Formula one has captured the hearts and minds of millions over the last few years. It was a sport that, only a few years ago was on the minds of far fewer, but now you can’t go on social media without seeing some mention of it.
Netflix in their series ‘Formula one: Drive to Survive’ has created interest not just in the sport, but in the people involved, the managers, the players, the media personalities, everyone. But, it is not a sports docuseries, it’s a drama series with some sport sprinkled in. All the best sports movies have been about the story of the people involved, getting the audience to care about their struggle and Netflix have got people to care about a sport where you don’t see anyone’s face half the time.
That is what other sports need. It is not easy though; Amazon have tried with their all or nothing series where they cover a season with the likes of Man City and Tottenham and a year with the New Zealand national rugby team. All of these series have their charms, but they don’t capture the feeling that Drive to Survive does.
The problem is that people who have no knowledge or interest in the sport before watching these documentaries would also not have much of an interest in them after watching it. It caters to people who already have an interest and knowledge of these teams to truly enjoy these series.
You also do not get a good sense of the sport if you are.
Formula one was made for a series like this, 20 drivers that over a series you can get to know and gives you a feeling of the sport overall. It could be done in a similar way in a sport like golf, of course there would have to be changes and no two sports can be covered in the same way.
It could also be effective to cover a sport that is not the most popular and it allows people to learn about the people in the sport without their preconceived views of the players or teams and people identity with sportsmen themselves.
Social media engagement is key as well as translating series viewers to sports viewers and if Formula one can do it there is no telling what the next resurgent sport may be. In a few years’ time snooker might be the next big sport. If the story is there people will buy in.