2018 Formula 1 Streaming Service Wishlist
What I hope is introduced for Formula 1's over-the-top streaming service for 2018 and beyond
||Jonathan Simon | January 23, 2017The Simon Racing Report - RaceSpot TV Commentator
Coming to a home near you in 2018 is Formula 1’s dedicated streaming service. It’s one of the most overdue features in a sport that is still recovering from the death of Bernie Ecclestone. A presence such as Bernie with traditional views would never have thought of such a service. Something beneficial for fans and potentially detrimental to TV revenue. Even if he did conjure up the idea, it would be priced as much as a high-class Rolex. Remember, young-kids can’t afford them. Then again, this is the internet – and that Hublot ad makes so much more sense now.
Now it should read: “see what people will do for an overpriced F1 streaming service." VPN’s at the ready…
The service is something the sport should have begun to develop ten years ago. From the minimal news and comments we’ve heard, I think they’re on the right track with what’s been touted on paper so far.
The potential Formula 1 has at their hands here is sky high – a chance to lead all sports in streaming services, functionality, features and offering. In a sport that correlates success with finance, this isn’t Moneyball. This is sandbox mode. An exciting venture for Liberty Media.
Step one was to create everything as an in-house service and they’ve done exactly that. Streaming services are now dominating how various sports are broadcasted to the everyday fan (as well as Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc., in relation to the entertainment industry). Many sports and associations are now starting to figure out that fans are willing to pay for ALL of this. All the coverage, features, on demand, EVERYTHING. Fans are intrigued into watching what they want, when they want, wherever they want.
One concern though, Liberty Media were first involved in the sport in late 2016. Is that enough time to develop a fully functional streaming service? Will it be more of a pain consuming the service or dealing with Romain Grosjean radio complaints? Perhaps F1 was developing this service before Liberty Media came into the picture. That’s still potential though. It’s like Steve Kerr’s Liberty Media is taking on the already developed Mark Jackson Golden State Warriors.
I’m a big advocate of streaming services. And because I couldn’t fill in F1’s recent survey on the matter, I’m going to chime in on what Jonathan Simon would want. Let’s hope someone from F1 uses this – call it a ‘wishlist’ for F1’s Streaming Service in 2018.
I’m going to keep this first one short because most of us will agree, we don’t want ads. Especially since you’ll be paying for a service that was taken away from free TV anyway.
Now if there are intermissions in broadcasting there are a number of ways to counter this. Let the race flow on in the background with trackside microphones. It’s the soothing ambient peace of a screaming race car along with the session footage – where you won’t miss a beat for three minutes. If it’s before or after the race? Play an overtakes package, grill the grid video, or a mid-week interview we might have missed.
This would work really well with the 360° onboard cameras that F1 is introducing soon. It’s your choice really. I’d have the world feed as the biggest camera on the left-hand side of my screen, adjoined with a pit-lane camera at the top right-hand side of the screen, along with another driver’s onboard camera on the bottom left. If there’s a section of the race track the world feed isn’t focusing on, flick to that particular corner or sector of the race track and enjoy.
Imagine going onboard with Fernando Alonso for the start and rotating around with the 360° onboard camera with your mouse. Couple that with virtual reality and you’ve got yourself a sport that can take advantage of the VR experience. Definitely more than any other competition out there in the world.
Classic races and historical footage
It’s probably been the most requested feature of the bunch. F1 showed promise last year when they released the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix for 19 days to celebrate 19 years at Malaysia. Now it’s time to release classic races from classic seasons. It would take some time, but if it’s the off-season and I’m crazy enough to binge watch a few races, the option should be there.
And should we enable some form of binge/child lock? The worst part about binge watching anything is that I never win. I always come back the next morning thinking my three 30 minute episodes in a row was a world record. I’m then KO’d by the bingemaniac, who confesses to their 17 episodes in a row, struggling to stand – tired and ashamed.
My biggest fear is having to pay extra for classic races/seasons. It could happen for sure, but at least the option for it will be there.
