Motorsport.tv, a friendly approach to motor racing content
5000 hours of video on demand, over 1,000+ live events a year more than the main competitions and a total of more than 125 racing series on its radar. Motorsport.tv, the OTT evolution of Motorsport.com, is a huge platform where users can stray for hours watching engaging contents of all kinds.
The main weapons, leaving aside its extensive content catalog, are a versatile user interface and a determined commitment to broadcast quality. We discovered the pillars supporting Motorsport.tv from the hand of its chairman and also founder of Motorsport.com, Éric Gilbert.
How was Motorsport.tv born?
Motorsport.tv was a natural extension of Motorsport.com, the #1 global editorial platform for racing news content. We started working on Motorsport.tv in 2017 and launched in 2018, so it’s still a very young platform.
Since we launched in 2018, Motorsport.tv has been digital only, with a presence on the web, mobile devices (iOS and Android), and connected TV apps released in 2019 and 20 (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Android TV). More connected TV apps are in the pipeline, too. As well as more distribution channels.
What differentiates Motorsport.tv from other platforms?
Motorsport.tv is optimized for motor racing content and has a tight integration with the Motorsport Network ecosystem, but also the racing community as a whole.
From a distribution model standpoint, Motorsport.tv is also quite different in the sense that we support different business cases and monetization models: subscription, ad-supported free to view and pay per view. We aim at offering a 360-approach to all our different partners in the racing and automotive business.
Also, our distribution goes well beyond the Motorsport.tv platform itself: through our embed player, we manage and distribute video content for all the Motorsport Network editorial platforms (Motorsport.com, Autosport.com, Motor1.com and many others), as well as out of network platforms.
You offer a free-to-view plan and a monthly subscription plan. What are the differences between the two? Does the quality of viewing change too?
The most important difference between our free-to-view and our subscription (monthly and annual) plans is content. Paid subscribers have access to original and premium content that is simply not available anywhere else for free: premium live racing (FIA WEC, for instance), full archive content (full history of 24 Hours of Le Mans, our own racing archive under the brand “Duke Archives” which represent more than 1,000 hours of racing documentation), and exclusive content such as “Racing Files”. Free-to-view content is high volume content, easier to monetize with advertising – in this case, content partners want the highest exposure possible. Free-to-view content is still high quality, but a bit less exclusive.
In terms of quality of experience, the only difference between free-to-view and paid subscription is advertising: paid subscribers enjoy an ad-free experience. Otherwise, streaming quality is the same.
You’re currently offering HD content. Is there a demand for UHD content in motorsports? Is it something you have on your roadmap?
For live content, 4K is still a novelty. At the moment, we don’t know of any racing series that livestream at 4K, since this resolution does require a perfect distribution chain, which is rarely the case on location.
We can fully support native 4K content for on demand videos, of course.
For live racing content, higher frame rate, such as 50fps, is becoming more and more interesting than 4K. For fast moving object, the smooth viewing experience provided by a higher frame rate is even more relevant that UHD. This is something that is definitely on our roadmap.
Your user interface differs from most of motorsport platforms to provide a YouTube-like approach. What’s your objective behind this decision? Was one of your goals to create a user-friendly interface that encourages agile viewing?
Exactly. While Motorsport.tv started as a traditional OTT (à la Netflix, if you will), our platform was to quickly evolve into an UGC platform. Hence the user-friendly look and feel. The upcoming version of our platform will lean even more on the UGC side, with full self-service UGC functionalities. We want Motorsport.tv to be fully used by the racing community (race teams, drivers, organising bodies, manufacturers, etc.).
Motorsport.tv features custom channels such as 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi Sports, Dakar, Esports, Ferrari, FIA Karting and more! How do you handle the AV content contribution? Each channel has its own tools to share content or do you centralize all asset management?
Our CMS and asset management are centralized. But each channel owner has its own view and specific permissions.
What platform helps you manage all the assets? Is it an external development?
Our whole Motorsport.tv platform is developed internally. Motorsport Network defines itself as a media and technology company, so developing our own platforms has always been part of our strategy. Motorsport.tv is following the same strategy with our own internal team of developers and IT specialists.
What are the technological partners that make Motorsport.tv possible?
Our main technology partner is Amazon Web Services. We have a few other partners for middleware services and advertising technology.
What cloud platform are you implementing? Do you use it to provide additional services such as big data, AI recommendations, bitrate optimization, and more?
AWS has a number of those services, of course. For more advances functionalities such as AI recommendations, we are investigating other partners and even developing the features ourselves.
Now you offer content for North America, Russia, Europe… How do you handle and manage the viewing rights of live competitions depending on the region?
We have developed our own geo-management tools in our platforms. Knowing that viewing rights are critical with different racing series, geo-management was developed and integrated at the time we launched, back in 2018. And we have made various improvement on our system, since. We can geo manage at the channel level, at the program/show level, and even at the episode/video level.
Motorsport.tv can be viewed via TV, web, Chromecast, Roku, mobile devices… What are the difficulties of adapting your platform to each of the platforms? Do you adapt the application internally?
All those applications have been developed internally, yes. The difficulty is purely management and finding the right people. Another challenge is to make sure the experience and overall look and feel are similar across the devices, while at the same time making sure to adapt to all those different environments from a UI standpoint.
What’s the future of OTT platforms? More specifically, how will Motorsport.tv evolve over the next few years?
I believe the next big thing will be fans/viewers integration, at many levels: how to engage with the content with comments and live chat, but also how they actually take part of the video experience with their own content. Based on this, we will definitely work on functionalities that will enable fans / viewer to do just this.