Scheduling: The 2019 United States Grand Prix

F1 heads across the border from Mexico into Texas for the US Grand Prix! Now in its eighth year, the Circuit of the Americas is a favourite with fans and drivers’ alike.

Barring any technical disasters for Lewis Hamilton, the Brit will almost certainly leave America next weekend with his sixth Drivers’ Championship, unless Valtteri Bottas outscores him by a significant margin.

On the broadcasting side, Stefano Domenicali returns to Channel 4’s line-up, whilst Nico Rosberg is back with Sky stateside for their offering.

With qualifying not starting until 21:00 UK time, it means that Channel 4’s highlights air in the early hours of Sunday morning. Their qualifying show airs at 00:40, the latest qualifying has aired on free-to-air television in the UK for many years.

With the FIA publishing the hotly anticipated 2021 technical regulations on Thursday, Sky have opted to air a live 30-minute special immediately following Welcome to the Weekend, focusing on the announcement.

Outside of F1, it is a quiet weekend for motor racing fans, with only MotoGP playing out in the far east in Malaysia.

Channel 4 F1
02/11 – 00:40 to 02:10 – Qualifying Highlights
03/11 – 23:00 to 01:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
01/11 – 15:45 to 17:45 – Practice 1
01/11 – 19:45 to 21:45 – Practice 2
02/11 – 17:45 to 19:30
=> 17:45 – Practice 3
=> 19:10 – Paddock Walkabout
02/11 – 20:00 to 22:30 – Qualifying
=> 20:00 – Pre-Show
=> 20:55 – Qualifying
03/11 – 17:30 to 22:30 – Race
=> 17:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 18:30 – On the Grid
=> 19:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 21:00 – Paddock Live
=> 22:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
31/10 – 16:00 to 16:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
31/10 – 22:00 to 22:30 – Welcome to the Weekend (also Sky Sports Main Event)
31/10 – 22:30 to 23:00 – 2021 Rule Changes Special (also Sky Sports Main Event)
01/11 – 22:00 to 22:30 – The Story so Far (also Sky Sports Main Event)
02/11 – 22:30 to 23:00 – The F1 Show
06/11 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
31/10 – 21:00 to 21:30 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
01/11 – 15:55 to 17:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
01/11 – 19:55 to 21:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
02/11 – 17:55 to 19:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
02/11 – 20:55 to 22:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
03/11 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
=> Joins BBC Radio 5 Live in progress at 20:00

MotoGP – Malaysia
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
01/11 – 00:45 to 08:15 – Practice 1 and 2 (BT Sport 2)
02/11 – 01:00 to 09:15
=> 01:00 – Practice 3 (BT Sport 2)
=> 04:00 – Qualifying (BT Sport 2)
=> 08:15 – Asia Talent Cup (BT Sport 3)
03/11 – 00:30 to 08:15 (BT Sport 2)
=> 00:30 – Warm Ups
=> 02:15 – Asia Talent Cup
=> 03:15 – Moto3
=> 05:00 – Moto2
=> 06:30 – MotoGP
04/11 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights (Quest)

As always, the schedule will be updated if details change.


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F1 to stream Mexican Grand Prix on Twitch in selected territories

Formula 1 has announced that it is to stream the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix on Twitch in selected territories.

The weekend will air live and free on the streaming platform in Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in addition to F1’s usual offering.

However, the World Feed will come with an additional layer in the form of interactivity and gaming elements. An influencer will “co-stream” each session, with German influencer PietSmiet getting in on the act in Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.

In addition, F1 will ask fans to predict the performance of drivers during 10-minute segments which they say will provide an “interactive gaming element to the broadcast.”

Frank Arthofer, F1’s Director of Licencing said “Twitch has incredible reach, a unique creative spin on sports media coverage and an engaged digital audience; they are a perfect partner for us to be working with on this project.”

Farhan Ahmed, Twitch’s Strategic Partnerships Manager added “We’re thrilled to partner with Formula 1 to bring exciting motor racing content to our community in a way that’s unique, shared, and interactive.”

