Scheduling: The 2019 Diriyah E-Prix

As the traditional motor racing season winds down, the electric sounds of Formula E return to our screens live from Diriyah in Saudi Arabia. Now in its sixth season, Diriyah plays host to round one of 14, which concludes in London next July.

The double-header takes place across Friday and Saturday, with live coverage continuing across BBC’s digital platforms and Eurosport. As of writing, BT Sport are not covering Formula E this season, so fans wanting to watch shakedown and practice will need to head to Formula E’s social media platforms.

In addition, based on information from Formula E’s ‘Ways to Watch‘ page, UK fans will not have access to the YouTube stream for qualifying and the race, meaning that the BBC and Eurosport are the only legal ways for fans to watch the live action.

Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti return to commentary, with Vernon Kay and Nicki Shields on presenting duties. However, Bob Varsha is not returning to his role in the commentary box, Formula E opting to return to a two-man booth. As of writing, there are no immediate plans for Formula E’s radio commentary feed to return as season six begins.

Fans watching Formula E should expect to see a few new camera angles this season, with e-racing365 reporting that helmet cameras are set to make their way into the coverage.

Formula E – Diriyah (race 1)
Shakedown, Practice and Qualifying air live on YouTube
22/11 – Qualifying
=> 07:45 to 09:15 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 07:55 to 09:10 (Eurosport 2)
22/11 – Race
=> 11:00 to 13:30 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 11:45 to 13:00 (Eurosport 2)
22/11 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights (Quest)

Formula E – Diriyah (race 2)
Shakedown, Practice and Qualifying air live on YouTube
23/11 – Qualifying
=> 07:45 to 09:15 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 07:55 to 09:05 (Eurosport 2)
23/11 – Race
=> 11:00 to 13:30 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 12:00 to 13:00 (Eurosport 2)
23/11 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights (Quest)

Virgin Australia Supercars – Newcastle
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
23/11 – 04:15 to 07:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 1)
24/11 – 04:15 to 07:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport 3)

As always, if plans change the schedule will be updated.

Update on November 21st – So, in a late addition, the big news is that it appears the BBC are also showing Formula E qualifying live this season across their digital platforms. Meanwhile, Eurosport’s online Player service will cover both Formula E practice and the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Series live.


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Scheduling: The 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

The championship race may be over, but the racing continues as Formula 1 heads to Interlagos in Brazil for the penultimate round of the 2019 season.

Unusually, the race on Sunday faces tough sporting competition in the form of England’s last Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo. The match kicks off at 17:00 live on ITV, whilst the Grand Prix starts at 17:10 on Sky.

Although England themselves have already qualified for the tournament next Summer, expect the football to put a significant dent in F1’s audience figures.

Elsewhere, both the World Rally Championship and MotoGP series conclude in Australia and Valencia respectively, the latter airing live on BT Sport 1 for the season finale instead of its usual BT Sport 2 home.

Fans of the annual Macau Grand Prix will need to look elsewhere for viewing options, with no UK TV channel currently airing the race (last year the race aired live on Eurosport).

Channel 4 F1
16/11 – 22:50 to 00:20 – Qualifying Highlights
17/11 – 22:30 to 00:30 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
15/11 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 1
15/11 – 17:45 to 19:45 – Practice 2
16/11 – 14:45 to 16:30
=> 14:45 – Practice 3
=> 16:10 – Paddock Walkabout
16/11 – 17:00 to 19:30 – Qualifying
=> 17:00 – Pre-Show
=> 17:55 – Qualifying
17/11 – 15:30 to 20:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event from 16:00)
=> 16:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 17:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 19:00 – Paddock Live
=> 20:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
14/11 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
14/11 – 18:00 to 18:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
15/11 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The Story so Far
16/11 – 19:30 to 20:00 – The F1 Show
20/11 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
15/11 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15/11 – 17:55 to 19:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15/11 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
16/11 – 17:55 to 19:10 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
17/11 – 17:00 to 19:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

