Enhanced digital rights but no FTA provision in Movistar F1 deal
Movistar Plus, the Spanish pay-television broadcaster, will offer additional digital content and be the exclusive home of the country’s home grand prix under its extended Formula 1 rights deal announced today.
As expected, the Telefónica-owned network has concluded an agreement to show every round of the world championship on its 24-hour Movistar F1 channel for three seasons starting this year.
The deal, which includes all races and practice and qualifying sessions, represents an extension of the four-year contract signed in 2014, but, for the first time, Movistar will be the only place to watch the annual Spanish Grand Prix held in Barcelona (pictured).
The value of the new agreement is not known, although Movistar’s previous contract, which expired at the end of last season, was reported to be worth €65 million ($79 million) per year.
For the last two seasons, live Formula 1 has been the preserve of pay-TV in Spain although TVE, the country’s public-service broadcaster, and TV3, the Catalan public-service broadcaster, did show the home grand prix in 2017 in sub-licensing deals that enabled Movistar to recoup around €1 million.
Formula 1 said today that, as part of its deal, Movistar “has been granted a number of further digital rights,” meaning that the broadcaster can build on its previously restricted online coverage.
This tallies with the ambitions of Liberty Media Group, the US media company that now owns Formula 1, to develop the sport as a digital product, with the planned launch of an international over-the-top service to complement existing broadcasting rights deals.
In a statement, Ian Holmes, Formula 1’s director of media rights, said: “Spain is one of the most important European markets for Formula 1 and, thanks to this partnership, the Spanish fans will be able to continue to enjoy the spectacle provided by the pinnacle of motorsport 24/7 on a dedicated channel, Movistar F1.”
“We will be also help Movistar+ to produce exclusive content for its distribution across their digital and social media platforms, which will contribute to broaden the fan base and its engagement.”
Alex Martinez Roig, the content manager of Movistar Plus, added: “We are poised to build an ambitious project with Formula 1, with one specific goal in mind – broadening the Formula 1 fan base and meeting its wildest expectations. Most of the fans are tech savvy viewers and the online environment is the niche we want to explore and where we anticipate a major breakthrough.”
“2018 will be the fifth consecutive year in which Formula 1 will be fully broadcast in Spain by Movistar F1, our dedicated channel. The renewal of the partnership constitutes a further step in our commitment to provide the Spanish viewers with the best possible sports offer.”
There remains considerable interest in Formula 1 in Spain given the continued participation of Fernando Alonso, the 2005 and 2006 world champion, who drives for McLaren.
However, in recent seasons he has been hamstrung by a slow car, and competition for the Spanish TV rights was thought to have been limited given a perceived lack of interest from prominent agency Mediapro and telecoms operator Vodafone, which withdrew its 'Motor' package, including the Movistar Fórmula 1 and Movistar MotoGP channels, at the end of last year.
In February 2014, Telefónica acquired exclusive pay-TV Formula 1 rights until the end of 2017, agreeing to simulcast live coverage with Antena 3, the free-to-air commercial broadcaster, until the end of the 2015 season, after which it retained exclusive cross-platform rights to the series.
Vodafone only gained access to Formula 1 and MotoGP through an agreement reached with Telefónica in September 2016. This ended a dispute between the pair that had led to Vodafone threatening legal action and requesting arbitration from the CNMC, Spain’s competition watchdog.
Formula 1 pointed out that the deal with Movistar builds on other major new agreements and renewals that take effect in 2018 in Australia (Foxtel), France (Canal Plus), Germany (RTL) and USA (ESPN).
The new season, comprising 21 rounds, starts with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on 25 March.