Historical footage should be at our fingertips. I have a secret fascination for unreleased footage of Juan Manuel Fangio. Everyone compares him to the greats, but that’s off those five world championships alone. I want to see the man at the wheel doing what he did best. I want to see how unsafe and insane we used to be in the 1950’s in relation to safety. We know the footage is there somewhere, fans have waited long enough. There’s no need to mine the internet to find the same clips redistributed on YouTube. And when you can’t find it there, you know you’re deep diving when you’re on Vimeo. And if you’re REALLY deep diving, you may ended up searching F1 on PornHub. Much similar to when Kanye West’s ‘Life of Pablo’ was uploaded there.
While searching for F1 clips, for the first time you’ll have a good reason to make a quick-pit stop and watch some porn.
You would have to be a lucky soul to be left in the Formula 1 film room with access to pieces of history millions of fans would kill for. Can I request to sit down with a driver and record a podcast in there? We’ll watch classic footage and ramble on about the bravery of those that conquered the sport in the mid-20th century.
Classic races and historical footage will also provide an extra incentive for fans to subscribe to the streaming service. Especially during the off-season or summer break. It will act as an incentive for us to pay for what will be an overpriced service anyway, so might as well add it in.
Hire Will Buxton and a dedicated team
This was an idea I suggested on my podcast with Nick Rowland in November 2017.
is was as big a free agent to the F1 journalist world as LeBron James was for the NBA in 2010 (and will be in 2018 when he leaves the Cleveland Cavaliers). Liberty Media should hire and build a dedicated F1 presenting team for the streaming service. Last year, Buxton’s interviews on NBC coincided with the official F1 channel. You know what you’ll get, so have him present and interview for F1 in house. Functionality and Devices
Basically, this service needs to work. It also needs to be dynamic and function on more than just a computer. The McLaren Honda was quick at times, but the car never worked.
Create a tablet and phone app. Provide a TV app for those who want to broadcast races on TV when the mates are over. Don’t make us purchase Apple TV or Google Home to access the TV app. Make it available for all smart TV devices.
Another thing – don’t include all features on the computer version, then port the app to tablet at 50% of what’s offered. If I have the ability to rewind a race by 10 seconds and 30 seconds on a computer, I don’t want one bulk 30 second option for the tablet app. If I can select live timing on a computer, the tablet should have the same functionality.
For all you gamers, that was the old Electronic Arts (EA) trick when the PS3 and Xbox 360 came out. They decided to develop a game that was sublime for the new version of the console. Afterwards, you were given the washed up Washington Wizards MJ version that was ported for the PS2, Xbox and PC.
Going back to my concern on the development of this service, it’s critical to understand how much time and resourcing has been allocated by Liberty Media. Are they pushing all their chips into this one service?
One risk, is the potential for the initial service to be extremely incompatible, slow and horrible. All coinciding adjectives for the start of Lance Stroll’s career. The basics shouldn’t be skipped (functionality, devices and interface) and then new and ongoing features should be introduced year after year. Don’t rush, don’t skip steps. We’ve already done that to Lance Stroll. The F1 streaming service has a few potential options here to start its career:
Lance Stroll: A few hiccups and crashes in the first few weeks of testing. Everyone eventually gets accustomed to the service. Everyone loses hope in it towards the end of the first season.
Fernando Alonso: The service shows promise in the first year. F1 then take some time behind the scenes to develop new features. The service returns in upcoming seasons, new and improved.
Lewis Hamilton: Everything is bang on fast, reliable and strong from the get go. Great servers, the same way Lewis had a great car. This is coupled with reliability and consistency, with plenty of flair and features.
Rewinding, Markers and a Timeline
This may seem silly, but it’s one of the most underrated features of any streaming or video service out there right now. Think of the exchange when you’re interrupted by the wife, friend or family, most likely for a question that could wait or didn’t need to be asked at all. It goes a little something like this:
Spouse: “Are you working tomorrow? It’s 11:30pm on a Sunday night and you’re still watching the race. When will it end? The kids are asleep and the TV’s on.”