MotoGP – Valencia
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
15/11 – 07:45 to 16:15 – Practice 1 and 2 (BT Sport 2)
16/11 – 08:00 to 16:00 (BT Sport 1)
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
=> 15:00 – MotoE: Race 1
17/11 – 07:15 to 14:30 (BT Sport 1)
=> 07:15 – Warm Ups
=> 08:45 – MotoE: Race 2
=> 09:30 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag
18/11 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights (Quest)

World Rally Championship – Australia (All Live – BT Sport Extra 1)
Also airs live on WRCPlus.com (£)
14/11 – 05:30 to 07:45 – Stages 1 and 2
14/11 – 21:45 to 07:00 – Stages 3 and 10
15/11 – 21:00 to 08:30 – Stages 11 to 19
16/11 – 19:00 to 04:00 – Stages 20 to 25

World Rally Championship – Australia
15/11 – 12:30 to 13:00 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
16/11 – 04:00 to 05:00 – Stage 16 (BT Sport 1)
16/11 – 12:15 to 12:45 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
16/11 – 21:30 to 22:30 – Stage 22 (BT Sport 1)
17/11 – 11:15 to 11:45 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
18/11 – 18:55 to 20:00 – Highlights (5Spike)

World Touring Car Cup – Macau (Eurosport)
15/11 – 05:30 to 07:00 – Qualifying
16/11 – 06:50 to 07:45 – Race 1
17/11 – 00:40 to 01:15 – Race 2
17/11 – 03:10 to 04:15 – Race 3

As always, the schedule will be updated if plans change.

Update on November 13th – The final round of the World Rally Championship season in Australia has been cancelled due to the rapidly spreading bush fires. On the F1 front, both BBC and Sky got their Friday and Saturday schedules out by an hour, I have updated this article with the revised schedule.

For readers looking for the action from Macau, that airs live on Motorsport.tv‘s online platform.


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BBC retains Formula E rights for 2019-20 season

Updated on November 14th.

The BBC will continue to air Formula E during the upcoming 2019-20 season, organisers have confirmed.

The free-to-air broadcaster, who took over the rights from Channel 5 last season, will air every race live via their online platforms, encompassing BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website, and BBC’s Red Button service.

In addition, the Marrakesh and Rome rounds of the championship will air on either BBC One or BBC Two, an increase on the one race (Hong Kong) that aired on BBC Two last season.

Although the London E-Prix is returning to the Formula E calendar this season as a double-header event, there are no plans to air either race on either BBC One or BBC Two.

Motorsport Broadcasting understands that this is due to E-Prix weekend clashing with the opening weekend of the Olympics from Tokyo. The 2020 Olympic Games begin on July 24th, with the double-header taking place on July 25th and 26th.

Formula E’s existing arrangements with Eurosport continue for qualifying and the race, the pan-European broadcaster having signed a two-year deal last year encompassing the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

Quest also returns to the fray in a similar vein to last season. The free-to-air broadcaster will air highlights of every round, plus live coverage of selected races.

Of course, Discovery Communications has an investment in Formula E, and owns both Eurosport and Quest, which makes deals such as these easier to negotiate.

Based on Formula E’s press release, BT Sport’s involvement in Formula E is no more, leaving Formula E’s shakedown and practice sessions, as well as the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Series without a home (update – see footnote at bottom of article).

Fans wanting to watch these sessions will need to head to the relevant social media channels moving forward. In addition, based on information from the Formula E website, the YouTube stream of the race will be geo-blocked for UK viewers.

Jerome Hiquet, Formula E’s Chief Marketing Officer, said “We are extremely pleased to be back on the BBC for yet another exciting year of electric racing, with more races selected to be shown live on network channels.”

“Expanding our broadcast partnership and offering different ways to watch Formula E on the BBC helps bring British fans closer to the sport than ever before.”