“It’s a pleasure to work with a partner who embraces our community experience, creating something truly exciting, enhanced through co-streaming and extensions.”

> Insight: The over-the-top challenge facing motor sport

Formula 1 meets Voltage, sort of
Influencers? Tick. Live action? Tick. High-profile motor sport? Tick.

To regular readers that all sounds very familiar considering it was just under a year ago that Formula E announced their attempt to enter the influencer space in the form of Voltage.

Formula E entered a partnership with YouTube and GOAT Agency, with the likes of KSI appearing on Voltage from YouTube’s Space Station.

A trailblazer maybe, but Formula E axed Voltage after just six races (although there is some speculation making the rounds that Voltage may be returning for the upcoming season in a different format, we shall see).

The electric series clearly struggled to get the traction they were looking for with Voltage for a myriad of reasons, and made the decision to stop the experiment early on.

Considering Formula E’s Voltage failure, it makes sense for F1 to do a one-off experiment to begin with on Twitch, seeing what works with the possibility of expanding further into 2020.

It is the first time a major motor racing championship (outside of E-Sports) has streamed live on Twitch, although the geo-blocking in place will restrict the amount of people F1 can reach.

Twitch has made the waves in recent months from an F1 perspective with both Lando Norris and Max Verstappen regularly streaming on the platform.

Norris’ Twitch following has tripled since July, moving from 46,000 followers to 143,000 followers, the growth helped by his and Verstappen’s victory in iRacing’s Spa 24 Hours earlier this year.

Clearly F1 has recognised the obvious overlap and is now making in-roads into that area.

There is a good chance that Norris’ typical Twitch viewer does not consume traditional methods of television viewing, hence why F1 wants to experiment with live streaming on Twitch.

Influencers is less of an issue here for me than it was with Formula E: fans watching F1 on Twitch will have specifically chosen to watch it via that platform, whereas some fans watching FE’s Voltage on YouTube had no other choice of platform to watch it on.

Although YouTube is more popular than Twitch on the whole, the opposite is true from a live-streaming perspective, with Twitch outstripping YouTube massively, no doubt influencing F1’s decision making (and may also explain where Formula E went wrong with Voltage).

The move says a lot about F1’s and Twitch’s strategy moving forward. F1 wants a younger audience, Twitch wants to move beyond its roots.

Both brands are at cross-roads in their journey, which is why it is a perfect partnership for the two.


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How the World RX is setting the benchmark with its coverage

In a guest article ahead of the season finale in South Africa on November 9th, Nigel Chiu (@NigelCJourno) looks at the World Rallycross Championship and why in his view it is setting the benchmark where motor sport broadcasting is concerned...

The 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship has been the most exciting, entertaining, and unpredictable season you could possibly ask for.

Whilst the on-track action has been outstanding, the television coverage has matched the quality of the racing.

Coverage of any sport can make or even break how you feel about that sport. It might be the most thrilling Formula One season ever but a poor broadcast can be detrimental.

Conversely, you could be witnessing a boring, predictable season but the coverage can salvage things somewhat and keep you interested.

Easy to watch in the UK
Something that makes World RX unique in some respects is that it airs live and free-to-air on Freeview, a rare breed for motor sport these days.

The series airs live on FreeSports, with coverage also available via BT Sport. In addition, fans can watch coverage online via both Facebook and YouTube.

With a strong presence across social media coupled with the championship airing on one of Britain’s biggest free-to-air sports channel, already, this is a massive plus before even discussing the actual coverage itself.

Since 2018, every qualifying session has aired across World RX’s Facebook and YouTube channels, with coverage extending to their support categories as well, including RX2 and European RX.

The semi-final and final of each race weekend airs live on the two mentioned social media platforms as well as BT Sport and FreeSports.

How does the World RX format work?
Saturday
Q1 (4 to 5 cars race)
Q2 (4 to 5 cars race)

Sunday
Q3 (4 to 5 cars race)
Q4 (4 to 5 cars race)
Semi-Finals (top 12 drivers from qualifying, 2 races with 6 cars each)
Final (top 3 from each semi, first to finish wins)

If you do not catch the qualifying sessions, then needn’t worry as the first of the two-hour television show on Sunday’s covers the best of the qualifying action to get you up to speed with who has made it to the final stages of the event.

