Bernie Ecclestone Plans Online Push to Boost Formula One Income

Formula One plans to bolster its online content as early as June after officials at Ferrari SpA and Williams Grand Prix Holdings Plc’s (WGF1) teams called the racing series’ media strategy outdated.

A new application, or app, for computers and mobile devices will offer a mix of free and subscription-only video, series Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone said. Ecclestone has restricted the series’ own race coverage on the Internet for several years in an effort to protect annual television rights income of about $500 million.

“We’re planning a new app; it’s a decent-size project,” Ecclestone, 83, said in a phone interview. “It’s something that we are working to get right.”

Formula One restricts video content on its current application and website, and Ferrari team manager Stefano Domenicali told a conference in Madrid on March 31 the series is failing to connect with millions of people who don’t want to watch 90-minute races on television.

With less video footage than on other sports sites such as the National Basketball Association’s nba.com, Formula1.com is less popular than other sports portals such as filgoal.com, about Egyptian soccer, and World Wrestling Entertainment, according to analytics company alexa.com.

Ecclestone said television will continue to be the “mainstay” of the 64-year-old series, which he’s owned or managed since 1995. The plan is to make money from the new application, he added.

“We don’t do things for free,” Ecclestone said.

Media Strategy

Team officials have pushed Ecclestone to change his media strategy for years and in 2011 Williams Chairman Adam Parr said “it was time to challenge” his view.

Parr quit the series in 2012 after “believing rightly or wrongly” that his relationship with Ecclestone stood in the way of an improved commercial deal for Williams, according to Parr’s version of events in a book.

Ecclestone said he wasn’t influenced by team executives in planning the improved application but from “listening to everybody in the world.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net Peter-Joseph Hegarty, Dex McLuskey

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