Formula 1 is in discussions with Amazon about a potential streaming rights deal as well as the ability to carry its F1 TV over-the-top (OTT) service on its platforms.
F1 TV was launched in 2018 and an updated version of the OTT service is being delivered for this season as it also expands to new territories. Despite that, chairman and former CEO Chase Carey revealed in December that the sport has also been discussing a streaming deal with Amazon, and F1’s director of media rights Ian Holmes says those talks have been advancing.
“As you would expect, we’re in pretty regular contact — negotiations, discussions, that’s a little more advanced. I’d say contact with the likes of Amazon, Facebook; YouTube — slightly different,” Holmes said. “Netflix we talk to anyway, that’s a different situation, and they maintain their positioning that they will not be in the business of acquiring live sports rights. It would be nice if they did, but let’s see.
“On the Amazon front, we’re actually engaged with them in a couple of discussions at the moment, specific discussions, and two types of discussions. One is, you’ve got Amazon Prime, which is where you see the content they buy — quite a lot of tennis, depending on where you are — it sits within their content offering. If you’re a Prime subscriber, you get that content for free.
“They (also) have a thing called Amazon Channels where they carry additional OTT offerings, in some cases linear channels, in some cases OTT offerings. And we are in discussions with them on both fronts.”
Holmes says there are talks about Amazon streaming races as a rights-holder while also carrying F1 TV at the same time in certain markets.
“One or two places, we’re talking to them about specifically acquiring our rights, in the same way you would sell to any other media company. But we’re also talking to them about a Channels arrangement where we have got the opportunity of putting F1 TV into the market.
“Now, could you do a deal where on the one hand they acquire your rights, we carve out F1 TV and F1 TV is carried on Channels? Maybe. They’re no different from any other pay-TV offering, in the sense that if they’re acquiring the rights, they may want exclusivity. But in some markets, they’re not acquiring the rights, and some of the markets we’re talking to them about Channels, and we already have a deal in place with another party, so we couldn’t do the rights side.
“So yeah, the answer is we’re talking to them, we talk to them generally, and we’re talking to them specifically on a couple of examples.”
Holmes added that a similar arrangement with Apple for its Apple TV platform could also be explored given the similarities in their offerings.