The hottest topics (and quite a few learnings) from Black Book Motorsport’s Digital Summit

Last week’s Black Book Digital Motorsport Summit brought together some of the biggest names and media personalities from within the motorsports industry at the home of the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

These sorts of events are always a great way to network with people in the industry as well as an opportunity to learn an awful lot about trends and best practices in the sector.

Sport is an industry where those who work within it can often get siloed in their own roles. After all, it’s such a broad topic that it’s almost impossible to keep track of every development that happens.

Esports is a weapon of choice for motorsport brands

The rapid growth of esports is a prime example.

Reaching new audiences (who are younger, global and on digital media) is a must for motorsport, a collection of sports which have often seemed ill-equipped with the demands of the digital age.

Formula One’s attempts to secure the next generation of motorsport fans aren’t limited to esports. Julian Tan, the group’s head of esports, cautioned those interested in taking the plunge to know what they want from an esports venture before starting, but stressed that there are huge rewards on offer for motorsport properties who do.

What are the challenges in esports at the moment?

On the other hand, esports is not yet a mature area for doing business.

“It’s the wild west at the moment,” said Darren Cox of Millennial Esports, before adding his recommendation for what the industry needs to do to help it mature. “We need to ensure there’s a structure around Motorsport eSports built by the wider community.”

Football, for example, has one stand-out game in FIFA (Pro Evolution exists as a competitor, but the sport’s biggest leagues have committed to EA Sports’ version) whereas motorsport has many titles to choose from.

Motorsport does have an advantage however – no matter how good you are at FIFA, those skills don’t mean you’ll be good at the physical game of football, but being a good driver in F1 esports might show you can be a good driver in real life.

Inaccessible sports need to think about how they become accessible

Barriers to entry when it comes to motorsport are high. The cost of the hardware is prohibitive and indeed there’s personal risk involved, too.

Esports takes both of those problems away, and for a sport that’s looking to attract young people as fans and as participants, that can be a big advantage.

What’s next for motorsport on TV? Is OTT the future?

But despite the fact that there are clear areas in which motorsports find themselves in unique positions, there are other places where they aren’t immune to wider hot topics. OTT content distribution versus linear broadcasting is one of them.

Long-term rights contracts with broadcasters which are still running their course was a constant theme of the day when it came to discussing the difficulties some sports have in creating their own OTT content. But clearly online media is a crucial strand when it comes to engaging with existing fans and attracting new ones.

Don’t forget we have an event of our own coming up later in January! We’ll be chatting new technology for 2019 in London for the first #DSLondon event of the year:

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 775 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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