Sky Sports F1 have unveiled their 2020 promotional trailer, ahead of the new season which begins on March 15th.
The trailer, which comes with Fatboy Slim’s ‘Right Here, Right Now’ as the backing track, depicts the build-up to a Grand Prix, followed in the latter half by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc trying to navigate his way past Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Commentary from David Croft, and snippets of team radio from drivers, including Leclerc and Hamilton, also feature throughout the promo.
Given that last year’s trailer had a budget of £750,000 attached to it as part of Sky’s pre-season promotional drive, this year’s offering was always going to stand in the shadow of 2019’s excellent promo. Nevertheless, the 2020 version is still one of Sky’s better F1 efforts to date in my opinion.
In addition to the trailer launch, Sky have announced that they are bringing back their special F1 offer during March.
The offer, available until March 26th, allows Sky subscribers to add the F1 channel to their package for £10.00 a month for twelve months, a reduction on the usual price of £18.00, working out at a potential saving of £96.00 across the year.
Keep an eye on this site in March for a detailed summary of the different pricing options available for UK fans viewing F1 in 2020.
New look schedule for 2020?
A new look schedule is set to greet viewers of Sky’s Formula 1 coverage when the 2020 season begins, provisional schedules for the Australian Grand Prix suggest.
Since the middle of 2018, a live preview show called Welcome to the Weekend was the channel’s main offering on a Thursday afternoon. Now, the show will air live on Friday’s immediately before the first F1 practice session, increasing the build-up to the first session from 15 to 30 minutes.
The remainder of Friday’s schedule remains identical to 2019, with The Story so Far following the second practice session.
Current schedules suggest that Saturday’s offering will also remain the same, with Paddock Walkabout in between third practice and qualifying. The F1 Show remains in its post-qualifying time slot on the F1 channel.
However, it is race day that sees the biggest changes, with Sky revamping their build-up. The Australian Grand Prix schedule shows that Sky plan to go live on-air 130 minutes before lights out, increasing their pre-race offering by half an hour.
Only twice before have Sky gone live two hours before the race: for Britain and Belgium back in their debut season in 2012.
Sunday Social takes viewers through the first hour of the show, aiming to cover the main talking points, as well as the social media buzz. Grand Prix Sunday takes over afterwards to guide fans in the 70 minutes before lights out.
Following the race, Chequered Flag directly replaces Sky’s Paddock Live offering, whilst the Notebook is again a fixture of Sky’s schedule on race day. Currently, there is no sign of the Notebook returning to Saturday’s schedule.
Across the weekend, there is a net increase of 45 minutes in terms of time on-air year-on-year, based on the current schedule. Provisional schedules also show that, as in 2019, the race will air live across Sky One, Sky Sports Main Event and the F1 channel itself.
Sky are expected to confirm further details shortly.
Meanwhile, as exclusively revealed in January, Channel 4’s offering this year will also have a different feel to it, with their race day edit increasing year-on-year thanks to a revised deal agreed between themselves and Sky.
However, the potential for more money has not tempted organisers to move the championship exclusively to pay television.
And speaking exclusively to Motorsport Broadcasting ahead of the E-Prix this weekend, Formula E’s Head of Content Sebastian Tiffert believes that free-to-air remains is the way forward for the championship.
“I think wherever we have the largest audience is the right way forward, and you still get that through free-to-air broadcasters, and this is where we want to see Formula E in the future,” Tiffert said.
“Having the Marrakesh E-Prix on BBC Two is great, because we’re bring the race to a wider audience. We hope fans get excited [by what they see] because we believe we have a fantastic racing product with a lot of action on-track involving great drivers and great teams.”
“What the future holds I don’t know, but I think in the short to mid-term, free-to-air broadcasters and big broadcasters are the way forward for us,” he added.
Content teams realigned within Formula E’s structure
Tiffert joined Formula E last September, following a 14-year stint at Eurosport. Whilst at Eurosport, Tiffert moved through the ranks, to eventually becoming their Global Director of Motorsports before joining Formula E.
One of the main changes behind the scenes in recent months at Formula E has involved their content teams, which have all been centralised into one division under the leadership of Tiffert.