It’s agony – the vital seconds you lose with a question you’re unsure how to answer. That’s also called ‘the suffering of an F1 fan in Australia with late night Sunday night races’. As an F1 fan, every second matters to us – every tenth. Never panic of course. Here’s where you simply rewind those 15 seconds and not have to worry again. There are too many streams out there with the lack of a rewind feature. This has to be a simple feature to attach.
Something I haven’t seen incorporated anywhere is a custom rewind feature. It’s a feature that rewinds at a rate we desire. If I constantly find myself rewinding 7 seconds because that’s what I tend to do, let me set a custom button to 7 seconds in order to do that. Instead of clogging up the user interface, have one or two rewind buttons and then let the user set their own third custom button. I’ll take 75% of the profits if someone implements this. Please forward the cheque using the contact tab above on this website.
In accordance with this, it would be great if there were ‘markers’ for overtakes, incidents, pit stops and other notable race events. If you missed Sebastian Vettel’s slow pit stop a few laps earlier that cost him three positions, there’ll be an online marker on a timeline noting when it all happened. This includes what lap, as well as the option to rewind and view that particular portion of the race.
It’s an especially perfect feature for reporters trying to review a race for a feature, article, column or podcast. You’ll have the ability to view all overtakes of a single driver, just click a marker to view it. Think of when a leading driver qualifies poorly. They shuffle their way through the field on that trademark young Lewis Hamilton / Max Verstappen charge through the field. That’s another instance where markers will be put to good use.
Markers could be mapped automatically through the live timing system too. If an overtake occurs on track and live timing notes the position changes, it can be seamlessly coded by the system and in turn, a marker is created.
Think of a driver entering the pit-lane, everything will be mapped with lead in and lead out times. I’m a bit concerned as to how Pastor Maldonado’s incident timeline would’ve been represented. Crash here, pit stop there, markers everywhere. All his crashes would ironically crash the app.
The service could then map these to driver profiles. There’s a lot of potential to extract here. Click on Sergio Pérez for example and you’ll have the ability to review all of his overtakes for an entire season through one quick menu.
Testing Coverage (Pre-Season and Mid-Season)
Unless you’ve been to the race track in person, coverage has been minimal for many F1 fans. Live commentary was the best way to follow testing on websites such as Autosport.com or GPUpdate.net. Coverage started to ramp up with Ted’s Notebook for Sky Sports F1 and Will Buxton’s Paddock Pass for NBC the past few years. At the moment, Paddock Pass won’t be returning in any format for 2018.
Formula 1’s dedicated YouTube channel began uploading highlights for each day of pre-season testing in 2017, but that’s only good for those looking for that bite sized news in person.
Having a dedicated F1 testing stream would be great. It could act as a 9-hour radio show, with multiple hosts subbing in and out. Think of the US sports talk shows and morning radio shows. I’d watch it much similar to how I do Friday practice sessions. You have it on in the background while getting some other work/errands done. Or some home exercise of course. Friday practice commentary is like listening to a video podcast. Every now and then, you would peak at the screen to see important events.
Advanced Live Timing Package (that isn't an extra add-on cost with the service)
Live timing is a staple in motorsport and this time, it shouldn’t cost F1 fans. I remember years ago when it was free, easy to access and far from troubling. F1 have attractively upgraded the timing app over the past few years. The feature which enables live timing on a time delay is a saviour. Believe me, a REAL saviour. That shitty Australian internet, everything is always out of sync. Damn.
The track map is a great feature, along with tyre history and an abundance of other options that are tremendous and beneficial for F1. For the crazed fans, this could get out of hand. Multiple TV’s, a few monitors hooked to a single computer, and your tablet for those ‘take a shit from lap 17 – 22 breaks’.
