Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 30
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

F1 deal with Amazon Web Services part of push to modernize sport

When Liberty Media bought Formula One in January 2017, its executives promised to modernize the sport’s business operations, which they believed had been underperforming for years.

 

F1’s new owners made changes almost immediately, like making virtual signage available and setting up fan fests for sponsors to incorporate into their marketing.

 

But a deal announced last week gives a glimpse into how far Liberty plans to modernize F1’s sponsor offerings, as it signed Amazon Web Services to a global sponsorship and marketing deal.

  

Liberty renewed sponsorships with Emirates Airlines and DHL earlier this year, but the Amazon Web Services deal marks the first new global sponsor that has come on board since Liberty took control of the racing series.

 

Financial terms were not disclosed, but these types of deals usually are worth well into the eight-figure range.

 

The development of next-generation statistics is a big part of this deal — something that should help F1’s broadcasters tell better stories around the races.

 

Amazon Web Services will use its machine-learning system to analyze data coming from the cars and drivers that can help it identify car, driver and team strategies during telecasts.

 

For race viewers, that means, for example, that broadcasters will be able to use advanced stats to identify the best times during races for cars to make pit stops. Broadcasters also could identify how many laps a car’s tires have left before a team needs to change them.

 

The deal is similar to one Amazon Web Services signed with the NFL last fall that will lead to a player-tracking system that debuts next season. Via a system it calls “Next Gen Stats,” Amazon Web Services will use radio-frequency identification tags placed in player equipment and footballs to generate advanced statistics. That will give broadcasters the means to figure out a wide receiver’s ability to get open, for example. Or it could be used to quantify how elusive a running back is.

 

Amazon Web Services will analyze data coming from the cars and drivers to help identify strategy during telecasts.
Photo: Getty Images

This kind of deal fits in with how F1 executives view their sport. They always refer to F1 as being among the most technologically advanced in the world. Since buying F1, Liberty has been looking for ways to use that data.

 

The Amazon Web Services deal will create something called “F1 Insights powered by AWS.” It will use F1’s proprietary data combined with AWS technology.

 

In May, F1 bought pre-1981 race footage from Brunswick. F1’s new deal will allow Amazon Web Services to digitize and provide metadata from that archive.

 

CAA Sports represented F1 during the deal. Paul Danforth, CAA Sports’ global head of sales, and Murray Barnett, F1’s head of global sponsorship and commercial partnerships, cut the deal. Mike Clayville, Amazon Web Services vice president of worldwide commercial sales, ran point for AWS.

 

John Ourand can be reached at jourand@sportbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ.