Formula One: Tata Communications partner with Sky F1

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Earlier this month Tata Communications and Sky announced an expanded partnership overseeing the broadcasters Formula One coverage delivered entirely through Tata Communications superfast fibre network, which lays claim to being the worlds only wholly owned fibre network encircling the globe.

The agreement will see Tata Communications will support Sky’s strategy to create Europe’s leading entertainment company following its acquisition of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, will ensure a seamless race experience for viewers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, regardless of Grand Prix location.

Keith Lane, Director of Operations at Sky commented on the partnership:

“It’s crucial that we’re able to bring our viewers action-packed, high-quality F1 racing experiences from Grands Prix around the world. And, as the way people experience F1 is constantly evolving thanks to technological advances that rely on superfast connectivity, there is scope for us to tap into Tata Communications’ global fibre network as we continue to drive innovation in F1 broadcasting”

All video feeds of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship season will be distributed live in high-definition to Sky viewers using Tata Communications’ Video Connect service. Sky teams based in the UK, Germany and Italy will work in close collaboration with Tata Communications’ experts at race tracks and its remote operations teams, ensuring a seamless delivery of each race to people at home. Video Connect enables broadcasters to deliver live video feeds from anywhere in the world over Tata Communications’ IP network, with connectivity to over 240 countries and territories. Underpinned by the world’s largest wholly-owned subsea fibre network, it ensures the highest quality viewing experience for F1 fans.

“It’s crucial that we’re able to bring our viewers action-packed, high-quality F1 racing experiences from Grands Prix around the world. And, as the way people experience F1 is constantly evolving thanks to technological advances that rely on superfast connectivity, there is scope for us to tap into Tata Communications’ global fibre network as we continue to drive innovation in F1 broadcasting.” remarked Keith Lane

On this site earlier in the year we interviewed Mehul Kapadia, Managing Director of Formula One for Tata Communications, on the future of F1 Broadcasting, this overarching Sky partnership will facilitate rapid development in the directions mentioned in that interview. Speaking on the partnership Mehul comments:

“Bringing fans brilliant, glitch-free viewing experiences requires more than just reliable, superfast connectivity on a global scale. As fans increasingly want to be part of the action unfolding on the track, we look forward to exploring future game-changing technologies with Sky to drive innovation in F1 broadcasting.”

With an expansive partnership of this nature in place alongside SKY being awarded exclusive broadcast rights for Formula One in the UK from 2019 onwards, the broadcaster’s commitment to the sport has never been greater. Whilst some may argue the extent of Sky’s power within the sport could be detrimental for fans, the converse seems more likely, Sky are committed to the long term success and growth of Formula One, they will no doubt be exploring ways in which to add more services to the F1 broadcast product in the near future.

An interesting sidebar on the agreement is the name Sky itself. Many associate the broadcaster Sky with the need for a satellite dish on the side of your house, yet the Tata partnership will be reliant on a fibre network. Whilst this element of the deal is not customer facing, In a separate partnership Tata communications have resolved historical OTT (Over The Top – set top free view services) issues around live broadcasting. (see this article). Movement in this area will free Sky up to offer Formula One content to customers without a satellite dish. The ability to offer F1 through a streaming service with no risk of live delay opens Sky up to offering season passes, which could reduce the price point of the Sky offering, discouraging an audience from streaming content illegally at diminished quality.

Services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have shown the broadcast industry that customers are prepared to pay for content if the price point is right. What is a fair price for an F1 season pass?

The deal with Sky builds on Tata Communications’ expertise in F1 content delivery and highlights the company’s central role in the F1 ecosystem, working in close partnership with Formula One Management, The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team, and many leading F1 broadcasters. Last year, the company was also chosen by Formula One Management to provide broadcast services globally for the GP2, GP3 and Porsche Supercup racing series.

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