“Previously, we had the content team divided between broadcast, social media, and website platforms in different departments across Formula E, we have now centralised into a proper content team for the first time,” Tiffert told Motorsport Broadcasting during a wide-ranging conversation.
“We’ve regrouped under one roof, everything from broadcast to digital (meaning website and app content) and the social media content.”
“The analogy I always use is that we don’t want to tell ten different stories; we’d rather tell the same story, but in ten different ways depending on who we’re talking to.”
“There was the same look and feel I believe before, but you didn’t have everyone sitting together, making sure everybody was going down the same storyline. Sometimes one platform misses a story for one reason or another. The important thing now is that TV is working with social, social is working with TV, for each other, on the same story.”
Formula E heads to Morocco in Africa next weekend for round five of the 2019-20 season.
Jaguar’s Mitch Evans leads the way after winning last time out in Mexico, with BMW’s Alexander Sims just a point behind in second.
The event airs live on BBC Two as part of the BBC’s commitment to air two races this season via their linear television channels. Jennie Gow presents their coverage, with inaugural W Series champion Jamie Chadwick alongside her.
As in Hong Kong last year, the BBC are providing their own bespoke build-up and post-race wrap-up, dipping in and out of the World Feed throughout both parts, although it is unclear as of writing whether Gow and Chadwick will be in Salford or on-site in Morocco.
The cancellation of the Sanya round on March 21st means that the BBC are airing two races in a row live on BBC Two, with the next round in Rome on April 4th set to air on the same channel.
Elsewhere, the World Superbikes season kicks off down under in Australia. As revealed last month, Eurosport have retained the rights to the season, whilst free-to-air highlights also remain on ITV4.
Looking for the schedule for the second F1 Barcelona test? Head overhere…
Formula E – Marrakesh Shakedown, Practice and Qualifying air live onYouTube
28/02 – 15:55 to 16:55 – Practice 1 (BBC’s digital platforms)
29/02 – 07:55 to 08:40 – Practice 2 (BBC’s digital platforms)
29/02 – 09:45 to 11:15 – Qualifying (BBC’s digital platforms)
29/02 – Race
=> 13:30 to 15:15 (BBC Two)
=> 13:45 to 15:00 (Eurosport 2)
29/02 – 23:00 to 00:00 – Highlights (Quest)
World Superbikes – Phillip Island Also airs live onWorld Superbikes’ Video Pass(£)
29/02 – 01:00 to 02:30 – Superpole (Eurosport 2)
29/02 – 03:45 to 05:15 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
01/03 – 00:45 to 03:15 – Superpole and Supersport Races (Eurosport 2)
01/03 – 03:45 to 05:15 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
04/03 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)
Fans of Formula 1 watching the sport via F1’s over-the-top platform will receive a richer offering this season.
The platform has grown since it first launched in May 2018, both in terms of size and content. Now, F1 TV Pro subscribers will receive a bespoke pre-race build-up for the first time, fronted by Will Buxton.
Buxton, who joined F1 after covering the sport with NBC from 2013 to 2017, will continue to present F1 TV’s Tech Talk output as well as their post-race programming.
In addition, F1 says that they are improving their Pit Lane Channel this season, with a co-commentator joining Alex Jacques at every race this season.
The Pit Lane Channel will also feature new camera angles from the pit wall and pit box, as well as exclusive interviews from the paddock.
The premium-tier service is available in eleven additional countries for 2020, taking the tally to 77. For fans in the US, the service is available on Roku for the first time.
However, UK fans are still unable to access F1 TV Pro, meaning fans who want to watch F1 live will need to subscribe to Sky Sports F1 in some form.
Testing gets the full World Feed treatment
As part of the announcement, F1 also confirmed that subscribers to their over-the-top platform will receive an improved live timing experience.
The improved experience for fans was clear from the first seconds of testing, with a more detailed view of lap times for each driver.
From a graphics perspective on-screen, testing now feels like an extension to a race weekend: the timing wall, split times, on-board angles, and team radio all on offer as proceedings opened in Barcelona.
In fact, it was the second day of testing when coverage came into its element: revealing the ‘Dual Axis Steering’ (DAS) device on the new Mercedes W11, only noticeable via on-board camera angles.
