Formula E axes Voltage YouTube show after six races

Formula E has axed its bespoke YouTube programme Voltage after just six races, Motorsport Broadcasting can confirm.

Introduced at the start of the 2018-19 season, the two-hour show aimed to bring a younger demographic into the championship.

The programme, filmed at YouTube’s Space Studio, involved what is known in the industry as ‘influencers’, the electric series working with GOAT Agency to support their long-term ambitions.

Queen B and Laurence McKenna presented, with influencers such as KSI and Stephen Tries joining them throughout the six races, whilst Autosport’s Scott Mitchell was also involved in an expert capacity. Neil Cole, who has presented and reported on many motor racing events during his time, was responsible for leading the production side.

Now Voltage, which Aurora Media Worldwide produced, has ended with immediate effect, with multiple industry sources confirming the news today.

In response to a request for comment from this site asking whether Voltage has been axed, a Formula E spokesperson said “Yes. We’re using the experience gained from trialling a pioneering new digital product and working with some of the biggest content creators to fine-tune other exciting content in the pipeline.”

“We want to engage with our growing younger audience, and this remains our goal for alternative viewing opportunities we’ll be rolling out in future.”

“Fans will still be able to follow races of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship live on YouTube in the UK – as well as across the BBC, Eurosport and BT Sport.”

A rash move made far, far too early
Voltage was not perfect. Some fans may be happy that it has disappeared. I would argue that this is a very rash move made by Formula E too early in Voltage’s life cycle.

If you are a passionate motor racing fan and did not like Voltage, that is fine, it was not my cup of tea from a personal perspective. But Formula E thought that Voltage would bring a different fan into the championship, someone who is not me or you.

What happened though is that Voltage failed to bring in many, if any new fans into the series. Outside of the programme, the influencers never really influenced across their social media channels.

A guest article on this site posted earlier today outlined Voltage’s problems, including poor audience figures and low engagement. More importantly though, all the problems outlined were fixable, with some collaborative thinking behind the scenes required.

If anything, I am disappointed Formula E have given up this early instead of pursuing through to the end of the season and then reviewing the situation then.

Pulling the series half way through smacks of a short-sighted decision without thinking about the bigger picture. If Formula E think things are not going ‘according to plan’, use the last half of the season to experiment with a different variety of guests, or a different format.

Not once did Formula E work with many of motor racing’s YouTube stars to see how that impacted on the metrics. They may argue “well they are related to motor sport, we don’t want them,” I would argue that anything that moved the needle at this point would be a success.

Changing things up would not only give Formula E a much better gauge on the landscape, but would also better inform their decision making for the 2019-20 season. Canning the show is admitting that the experiment failed when, in my view, it is Formula E who have failed to give it a chance to succeed.

Cole and the team did the best in the circumstances. The decision by Formula E to axe Voltage is another blot on Aurora’s copy book, and will raise further questions about their long-term future with the championship.

Updated on April 12th with Formula E’s statement.


5 thoughts on “Formula E axes Voltage YouTube show after six races

  1. I just commented on the other post before I read this one! As I said there, Formula E is motor racing & it doesn’t matter how the promotor spins it, it’s boring if you don’t like motor racing!

  2. First, fair play to David for keeping the original article up.

    Second, I think my previous comment re: the notorious problems with influencers still stands.

    Thirdly, although in theory this sounds like a good idea, doesn’t a show like this effectively mean FE is competing with itself? Instead of encouraging people to watch the race, they’re encouraging people to watch influencers who clearly don’t care that much about the action, therefore potentially stealing viewers (who might be tempted to actually watch the race) from themselves.

    Finally, with the caveat that this kind of content is clearly not aimed at me, I did watch a bit of first event and it was woeful. It’s classic “pay me loads of money and I’ll say anything you want” stuff. In his article, Andrew noted that one of the recent streams had managed to get 632k views. That sounds good on its own, but you have to put that number in context. And it doesn’t look pretty. 632k is 0.12% of F1’s total global audience. Even if you ignore the fact that the influencer market is massively over-inflated, a combination of a poor (if improving) show along with those kind of numbers is something no commercial manager will be able to stomach. And ultimately this is a commercial game.

    The fact that this has been pulled suggests that FE have some smart marketing executives on their team.

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