BT Sport vs BSkyB for live Formula E rights?

A lot of people this week have been getting to the blog via various ‘Formula E UK TV rights’ terms, wondering who will be screening the series. Today, we have our first indicator of where the rights could be heading.

Christian Sylt, writing for the Telegraph, is quoting Formula E chief executive Alejandro Agag, who says that they “are talking with BT Sport and with Sky. The strategy in the UK and in Europe is to wait until the drivers are out in February or March then we go for it because we can get more value. The TV people we are talking to absolutely love it. One hour races and they love the pit stop concept because the drivers are going to run. Everybody will have the same distance between their car and the other car. This running, the TV people love it. You can actually have overtaking here. [My ultimate aim is] to do free-to-air even if we get less money. Free-to-air would be great: BBC or ITV.”

Agag in the above mentions that interest will increase once the drivers’ are announced. Unless they pull off a huge coup and, for example purposes, manage to get Michael Schumacher in a car, the rights money in the UK at least won’t budge. Not a muscle. Casual audiences will not be drawn towards ‘F1 rejects’, to coin the term. I really can’t think of many drivers’ alone that could be a draw to UK audiences.

Moving onto free-to-air, I think we can eliminate BBC straight away. ITV or Channel 4 (which Agag hasn’t mentioned)? I don’t think it is likely, but never say never. I’d be really surprised if it happened, and could be quite a risk commercially. Would ITV enter a three year deal for something that may not be guaranteed to last three years? I’m sure A1 Grand Prix wanted free-to-air, but the fact is that it is a huge risk to take into uncharted territory. I think terrestrial television highlights is the more likely option.

BT Sport or Sky Sports will always be king with live sport. Sky Sports would surprise me. They have Formula 1, why would they want Formula E? And then, if they did get it, would they even be allowed to screen it on Sky Sports F1? Would Bernie (or whoever at FOM) block them from screening it on Sky Sports F1? It would definitely go against Martin Turner’s statements in the past about screening non-F1 content on the channel as it would ‘dilute the brand’. Unless something drastic changes in the next six months, Formula E being on Sky Sports is a non starter. I do note though that the term ‘BSkyB’ is used, so whether there could be home for it outside of the Sky Sports portfolio, I don’t know.

I think BT Sport will get it, and in doing so would actually create a strong motor sport brand for them: MotoGP, Formula E and IndyCar, which should entice some motor sport fans. It will be interesting to see what happens, there’s several potential options for them. Of course, it could just end up on Eurosport or Motors TV, which I somehow doubt Agag wants!


16 thoughts on “BT Sport vs BSkyB for live Formula E rights?

  1. Although the event structure sounds interesting that’s the only thing that does sound good.

    It’ll be like watching proper motorsport with the telly on mute.

    Formula E is a terrible idea.

  2. Since they’re not going to get Hamilton or Button, who exactly do they think would make the rights that more valuable in the UK? I suspect Susie Wolff is going to be driving for Andretti Autosport in it though, which could result in a little bit more media attention, but she’s not going to make people watch.

    Sounds like they’ve got a better structure than A1 GP, but the cars sound terrible.

  3. Be funny if its broadcast on free to air tv and gets more viewers than sky f1. Can you imagine the look on sponsors faces!!!!!

  4. Great post as always, was hoping you’d put something out on the topic. I’m kinda hoping that Agag has a long term objective in terms of online streaming too. F-E is an interesting concept but I feel it has to be marketed very differently to other series because of this. It is not F1 (as they will race with spec cars in the first season) and being located completely on street circuits gives it a different skew than Indy.

    As you say I think BT sport would be the best placement for it and give it a platform to reside against MotoGP and Indy. The sports presentation will be critical in it’s uptake and really needs support from the US to be a big success with that in mind I think some of the teams need to think outside the box in terms of drivers.

  5. Matt, read your piece on the 2014 reg changes, really nicely written informative piece. To be a pedant though high compression ratios do not necessitate high rpm.

  6. What is it you’re excited about? I’m afraid it just sounds like The Prius Cup to me.

    That’s not rhetorical, I really am interested in why you’re excited about it?

    1. It is the venues more than anything else.

      The idea of a London street race has always been an exciting one for me.

      Street tracks in general are usually good for racing & spectacle.

      As for the racing side of things… The cars do look really odd with the big rims, low profile tyres and massive front wings but no more stranger than the 09-13 F1 cars or how stupid the last generation of F1 cars looked with bits sticking out all over the place and the Loop front wings.

      I would like a screaming loud engine noise but if the racing is good then it won’t really matter… I’m never disappointed by the noise from the BTCC cars for example.

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