Session 2018-19 season 2019-20 season
Shakedown BT Sport
YouTube
YouTube
Practice BT Sport
YouTube
Europort Player
YouTube
Qualifying BT Sport
Eurosport
YouTube
BBC online / Red Button
Eurosport
YouTube
Race BBC online / Red Button
BT Sport
Eurosport
YouTube
BBC TV (one race)
Quest (selected races)
BBC online / Red Button
Eurosport
BBC TV (two races)
Quest (selected races)

Good news from the outset, but not as great as hoped?
Formula E remaining on the BBC is good news for a championship which has clearly struggled to find a stable home in the UK.

All races will continue to be available via the BBC Sport website, whilst two races could capture a wider audience via BBC’s television outlets.

However, it is a sign of how wanted Formula E is by broadcasters when a press release is issued by organisers eight days before the season opener, with seemingly little fanfare and under the radar.

Formula E is keen to shout that it is a series on the rise, yet that does not show in television deals worldwide, which is bad news from a financial perspective given that is where the money lies.

Arguably the demographics where Formula E is rising are those that do not watch television in their masses, but you would expect some ripple effect across the board if there was a genuine rise.

The BBC deal is good, do not get me wrong. But, the fact that only 2 out of 14 races are airing on BBC TV compared with 1 out of 13 last season suggests that the needle never moved far enough.

Back in March, an average audience of 229k (4.6%) watched the Hong Kong E-Prix on BBC Two, peaking with 355k (6.5%), a solid number considering the fact that the race went largely unadvertised.

Evidently, it was not enough to persuade the decision makers to do something different this season which, and as someone who really wants the championship to break out into the mainstream, is a real shame.

On the World Feed front, Vernon Kay will continue to front coverage of the series, which begins next Friday in Saudi Arabia. Nicki Shields returns from maternity leave, with Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti remaining in the commentary box.

Update on November 21st – So, in a late addition, the big news is that it appears the BBC are also showing Formula E qualifying live this season across their digital platforms (I’ve updated the table in the main body as a result). Meanwhile, Eurosport’s online Player service will cover both Formula E practice and the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Series live.


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Motorsport Network reverses Autosport magazine price hike with immediate effect

Motorsport Network has reversed its decision to increase the price of Autosport magazine with immediate effect, whilst also reassuring readers about the future of the print edition.

The corporation announced in October that it was increasing the price of the weekly magazine from £3.99 to £10.99, in a move seen by many within the industry as an attempt to kill off the magazine.

Now, following negative feedback from fans and stakeholders alike, the corporation has confirmed that Autosport will again be £3.99, starting this Thursday.

In a statement posted on Autosport’s Twitter feed, Motorsport Network explained the rationale for the reversal.

“Since we announced we will be prioritising a digital-first approach we have closely listened and spoken to many of our highly engaged audience; some of whom have read the magazine throughout their lives,” the statement read.

“It is evident that, for some readers, the print edition of the magazine is not only the preferred format but the only format. The strong connection is clear.”

“We will be continuing to focus on growing Autosport Plus, as that is where the largest proportion of our audience now engages with our features, but this approach is not suitable for all readers.”

“Therefore, from this week, and for the foreseeable future, the print edition will be returning to the previous price of £3.99.”

“We have listened carefully and are committed to continuing our weekly print magazine as long as we can, whilst it is financially viable.”

“We welcome any further feedback from readers suggesting how we can grow Autosport magazine as we move into our 70th year of being the authority on motorsport.”

A surprising shift
To say that Motorsport Network’s statement comes as a surprise is an understatement. What is clear is that the reaction from fans has caused an embarrassing climbdown from the organisation.

It also shows a shocking lack of user research from the Network, by failing to talk to and engage with their consumers in the first place, meaning that they reached a badly thought out conclusion, resulting in a PR disaster.

