New year, new Formula One, it looks like. According to reports, the series’ new owner, American company Liberty Media, has plans to overhaul competition in hopes of boosting sponsorship and the U.S. fanbase. In those plans, an executive uttered the words “Super Bowl.” Oh, no. Not that “ball sport” rhetoric again.
Liberty Media bought F1 for $4.4 billion in September of 2016, and the Financial Times cites an unnamed F1 executive in reporting that the new owning company plans to make each grand prix the series runs into “the equivalent of the Super Bowl.” F1 has 20 grands prix on its calendar for the 2017 season. There is only one Super Bowl per year.
According to the unnamed executive, that Super Bowl plan involves Liberty Media wanting to transform each of F1’s race weekends into weeklong events. The company reportedly also wants to launch more U.S. events, and the report said New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are all under consideration.
In addition to that, the Financial Times reports that Liberty Media wants to get everything sorted out in F1’s admittedly lacking digital department. The series falls behind others on using things like, oh, the internet, to recruit fans and help them to understand the sport. Here’s what the executive reportedly told the Financial Times:
“There’s no marketing, no research, no data, no digital platforms ... This sport has unique global content and hasn’t done enough to take advantage of that. We need to build the rivalries and enable people to understand the technology that goes into the sport.”
Those ideas include virtual reality for fans who can’t make it to the race track, according to the report.
But let’s get back to that “Super Bowl” comment. The marketing folks in racing obviously harbor some jealousy with ball sports, but let’s be realistic here—the Super Bowl is a once-annual event. Having 20 Super Bowls per year would make it much less important, and there’s no way each of F1’s 20 races will resonate like the Super Bowl does. How Liberty Media will change competition to try to achieve that unachievable goal is yet to be seen.
If Liberty Media has something right, it’s that F1 needs change. Even F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said the series “is crap” about a year ago, and the current state of racing is so predictable that all you can do is laugh.
But if the report becomes reality, Liberty Media should focus on major things that need to change—the unequal competition, the aerodynamic grip and the overly corporate nature of it all, to name a few—before they start reaching for Super Bowl goals. And hopefully, those Super Bowl goals don’t include some wacky racing format that keeps trying to legitimize itself.
No matter how worried you are about what the reported competition changes could be, just remember that if Liberty Media wants to compare itself to major non-racing events, striving to be like the Super Bowl is so, so, so much better than striving to be like the College Football Playoff bowls. When are they going to stop picking teams who get absolutely pounced on?
H/t to Business Insider!