Formula 1 TV coverage primed to move into next generation
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Sep 2013   |  5:56 pm GMT  |  103 comments

The Singapore Grand Prix saw a significant development in the broadcast of Formula 1 with Formula 1 Management trialling a Proof of Concept for delivering video content to broadcasters.

FOM’s Chief technical officer John Morrison hailed it as “ground breaking” and it could soon affect the way all F1 fans consume content.

The trial, conducted with FOM’s Connectivity partner Tata Communications [which is also a sponsor of the JA on F1 website], involved a live video feed of Free Practice being sent via the TCL global fibre ring back to FOM’s headquarters in Biggin Hill, England.

The demonstration included the supply of JPEG 2000 quality video from the circuit as well as multiple programme feeds. This was a first for F1.

The Singapore event is the latest step towards F1 being able to move the distribution of F1 video and data content around the world in whatever way it wants. Currently the world TV feed is sent out by satellite, but this latest development opens the door for a range of options to get the content to the end consumer.

The video, which was shot by Formula One Management, explains the development more clearly.

When F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone signed the deal with Tata Communications before the start of the 2012 season, his long time technical chief Eddie Baker described it as “the most significant moment for F1 since the advent of satellites.” Being able to tap into the fibre ring gives FOM and its broadcast partners an opportunity to to manage content in ways satellite cannot provide and it is faster, reducing delays.

Tata Communications’ managing director of F1 business, Mehul Kapadia said the trial offered ” a glimpse into the future of sports broadcasting.”

For the more technically minded, the Tata Communications’ statement explains,

“Consumer demand for quality, live content across different platforms is now the norm and with the emergence of bandwidth-hungry production workflows such as Ultra HD, quick turnarounds and availability of content across multiple platforms is becoming a hygiene factor for content owners. Tata Communications’ portfolio of media services and its leading fibre network helps media companies streamline their workflows to enable better collaboration, without large investments in hardware.”

It brings a standardisation to the means of delivery of content from F1 races. Basically it connects F1 to the world in a completely new way.

It increases the amount of connectivity time, as it’s always on, unlike a satellite which is on for a matter of hours and it’s bi-directional, which means it allows the audience to interact with the sport, rather than sit back and consume. It means the sport can have individual relationships with fans, can supply content on a global and even individual basis, looking well down the line.

It will also greatly reduce the tonnage of equipment that FOM TV sends around the world as images can be sent back instantly and processed at the FOM broadcast centre in the UK.

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I am fed up with the commercials and the commentators patting each other on the back and kissing each other’s ass. The coverage in the USA is abysmal, ENDLESS commercials and chatter from these so-called experts. I want to see the race and less commercials! It never stops, I bought the app, another complete waste of time. I have switched channels during the coverage out of frustration not being able to see essential parts of the race and listening to in yet another commercial. Get your act together or you’re losing another supporter of formula 1. I was in Vietnam for the first 1/2 of the season and the coverage there is excellent, top drawer, fun to watch. Not so in the US.


This isn’t going to improve access via the Web, far from it. This is a closed circuit to by-pass the satellites which are easier to intercept, and reduce latency, the delay caused by the distance up to a satellite and back to a ground station.

Latency can be a second or two with the races that are in Australia, Japan and China, and can mean that broadcast TV is out of synchronisation with Internet data streams that are already mainly carried by fibre-optic cable. So you see the pole position lap finish on TV a little after your iPad flashes up the lap time.

Delays like this make it unsatisfactory to mix and match video, audio and data streams, and if there are gaming or gambling activities attached to the feeds, there is room for errors to creep in.

It allows FoM still more control on distribution of the TV, and permits more camera angles, data and formats to be added to the portfolio. It probably signals a move towards greater coverage to a narrower pay-channel audience. Currently it’s the sponsors who are paying the costs of the teams, and relying on the viewing public to see the adverts on the cars and go out and buy the products.

Increasingly this middleman will be pensioned off, and the public will pay directly to the TV companies for the rights to view races. It’s unlikely we will have cars without advertising stickers on them (as we had once) but we can expect that business models which rely on the fickle nature of the advertising industry to be phased out.

Hans Jorgen Strom

where is these Tata stream active? are there web stream up and running already, run by them?

Lev die Alpenlander

This is all a process towards internet streaming.

Apparently 56 out of F1′s 63 broadcasting contracts are set to expire before the end of 2015, so probably we won’t see much before that.

James, DTM has its races live on youtube. Would you happen to know if there any (technical) connection between TATA,F1 and DTM with regard to the internet streeming?


