Rossomondo: No bundling of MotoGP and F1 rights under Liberty

(Steve Wobser/Getty Images)
(Steve Wobser/Getty Images)

MotoGP will continue to be run as a separate business to Formula 1 and there is unlikely to be any bundling of the media or sponsorship rights to the two properties following Liberty Media’s acquisition of the motorcycling series.

That is the message from Daniel Rossomondo, MotoGP’s chief commercial officer, speaking to SportBusiness ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas and in the wake of Liberty Media’s swoop for 86 per cent of Dorna Sports, the promoter and rights-holder for MotoGP, that values the series at €4.2bn ($4.56bn) overall.

News of the exclusive talks, which first emerged in March, led observers to predict how the combination of the two properties under one owner would help to drive efficiencies and increased profits for the two events. It has been suggested that Liberty could offer sponsorship sales across both properties to create greater reach for brands, as well combine media rights sales to create jeopardy in major motorsport markets. But at the same time, there is a recognition that the deal will be probed by regulators, especially given one of Dorna and Formula 1’s former owners, CVC Capital Partners, was forced to sell its holding in the organisation by European Commission competition authorities after buying Formula 1.  

MotoGP and F1 both recently announced sponsorship renewals with logistics firm DHL, while Formula 1 and the Moto2 and Moto3 series that are also promoted by Dorna each have tyre supply relationships with Pirelli. The two properties are also expected to announce standalone deals with a further common sponsor in the coming weeks.

However, Rossomondo predicts the sponsorship rights to the two series will continue to be marketed on a standalone basis.

“I’m running the company separately – yes, we have some common partners, but we race in different places, our calendars try not to overlap, and I think we deliver for our partners really well and we have to focus on that,” he says.

“I have to really be focused on what MotoGP can do for our partners, new and existing, and I can’t really worry about F1 right now.”

According to an investor presentation delivered by Liberty Media president and chief executive Greg Maffei and MotoGP chief executive Carmelo Ezpeleta at the time the acquisition plans were announced, Dorna’s motorcycling properties generated revenues of €486m last year.

MotoGP media rights income accounted for 43 per cent, or €208.9m, of this figure, while MotoGP sponsorship income accounted for roughly 17 per cent, or €82.6m of the sum. Dorna’s other motorcycle racing properties, which include the Superbike World Championship (World SBK), the MotoE electric motorcycling series and the Road to MotoGP junior series, accounted for eight per cent (€38.9m) of the sum.

Dan Rossomondo (credit: Dorna Sports)


MotoGP headhunted Rossomondo to replace its long-serving chief commercial officer Manel Arroyo in April last year. He joined the motorcycling series from the NBA where he had most recently served as vice-president of global partnerships and media. The US native says Liberty’s interest in MotoGP validated his own decision to join the series.

“I’ve just been here a year, but seeing someone like them, who’ve got the financial acumen and business proficiency and capability that they have, be as excited about the prospect of the sport and the business as I have been, was really heartening to me,” he says.

He argues Liberty’s input would also help to reinforce the changes he is attempting to implement at MotoGP.

“What I do think it means for my commercial team is that all the things that I’ve been preaching since I got here last April, about working at pace and with a sense of urgency, about strategic thinking, about innovation, about telling stories for brands, about all the things that I know are needed to make us be a world-class commercial team, have to be done,” he warns.

Cultural relevance

Rossomondo adds there would be “no bundling” of F1 and MotoGP’s media rights, with the standalone approach echoing comments made by Maffei during the investor call in early April.

Instead, he says MotoGP will continue to work with its broadcast partners to build audiences and subscriber numbers and Liberty was most likely to bring its expertise to bear in helping the motorcycling series in this area.

The F1 owner has increased an appetite for F1 in the US to the point where it could command a 2,000-per-cent increase in the value of the series media rights in the country with broadcaster ESPN. The launch of the Netflix ‘Drive to Survive’ series is regularly credited with marketing the series to US audiences and is also thought to be behind an increase in the number of US-based sponsors for the motorsport.

