second screen, fundamentally your primary viewing experience, irrespective of the screen size, needs to give you more immersion, more choice in terms of how you want to view it, and a higher degree of what data points you now want to look at. We are looking at a 360-degree digital transformation that is going to happen, and all of it catering for fans.”