Eagle eyed readers and followers of this site will have spotted that highlights from the Mexico City E-Prix appeared across the BBC’s platforms after the Formula E race last weekend.
The short-form content appeared on the BBC Sport website, as well as their social media channels, prompting speculation that the two sides had agreed some sort of deal. However, this site can confirm that there is no formal agreement yet between the BBC and Formula E, yet.
Speaking to this site, a BBC spokesperson said “The video was used as a one-off, rather than as part of a longer-term rights deal.”
The one-off video appearance was likely brokered by marketing firm CSM, whose partnership with Formula E has resulted in Formula E content appearing on a variety of UK-based news websites, including The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror.
On the television front, Channel 5’s free-to-air contract with Formula E expires at the end of the current season in July, with no word yet on the series’ destination from season five.
Mexico City E-Prix shows why Formula E needs free-to-air
The E-Prix itself, won by Daniel Abt, peaked with just under 150,000 viewers on Saturday evening according to overnight viewing figures.
Live coverage of the race aired on 5Spike from 21:30 to 23:20, averaging 63k (0.4%). Eurosport 2’s coverage added a further 26k (0.16%), bringing the combined audience for the live race showing to 89,000 viewers.
At its peak, 103k (0.7%) watched the race on 5Spike, with 45k (0.3%) on Eurosport 2. Both 5Spike and Eurosport 2’s viewing shares were in the same ballpark to 1.d.p. between Santiago and Mexico City, even though the latter E-Prix was aired in highlights form on Channel 5 the following morning.
For Santiago, Channel 5 did not air a highlights show on its main channel, whereas for Mexico they opted to do so. Channel 5’s Mexico City E-Prix highlights programme averaged 202k (2.6%) on Sunday morning from 10:45 to 11:50, peaking with 254k (3.2%), marginally above the slot average.
The numbers suggest that the highlights programme attracted ‘new’ viewers, who were unaware that the race aired live on 5Spike the previous evening, showing why Formula E needs prominence on free-to-air television, otherwise races fly under the radar. Three races have aired on 5Spike, and all have peaked with fewer than 200,000 viewers.
If Formula E wants to become mainstream in the UK, it needs to look closely at turning deals with the likes of the BBC permanent, even if it is not necessarily a television deal with the broadcaster. By giving Formula E a ‘shop window’, the exposure of the series increases, hopefully boosting television viewing figures in the medium to long term.