Details of new F1 'over the top' digital service emerge

Will Buxton tipped to head up new Formula 1 digital service
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Formula 1's new digital platform is inching closer to reality, with details emerging of what the new 'over the top' (OTT) service will look like.

The sport's new owners have spent the last year looking at a sweeping overhaul of the sport's online offering. It will offer augmented coverage of Grand Prix weekends, running alongside regular television broadcasts.

According to F1 Broadcasting, former GP2 commentator and NBC pit lane reporter Will Buxton is all but confirmed to head up the service. Other names mentioned as part of the presentation team include James Allen, Johnny Herbert and Rosanna Tennant.

Features will include on-board footage from every car. There will also be live coverage of support races, and full access to the Formula 1 video archive. It's believed that race commentary will be licensed from Sky Sports F1 and feature David Croft and Martin Brundle.

The report also suggests that just five countries will have access to the new OTT service from the start. USA, Mexico, Germany, France and the Netherlands are the countries identified. However, Spain and the rest of Latin America could be added to the line-up before the as-yet-to-be-confirmed launch date.

"The relaunch of our digital platform is planned," Formula 1 commercial chief Sean Bratches told Auto Motor und Sport this week.

"We will introduce a direct streaming offer to the fans for both live content and non-live content. The fans will then get access to data directly from the cars.

"One will be freely available, while the other for serious fans is behind a payment barrier."

Bratches' approach is sharply at odds with that of Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's former CEO, who put TV rights first.

"The market has proven that both can be done simultaneously. Other sports are already much further ahead," he pointed out. "It's not like we're leaving our TV partners behind.

"This year, we will be offering a new TV graphics platform that presents content in a much more consumer friendly way," he explained.

Bratches also dismissed concerns that the sport's TV deals were increasingly switching from free-to-air to pay TV.

"Free TV means reach, but the money is on pay TV," he said. "Ideally, 25 to 30 per cent of the races should be on free TV and the rest behind a pay wall. It works in France and other countries.

"But there are countries where we should not move to this model yet," he acknowledged.

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