A lot of people bemoan the lack of F1 coverage on the Internet, saying it’s all FOM’s fault etc., yet I think a lot of people fail to realise, that FOM hand internet coverage of F1 footage over to the local broadcasters for each country, e.g. you can watch classic highlights of races on the BBC’s website for free, as well as coverage of both the BBC and Sky’s shows after the event, as well as streaming them live, including the extra FOM-produced channels (Pitlane, onboards etc.). This is probably done as FOM would rather not bother handling the internet side of things for all the countries where F1 is shown, when the local broadcasters are capable of doing that themselves. However, as i’m a big fan of the ‘vanilla’ coverage produced by FOM (which, with the addition of the pitlane channel in 2012 is starting to reach F1Digital+ quality, in terms of video streams produced), maybe it’s time to re-think how FOM handles it’s broadcasting coverage.
This is hypothetical of course, and would never happen really, as FOM are negotiating contracts with broadcasters all the time, and imagine how Sky or the BBC would feel, if FOM launched it’s own competing service (assuming it was priced correctly) and fans started watching that, so don’t get your hopes up, as I’m pretty sure many broadcasters would try to prevent FOM from doing this.
A lot of the broadcasters currently mess about with the FOM world feed, which annoys me (such as cutting away during practice for their own interviews, showing the extra channels half an hour after they’ve actually started transmission (Sky do this, they start all the extra channels around 5 mins before the F1 logo at each race, yet the BBC start them as soon as they can, sometimes half an hour earlier for the pitlane channel at Brazil last year). Also, not many people in the UK realise that FOM show a highlights reel when the session is over, yet I don’t think *any* broadcaster in the UK has ever kept the FOM feed going as often as that (Ask @GT_Racer).
So, here’s what i’d like to see FOM do over the internet at least (and yes, they should charge for it, how about £5 per race weekend, or offer a whole season at £60 maybe) – and have it solely under the control of FOM.
Every single FOM-produced stream (Main feed, Pitlane, The 5 Onboards [4 plus Mix], Driver Tracker and Live timing) – that’s 9 in total, streamed as live as possible in 720p HD (Lets be honest here, most internet connections can do that now) kept synchronised with each-other.
Each and every stream should be made available the moment it goes on air (even if this means 1 stream starts earlier than the rest, as I know the on-boards are turned on by FOM later than the Pitlane and World Feed) and not stopped until FOM flicks the switch so to speak, this would include showing the post-race press conference live too, as I believe the main World Feed cuts to that a few mins after the podium ceremony finishes etc.
With regards to commentary, really all you need is a main + colour commentator, with possibly a pit-lane reporter too. I’d rather they had their own commentators rather than using Sky’s or the BBC’s, and the commentary should start as soon as the F1 logo appears on the main world feed, not before. The commentary should be for the main world feed only, although the user should have the option of turning it on for the other channels if they so wish. All channels, including the World Feed should have the option of also viewing them live *without* commentary as well.
As I’m all for vanilla coverage, I’d rather they didn’t put any unique overlays, interviews and stuff etc. as part of the live coverage, although they’re more than welcome to stick their own program covering pre-race news etc. on as a separate feature, providing that users can still watch the unadulterated live footage instead, should they so wish. IMO FOM’s coverage is perfectly watch-able without commentary as the overlays etc. (particularly on the pitlane channel) are so good.
As I said this would be an internet-based thing, and I see no reason why FOM can’t complement all this with highlight clips etc., viewable after the event.
Let me know what you think :)