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Why F1 viewership is soaring through Coronavirus

In Nifty’s latest blog, our Communications Manager - Jamie Gordon - has taken a look at how Formula One’s digital strategy has allowed them to succeed this season despite the global pandemic. Read his thoughts below.

I’ve always loved Formula One and as a child, I used to watch it every Sunday with my dad on the living room sofa (until he dozed off). However, I may have been in the minority as the sport has traditionally struggled to reach a younger demographic.

Following a 2017 acquisition by Liberty Media, Formula One took to addressing their ageing viewership as a priority and spent three years reshaping their digital strategy in order to attract a new set of fans.

They launched their own OTT streaming platform, set up an eSports series and ran their first-ever marketing campaign. All of which fortunately positioned the sport at an ideal point for when Coronavirus struck.

But what exactly is included in Formula One’s digital strategy that allows them to thrive when most sports are struggling through the global pandemic?

F1 embraces new technology

One of the key contributions has been Formula One’s willingness to adopt different platforms to reach a wider audience and support fan engagement.

For example, Google Cameos - a mobile platform that allows public figures to answer frequently asked questions from the Google search engine - was trailed this weekend with the drivers for the first time. This provided an easy way for the fans to connect with the drivers, with the results appearing in the knowledge panel of Google Search results.

F1 knows who to target

With the knowledge that just 14 per cent of 2019 television viewers were under the age of 25, F1 set their sights on diversifying their audience and YouTube was decided upon as a potential solution.

The 2020 Eiffel Grand Prix was the first time a Formula One race had been broadcast live on YouTube and despite being geographically restricted to just Sweden, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark, the stream managed to attract 1.7million viewers and gained the Grand Prix YouTube channel an additional 500,000 subscribers.

As a result, u25 viewership increased to 31 per cent, and u35 viewership increased to 68 per cent - more than double that of the previous race.

F1 regularly consults fans

Staff, bosses, and drivers all regularly consult with fans on social media. For example, Matt Roberts, motorsport series’ global research director took to an open Q&A on discussion forum Reddit.

Matt was asked about age ranges of viewers, where in the world F1 attracts the largest number of followers, and how eSports is benefiting the sport.

“Esports have been great for us so far,” he said. “80 per cent of the audience is under 35-years-old but is amazing when you compare this to ageing TV audiences.”

F1 strategically schedules social media content

Social content has strategically been positioned to supplement the live races, including rich video such as build-up, analysis, highlights, archive content. This behind-the-scenes content gives fans more access than ever before to Formula 1.

Throughout the Eifel race weekend, the F1 YouTube content delivered 41 million views to a unique audience of 10.5 million fans – double the volume of the equivalent race date-wise last year.

It’s a fascinating time for Formula One and their digital strategy provides a great case study for other sports organisations to learn from.

How is your organisation's digital approach looking? Speak to Nifty Communications today about ways we can support in shaping your business for the future.

nifty communications is a pr & marketing agency with a difference. everything we do is fuelled by the latest Google data, so we position our clients in the centre of topical discussion through an integrated marketing environment called the niftyverse.

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