Business

Auto racing fans can cheer on. No more zooming around the web required

Colin Smith is CEO of Motorsport Network based in Miami.
Colin Smith is CEO of Motorsport Network based in Miami.

Aiming to win the race for motor-sports readers and buyers, Miami-based Motorsport Network has strategically acquired 24 online news, resource and e-commerce sites since 2015.

This month, the global motor-sports media company brought on Colin Smith, a former NASCAR vice president of digital media, as CEO to lead the company’s expansion and entry into new markets as well as to “bring the pieces together” operationally and from a marketing perspective. “There are a lot of different properties in the portfolio and together the power they bring in the motor sports space is pretty remarkable,” Smith said.

Today Motorsport Network properties serve 81 countries in 17 languages, with more than 200 journalists currently covering the motor sports world globally, Smith said. Together, the properties draw 136 million monthly page views, the company said, with the company’s primary site, Motorsport.com, drawing the most.

“We are the largest global digital platform covering motor sports today,” Smith said. He declined to disclose revenues.

Motorsport is one of several media players, both traditional and small, seeking to consolidate motor sports-related digital content, said Adam Jones, a director with consultancy PwC in its sports, hospitality and leisure practice.

“What we’ve seen in the last 12 to 18 months is a movement to aggregate technology and content on a single platform to address the consumer pain around the time and effort required to go between sources,” he said.

Because motor sports enthusiasts tend to be more passionate and knowledgeable than followers of some other sports, authentic content is especially important, Jones said. So is the ability to deliver content that covers a wide-ranging global sport while appealing to regional tastes.

Motorsports Network’s global workforce should help. The company has 550 employees across the world — 80 of them in Miami — who publish 27 global editions of its websites, social media channels and magazines, said Smith.

Motorsport.com, a news site for motor sports enthusiasts, was founded in 1994, but was relaunched in 2014. Under the ownership of entrepreneur/investor and race car owner Mike Zoi, Motorsport Network was formed in 2015, with the revamped Motorsport.com at its core. Motorsport Network then launched Motor1.com, a multilingual car-shopping and auto review site that also includes classic and electric cars. Its spree of acquisitions and partnerships globally has been accelerating. Most of the 24 acquisitions were made in the last 12 months.

The acquisitions have included sites covering news, e-commerce and resources — all strategically positioned to solidify the company’s niche, Smith said. For instance in 2016, Motorsport Network purchased Motors TV, the biggest motor-sports-related television and video platform in Europe; it has become part of Motorsport.tv. Earlier this month, former FOX Sports / SPEED Channel executive Kevin Annison was hired to lead Motorsport.tv.

Motorsport Network also bought Forix, an industry stats and database site. Another purchase: a United Kingdom motor-racing portfolio that not only included Autosport.com and FI Racing but also LAT Images, which has over 13 million images back to the late 1800s in its library. “You can start doing some really unique story telling with that archive,” Smith said.

Motor sports is the second most popular sport globally behind soccer, and even with the recent acquisition spree, Motorsport Network sees an underserved market with opportunities to grow in various sectors, Smith said. Many of its acquisitions — terms were not disclosed — were popular auto racing news or fan sites from regions around the world.

“The special sauce that Motorsport Network brings to the table is the localization of all of the content that we have,” Smith said. “And we are covering all motor sports, not just the most popular.”

Plans include growing its television unit in the U.S. and Latin America, possibly with a 24/7 motor sports channel. It is also building out motorsport.tv as a direct-to-consumer pay product for a monthly fee, and is on the lookout for potential acquisitions in new territories, Smith said.

Said Smith: “There are no slow movers at Motorsport Network, that’s for sure.”

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

Miami Herald writer Jane Wooldridge contributed to this report.

  Comments