Mercedes would have successfully hidden the device until Australia just two years ago, something that is now impossible thanks to the level of coverage F1 is giving testing.
You can criticise live coverage of testing all you want, but on days like today, it proved its use to both fans and journalists, giving F1 publicity that it would have not received in previous years.
As was the case twelve months ago, personnel from Sky and F1 formed the hybrid team for testing, with nine people live on-air during the first day of running.
Alex Jacques, Jolyon Palmer, Rosanna Tennant, and Tom Clarkson represented F1’s in-house digital output, with David Croft, Rachel Brookes, Natalie Pinkham, and Ted Kravitz joining from Sky, Kravitz back for testing after his absence last year.
Laura Winter was the ninth person on-screen during day one, Winter joining the F1 team during ten race weekends in 2020, whilst Will Buxton also featured during the second day.
Briatore to feature on Beyond the Grid
Clarkson’s stint in the commentary box saw him confirm Flavio Briatore as one of the guests on F1’s official Behind the Grid podcast this year.
Now in its third season, the first episode of 2020 lands on Wednesday 11th March prior to the Australian Grand Prix.
Elsewhere, German Formula 1 broadcaster RTL has announced that they are producing their coverage of the Vietnam Grand Prix from their base in Cologne because of the “incalculable spread of coronavirus,” with none of their personnel set to travel to Hanoi.
“We have a high level of responsibility for our employees. When reporting from Hanoi, the risks to their health appear to be too great after careful examination,” RTL’s sports director Manfred Loppe explained.
“We came to this decision after querying numerous information points and, bottom line, none from our point of view have received a reliable assessment of the situation on site.”
Motorsport Broadcasting has reached out to UK broadcasters to confirm their current stance on the Hanoi event, which takes place across the weekend of 3rd to 5th April.
The start of the 2020 motor racing season sees a new name enter the starting grid in the journalism world, following a winter of change for many involved in the sector.
Just how much has the scene changed in the off-season, and what can we expect to see moving forward? Motorsport Broadcasting looks at what 2020 has to offer…
The Race enters the market…
Part of the Torque Esports Group, The Race intends to shake up motor sport journalism with its offering this year across five different content strands (Formula 1, MotoGP, IndyCar, Formula E and E-Sports).
Led by Andrew van de Burgt and Glenn Freeman under the watch of Darren Cox, the trio have brought Edd Straw, Matt Beer and Scott Mitchell in from Autosport to front their F1 offering.
In addition, Sam Smith leads their Formula E coverage, whilst ex-MCN Sport correspondent Simon Patterson leads their MotoGP reporting.
Other familiar names, such as ex-F1 technical director Gary Anderson and broadcaster Toby Moody also shape The Race’s coverage this season.
Limiting The Race’s remit to five pillars to begin with is a good idea in my view. I am always of the viewpoint that it is better to cover several topics brilliantly, rather than many topics shoddily. Let the readers, and the underlying data points, tell you where to go for the next step of your journey.
The Race has followed in The Athletic’s footsteps by bringing in established names from elsewhere in the hope of hooking fans onto their product.
Crucially, I understand that The Race, unlike The Athletic, will remain free for fans to consume, which should allow them to build a solid foundation to begin with.
The way the site covered Haas’ F1 launch was a positive early sign, with plenty of analysis across their platforms.
Personally, I hope the site does not report day-to-day chatter in substantial detail, otherwise the analytical pieces may be less noticeable amongst the noise.
One might argue that The Race should not run live text feeds for example, instead using that resource to produce distinctive content – otherwise the brand may end up in an identity crisis: trying to be different, but keeping it same-y in tandem.
…presenting opportunity for journalists, young and old…
The Race’s arrival on the scene has created opportunity for a new generation of talent elsewhere.
Respected motor sport journalist Luke Smith arrives into the Motorsport Network fold at Autosport from Crash Media Group, whilst Alex Kalinauckas moves up to join Smith in the F1 paddock this year.
Kalinauckas’ exit from the Formula E paddock means Matt Kew moves into the vacancy left by Kalinauckas.
Unfortunately for the Richmond-based outlet, the exits have not slowed down recently, with Autosport.com international editor Jack Benyon the most recent to announce his departure.
