The bizarre world of the F1 media

The world of Formula 1 media is a difficult one these days. Everyone is cutting back because free news on the Internet has reduced conventional publishing to a shadow of its former self. What is most interesting is that there is some consolidation going on in the electronic world with a NASDAQ-listed company called Net Element Inc, having been quite active of late. The company used to be owned by American entrepreneur Mike Zoi, but he has been reducing his involvement significantly in recent years and the business is now part-owned and chaired by a Kazakh entrepreneur called Kenges Rakishev and is part-owned and run by Russian-born CEO Oleg Firer. The company was rather unusual in that it dealt primarily in mobile payments and transactional services (and gained in value recently thanks to a deal with Apple) while at the same time having a division that ran motorsport media operations. Net Element acquired Motorsport.com, a Florida-based website that reported on F1 using a Global Motorsport Media (GMM) feed, back in 2012. GMM has been operating for some years selling cheap news feeds about F1 to a number of websites that want to be considered as F1 media. Like most of its customers, however, GMM has never been accredited by the FIA, but prospered by collecting up all the stories it could find on the Internet, repackaging them into a daily news feed for websites that presumably could not even afford staff to do the same thing, let alone sending anyone to the races.

A little over a year ago Net Element acquired GMM, in a deal worth $35,410 in cash with a monthly consulting fee for the former owner of $6,640 for a period of 12 months.

Six months later Net Element decided to divest itself of the media activities and sold them to a company called T1T Lab LLC, owned by Zoi. This means that for the last 18 months all the websites using GMM feeds were, in effect, providing money for a rival website, which is fairly amusing when you stop to think about it. One can only presume that its customers either do not know this piece of information or did not care.

In an effort to buy itself a little bit more credibility, motorsport.com has recently engaged the services of former Autosport editor Charles Bradley, his role being to build the website into a bigger and better business, presumably with revenues derived from advertising, as relying on your rivals to go on paying for you when word gets out what you are doing is rather pushing your luck.

Still, one has to be impressed by the motorsport.com getting their rivals to pay for their business…

23 thoughts on “The bizarre world of the F1 media

  1. It’s funny, Motorsport.com’s news quality has definitely gone downhill. They were pretty good a few years ago for decent fodder for the eyes. The main attraction for me was their gallery, and to some degree, their coverage of far-flung events. Some good photos in there…

    Now it’s just clickbait, stories that don’t match the sensationalist headlines, and stories or editorials with conclusions that don’t logically follow from the quotes/evidence/etc. The backlash in the Facebook comments from fans is actually rather humorous.

  2. I would imagine that as long as each website attracts enough advertisers to offset what they pay for GMM feeds and make a profit they would fall into the ‘do not care’ bracket.

    That would go hand-in-hand with a ‘happy to re-circulate uncorroborated news’ philosophy.

    1. A business who gave shares to it’s debtors would not last very long !
      (it gives them to it’s creditors).

  3. The saddest thing of all is that the highest quality media coverage doesn’t necessarily survive the onslaught of junk food, click bait media feeds.

  4. Is there not a website format out there yet that you could operate your blog within it? Not a paywall but one that allows you to generate revenue through clicks and peripheral advertising. James Allen’s site format is good (to allow advertisers/sponsors) I prefer your content and the dialogue here. I think anyone new that is semi-serious about F1 reading your content would visit regularly for the no B.S factor and lack of cobbled together filler pieces.

    I’m guessing the other formats likely come with a cost on top of the onerous time already invested and involve management requirements, more hats to wear for a globe trotting guy, not easy. It would be nice to see you get a piece of the pie as well the crap peddlers whom unfortunately exist to fill the sensationalist tabloid appetite.

    1. It would be a shame (imo) for the format of this blog to change materially. There is something punchy and authoritative about the way Joe delivers his F1 news here. It is the perfect blend of fact, insider rumour and observation and regular readers know that not a comma or full stop is a waste of space.

      That saying, I can imagine that the small amount advertising (mostly to Joe’s other ventures) probably brings in scant revenue which belies the value of the content. It is not our business to tell Joe how to run his business (!) but simply syndicating or incorporating what is in effect his feed into a glossy web site would devalue the offer.

      There is an air of exclusivity here, not only the entertaining posts but also the high standard of the comments, many of which may dissappear if this site was put behind a paywall (I realise this has not been suggested but it is one idea).

      A conventional news site has two goals, to maximise it’s readership and increase income but this is not a conventional site and I fear if Joe gets sucked into the mainstream some of his energy and ability to engage one on one with his readers would diluted.

      Money is not everything in life but it must be getting more and more expensive to attend all the races and it would be nice to think that the financial rewards that Joe generates means he can do this in high style and without having to cut corners. I therefore hope an innovative way can be found to enable this to happen whilst at the same time keeping as much as possible of the present format.

      Thank you so much for this blog, it is a joy when I wake up and check my Twitter feed over my first coffee and see there is a new post here !

    2. Andrew, you say

      > James Allen’s site format is good (to allow advertisers/sponsors)

      however since his latest redesign a few months ago I no longer visit his site as I find it far too awkward and infuriating to navigate. Don’t know what he was thinking. The previous layout was quite good, though.

      However I agree with others here who say that I prefer Joe’s blog just as it is; the low-key approach helps to ensure that the quality of debate remains high. Of course, whether a redesign would bring him more money (albeit at the expense its exclusivity) is another matter…

      1. It seems like James has dialled back his involvement in non BBC ventures. Perhaps they saw it as a conflict whereby he may have been profiting from his role as a BBC pundit.

  5. So the little puzzle that I envisioned when researching GMM (after you made a comment about GMM in an earlier post) was true. I wonder if the other F1 monkeys will realize that they are supporting their main competitor. Somehow I doubt they will… LOL

  6. its customers either do not know this piece of information or do not care

    Joe, I am affraid most of the people fit into three categories:
    1. They do not know because they do not care.
    2. They do not know and they do not care.
    3. They would not know even if they cared, because none of the information sources they use would tell them and they do not read information sources that would tell them.

  7. This column focuses on a problem that is worrisome to me: the decline of good reporting (like Joe’s), specifically, and journalism in general.

    Financial people, who have the loudest voices in media companies today (especially print), argue convincingly that news outlets should cut staff (overhead) and aggregate information from cheaper sources. This is a proven method to reduce costs and (quickly becoming the most ominous words in this century) “increase value to shareholders.”

    Younger readers, who look to the Web first for information, accept this discouragingly readily as a “benefit” of technology. Older readers, like me, who grew up reading long, in-depth newspaper articles and magazines notice the dramatic decline in quality and despair this mongrelization of the news.

    I now live in a world where fast and cheap is preferable to slower and better. And, I’m pessimistic about anything changing so long as making more and more money is the sole objective of these businesses.

  8. Maybe relevant, maybe not: in the States, Net Element sponsored the 2012 Ferrari Corse Clienti racing series. Maybe just cold business, or maybe they actually do have a bit of legit sporting interest in their hearts.

  9. I just opened a certain android app “reader” for F1 and was amused. Certainly ALL of the so-called media outlets on this app get their info from GMM.
    It is funny, especially the one media outlet whose initials also are a nickname for a man’s private parts! (I hope that puts a grin on your face)

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