Formula E heads to Channel 5, but will interest increase?

It has been confirmed today that Formula E will be broadcast on Channel 5 for the next two seasons, a move that safeguards the future of the series on free-to-air television in the UK.

Their press release confirmed the following:

– Channel 5 will broadcast every race live
– Spike TV will broadcast every qualifying session live
– Channel 5’s online social media accounts will broadcast every practice session live

From the outside, this is good news for the series moving forward. As revealed last month, ITV and Formula E parted company at the end of season two. Channel 5’s race coverage should rate better than ITV4’s coverage simply because Channel 5 reaches more viewers than ITV4. However, Channel 5 (unlike ITV) does not have a known track record of covering live motor sport.

I believe the last time Channel 5 covered live motor sport was MotoGP back in the early 2000s. I expected ITV4 and Formula E to be a good fit, but evidently that was not the case: Formula E rated below the ITV4 slot average in just about every slot the electric formula was placed into.

Channel 5’s sporting portfolio is not as big as ITV4’s which may pose another problem. I’m not as convinced that, because Formula E is on Channel 5, it will automatically find more viewers by default. A lot of promotion is needed across various outlets and channels to get the message out, before and during the season.

Given that Channel 5 does not screen first-run programming on Saturday afternoons, a re-run for Hong Kong is necessary, and I hope happens, this being a major mistake made by ITV. I wouldn’t broadcast an hour-long build-up, the interest simply isn’t there for it. ITV did it because they thought interest would be higher for the series than it turned out to be.

Broadcasting every qualifying session on Spike TV is a wise move, and should help tap into a different demographic. Likewise, broadcasting practice session across Channel 5’s social media accounts will help to a degree, although I don’t expect the sessions to draw hits beyond the hardcore aficionados. Are fans of sport likely to be following Channel 5’s social media accounts? I don’t know.

I don’t think there will be miracles straight away is the key message, time will tell. Personally I hope the deal is a success, because the more motor sport on free-to-air television, the better. No personal have been announced yet for Channel 5, nor the structure of their live race programming. Formula E suffered second season syndrome in my opinion, something that needs to be reversed for season three and beyond.


15 thoughts on “Formula E heads to Channel 5, but will interest increase?

  1. I think that this could be a great move for Formula e, but agree that viewership will not be major straight away. 15 minutes build up for Qualifying and 30 minutes for race build up are the best shout; hopefully, all sessions will be advert-free. This is how it should be scheduled (based on European events):
    – 10.45 – 12.30: Qualifying (Spike TV)
    – 14.30 – 16.30: ePrix (C5)
    – 18.30 – 20.00: ePrix Replay (C5)

  2. Channel 5 is that a joke. Never knew they have had any sport, but then I do not ever follow motogp. You can imagine them just filling the pre studio stuff with big brother guests. I mean C4 are using that reality star bloke on F1.
    C5 is a channel that you just pass by on the epg, its either big brother, gypsy something, benefits or some other reality stuff.
    What on earth is Spike TV? Looked it up and its a US channel. Weird, so we get the US commentary qualy then?
    Never enjoyed that awful woman on the itv build up and they did not really play back the qualy or anything very well when often they never showed it. It really was poorly done and seemed as if they could not care.
    Last season I used the android app and got all the races and qualy and even the practice sessions and was the same commentary team.
    I met with Nicki Shields recently at a show and she is as lovely as is in the pits.
    Hope Jack and Nicki are still there. Dario did ok too, but so did the others that stepped in last season. The close mad racing makes for easy commentating.
    See the season is spread again, they should really just reduce the big month gaps, that just loses viewers and interest.
    FTA sport is history or does not matter. Everyone can easily get sports channels or watch from the net and those that watch motorsport would probably have sky, bt or use online. Well you would not be a true fan if not. No great sky F1, no indycar and now all that motors tv stuff only on sky or virgin,
    My only gripe is Nascar as I did try a premier sub and it was a rubbish channel and badly done and they screwed up the first two payments, I dropped them.

    1. The commentary will likely be the same as last year given the commentary and pictures are provided by formula E themselves… With regard to nascar… I watch all the races on their YouTube channel…although its not perfect… You have to wait 8 days after the race has taken place for example… But it’s better than nothing.. I do the same with indycar as well… So its not all doom and gloom

      1. Have also been watching nascar on youtube, that delay is annoying. Have indycar with btsports on my sky box.

    2. Channel 5 is becoming a far better channel now it’s owned by Viacom (MTV, Comedy Central etc.) rather than Dirty Desmond. They’re certainly not going to have big brother guests on the Formula E coverage. If by “reality star bloke on F1” you mean Steve Jones he isn’t a reality star in any way shape or form – closest is he presented X Factor in the US. Using that argument Sky F1 is hosted by a “rugby playing bloke”. Spike is a British TV channel too (also owned by Viacom) and available on all platforms. And you can be a true fan without sky, bt or online – some people are just poor 🙂

  3. What do you mean by c5 social media accounts, is that their catchup website? Or is that twitter or facebook, not sure how you show a practice session on there, Anyway do not do those.
    Be nice if it was practice streams like the Beeb did for F1? Why do they not just have them on TV?

  4. Channel 5 will need to make a huge improvement over Channel 4’s coverage for it to be successful.
    The camera positions used by Ch4 made every race look identical with no clue as to the venue.
    As I wrote several times they looked like a go kart race in a warehouse.
    The microphone positioning needed to be supplemented by mics low down to catch the tyre and motor noise, this would have made a great difference to the overall impression and excitement of the races.

    1. I think the lack of engine noise has a lot to do with that, they just battery whine and they go so slow compared to other motorsport suspect the tyres never really get hot and noisy.
      Agree the tracks make for poor viewing, they are very man made often and like the london ones and another i forget the tree cover just made it silly.
      The paris track certainly showed where it was though.

      1. Apparently the tyres do make a noise and there should also be motor whine, but microphones necessary to pick it up for tv are just not there or in the wrong places!

  5. Channel 5 did show Moto GP from 2000 to 2002. I think they showed highlights of A1GP. And showed weekly highlights of NASCAR + IndyCar series and even on very late V8 Supercar highlights, drag racing and Grand A-M Series.

  6. 5 is lower than 24 so that helps in the wacky world of the couch potato. The problems start with the terrible dull tracks but at least they may loose the long studio bit. A bit of live feed poking round the pits makes more sense. Probably too hard to do for budget TV.

  7. Channel 5 is a significantly bigger channel than ITV 4, with a far more casual audience. It has a much higher chance of attracting casual viewers who stumble on Formula-e. A lack of sporting heritage isn’t important at all. The hardcore fans will know where to find the sport anyway so the main priority is to make the series as discoverable as possible to everyone else out there who may have never heard of it.

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