Quantel Joins Formula One Grid

SVG Europe Editorial Director Andy Stout reports from BBC’s Studio One in London.

The Marussia Virgin Racing team co-opted the BBC’s Studio One at Television Centre last week for the launch of its entrant for the 2011 Formula One season, the MVR-02, with sponsorship from Quantel standing proud on the rear-wing end plates.

Given that, the last time Quantel had anything to do with sports sponsorship, it involved the local village cricket team at Welford Park near its Newbury base, becoming part of the global Formula One circus represents a bit of a step change for the company. Certainly, it is a move that has raised several eyebrows in what remains a cash-strapped industry just emerging from recession.

But, given that both Quantel and MVR count Lloyds Development Capital as one of their major backers, it’s safe to assume that some deal was done behind the scenes on costs, and, as Quantel spokesman Roger Thornton points out, “We are the only company in our space doing this.”

In terms of raising profile, it’s therefore a no-brainer. As part of the deal, Quantel will get to take current and potential customers to a dozen races in this year’s 20-race calendar, a powerful closing tool if there ever was one. It will also gets its hands on some invaluable 3D F1 footage. Can Communicate filmed the launch in 3D and is contracted to film the forthcoming F1 open test session in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, in 3D.

Quantel execs say their equipment is currently used by 150 broadcasters around the world, out of a total market of about 1,500, so the F1 sponsorship is viewed as an instrument to help Quantel grow its customer base and progress to the next order of magnitude.

Helping the manufacturer in its quest to do that is the worldwide growth in 3D channels, which it has helpfully started illustrating with a comprehensive listing of all the currently available channels at http://blog.quantel.eu/2011/01/3d-channels-and-content-worldwide. It makes fascinating reading, and, given that F1 is now finally available to broadcasters in an HD feed this season, you can’t help wondering how long it will be before that Quantel logo is zipping past viewers in 3D.

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