In addition, rather than ignoring the support categories, the two-hour show covers the support categories immediately after the main WRX race so viewers are more likely to continue watching.

‘Mega’ Commentary
Something that helps World Rallycross is the brilliant commentary team of Andrew Coley and Dan Rooke which, to use one of Coley’s popular words, is mega!

Both are very knowledgeable, forming a great commentary duo. The two have formed part of World RX’s coverage at every event this season, a departure from previous years where the likes of Andrew Jordan, Guy Wilk and Tim Harvey were alongside Coley.

The chemistry was not always apparent between Coley and his co-commentator in previous seasons. Having one or two co-commentators across the season works better than having five or six different commentators in my view which is what used to happen.

2019 World RX - Latvia final.png

Coley commentates like he is a top, former driver (despite having only raced in minor rally events) and is now the ‘voice of rallycross’ with his passionate and unique commentary which fans love.

Usually, the co-commentator talks about most of the technical aspects of the sport, but Coley not only acts as lead commentator, he also gives the viewer a fascinating insight into the world of rallycross.

He clearly does his research before events and has an excellent relationship with the drivers, conducting the press conferences as well as interviewing the drivers for features.

How he does all this as well as commentating on up to ten hours of live coverage, plus having to voice over the highlights and narrate over the TV show is staggering.

Somehow, Coley keeps a high level of intensity throughout the weekend, making very little mistakes (correcting himself when he does) and still has a voice by the end of it despite the fierce action!

Rooke is the perfect companion to Coley with a calm approach which interweaves nicely into Coley’s style.

The 2017 RX2 runner-up has great observations skills, noticing and understanding the actions of the car, and is very quick at spotting if someone has a problem (for example if a driver is suffering a puncture).

Something that many modern day commentators forget is to tell the viewers what is happening outside of the pictures that fans can see, except Rooke’s simple but highly effective comments (such as whether a driver has the gap to take their joker lap and come out in clean air) are very helpful to the viewer.

Coley himself does a good job with this but Rooke adds that something extra, noticing anything that Coley may miss to form the perfect commentary.

In a way, it is very similar to the BBC’s Formula 1 commentary pairing from 2011 of Martin Brundle and David Coulthard which personally I believe was the best commentary pairing F1 has had in the UK. So much knowledge, passion and enthusiasm which suits both the hardcore fans and the casual audience.

Presenting, analysing, and reacting to the situation
Laura Winter and Neil Cole present the World RX qualifying show, gathering the opinions of drivers just minutes before they line-up onto the grid. The drivers are always up for a chat, with refreshing honesty on offer from all.

Post-race, the team interviews the winner of each qualifying heat in a ‘WRC-style’ manner with the sound of the 600bhp engine harping away in the background with the driver still full of adrenaline.

If there has been a major incident between two drivers, Cole or Winter will always get an interview with them as soon as possible which is exactly what the fans want to see.

The production team rips the script up, placing emphasis on the incident, ensuring that the team covers all angles – both in terms of analysis and interviewing perspective.

Clearly, the producers, directors and everyone involved behind the scenes are excellent at reacting to the situation as it comes rather than going off a script. This mindset and methodology is the right way to go about motorsport coverage (as ITV showed back in 2005 with the Indy fiasco).

During the actual on-track action, the choice of camera angles and what to show is generally spot on.

We see in-car onboards of the drivers pumping themselves up moments before the race and once the lights go out, the director chooses to always focus on the cars, only showing the fans or the team personnel in the spotters’ tower after the race or in between races.

With so much going on in rallycross, occasionally the director fails to spot things, but key moments such as two cars getting close at the joker lap merge, or cars going nose to tail are always shown with onboard cameras used at the right time to enhance the intensity of the battle.

