Opinion : Social Media and Formula One

Japanstart

Barely a day goes by went I don’t see someone commenting on the need for Formula One to embrace social media.  The latest coming Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche

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“F1 must instead embrace the digital world and develop interactive strategies”

There can be no denying Formula One Management, FOM,  have taken a very cautious approach to social media, on the face of it this is born out of concern around damaging the cash cow that has been national broadcasting rights and the lack of clarity around how to monetise social media. Both concerns are valid. Social Media in its current form is great for increasing brand awareness, but Formula One is established. So how will social media improve Formula One as a product?

2015 has seen significant investment from FOM in improving content available through social media and developing a vehicle to deliver this content seen in the much improved F1 app.  Charges exist around elements of the content available but a surprising amount of exclusive insight has been made available with no restrictions or charges.

This is just the start. The folk at FOM are a bunch of clever people, they haven’t let go of the challenge to monetise a social media following. Mindful of developments in other sports, they have identified a commercial opportunity. Rather than simply launching a service, in the true spirit of social media, they plan to make their followers believe they’ve devised the opportunity themselves. What is this opportunity? In race gambling. A long established gambling model in Football, Rugby, Horse Racing, In play gambling seems to be such a great fit for Formula One it’s amazing no one has thought about it already!

Working with Tata Communications FOM launched a fan competition earlier this year asking entrants to propose technical solutions to enable fans to make and communicate predictions on race outcomes during the race itself. The only element not called out in the project brief was suggesting fans ability to monetise successful predictions. Whilst the winning entries refer to awards for success in points, turning points money is not a huge step.

Armed with fan support FOM have potentially unlocked an entire new sector for the sport. FOM could integrate live odds into social media feed and develop gambling platform through their own service, or more likely demonstrate proof of concept and sell in race gambling rights to the highest bidder.

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Imagine if Sky Sports Commentary included live odds available only through Sky Bet on events taking place during the race.

You may wonder what a fan could bet on during a race; the more appropriate question is what couldn’t they bet on, 1st pitstop for car 44, lap on which fastest lap would be set, the list is endless.

You may also wonder how the odds for such events would be calculated. Well the data is already in place, teams have predictive software running throughout a race weekend to optimise performance and results, the data collection used for this could adapted with minimal investment to develop live odds.

FOM have, through PayTV agreements, confirmed there is an audience prepared to pay for the sport. This audience is likely to have a high confidence around their appreciation for the sport and highly likely to be willing to put their money where their mouth is. Especially is there is a feeling of being able to outsmart the management!

So FOM use their social media platform to launch in race gambling. They prove the concept, sell the rights or allow teams to generate income through agreements with gambling sites (for a fee of course) and then what?  Formula One Management move on, on to the next project to further add value to the product that is Formula One.

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