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Behind the scenes F1: Meet the woman driving the push to connect F1 to its fans

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Behind the scenes F1: Meet the woman driving the push to connect F1 to its fans
Jul 20, 2017, 7:02 AM

In the latest of our series meeting key figures from behind the scenes of F1, we meet Julie Woods-Moss who is behind the push to connect F1 to its ...

In the latest of our series meeting key figures from behind the scenes of F1, we meet Julie Woods-Moss who is behind the push to connect F1 to its fans via technology.

Woods-Moss is Chief Innovation Officer and CMO of Tata Communications, which works with F1 Teams, F1 broadcasters and with F1 itself and is at the forefront of F1 changing the game when it comes to getting content out to fans, according to the blueprint set out by Liberty Media.

Julie Woods Moss

JA: Now that F1 has had quite a substantial management change you're one of the main empowerers of the digital transformation of the sport. How exciting is that and how much do you think you've changed it so far?

Well I think there's a lot more we can do for fans with the new owners. For example now we know we can get to every fan brilliant quality internet broadcast. So how can we take that forward?

How can the fan have a new experience plus how can F1 monetize that experience? So I think the whole mobile experience is untapped. We're looking at some technology right now that looks at blockchain-type technology for authentication so different fans maybe, the Formula 1 or the drivers or teams could reward loyalty with special content. All the technology is there.

What about the fan experience during events, what can you do there? We saw the trial of internet connectivity in the grandstands at Montreal, for example?

It is feasible. In terms of what we bring, what we bring into the racetrack for a select few, there's nothing to stop us bringing that to the racetrack for the 100s of thousands who are here. It's just having the right partners but the technology's not the inhibitor. And then you could, once you have the basics right, build on that for some augmented experiences. I mean why should it just be like 100 people here, why not allow fans to be virtually here with us?

F1 fans

You get the sense from the new owners Liberty Media that they're open-minded to consider all possibilities that will improve the digital and broadcast offerings and also in the fan experience. You will be in the middle of delivering that, so how do you see it?

Well having chatted with Chase (Carey, F1 CEO), he is all about the fan and already we've seen in just a few months some quite big changes there; having fans able to film unrestricted drivers and teams. So I think already there's a recognition that different fans want different viewing experiences.

Just because you've got amazing short form content for Instagram or Snap[chat] it's not going to stop people who love sitting down and watching it for 90 minutes from watching it. We're really hopeful that we'll basically expand the pie and get more people. I was talking to my son and he said it's hard to get somebody to stay still for 90 minutes. But you know, if I could take it in different ways, what that will be we need to explore. I think it will just bring more to more.

Ross Brawn

My kids are the same, that whole thing about they wouldn't watch a race, but they want to consume bite-size chunks and they want to follow Verstappen, or the younger guys; they're just individual. You can have a more tailor-made experience with these different platforms. It looks to me like a game-changer.

Yes and certainly with the digital technology that exists, we can actually understand peoples' preferences and serve them highly personalized content.

I know in some other sports, even in the motor sector that's starting to happen. Plus we can offer tool-kits to vloggers. You know, your channel is really leading edge in this but there's a lot of other people with voices that maybe we can say to a load of vloggers that, you know, 'you can be assured that you'll get the right technical experience and the right customer experience.' It's all about the quality of the content, and you know, having 100s of people streaming different perspectives.

[Note: JA on F1 is considering a mentor programme for F1 vloggers]

You do the crowdsourcing challenge the F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize and this year it's about the Internet of Things. JA on F1 readers have twice won the $50,000 grand prize, so let's hope one of our guys comes through again this year - but do you see the challenge actually able to bring fans closer to F1 and make them part of innovation and change process.

Well the idea came from many years ago I was involved with XPrize which was the first company that looked at competition as a way of driving innovation, the idea being if you put a financial award that's meaningful then you'll get 100s of thousands of people thinking about it and from that you'll get diverse thinking and unlikely sources of innovation.

And having been involved in XPrize I really thought it would work well with this sport because you've got such enthusiastic fans who tend to enjoy technology. We know the demographics of a Formula 1 fan. A lot of them are, love technology or are at the leading edge so we thought we'd give it a try It's been really exciting how much engagement we've had. I think so far we've engaged with 200,000 fans, now I'd like to treble that but 200,000 Is still, you know (quite a high bar).

If you've got an idea, if you can craft that idea, you never know, you could break thought and then if somebody likes the idea they could then maybe bring other skills

This one is quite interesting - the latest prize - because it really mines new areas so looking at human well-being because the drivers are uber-athletes, yet unlike most sports they put themselves through these incredible gruelling schedules, the jet-lag so the whole role of IOT in well-being gets tapped into and then it's a massive logistics operation here and obviously the track operations so all the hotspots for IOT really just converge here in the one environment: the human aspect, the operational aspect, the data aspect then the logistics.

Marc Marquez

You announced earlier this that you are now going into MotoGP, taking learnings from F1. How's that going to work. Are you just going to roll out what you've done here there?

Well they're slightly different in what they're looking at as a priority. They're very interested in how we can bring the thrill of being on that bike to the fans so we'll be doing probably more work with them focused on on-person cameras.

They've got 18 venues, races and we're expecting about 80 broadcasters at each race to be sharing the platform so that's great so we've already got scale and we're experimenting with on-person cameras and different virtual experiences of being on that bike, so that should be pretty cool. And we've also got the World SuperBike franchise coming on board. And there's quite a lot going on actually. We've seen a bit of an explosion in interest from sport.

Because of what you've done here?

That's been part of it but I think generally sporting franchises are recognising that they're missing out on all this fan engagement so some good things that we're looking at in golf, even, I shouldn't say even, but golf you wouldn't typically say is a high tech sport. In fact a lot of the time you go to a big golf game and they make you leave your mobile phone in the locker, you know that, even screen for them, but that's changing. They're realising that they have to change their format.

So if it rings when a player is about to hit their shot or something?

Well that is the point, that it's all about, golf is big on etiquette you think here in Formula 1 the drivers have to concentrate with an abundance of distractions but golf is more respectful with concentration. But even golf is saying no. They're putting in Wi-Fi, they want to be able to have, if you follow one group of players, they want you to be able to experience what's happening, not just see it on a screen so they're pushing us quite some as well. We've just gotta make sure with golf that it adds enough to the brand. We'll definitely provide the technology but then whether we do more than that. Because Formula 1 sets quite a high standard in terms of its dependence on technology. Without technology this sport can't exist.

To find out more about the F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize and how you can get involved, click on this link

What do you think of the ideas expressed here and the way the sport is evolving down the digital journey? Leave your comments in the section below

Tata Communications has been a sponsor of JA on F1 since July 2012.
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