The legal issues facing Liberty Media’s new “over-the-top” proposals for streaming Formula 1
When Liberty Media completed its acquisition of Formula 1 (F1) in January 2017, it did so with a new approach to the presentation of motor racing and its brand, and in particular how it should be broadcast. In recent years, the sport’s business model has been acknowledged to be somewhat antiquated, and industry analysts have called for an update for the on-demand digital era.1 Liberty Media, majority-owned by American billionaire John Malone, holds a diverse array of interests in the media, communications and entertainment sectors, and as such the new owner seems well placed to deliver the update F1 requires.
Central to this transformation of F1 as a media and entertainment brand appears to be "F1 TV", an "over the top" (OTT) live Grand Prix subscription service set to be launched at the Spanish Grand Prix this May. Playmaker Media is to act as systems integrator for the service, working with iStreamPlanet and Tata Communications2 to deliver exclusive access to all 20 driver on-board cameras and other features for multi-level personalisation, e.g. languages. Consumers will, in short, be able to stream a wide range of content (e.g. press conferences, interviews, practice sessions and hundreds of hours of past highlights), as well as decide how and when (e.g. using multiple devices) they will do so.3
This article examines Liberty Media’s OTT proposals for F1 and the legal issues it is likely to encounter, namely:
Piracy and lack of control of content
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