In my view, the World RX is arguably the most unpredictable motor sport out there, and if they can do the television side well, delivering an exceptional broadcast, then other motor sport categories can too.

Have you watched the World Rallycross this year? What do you think of their broadcast offering? Have your say in the comments below.

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Scheduling: The 2019 Mexican Grand Prix

Formula 1 heads west for the Mexican Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton could become a six-time Drivers’ Champion, only the second man in history behind Michael Schumacher to reach that milestone.

All the action airs exclusively live on Sky Sports, as Martin Brundle and Jenson Button re-join the team out in Mexico City. Karun Chandhok is absent from Sky’s offering, but fans of Chandhok will see Chandhok on-screen, as Chandhok recently drove this years’ championship winning Mercedes, in a feature that Sky are airing during the Mexico build-up.

David Coulthard is back with Channel 4, their highlights airing three hours after the respective sessions have finished. On the scheduling front for Sky, Porsche Supercup airs live over on Sky Sports Mix and the Red Button, but on tape-delay on Sky Sports F1, Sky opting to prioritise The F1 Show instead.

The 2019 season continues to wind down for some, Qatar plays host to the last race of the World Superbikes season, the action airing live on Friday and Saturday over on Eurosport.

NOTE: Clocks go back one hour on Sunday 28th October, with the change from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. The times listed are for BST on Saturday and before; GMT for Sunday and afterwards…

Channel 4 F1
26/10 – 22:45 to 00:15 – Qualifying Highlights
27/10 – 23:00 to 01:00 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
25/10 – 15:45 to 17:45 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
25/10 – 19:45 to 21:45 – Practice 2
26/10 – 15:45 to 17:10 – Practice 3 (also Sky Sports Main Event until 17:00)
26/10 – 18:00 to 20:30 – Qualifying
=> 18:00 – Pre-Show
=> 18:55 – Qualifying
27/10 – 17:30 to 22:30 – Race
=> 17:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 18:30 – On the Grid
=> 19:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 21:00 – Paddock Live
=> 22:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
24/10 – 17:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
24/10 – 21:00 to 16:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
25/10 – 22:30 to 23:00 – The Story so Far (also Sky Sports Main Event)
26/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The F1 Show (also Sky Sports Main Event)
30/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
24/10 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
25/10 – 15:55 to 17:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/10 – 15:55 to 17:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
26/10 – 18:55 to 20:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
27/10 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
=> Joins BBC Radio 5 Live in progress at 20:00

MotoGP – Australia (BT Sport 2)
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
25/10 – 22:45 (Thursday night) to 06:15 – Practice 1 and 2
26/10 – 00:00 to 07:15
=> 00:00 – Practice 3
=> 03:00 – Qualifying
27/10 – 23:30 (BST) to 05:15 (GMT)
=> 23:30 (BST) – Warm Ups
=> 01:15 (BST) – Moto3
=> 02:00 (GMT) – Moto2
=> 03:30 (GMT) – MotoGP

MotoGP – Australia (Quest)
28/10 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights

Porsche Supercup – Mexico
26/10 – 20:30 to 21:05 – Race 1 (Sky Sports Mix / Red Button)
=> airing on tape-delay on Sky Sports F1 at 21:00
27/10 – 16:15 to 16:50 – Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)

Virgin Australia Supercars – Gold Coast
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
26/10 – 05:00 to 08:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 1)
27/10 – 05:00 to 07:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport/ESPN)

World Rally Championship – Spain (All Live)
Also airs live on WRCPlus.com (£)
25/10 – 08:00 to 18:30 – Stages 1 to 6 (BT Sport Extra 1)
26/10 – 07:45 to 17:30 – Stages 7 to 13 (BT Sport Extra 2)
27/10 – 05:45 to 12:45 – Stages 14 to 17 (BT Sport Extra 2)

World Rally Championship – Spain
25/10 – 21:45 to 22:15 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 2)
26/10 – 09:30 to 10:30 – Stage 9 (BT Sport 3)
26/10 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
27/10 – 07:30 to 08:30 – Stage 15 (BT Sport/ESPN)
27/10 – 11:00 to 12:30 – Stage 17 [Power Stage] (BT Sport/ESPN)
27/10 – 22:30 to 23:00 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
28/10 – 18:55 to 20:00 – Highlights (5Spike)