That John Morrison’s an engaging chap to watch and listen to 🙂


the CGI sponsor logos are stupid


I sum up the quality of FOM’s coverage by the onboard camera usage – each car has 5 different positions yet they only use certain positions on the same cars and never vary them. Lousy!!!


I wonder if they would open up their streams for developers to mod and hack. This could be the most exciting development in broadcasting ever.


If it means getting rid of the mega-annoying picture-in-picture adverts we suffer with TSN broadcasts in Canada, I’m all for it!


Suppose tech people will ever learn to speak English? It takes a machete to chop through the jargon gibberish these folks spout.


Technical terms are used because English is a very rich and adaptable language so we are not obliged to use the same old words over and over for new concepts and end up confusing ourselves.

But it does require that people keep current, and if they choose not to, they will fail to understand the new. It’s not right for us all to be held back because there are some people who refuse to do a little updating.

If you had not learned the following words your life would have been difficult since they didn’t exist in the days or books of Charles Dickens: television, automobile, turbocharger, telephone, internet, broadband, supersonic, and iPad.

It’s definitely worth worthwhile keeping current, and certainly if you want to follow a sport that’s more complex than golf.


Techno-obfuscators everywhere will appreciate your defense, Michael!

Sure, the dictionary is thicker and richer since Dickens used it; and, sure, every discipline needs its jargon; but cascading technical terms do not make clear communication. You know that: your response is very clear (except for that word “telephone”; I’m going to have to look that one up).

The biggest offenders are people who market technical stuff, or as they prefer, “solutions.” That’s what set me off. Many of them seem to think that stringing together terminology makes them sounds smart. Sounding smart would sound much different.


I’m not sure what you meant by ‘telephone’, perhaps there was a typo in there.

We have a mutual distaste for marketeers who use psudo-technobabble as a smokescreen for their ignorance. It isn’t to be confused with scientists talking ‘string-theory’, condensed matter, and anything else that demands more than three syllables; that is there to be comprehended by those who has an interest in life and the universe.

The information that Gary provides through the BBC is light years ahead and above the wittering that comes from the other ‘pit lane reporters’ especially those long lost to satellite, he has been a Godsend to the coverage, he’s worth the licence fee alone.

In fact the dictionary doesn’t keep expanding because we lose words all the time: tram, starch, telex, cigarette, virgin, and carburettor, are heading out. Train, biplane, rivet and 35mm film, are but distant memories. While you are clearing out the rafters, you can spend time re-charging with the new, its what we, as humans do, unless you live south of Watford.

I heard somebody ask last week, how many people it took in the Home Counties to change a lightbulb: One retainer to change the bulb, plus nine old soaks at the bar to reminisce how much better light bulbs were in the old days.


The “money making” opportunity is in the first paragraph. Proof of concept delivering live feed to broadcasters. This will allow F1 to sell to many more broadcasters who will be able to sell on the live action and deliver via the internet, not TV.

This is a problem for the likes of Sky because their satellites will steadily become redundant because this can be done for any sport and then for any programme. A lot of broadcasting “Business Models” will become redundant over the coming years.


I just would like a continuation of the live coverage of qualifying and the race as we now have on Free to Air TV now in Australia. Quite simple. Don’t want to have to pay for it.


I tend to agree with you for my own desire and coverage being currently adequately met, Bill.

This story is interesting when you consider we all just voted to a ‘fibre to the node’ version of our NBN. The world isn’t thinking in such limiting factors on the next generation of content and delivery across many facets, yet we will have a strong internet backbone with no different individual functional performance than now. If the free-to-air basic content we get now goes, getting the similar via an internet connection may be almost fine if you’re in a Capital city, but us regional dwellers get a very poor deal. At least for good portion of the foreseeable future.

Juan Fernandez (The Spanish Inquisitor)

More than 100.000 subscribers for a F1 channel will be a miracle in Spain. The football channels have losses.

A multiple monitor channel will be very interesting. The possibility of change from one driver to another or view simultaneously two or four drivers will be a plus.

Will be a pay channel free of publicity? Bets about it.


“Consumer demand for quality, live content across different platforms is now the norm and with the emergence of bandwidth-hungry production workflows such as Ultra HD, quick turnarounds and availability of content across multiple platforms is becoming a hygiene factor for content owners.”

Is there an english translation? [mod]


I laughed out loud when I read the original statement. ‘hygiene factor’ is a poorly shortened reference to two-factor theory (see wikipedia – I let it explain it), which in itself is too esoteric or buzzwordy compared to more broadly recognisable and understandable terms.

