While Greg Maffei, CEO of Formula One’s new American corporate overlords Liberty Media, says that expanding F1 in North America is a long-term project, they are looking at expanding the schedule, reports Fox Sports. Two possibilities? Miami and Las Vegas.
Maffei, who will work closely with new F1 chairman Chase Carey, told Fox Sports that F1 may have a longer schedule soon:
We’re sitting on 21 venues. I think there’s an opportunity to potentially grow that over time, particularly while we’ve maximized some of those venue opportunities with relatively high venues fees, I think there’s an opportunity to grow in the number of venues and venues that are potentially more attractive to longer-term broadcast revenues and sponsorship revenues.
Sadly, high venue fees are one of the biggest issues with Formula One today. We’ve seen F1 snub the financial concerns of historic venues in favor of hosting races in dictatorships who are more than willing to foot the hefty bill—F1's lack of a conscience be damned.
When fans have a choice of multiple races to attend nearby, it’s also harder for venues to attract the same attendance numbers as before. Last year’s United States Grand Prix, for example, was doomed before foul weather ever made it onto the forecast, thanks to F1's boneheaded decision to schedule a nearby race in Mexico only a week afterwards.
Maffei told Fox Sports that his primary targets for new races are in F1's most under-served markets:
The obvious optionality case is to some degree Asia in the short term, potentially Latin America, and longer term North America, and particularly the U.S., where we really are well under-viewed, under-monetized, under-everything. I don’t think that gets solved in a week, but I think that’s an interesting long-term opportunity.
Here, Maffei considers Miami and Las Vegas as two potential sites to add in the long term.
However, expanding the schedule will likely increase costs for teams. For the sake of not having a too-long schedule with too few competitive teams, it’s a good thing Liberty Media views expansion as a long-term goal. There’s some financial reconfiguring they need to do before a 22nd race enters the picture.
Perhaps F1 can raise more funds elsewhere. Other areas Maffei would like to maximize for profit include sponsorship and broadcast agreements. Maffei touts the unpopular move away from free-to-air television in the United Kingdom as a good thing, as that lucrative broadcast deal made F1 money.
There’s one upside, though. Maffei realizes there’s no digital strategy whatsoever from the series, telling Fox Sports:
There’s an enormous amount of video feed and data that we have about the races that we are already capturing that we are not in any way processing incrementally for the dedicated fan, or opportunities around things like gambling.
Maffei speaks of offering digital content direct to the consumer, which sounds suspiciously like how the World Endurance Championship manages their live streams. Please, F1: stream your races. We will buy them.
As long as they can figure out a way to make more races and more lucrative partnerships work for everybody—fans, teams, tracks, and of course, the series’ bottom line—maybe we’ll end up with a happier, healthier F1.