The term motorsport is recognized globally and encompasses a variety of racing or competitive driving events involving motorized vehicles. In fact, motorsports represent the second most popular sport with billions of enthusiasts and followers worldwide.
These competitive motorsport events include Formula One, IndyCar Series, Nascar and MotoGP to name but a few. The popularity of each motorsport tends to vary depending on which part of the world you live in however it is true that some attract a global following, generating billions in TV rights and advertising revenue each year.
We at Smart Live Protection conducted our own exclusive consumer research study to better understand the latest behaviours and trends from those who consume live motorsport events online.
Formula One is in pole position
Formula One is recognized as the most popular of all motorsports, in fact it is one of the most followed sports globally, second only to football. The sport has 21 races per season, with circuits spread across the globe which helps to explain why the sport appeals to such a diverse audience. Each year these iconic events take place in some fantastic countries and regions including Bahrain, China, Britain, Russia, Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Canada and the US to name but a few.
In 2018 it was reported by the official Formula One website that unique global audience figures had grown 10% year on year, reaching 490 million international viewers.
Unique viewership grew above the 10% average in India (87%), France (51%) and Russia (27%), but despite these year on year growth rates, the top three markets in terms of TV reach remained the same: Brazil with 115.2 million viewers, China with 68 million viewers and the USA with 34.2 million.
Total audience figures for the year reached a staggering 1.758 billion. This remarkable growth was largely attributed to the improved accessibility of live broadcasts and richer viewing experiences.
Growth was not just limited to TV, as social followers also increased across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube as the sport continued its drive to target audience across a range of platforms.
But who’s watching? Well the audience is relatively young with an average age of 40, a similar average to those tuning into watch Football and Tennis. Over recent years Formula One has worked hard to attract a younger audience to safeguard the future of the sport.
How is piracy affecting the sport?
Such success provides opportunities for those looking to piggyback on its popularity, it’s the perfect vehicle for pirates who rebroadcast these live events online, generating their own revenue streams. This illegal content is often considerably inferior in both picture and sound quality, however the availability, ease of access and the fact it’s free appeals to a considerable group of consumers.
The problem reached melting point in early 2019 as beIN sport announced that they had opted out of the bidding process for a new five-year contract for F1 television rights in the Middle East. beIN’s Managing Director for the Middle East, Tom Keaveny stated that “We pay enormous amounts for media rights, but the natural consequence of Saudi Arabia’s piracy is that those rights cannot be protected so we will pay less for those rights in the future.” He went on to say that “Piracy continues with impunity every day and represents an existential threat to the economic model of the sports and entertainment industry.”
Motorsports and piracy – Our exclusive consumer research study
Let’s begin by looking at some of the most popular motorsports which respondents are watching… perhaps unsurprisingly 46.38% of those questioned selected Formula One as their preferred motorsport, followed by MotoGP (18.75%), Nascar (14.47%), and Motocross (5.92%).
Alarmingly, almost two thirds (62.62%) of respondents have consumed a live motorsport event on a pirate website, some of those admit to doing so frequently (24.92%), whilst a handful claim to always watch motorsports on pirate websites (6.89%). This gives us an insight in terms of just how widespread the problem of piracy within the motorsports industry really is.
Despite the ever-increasing number of platforms available in which to access live motorsport events, 37.50% of respondents stated that they still do not currently pay for an official channel where they can tune into the official broadcast. The reason for this appears to be largely down to the associated costs as over 70% admit that they would consider paying for access if prices were lower.
It’s clear to many that pirate broadcasts are damaging to the reputation of the event as well as the revenue it generates but who do respondents feel are to blame for the growing level of illegal content available online? Well surprisingly many respondents believe that the companies who own the emission rights are responsible (30.82%) and that they should be doing more to protect their content against piracy. Others felt the pirates who profit from these retransmissions or those consumers who tune into these illegal broadcasts are to blame.
What can be done to fight the piracy of live broadcasts?
Today broadcasters of live sporting events are contracting antipiracy companies to manage the protection of their live events online. Our research study highlights the scale of the problem, and how willing consumers are to access these events through illegal retransmissions despite the associated risks with doing so.
Where piracy is a challenge faced by many industries, the speed in which infractions must be identify and eliminated for live events is key if they are to protect their broadcasts, their investments and their reputations.