Rossomondo notes: “I think they [Liberty] can really help us – and I would say that this is also a challenge for many sports properties: how do we transcend our current audience base? How do we get out of just being a ‘motorsport’, or being a ‘sport’, and actually become more culturally relevant?

“In no way shape or form, do you have to be a motorcycle rider to like MotoGP – it’s just not a thing [prerequisite]. I’ve never played American football in my life but I’m a huge American football fan because it’s part of the culture that I grew up in. So that’s what we’re trying to get to here: how do we make the sport palatable and appealing to a vast swathe of the population?”

(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

When Rossomondo joined MotoGP last year, the assumption was that he had been drafted in to mimic the approach adopted by F1 under Liberty and build the motorsport’s commercial footprint in the US. He concedes that this is likely to continue to be his remit under Liberty, especially considering the company’s track record in the country.

“I think that was an important part of it [the deal] and it’s not because, quote, unquote, they’re Americans and I’m American,” he says. “It is because if you look at the biggest commercial market for sports in the world, it happens to be America – I mean it’s just a natural [progression], anybody who looked at the business and wants to see growth, wants to see increased fandom would look at the United States and say, ‘Hey, we need to do a better job here.’”


The American argues there are also obstacles to joint race hosting deals across F1 and MotoGP, which would allow the two events to penetrate new markets as well as reduce broadcast production costs, transport overheads and the environmental impact of both series.

“It’s not feasible because of the tracks, frankly,” he explains. “We can’t race where they can race, we can’t race on streets, so that’s not feasible. But we obviously have five shared circuits that we race at together in the world and then there are some circuits that they have that are potentially modified, but I think that’s a long way off.”

Set against this, Liberty’s ownership and Formula 1’s relationships with other motor circuits around the world are likely to strengthen MotoGP’s hand in negotiating new race hosting agreements and vice versa. F1 has previously raced on circuits that currently host MotoGP races, having staged races in Jerez between 1986 and 1997 and a one-off race in Mugello, the venue for the Gran Premio D’Italia, in 2020 as it tried to put on a calendar of events during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dorna generated 32 per cent of its revenues from race promotion fees in 2023, equating to around €155.5m overall. Earlier this month it announced it would earn €8m per Grand Prix from the the government of Aragon for its new three-year hosting contract that will see races staged at the Circuito de Alcañiz in the region.

(Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)


In his earlier interview with SportBusiness, Rossomondo said he wanted to replicate F1’s appeal to technology brands and create more storytelling opportunities in the motorsport for companies from this sector. On this front, he says MotoGP is holding discussions with ‘high-tech’ firms and is hoping to announce new technology-focused sponsorship agreements in the coming months.

“Other sports properties like the NBA that I used to work at, they’ve done such great things, with technology, and I, frankly, have a better technology story than they do,” he says.

“We are all about technology and innovation, we take this show all across the world, we pick up and put down these massive media centres in 18 countries, we broadcast all across the world live and […] we do our own production. Our bikes are the epitome of technological innovation, so I’ve got this great technology story, and we really don’t have that many people partnering with us in that regard. So, to me, that’s the thing that I want to emulate from the NBA and from the EPL [English Premier League] frankly, and Formula One.”

Shortly after Rossomondo joined, MotoGP signed a four-year agreement with GoPro that bore some of the characteristics described by the former NBA executive. The brand had previously captured content from race circuits in 2015 and had at one stage been the title sponsor of the German Grand Prix.

Under the latest deal, content captured by GoPro cameras will be shared across MotoGP’s social and digital platforms, including a GoPro OnBoard lap preview of each track. The US technology firm also secured the title sponsorship rights to one Grand Prix this season in addition to trackside inventory.

The motorcycling series’ three-year extension with DHL, announced this March, included the MotoE electric motorcycling series in the firm’s package of rights.

Dorna has also renewed its sponsorship deal with sunglasses and eyewear brand Oakley. The new three-year deal includes some trackside signage and VIP Village hospitality rights.