Formula One, the king of auto racing sports brands worldwide, has surprisingly decided to change its age-old negative stance towards sponsorship by bookmakers. On Tuesday, the owner of the brand Liberty Media revealed that it has inked a sponsorship and data rights deal with Interregional Sports Group and Sportsradar.
As a part of the ground-breaking agreement, the first-ever F1 sports betting offering will now be developed, allowing fans to wager live on the action. According to an official press release from the firm, the deal has also enabled the creation of in-play betting markets. For the first time in F1 history, millions of fans across the globe will easily be able to place Grand Prix bets online.
This is Formula One’s first strategic partnership, and according to reports, its deal with Liberty Media is worth a hefty US$8 billion. It has been estimated that the deal will be worth at least $100 million over the coming five years, with London-based marketing agency ISG granting betting partnership rights to various regulated betting brands. This will apparently include track side signage, on screen images, and online integration with F1’s social media platforms.
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Finer Deal Details to be Revealed
While the finer details of the deal are still a mystery, ISG would be making an upfront payment to F1, then selling the access rights to interested gambling operators. The other firm in the deal, Sportsradar, is a Swiss-based data-analyzing firm that would provide assistance with the deal’s safety and integrity policies.
In the 40 years of Bernie Ecclestone’s reigning era, endorsements from wagering firms were strictly forbidden. Ecclestone, who ran F1 since the 70's, did not want his brand to be in any way associated with gambling in order to uphold its image. Most leagues, teams, and sports, however, have inked multi-million-dollar sponsorship agreements with bookmakers over the years. These agreements have increased significantly in value over the past few years, allowing some of the world’s most successful teams to earn fortunes in the process.
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F1 Adopts a Modern Approach
The deal between F1, ISG and Sportsradar will not only allow motor racing fans to wager live bets, but it will also allow adverts to be displayed on track-side billboards. Gambling brands will appear on the track and on-screen during televised events, potentially transforming F1 into something very similar to English football.
This season, 17 out of a total of 24 Championship clubs (as well as 9 out of 20 Premier League clubs) have been sponsored by bookies, whose names are always clearly visible on players’ shirts. The move has come as a crucial shift in Formula One’s outdated business strategy – but also comes at a controversial time for gambling firms’ influences on major sports leagues. In the current season, F1 has 21 races scheduled worldwide – but many of the countries in which they are held prohibit gambling advertising during live broadcasting.