In MotoGP, MotoGP

The acquisition of Dorna by Liberty Media marks a significant milestone in the world of motorsports. This strategic move, confirmed after months of speculation, involves Liberty Media obtaining an 86% majority stake in Dorna, the organization responsible for MotoGP, MotoE, Superbike, Women’s Circuit Racing Championships, and numerous other global racing events. This historic development brings MotoGP and Formula 1 under the same organizational umbrella, potentially transforming the landscape of two and four-wheel racing.

Background of the Acquisition

Liberty Media’s involvement in MotoGP had been anticipated, with several indicators pointing towards this eventuality. The appointment of Dan Rossomondo to a senior position in Dorna, coupled with the introduction of the first US sponsor (eBay) and negotiations with the American broadcaster TNT, signaled a clear intention to integrate MotoGP into Liberty Media’s portfolio. Further signs included Stefano Domenicali’s frequent presence in the MotoGP paddock and the emergence of the new Team Trackhouse.

Alex Marquez

Strategic Implications for MotoGP

The acquisition by Liberty Media is poised to bring significant benefits to both parties. Dorna gains a partner with a proven track record in enhancing the commercial value of motorsports, as evidenced by Liberty Media’s success with Formula 1. For Liberty Media, the acquisition offers an opportunity to diversify and expand its influence in motorsports at a relatively low cost.

Comparative Analysis: MotoGP and Formula 1

MotoGP’s turnover, approximately one-sixteenth that of Formula 1, highlights the potential for growth under Liberty Media’s stewardship. Formula 1’s revenue soared to $3.2 billion in 2023, driven by increased sponsorship, broadcasting rights, and a thriving global fan base. By comparison, MotoGP’s total revenue from sponsors was $87.95 million in 2023, with the series’ overall revenue reaching 486 million euros. The disparity between these figures underscores the vast opportunity for MotoGP to replicate some of Formula 1’s successful strategies.

Lessons from Formula 1’s Success

Liberty Media’s management of Formula 1 over the past eight years provides a blueprint for MotoGP’s potential evolution. Key strategies that contributed to Formula 1’s exponential growth include:

  • Demographic Expansion: Attracting a younger and more diverse global audience.
  • Enhanced Media Content: Producing world-class content that elevates the sport’s entertainment value and business potential.
  • Event Spectacle: Transforming races into major events with record-breaking attendance.
  • Profit Redistribution: Implementing a system that ensures healthy budgets for all teams through profit-sharing from television and media rights.
  • Iconic Series: The success of “Drive to Survive” on Netflix, which boosted fan engagement and broadened the sport’s appeal.

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Potential Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the promising outlook, several challenges and opportunities lie ahead. Key areas of focus include:

  • Media and Broadcasting: Addressing the need for more flexible multimedia manipulation to amplify the sport’s reach. Redefining broadcasting agreements to enhance audience figures, particularly in countries with stagnant or declining viewership.
  • US Market Penetration: Increasing the number of US-based events to tap into the large American market.
  • Sponsorship and Revenue: Re-evaluating the commercial revenue sharing system to attract new sponsors and enhance financial stability for teams.
  • Technological Regulations: Adjusting participation regulations to emphasize on-track competition over technological advancements, thereby making races more exciting and accessible to a broader audience.

The Future of MotoGP Under Liberty Media

Liberty Media’s focus will be on making MotoGP more commercially, mediatically, and economically attractive. This includes:

  • Storytelling and Branding: Enhancing the narrative around the sport to highlight the athleticism, skill, and drama inherent in high-level motorcycle racing.
  • Market Expansion: Exploring new markets and involving new manufacturers to broaden the sport’s appeal and financial base.
  • Inclusivity and Sustainability: Continuing to integrate MotoE, promoting the use of eco-friendly materials and fuels, and supporting initiatives that align with ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) principles.

Dawn of a new era

The acquisition of Dorna by Liberty Media heralds a new era for MotoGP. With Liberty Media’s expertise and resources, MotoGP is poised for substantial growth, both commercially and in terms of global reach. This transformation will likely bring exciting changes for fans, teams, and commercial partners, positioning MotoGP alongside Formula 1 as a premier motorsport series.

By leveraging Liberty Media’s proven strategies and adapting them to the unique context of motorcycle racing, MotoGP is set to embark on an exciting journey of growth and transformation.

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Riccardo Tafà
Riccardo Tafà
Managing Director for RTR Sports, Riccardo graduated in law at the University of Bologna. He began his career in London in PR, then started working in two and four-wheelers. A brief move to Monaco followed before returning to Italy. There he founded RTR, first a consulting firm and then a sports marketing company which, eventually, he moved back to London.
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