Oh, let’s quickly nip something in the bud. Liberty Media, it’s great to give the fans a voice and I enjoy reading some of the comments, but please keep any random twitter comments or tickers disabled by default. At least give us the option to disable it. Those post-race twitter feed comments that pop up in the waiting room ahead of the podium ceremony are as obvious and bland as Michael Owen’s football analysis. No I don't want opinions from other fans clogging up my race, no I don’t want an Instagram post of a duck shitting on a kerb, no I don’t want to hear Sebastian Vettel is driving well. I can see he’s driving well, he’s in fucking first place. I think we can make that judgment for ourselves. When I want to see what fans have to say on a particular incident, I’ll load up my own twitter feed and search for #F1. It’s manageable.
Let’s now add team radio to the mix. The service could give us the option to play radio calls of particular drivers we subscribe to during the race. If I’m subscribed to Fernando Alonso (because you’d be silly not to), commentary will fade out and Fernando will be given his 10 seconds of fame to rant away.
Ability to choose different broadcasters and commentators
The first guy I’m turning to when Max Verstappen is having a race of the ages is Olav Mol (Ziggo Sport).
The passion and flair in his commentary is uncanny, yet brilliant. For example, I love Mike Breen called NBA finals and love Jeff Van Gundy’s rants and crazy ideas during games. Some hate them, some love them. I’ll sometimes listen to Jeff Van Gundy called NBA games in the background just to wait for that next hilarious rant or anecdote.
If David Croft and Martin Brundle are unfavourable, then choose Ben Edwards and David Coulthard. Perhaps even BBC Radio 5’s Tom Clarkson and Jack Nicholls. Jack being the best current motorsport commentator in the business, I'd love that. So let’s switch between different broadcasters in Formula 1. Various languages can also be provided to accommodate for the wide world.
I prefer watching live races with the Sky Sports F1 team. During the week though, I might want to watch the entire race again and choose the Channel 4 team instead. I might learn something a little different from the broadcasters. Then I’ll choose another duo when I rewatch a third time a few days later. Just put the race on in the background if you’re in the mood, run some other errands while it’s on.
Bonus Packages: Support Series, Season review, Interviews, Press conferences, Off-track features, etc.
Providing support series such as Formula 2 and Formula 3 is something that Liberty Media have already discussed. There’s two weeks between most races, although this gap is reducing due to the 21 race 2018 calendar. Picture off-track features released during the week, such as pole laps and race starts analysed, etc. It would be a great subliminal educational platform for fans. Imagine hiring Mark Webber to do this for certain races, Di Resta for other races, Anthony Davidson for the rest. Sign me up. I’d love hearing Webber rave on about how shit a decision was. Or how a driver made love to the wall at Tabac and crashed. That’s the Mark Webber lingo we like to hear.
If you missed a press conference on Thursday, the streaming service can let you play it on Friday morning while you’re cooking breakfast before work. PERFECT. Press conferences should also be downloadable mp3’s, it’s what I do for every race instead of sitting in front of a screen, watching others sit and answer questions.
And please, do NOT focus on local drivers in corresponding markets.
Or at least give us the ability to disable it much like the social media function that will probably be developed. I watch F1 because I enjoy F1, not for my own nation’s drivers. I’m not against patriotism, but I tend to loathe Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo at times just due to the hype by the local news here. Rubens Barrichello was always a god in Brazil and this would get on the nerve of some Brazilians, same so with Lewis Hamilton and the UK.
On that note, can we please purchase what we want for the service? This is a bit of a long shot request, but if I only want to watch live races and don’t need off-track features, have an option to untick that when purchasing your deal. Think of all those cable TV deals. You only want the sports and movie channels but 28 other lifestyle and cooking shows are bundled in and never used. I only ever want to flick on ESPN and Fox Sports. Daily cooking shows and home renovation programs. Why the fuck do I need that? But I’m forced to subscribe to it.
F1 could also release their season review footage to fill in the slow news period of December, exclusive interviews and loads more. This could be the bonus optional package you’d like to subscribe to.
There’s a load of potential for the F1 Streaming Service – with enough potential to lead all sports streaming services available. Whilst they’re doing a great job so far, let’s not stuff it up Liberty Media.
||Jonathan Simon provides commentary for RaceSpot TV on the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series. He also owns and hosts his own podcast called The Simon Racing Report which features guests from around the sim racing world, along with writing columns for the website.