McLaren boss Zak Brown resigned from his role as non-executive chairman less than 24 hours after the original announcement in October (although arguably Brown’s resignation was 18 months too late given the conflict of interest between his two roles).

One of the concerns about the price rise was that, in the event of the magazine’s demise, national championships in the UK would lose out the most.

Analysis conducted Motorsport Broadcasting showed that most of the magazine features at a national level did not translate over to the website.

However, Motorsport Broadcasting understands that initiatives have begun to increase the amount of coverage that national championships receive on the Autosport website, safeguarding it for the future.

The shift started during the final British Touring Car Championship weekend at Brands Hatch, which is expected to continue into 2020. I understand that this piece of activity was already underway before Motorsport Network made the price announcement.

Anecdotal reports suggest that the sales of the print magazine plunged because of the price rise.

Bringing those lost consumers back on board will be difficult, but maybe that is desired if they want to dissolve the magazine in the short to medium-term.

We must ask the question though: has Motorsport Network’s long-term strategy changed in the past month because of the Autosport backlash, or do they consider this merely a roadblock to their long-term aspiration?

If Motorsport Network wanted to kill the brand, would they have not pursued with the price rise?

Only those on the inside high-up in the chain will truly know what the endgame really is here.

F1 Racing magazine staying, but Autoweek’s print magazine closes stateside
Whilst Autosport’s print future is clear (for now), one brand hoping to engage more with their audience moving forward is F1 Racing magazine, who Lifestyle Media Group are in the process of purchasing off Motorsport Network.

Writing in last month’s edition of F1 Racing, Lifestyle’s chairman Clive Nørgaard Norton reassured fans about F1 Racing’s future.

Norton said “These are challenging times for printed media, but Lifestyle Media House is committed to supporting the magazine and trying to grow its readership.”

“We look forward to closing the transaction. Following completion, there is no imminent price rise planned, and we will be keen to engage with the F1 Racing readers and supporters to better understand what kind of magazine you want to read.”

Elsewhere, in an almost parallel development stateside, Crain Communications, who publish Autoweek, are to cease publication of the print magazine, which had been printing on a bi-weekly basis.

Hearst Magazine are to take over the digital and experimental side of the Autoweek business with immediate effect in a multi-year licencing deal with Crain.


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News round-up: F1 to remain on ESPN in US; Eurosport UK to air British Speedway

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, ESPN extends their relationship with F1 stateside, whilst British Speedway finds itself with a new home in the UK…

The round-up gives a bite sized view of the latest news making the waves, as well as interesting snippets that I have picked up along the way.

ICYMI: Round-Up #6 (October 15th): New Brabham film released; MotoGP moves towards HDR resolution

ICYMI: Round-Up #5 (September 12th): Bratches set to exit F1 role; Eurosport executive joins Formula E

ICYMI: Round-Up #4 (July 23rd): New Formula Two documentary coming soon; Facebook touts MotoGP success

ICYMI: Round-Up #3 (July 1st): Sky F1 to air special Williams documentary; Formula E wins award for TV product

Site update
Some of you may remember the site update I posted at the end of September, with details on a major change for me (not for the site). The good news: I moved into my own house in the middle of October! So far, I am pleased to say that everything has gone according to plan, with no hitches.

Of course, that does mean I have spent less time on the site front in recent weeks, a situation I expect to continue until the festive period before the usual New Year cycle kicks in.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the guest articles from Jack Ainslie and Nigel Chiu focusing on IndyCar and World RX respectively, giving a different perspective on motor sport broadcasting. A huge thanks to both Jack and Nigel for their contributions in recent weeks.

If anyone else is interesting in writing a guest article over the next few months, please drop me a line, all ideas are welcome.