“Content providers are battling with both the pluses of meeting the customer demand of fast, high quality & in an effective & appropriate amount of time, etc. content matched against the minuses of cost, infrastructure, pricing, etc. to end users to deliver the content” would be my translation



It’s ironic to see Communcations people struggle to in fact “communicate” with the rest of mankind.


James, this is great for consumers, but if we can get direct access to broadcasts via the internet, surely the TV rights fees would be more or less worthless?

It would be interesting to see the potential business model behind this- does online advertising account for a greater revenue stream than selling TV rights? My guess is that several large companies would be willing to pay for advertisements through an online channel, offering more value than static trackside ads.

Personally, I genuinely hope we get direct distribution- it annoys me every time a race is on Sky and I can’t watch it Live.


Sounds interesting, but unfortunately having bitter experience of TCS (Tata Communciation Services) here in the UK it may well go something like this:

F1 feed goes live at the Belgium GP…..5 laps in, darkness, blank screens. It then takes around 80 people from all over the TCS world to jump on a conference call to decide what to do next. No one can work out who is agreeing or disagreeing as everyone is saying yes when they mean no and no when they mean yes and because its a call with no video they cant see who is nodding or shaking their heads…..chaos continues for 12 hours before Bernie gets fed up and sends in the Tifosi. They manage to find the power switch behind the desk in deepest darkest cupboard someone on the global network that has been used by the cleaner to hoover at 7am (local time)….issue sorted.

Oh and dont laugh……Ive witnessed a very similar problem on a different network of one of the big 4 accountancy firms.


I can’t see Sky or any other tv companies paying FOM as much in future if it’s possible to watch the races online. They might decide it’s not worth their while even bothering to show the races.

What kind of quality can be expected from online viewing? I’m not convinced it will match current HD tramsmissions, when they’re shown on a huge flatscreen.

Then we’ve got the problem of interweb bandwidth. Not everyone has true unlimited access at high enough speed to watch in good quality. With BT and Sky major internet companies, I wonder if their customers might suffer problems watching F1 on the internet!

Finally, what quality of commentators will FOM employ? Will they return to the old days of having commentators sat in a distant studio, pretending to be at the track – like Eurosport do?


The technology delivery idea sounds good in theory. My concern is the likelyhood of ‘regional pricing’. Hopefully that wont happen, and it will be a better setup, pricing and value than the MotoGP’s expensive exclusive content delivery model. But I expect that it wont be…


Hi James

Does this mean we will be able to stream F1 live from from mobile devices?

iphones & ipads etc?


FOM aim is to mak it possible for them to do any deal they see fit, this is a step on the way, as far as I can see


I live in the US having moved here many years ago and haven’t had TV service for over 10 years. In that time I haven’t seen a Formula 1 race on TV or equivalent, nor is there any practical way for me to do so. My only contact now is this blog and whatever the BBC writes a day after the race, but that leads to me being increasingly disconnected. At some point I’ll just give up. (The alternate route of pirating the content is something I won’t do.)

What F1 needs to realise is that I have *so many* choices with my time and attention. Once I leave I won’t come back.


Would have enjoyed this technology announcement more if the YouTube video hadn’t stopped streaming 5 seconds in. 🙂


All this and it will still be broadcast in glorious Standard Definition in Australia.


The only problem with the prospect of Direct live video straght from FOM is the exclusivity clauses in many broadcast contracts.

Broadcasters pay to broadcast F1, They pay for online rights & they pay for the extra content (in-car’s, pit lane channel, timing, driver tracker, highlights etc….).

Can’t see them been happy about paying for something which can be got from another source, Its why they ask for the exclusivity clause to begin with.

If FOM were to roll out an online platform then I’d expect it to be Geo-Blocked in a lot of territories including the UK due to existing broadcast contracts.


It´s gone be expensive. It would be great for my smartphone, like Kimi says: let´s wait and see.


Here in the USA, with SPEED channel gone, someone needs to start a new motorsports channel. All series to be included, F1, Nascar, Indy car, motorcycles, rally, etc. There is talent out there to be hired after being let go when Speed was killed. Maybe they could pick up broadcasting F1 in this country & Canada, & whoever; who would actually care about F1 & it would have a much higher priority than it does on NBC. 🙂


Possibly down the line if F1 content is streamed online then local channels and markets might become fairly irrelevant.

Everyone might actually get equal access for a change…assuming you have a good connection in the first place 🙂


Speed also covered the Barrett-Jackson auctions & now it has been bumped FS2, which use to be Fuel TV, which is on a different cable package that few people get. One would think that Barrett-Jackson would like to see a new channel that would be profitable for both the channel & the auction.

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