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Liberty Media looks to Africa, US and China for more F1 races

13 March 2019

Liberty Media is in talks about holding a second Formula One race in China and the US, as well as looking at holding other F1 races in Africa.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bank 2019 Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, Liberty Media, Chief Executive and President, Greg Maffei said it was looking at holding new races that incorporated its core fan base in Western Europe, alongside growing in new areas, such as the USA, Africa and China.

He said: “We are working on Miami but there are obstacles, there are alternatives in the US like Las Vegas. We looked at Africa. We want to solidify some of the Western European races and bring that in with the core fan base that are srong. There are some that might come to pass in some of those traditional European places.”

Maffei continued: “You need to define where you are strong like historically western Europe and adding things like expansion in Vietnam, potentially a second race in China and potentially a race in Africa. There’s a careful mix of where you want to grow and where you want to solidify.”

Maffei said Formula One was in  a big transition as it was laying “laying a lot of groundwork for ultimate success” Making the sport more competitive for the teams, as well as improving the experience for the fans and promoters was going to be key to its success he noted. However, stated its three main revenue streams each had it set of issues. Promotion was one issue, which had been made worse by former F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone, after telling promoters they were paying too much.

He said; “Bernie had done a very good job, arguably too good a job, and had drained the promoters. We got a lot of blow back, partly because we’re public now and they can see the prices, and also partly because Bernie suggested to a lot of them that they were overpaying. That didn’t help the cause.

“Exacerbating that are governments trying to pull back subsidies, in Mexico, other places – Spain. Russia had challenges with sanctions. So that creates some challenges. However, the new race in Vietnam will be positive.”

Maffei said Formula One was lagging in sponsorship and was proving harder to achieve then it had initially thought.

He explained: “Compared to many of the other global sports with as much reach and fan interest, [F1] is under monetized at a broadcast level and there are opportunities to improve that, partly driven by competition. If you look at the prices being paid for other global sports content, we still lag and there’s room for us to get better.”

Maffei said it was looking at improving this by creating excitement around the sport; making F1 more competitive, increasing buzz through social media, as well as expanding its fans base by not having F1 broadcast only through an all-paid-for platform.

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