Irrespective of your viewpoint on the wider Motorsport Network decision making, it is imperative for the future of Autosport that they stem the flow quickly, bringing back a sense of stability which they lost late last year.
Can Autosport bounce back? Yes. Will Autosport bounce back? The verdict is out, but I really hope it does. It is important for motor sport journalism that The Race succeeds, however it is equally important that Autosport remains in its current form.
More opportunities for budding journalists can only be a good thing, as the three vacancies that Autosport currently have online show (here, here, and here).
For all the talk about The Race over the past few weeks, it is Autosport that has the brand name and a large following attached to it that The Race does not yet possess, which is to be expected when comparing a start-up with a 70-year old brand.
That helps when you look at this from a search engine perspective rather than a social media perspective: the bigger reach of Autosport will undoubtedly help them compared with The Race in the short to medium-term.
Alongside Autosport is Motorsport.com under the Motorsport Network banner, where the likes of Jonathan Noble remain.
…whilst some try to break into the upper echelons…
The Race’s competition is not just Motorsport Network, and to think that is a foolish statement to make.
The likes of Crash Media Group, RaceFans and Motorsport Week are all trying to break into Motorsport Network’s monopoly, some succeeding more than others.
Outside of F1, there are websites that specialise in other forms of motor sport.
Most recently, Inside Electric has established itself as an independent Formula E website, whilst DirtFish has expanded on its World Rally Championship offering, taking esteemed journalist David Evans with them in the process.
Number of followers on Twitter as of February 15th 323k – Autosport (Feb 2009)
152k – WTF1 (Nov 2019)
139k – Motorsport.com (Apr 2009)
98k – RaceFans (Feb 2008)
60k – Motor Sport Magazine (Mar 2009)
34k – Motorsport Week (Mar 2009)
34k – Crash.net (Jan 2009)
15k – Touring Car Times (Jul 2009)
14k – Motorsport Broadcasting (Feb 2012)
12k – DirtFish (Dec 2010)
10k – The Race (Jan 2020)
10k – Dailysportscar News (Jun 2015)
4k – e-racing.net (Mar 2014)
4k – e-racing365 (Oct 2016)
1k – Inside Electric (Sep 2019)
There are only a limited number of hours in the day, and there is a limited pool of passionate motor sport fans, so The Race’s arrival is likely to negatively impact the above sites in my opinion. How quickly The Race grows will dictate the impact it has elsewhere.
If you are a site which has small profit margins, a difference of 5 to 10 percent in your audience year-on-year could be the difference between another year online or closure.
Whilst The Race may succeed in driving up the quality of motor sport journalism, there could (regrettably) be casualties elsewhere. However, sites should only feel threatened by the emergence of The Race if they themselves fear extinction in the first place.
In just over a month, The Race has amassed 10,000 followers on Twitter. In isolation, the figure is relatively small, but consider that the likes of Crash.net and Motorsport Week have 34,000 followers built up over a ten-year period!
That is not a dig at either site, merely a reflection on why The Race opted to bring in the people they did instead of plucking for unknown talent.
It would be amiss to not mention F1 themselves, who have in-house journalists working for their website. Yes, F1 competing against journalists that they accredit to their own events. No, that is not a mistake, nor a typo…
…and others exist to entertain
One name referenced above is WTF1, which Dennis Publishing acquired last year.
WTF1 may exist primarily to entertain rather than to break news stories, however, the site now regularly reports news to a much younger audience thanks to the brand that the team have built over the past ten years.
Arguably, WTF1 is a bigger brand to the younger generation of motor sport fans than what Autosport currently is.
Despite scooping the exclusive story with the Haas livery unveil, WTF1 received far more engagement across social media than The Race, thanks to their loyal audience.
If The Race wants to be a successful player in the long-term and become an attractive proposition to potential future buyers outside of the Torque stable, it needs to establish a middle ground between Motorsport Network’s audience base (Autosport / Motorsport) and WTF1.
How it does that is not an easy task given that The Race wants to give readers a more analytical view of the world. Although they exist on opposite ends of the Richter scale, both entities have an interest in the Esports space, which may present opportunities further down the line.
One thing is for certain: the future is all to play for…