Lopez to ‘reinvent’ Formula 1

Gérard Lopez, one of the Renault F1 team’s many suitors, is involved in several new media businesses. This morning he spoke at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco and talked about how F1 needs to ‘reinvent’ itself: both in terms of how teams work as a business platform, to attract investment; and to properly embrace new media.

We see the whole environment as providing an opportunity. We’ve been involved in Formula 1 for some time as friends for some people, but never thought about getting more heavily involved than that. The situation is such right now that it provides an opportunity for new teams and new investors – it’s not a time of uncertainty but a time of change.

Times of change usually provide an entry point. We believe there is a chance to enter the sport and build a platform that sort of has to reinvent itself. If we were to become part of F1 we could be part of that reinvention.

If we were to do a deal, we would still be basing ourselves as a constructors’ team. That’s a different kind of business from a start-up. For us, what would be important is to provide stability over time. The business opportunities in F1 lie very rarely in making money out of your team; they should lie in making money out of the business platform that you have.

Put any seasoned executive into F1 and they turn into a big kid, essentially. It makes them much more approachable. So for us, F1 is an excellent business-to-business platform.

The teams can bring the sport closer to the audience. The sport and its environment is going to be forced to change.

Most of the broadcast contracts are based on a way of looking at things from 15, 20, 25 years ago. The fact is that in three or fours years’ time, most people in a lot of countries will be watching it not on TV as we know it today, but over the internet. And that completely redefines how you negotiate contracts and how you distribute content.

You can’t control the internet audience in the same way as you can control the television audience. It’s a similar process to what the music industry has gone through in terms of digitising itself. You have to figure out new ways of making money out of it, because at the end of the day that’s what keeps the sport alive.

Neville Wheeler, the director of the Cisco Media Solutions Group, talked about sports media being at a “point of disruption” which would provide opportunities.

We’ve invested heavily in helping media organisations, and especially sports companies who invest vast amounts of money on content rights, to look at different ways of being able to monetise those rights. Primarily that’s through digital media. For a long time there’s been a trend towards having bigger, better web properties with more monthly uniques than your competitors. But we’re seeing a change – from prioritising high volumes to seeing value for your audience as increasingly important.

As we all know, motorsport has a global audience, and we’ve got to a point now where you can have any content any time, anywhere in the world on any device. We’re trying to help media companies realise the full potential of the rights they’re paying a lot of money for; to do this they need to move away from focusing on how many people they can bring to their sites – and start finding new ways to engage with their audience, to find out interesting things about them. Personalisation of content and advertising, providing unique behind-the-scenes experiences – from that value you can create a revenue stream and a sustainable vision of business.

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  • Comments (2)
  1. “The fact is that in three or fours years’ time, most people in a lot of countries will be watching it not on TV as we know it today, but over the internet” – yeah, that’s what I’m talking about! The guy means business, I’m starting to like the man.

    FOFA is 100% behind such thinking. Damn, I have to be at the Forum next year.

    • Stuart C
    • December 9th, 2009

    He seems to be a smart cookie, genuinely enthusiastic about motorsport (and new media), and not the shifty corporate raider he’s been made out to be.

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