Malone’s Liberty Media mulls auto-racing SVOD service for Formula One

Liberty Media may launch a subscription VOD service if it is successful in its efforts to close its $8 billion controlling acquisition of auto-racing brand Formula One. However, company executives noted that any Formula One SVOD service would first have to ensure it had the rights for such an offering.

A streaming service for Formula One “makes a lot of sense for them and us,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said today during the company’s quarterly conference call with investors, according to a Deadline article reporting his remarks. Liberty Media is controlled by Liberty billionaire John Malone, and houses the company’s stakes in SiriusXM Radio, the Atlanta Braves, Charter Communications and other entities.

However, Liberty Media’s Maffei added that the rights surrounding a Formula One SVOD service would need to first be sorted out. "I don't think they're impenetrable, but there's things to be worked through," Maffei told analysts, according to a Hollywood Reporter article about the same call.

Liberty Media and CVC Capital Partners in September announced their intention to acquire 100 percent of the shares of Delta Topco, the parent company of Formula One. The deal is subject to the “satisfaction of certain conditions,” the companies noted. The added that they expect the deal to close by the first quarter of 2017. 

(However, according to new reports, it’s worth noting that Britain's Competition and Markets Authority may launch an investigation into the transaction to ensure it doesn’t cross anti-competition laws.)

Nonetheless, Liberty Media’s interest in a Formula One SVOD service is noteworthy as it reflects the company’s potential interest in moving further to direct-to-consumer streaming services. Indeed, according to Deadline, Liberty Media’s Maffei said that streaming services overall are “seeing some traction” but that the company doesn’t yet see them as a “wholesale substitution” for traditional pay TV.

He added though that the company might also consider an SVOD for its Braves baseball team.

As for its financials, Liberty Media reported consolidated earnings of $169 million, way up from the $41 million the company posted in the year-ago quarter. Liberty’s total revenues clocked in at roughly $1.4 billion, up almost 8 percent year over year.

Of course, Liberty isn’t the first pay-TV media company to head toward the direct-to-consumer market. HBO, CBS and others are already offering streaming content directly to users around the world.