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"Motorsport needs to take more risks" say social media experts

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"Motorsport needs to take more risks" say social media experts
Jun 24, 2016, 1:38 PM

Motorsport needs to take more risks and make greater use of new social media and technologies to attract new fans, that was the view of senior figu...

Motorsport needs to take more risks and make greater use of new social media and technologies to attract new fans, that was the view of senior figures from gaming and social media.

Tomos Grace, who is UK Head of Sport at YouTube, was speaking on the final day of the FIA’s Sport Conference in Turin, urged national motorsport bodies (ASNs) to further promote their championships by using emerging technologies such as virtual reality and gaming, but questioned whether the sport was willing to take the necessary risks to conduct those experiments.

FIA Sport Conference 2016

He said: “The key thing is the exclusive content you have access to. There is a lot being done well, but there is a huge opportunity for the sport to integrate technology even better.

“There is an inherent advantage in motorsport – to integrate things like virtual reality and gaming is much easier than in other sports. What maybe holds you back is the fact that other sports are more willing to take risks.

“In a digital environment it’s a question of trial and error – you have to make the content, try it, fail quickly, and try something else until you get it right.”

Sergio Perez

Also speaking in the same session was Jim Liaw, the president and co-founder of Formula Drift Holdings, a drifting series based in the USA that has gathered millions of followers on its social media channels.

Liaw explained how his series had used many emerging technologies to try and reach new followers across the world.

He said: “Every time there is a new technology, we’ve been there to experiment and to learn from our audience. It’s a cost effective, but exponential way to reach people, and it’s been very successful in reaching fans – we can reach any viewer anywhere in the world who has an internet connection.”

F1 TV

Kees van de Grint, Vice President of CIK-FIA world karting championship, described using new technology and social media as a “good thing” for motorsport. He believes they are a good first step to try and get young people interested in the sport before they go on to become active participants.

He said: “I think that kids know there is no substitute for the real thing. All these

young people who are into new technology all still dream about the real thing, so it’s a good thing there are more ways than ever to ignite their passion.”

Motorsport, and Formula 1 in particular, is often accused of lagging behind in the practice of using new technologies and social media to attract new fans and widen their coverage to existing supporters.

F1 TV

In F1’s case, this was because Bernie Ecclestone held the view there was no money to be made by giving away content on social media and the binding nature of the sport’s TV contracts also made that difficult.

But over the last 18-months, F1 has been making greater use of social media and board member Sir Martin Sorrel recently advocated the use of virtual reality in expanding the its coverage.

What do you make of the discussion on new technology and social media? Do you think motorsport needs to take more risks to attract new fans? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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