Formula 1

  • ESPN have retained the rights to broadcast F1 in the US through to the end of 2022 in a new three-year deal. The broadcaster will again simulcast Sky Sports’ UK offering commercial free, covering every F1 session as well as F2, F3 and the Porsche Supercup.
    • Despite earlier suggestions that NBC were interested in reclaiming the rights they lost back in 2017, I understand that NBC and F1 were some distance apart from both a financial and forward-thinking perspective.
    • F1’s US audience figures have increased significantly since ESPN came on-board, increasing by 24 percent since NBC’s final season in 2017.
  • Netflix’s Drive to Survive, which returns for season two in early-2020 has undoubtedly helped the surge in interest stateside.
    • The increased interest also applies to Mexico where circuit organisers say has caused an increase in the number of women attending the Mexico race.
    • Speaking to RaceFans, Mexico’s race promoter Alejandro Soberon said “We noticed that we have like a 30 percent increase in interest [from] women. We have tested and it’s related directly related to the Netflix series. And they answer and they comment and at least in Mexico, it was wildly successful.”
  • By far the biggest story in terms of column inches surrounded a new graphic which debuted at the Japanese Grand Prix showing the condition of each tyre. The graphic depicted the condition in intervals of ten, in percentage form from 100% (full grip) to 0% (no grip).
    • However, the graphic came under heavy criticism, with Pirelli’s Mario Isola calling the graphic “misleading“, and that they are not supplying F1 with the data.
    • It did not take F1 to respond, issuing a press release just an hour before the Mexican Grand Prix, with a full explainer of what the ‘improved’ graphic contained.
      • In their explainer, F1 noted that the graphic, powered by AWS, uses several public sources, such as live timing data, live telemetry data, tyre compound and stint length to build the overall picture.
    • RaceFans have a detailed article on F1’s thinking on the graphics front, featuring comment from Dean Locke, who is F1’s Director of Broadcasting and Media.
  • Leeds Crown Court have jailed a man for 18 months after he threatened to shoot BBC F1 commentator Jack Nicholls and journalist Clive Myrie.
    • Ian Hargreaves, 66, sent threatening messages about both Nicholls and Myrie through the BBC’s online complaints form.
    • Writing on Twitter, Nicholls said “Some people really don’t like my commentary. A huge thanks to the BBC who have been amazing throughout.”
  • Good news for fans of the official F1 season reviews: Duke Video have confirmed that the 2019 season review is reverting to the 2017 format after heavy criticism of the 2018 review.
    • As in 2017 and before, additional content will supplement the feature-length four-hour review.
  • The F1 team performed what was a herculean effort to get operations back up and running following Typhoon Hagibis ready for race day at the Japanese Grand Prix.
    • Motorsport.com interviewed Andrew James, who works as F1 centre’s technical director to get the inside story.
  • F1 came away as winners from the Broadcast Tech Awards, winning ‘Best 360 / VR Production’ award.

Formula E

  • As first revealed by e-racing365, Bob Varsha will not be part of the Formula E commentary booth for the upcoming season, which begins on Friday 22nd November in Saudi Arabia. Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti remain with the team on commentary.
  • I am expecting Formula E to announce this week the destination of several television deals for season six, including their UK free-to-air partner.
    • Last season, the championship aired across the BBC, Quest, Eurosport and BT Sport. The Eurosport arrangement is a two-year agreement that started last season, but the status of the other three are unknown as of writing.

Meanwhile on two-wheels…

  • A new MotoGP television graphic debuted during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. First focusing on Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales, the graphic shows the heart rate of a rider during the heat of the action.
    • In the example Vinales tweeted, his heart rate is at a rather calm 112 beats per minute.
  • Eurosport in the UK have secured the rights to British Speedway until the end of the 2024 season.
    • British Speedway for many years aired live on Sky Sports, gaining a passionate following, but since 2017 has aired to a smaller audience on BT Sport.
    • The move to Eurosport, along with free-to-air highlights on Quest and DMAX, will help revitalise speedway in the UK, which has been on the decline in recent times.

See anything else worth mentioning on the news front? Drop a line in the comments section below.


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