MX23RW : Monday, July 16 03:11:40

Sean Bratches defends Formula 1 internet-pay TV plans

Sean Bratches defends Liberty Media's plans to ramp up internet coverage of Formula 1 while moving the sport away from free-to-air television.

Sean Bratches has defended Liberty Media's plans to ramp up internet coverage of Formula 1 while moving the sport away from free-to-air television.

Fans have noticed recently that the trend is for new television deals with pay-TV networks, with only a limited number of races shown free-to-air.

Bratches, the new F1 commercial chief, said that Liberty is also focused on the digital future.

"The relaunch of our digital platform is planned," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"Today it only costs us money. Fans cannot download exclusive content.

"That's going to change. 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."

Previously, ousted F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone did not develop the sport's internet presence, arguing that television rights must remain exclusive.

However, Bratches claims: "The market has proven that both can be done simultaneously. Other sports are already much further ahead.

"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."

As for the highly controversial move away from free-to-air TV coverage, he explained: "Free TV means reach, but the money is on pay TV.

"Ideally, 25 to 30% of the races should be on free TV and the rest behind a paywall. It works in France and other countries, but there are countries where we should not move to this model yet."

The new F1 season gets underway in March with the Australian Grand Prix.

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