F1 conquering the American market is a precious brand business lesson|Fu Ge Column

If you are the head of a professional sports league and you haven’t contacted the Netflix team to make a documentary yet, you are in all likelihood dereliction of duty.

The just-concluded F1 American Grand Prix (Austin, Texas) attracted a total of 440,000 spectators, setting a new record for the number of spectators in a single F1 race in three days. At the same time, there is also a 3-year (2023-25 ​​season) $255 million copyright renewal contract from Disney, you know, their current cycle (2018-22 season) annual price is only 5 million, yes , a 17-fold increase.

In just a few short years, what happened behind the scenes?

Senior sports fans have more or less this feeling. F1 seems to have strayed from the mainstream sight in the past few years. Although it has been holding races and a new king like Hamilton has arrived, it is still on the emerging social media platforms and streaming sites. , F1 does not have much presence.

This feeling can be found in a public interview with F1 founder Bernie Ecclestone in 2014: “I’m not interested in Twitter, Facebook and all this crap, I’d rather go looking for people who have money 70-year-old guys, there is no need to reach young people who can’t afford to buy any of our products, if the brand owner wants to reach them, then go to Disney.”

There is no doubt about Bernie’s contribution to F1. His more than 40 years of hard work have made F1 a top IP comparable to the Olympic Games and the Men’s World Cup. However, it is undeniable that the above-mentioned rejection is undoubtedly out of the era. The decline, the departure of sponsors, and the reluctance of young people to watch the game, etc., have gradually fallen into a quagmire. In the most mature American market for professional sports, the situation has been delayed, and forced sales have become an inevitable option.

At the end of 2016, Liberty Media Group took over F1 for $4.4 billion and began an American transformation of the project.

The core is brand positioning. F1 is no longer just an event company, but a global media content company. Under this core strategy, Liberty Media Group has launched a brand-new digital strategy. It has changed its previous strategy of focusing only on traditional TV channels and invested heavily in digital and social media channels. On the one hand, it is to reach younger groups, and on the other hand Better understand user needs. The effect is immediate. According to official Twitter data, in 2019 and 2020, F1 is the fastest growing sport on the platform.

It is worth mentioning that Liberty Media Group has resisted financial pressure to implement this core strategy. In the first three years of taking over (2017-2019), although the annual revenue data continued to rise, from 1.78 billion, 1.83 billion to 2.02 billion US dollars, but the loss in the first two years increased from 37 million to 68 million, which was not recorded until 2019. $17 million in profit.

Dare to invest because the strategy is clear. A series of supporting actions have also been gradually launched. In the 2018 season, a more trendy new logo, the launch of video games, cross-border cooperation with various e-sports brands, etc., to exaggerate, F1 will appear where young people gather. figure.

Then it’s time to talk about the ace product mentioned at the beginning of the article: Drive To Survive – an exclusive documentary cooperation with Netflix in 2017. At that time, this cooperation did not receive much attention from the outside world. Internally, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari are the two leading teams He also refused to participate. The only leading team involved was Red Bull – why Red Bull? In the final analysis, it is also a content company, doing IP and dissemination through content, which is completely consistent with the thinking of its own media group.

The core of the content is the story, and the core of the story is the conflict. F1 is inherently a place of conflict, one is an open title race between 10 teams and 20 drivers, and the other is a contest between two drivers in the same team – they drive the same cars, so there’s a lot in it The enemy even said that the old enemy, as long as you open it, is the natural material library of the media.

In the past two years, an industry controversy about this documentary is deliberately creating conflicts. Star drivers including Verstappen have publicly criticized and even boycotted the filming for a time, but this is the power of media content companies. F1 has these before. material, but no one has told it for so many years.

The documentary has been aired for four seasons, and the data is more convincing than anything else. According to the official data from F1 to the British Guardian, the documentary has brought 73 million new viewers to F1 worldwide; ESPN’s (Disney’s) 2021 season viewership has increased by 40%, with an average viewership of 934,000 per game. ESPN’s official statistics say that it has risen by at least 30%. The just-concluded American Grand Prix has created a new record of more than 2.7 million viewers. It can be said that the US market has achieved a breakthrough, so this year’s Miami station will be added. Las Vegas station; the proportion of female audiences increased from 10% four years ago to 18.3%; giants such as Oracle, Google, Qualcomm and other giants have successively spent hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorship orders… The most intuitive, F1 estimates The value has risen from 8 billion three years ago to 13 billion today.

In this process, Liberty Media Group should be most proud of the fact that Netflix not only bears the production cost of this documentary that completely changed the trend of F1, but also pays them the brand licensing fee.

Positioning your brand well, finding suitable channels and partners, telling a good brand story with content, and continuing, this is a high-value business lesson presented to us by Liberty Media Group and F1.

Disclaimer: This article was originally created by Rilakkuma Sports and may not be reproduced without authorization.