ITV and Formula E part company

ITV will not broadcast season three of the Formula E championship in the UK leaving the series without a terrestrial television free-to-air partner, this site can confirm.

The broadcaster has shown the series since its inception on ITV4, with the London ePrix aired live on ITV’s main channel. Overnight viewing figures, supplied by, show that appetite for the series in the UK has declined across the two seasons so far. The inaugural 2014-15 season averaged 216k (2.6%) across the eleven rounds live on ITV and ITV4, but live coverage of the 2015-16 season averaged just 138k (1.3%) across ITV and ITV4, a drop of 42 percent. 2015-16’s number includes the Mexico ePrix which was aired live on BT Sport Europe.

Formula E’s highlights programming have not fared well on ITV’s main channel for the 2015-16 season, averaging around 170k and being beaten by all five of its terrestrial television competitors on numerous occasions. The fact of the matter is, Formula E rated below the relevant slot averages for ITV wherever and whenever it was aired. This news is not a major surprise, when you consider that horse racing will fill up most of ITV4’s Saturday content from 2017.

> February 2016: Addressing Formula E’s issues in the UK

Sources have indicated to this writer that Channel 4 or Channel 5 are candidates to pick the series up. For Channel 4, it would fit well into their growing motor sport portfolio following their recent acquisitions of Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship. Formula E will be a nice addition to Channel 5 alongside the World Rally Championship. The BBC are not expected to get involved, but time will tell.

There is also the possibility that Formula E will be placed exclusively behind a pay wall, in which case BT Sport or Eurosport are the likely homes for the electric series. Both channels already air highlights as filler content throughout the week. It will be fascinating to monitor events as the next few weeks unfold. In my opinion, Formula E needs to stay live on free-to-air television. But, I am not convinced the ratings on ITV and ITV4 have been strong enough to persuade Channel 4 and 5 to get in on the act. Hopefully I am proven wrong on that front.


11 thoughts on “ITV and Formula E part company

  1. I really really wanted to like Formula E and watched avidly since the beginning. However as time has gone on I have watched it less and less, and didn’t even bother watching the finale in London a few weeks ago.

    For whatever reason it just doesn’t feel like it has anywhere near the compelling narrative that Formula 1 has, despite Formula 1 being dominated by a single team for the last three years.

    I am unsure if it is because the coverage is a lot less refined, or perhaps it is the lack of history of teams and drivers to help build the narrative. It could well be something else, however right now it just feels like a void to me and it is just not enjoyable.

    It’s a shame because I really would like the Formula to be a place where teams can innovate with electric cars in order to bring benefits to the field of commercial electric cars in general.

  2. I’m hoping for anyone but BT frankly… Eurosport would likely litter it with adverts channel 4 have already spent a fortune on F1 although with their F1 WEC and British GT programs it would fit quite well…. I’d only settle for channel 5 if I really have to

  3. For me it’s the circuits that detract the most from the spectacle… I know they’re built to suit the limitations of the cars, and located to promote their green credentials, but fast cars just shouldn’t be racing on narrow street circuits where nearly every corner is either a chicane or a right angle.

    1. I think you and rpaco are right on this, nicer circuits would very much improve the viewing pleasure for me. I earlier said it was the narrative that was missing, but considering I can sit and enjoy Moto GP or Rally driving without knowing the first thing about the drivers or history make me think the environment of the racing is more important.

  4. Every circuit could be in a warehouse in Docklands, the view is always the same just walls of concrete or board. No scenery to tell where the race is being held. Not enough in-car camera work. Sound needs to capture the motor whine and the tyre noise, ie it need microphones down at wheel level, it needs to sound exciting on tv. Instead all the effort and skill is made to look like electric gokarts indoors.

    It is so obvious that a totally different media approach is needed to that used in proper racing. Half of all students have been doing “Media Studies” in college for the last ten years so there must be someone out there with the necessary attitude and skills to get FE on to tv screens in ana exciting and watchable manner. But now its too late!
    RIP FE.

  5. I would like to see Channel 5 make a bid. It’s a shame that it didn’t work with ITV. Its as if they just neglected the series. Hardly any promotion during the second season. I really hope this manages to stay on free-to-air television.

  6. It needs to stay free to air for it to grow. Maybe a more light hearted and shorter build up, and live at the tracks at least for European rounds.
    Would be good to have qualifying on tv to, if c4 picked it up could air qualifying on more 4 or e4.

  7. It’s pretty shortsighted of ITV really. It’s inevitably going to grow massively worldwide so whoever picks it up should be rewarded for doing do.

    Don’t agree about the tracks or anything else like that. You could quite clearly see when they were racing in Paris for example.

    I would hope BBC or Channel 4 pick it up. If BBC could show F1, which has no real merit for being on a publicly funded channel, then Formula-e would be much easier to persuade people was worth it. Especially for a lot less money.

  8. tbh, this was inevitable from the moment ITV signed the Horse Racing deal. and tbh, i’m ok that they’re leaving FIA Formula E, because its not like they wanted it, i think they felt forced to put it on.
    As for who picks up the deal next, right now, i feel like its anyone’s guess. However with the connection with Formula E and Discovery, whicxh owns Eurosport Network, I really hope Quest gets full rights, and then they sell highlights to say Channel 4 or Channel 5 or even maybe the BBC. Just 1 of the big 5 that isnt ITV.

  9. I’ve always struggled to see the appeal of Formula E as a stand alone event, and if it wasn’t for the strong support of the FIA it would have gone by now.
    The scheduling doesn’t do it any favours, nor do the poor camera angles. I’ve missed some races because of ITV’s inability to Series Link their programmes properly.

    I don’t subscribe to the theory that it needs to be FTA, it’s been FTA for the last two years and look at the figures. I’ll again raise the F1 argument where C4 has lost a million plus viewers compared to the Beeb, so based on that if C4 or C5 pick it up then it will be watched by only by my Uncle Bob and his mate.

    FTA TV does not grow sports, the sports themselves, together with success inspire and grow the sport. Formula E has very little appeal in the UK, whoever broadcasts it isn’t going to change that.

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