ZB

Formula 1 TV Pro launches in NZ, double-edged sword for Spark Sport

Author
Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 16 Jul 2021, 8:01am
F1 TV Pro incudes frills such as the ability to switch between first-person camera mounted on each of the cars. (Photo / F1 TV)
F1 TV Pro incudes frills such as the ability to switch between first-person camera mounted on each of the cars. (Photo / F1 TV)

Formula 1 TV Pro launches in NZ, double-edged sword for Spark Sport

Author
Chris Keall, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 16 Jul 2021, 8:01am

From today, Kiwis have access to F1 TV Pro, the official Formula 1 streaming service that's previously been geo-blocked to people in New Zealand.

F1 Pro TV offers frills including a multi-screen display and the ability to hop between different "channels" to see the view from one of 20 onboard cameras mounted on different cars for first-person view of what it's like to race at 320km/h.

There are two ways to get F1 Pro TV.

Those who subscribe to Spark Sport - which has been carrying coverage of F1 races since it launched in 2019 - will get F1 Pro TV thrown in for free (after activating their complementary sub by going to f1tv.formula1.com and clicking "Activate and Sync My Account"; Spark has also posted instructions at help.sparksport.co.nz.

Alternatively, Kiwis can sign up directly to F1 Pro TV via the streaming service's website, where New Zealanders can now get a monthly pass for $14.99 or an annual pass for $99.99.

A Spark Sport spokesman refused to say if the telco got any clip of the ticket when a Kiwi customer subscribed directly to F1 TV Pro, saying "That is commercially sensitive information."

The spokesman added that those who took the Spark Sport option would get access to the streaming service's full range of sport, including cricket and English Premier League football, while those who subscribed to F1 TV Pro directly would not get access to Formula 2 or Formula 3 - to which Spark Sport maintains exclusive rights.

F1 TV is owned by Liberty Media, the US conglomerate that also owns the F1 competition.

The services it offers vary by country. Kiwis get F1 TV Access and Race Replay (that is basic live and on-demand coverage of races, as Spark Sport has been carrying) plus F1 Pro TV).

Unlike Spark Sport, F1 TV Pro does not have any smart TV support. Neither does it have Apple TV support. Its app is supported by Chromecast, and recent Apple and Android phones and tablets (a full list is here).

The rise of direct-to-the-consumer streaming services is complicating life for local broadcasters, and local streaming services, worldwide.

On the entertainment side of things, Sky TV (and most of its peers around the world) lost its Disney channels as the Mouse House pulled back rights so its new Disney+ streaming service could be the exclusive home of most of its content.

Sky also lost exclusive rights to Discovery content, paving the way for the launch of Discovery+ in NZ.

And in sports, Sky's new deal with ESPN (majority-owned by Disney) also gives Sky subscribers access to content from the global sports giant via its ESPN+ app.

Meanwhile, Spark Sport will be keeping an eye on the English Premier League's putative plan - interrupted by the pandemic, for the meantime - to create a global "Netflix of football" in the manner already established by the major US sporting codes.