After 40 years of ownership, Bernie Ecclestone handed over the ownership of Formula One to Liberty Media in 2017. Liberty Media is a corporation that manages a range of businesses within communications, media, and entertainment (Liberty Media, 2018). After speaking publicly many times Bernie Ecclestone was never shy to share his views on social media, as he believed Formula One didn’t need social media and to attract young audiences. We saw during Ecclestone’s time of ownership how the sport barely used social media platforms to promote the sport, and drivers were even limited to what they could share on social media with Lewis Hamilton reporting to of received multiple cease and desist letters from Ecclestone over his use of social media (Collantine, 2019). With many sports benefitting from the use of utilising social media platforms to connect with consumers, it was evident Formula One was falling behind.
With the present media ecology, Liberty Media aimed to take Formula One in a new direction, by first releasing a Fan Survey to see what F1 consumers wanted to see happen. Many aspects of new media were added to the image of F1 with a strategic marketing plan being put in place, whereby social media platforms became a main focus for the F1 brand and teams. One of the major changes that occurred within sports, helps to see how the symbiotic relationship between sports and media is critical. The introduction of the Netflix series’ Drive to Survive’ drove a whole new audience to consume live F1 race weekends, with many believing this to be the reason the sport has come back to life (Scott, 2021). As Silverman’s (2022) data revealed 53% of Formula One fan’s stated that Drive to Survive had influenced the role of them becoming an F1 fan
The implication of new media to the sport has created a new space for the sport to connect with consumers, where consumers can now interact and share content with here favourite teams and other fans. Formula One fans now have the opportunity to seek information through multiple means and become prosumers of the sport.
As it’s been identified how social media has helped Formula One, the next blog will look into identifying social media’s role in TV consumption.