World Superbikes – Qatar
Also airs live on World Superbikes’ Video Pass (£)
25/10 – 15:00 to 19:15 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
26/10 – 13:30 to 19:30 – Support and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
31/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

World Touring Car Cup – Japan
26/10 – 06:50 to 07:50 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
27/10 – 02:00 to 03:15 – Race 2 (Eurosport)
27/10 – 03:15 to 04:30 – Race 3 (Eurosport)

As always the article will be updated if plans change.


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News round-up: New Brabham film released; MotoGP moves towards HDR resolution

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, information of a new film focusing on Sir Jack Brabham, and MotoGP moves towards HDR…

The round-up gives a bite sized view of the latest news making the waves, as well as interesting snippets that I have picked up along the way.

ICYMI: Round-Up #5 (September 12th): Bratches set to exit F1 role; Eurosport executive joins Formula E

ICYMI: Round-Up #4 (July 23rd): New Formula Two documentary coming soon; Facebook touts MotoGP success

ICYMI: Round-Up #3 (July 1st): Sky F1 to air special Williams documentary; Formula E wins award for TV product

ICYMI: Round-Up #2 (May 28th): F1’s US audience figures increase; Formula E hits the big screen

Formula 1

  • Transmission Films have released a trailer for a new film looking at the life of Sir Jack Brabham.
    • The film highlights Jack’s story to a new generation, with snippets from John Surtees, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart.
    • In development since 2013, there are two versions of the film: a 84-minute theatrical version out now in Australia, and a 52-minute television version to be released in 2020.
  • McLaren’s Carlos Sainz has criticised Formula 1’s television direction, believing that the midfield runners get little attention on the main F1 World Feed.
    • Speaking to Motorsport.com in response to criticism of F1’s Singapore Grand Prix direction, Sainz said “Many midfield drivers have complained about it. It’s not only me. I was talking to a few of them the other day, we can clearly see a few battles they are missing.”
    • “It’s something I’ve been very critical about and something I think every midfield driver has been critical about because we feel like the fans are missing out on a lot of battles in the midfield, many of them you don’t get at the front.”
  • F1 has announced a partnership with youth brand Complex. The partnership sees F1 team up with US rapper A$AP Ferg in a five-part series called The Pit.
    • Ferg learns more about Formula 1 in the series, with segments featuring Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen.
    • “We want to showcase Formula 1 in a different way, and getting A$AP Ferg’s unique perspective on the sport with some of the world’s best drivers is a brilliant way to immerse new fans into the sport,” explains Ellie Norman, F1’s Director of Marketing and Communications.
    • “Securing a partnership with Complex ensures we are talking to a new audience in a way that’s right for them and we are really excited to see how the series progresses.”
    • The first video is available to view on Facebook here.
  • The contract to produce Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage in 2020 has gone out to tender.
    • In the tender document, Channel 4 stated that they will only consider proposals “from companies with extensive experience of production in the motor sport arena.”
    • The first stage closed to prospective applicants on Friday 4th October, with a final decision expected by the end of November.
  • Over in the US, ESPN continues to reach excellent audience figures for their F1 coverage.
    • An audience of 574,000 viewers watched the Singapore Grand Prix on ESPN2, an increase of 20 percent year-on-year, and the largest for the Singapore round on record.
    • 12 of the 15 races up until Singapore have recorded year-on-year increases, the season as a whole averaging 659,000 viewers across ESPN’s portfolio of channels.

MotoGP

  • Dorna have appointed Audio-Technica as their official Microphone Services Solutions Provider. The two parties began roll out at the start of the European season in May following a successful period of testing.
    • The solution comprises of “265 Audio-Technica microphones, headsets and monitoring solutions including 53 track feed microphones, 76 interview and ENG camera microphones, as well as Audio-Technica System 10 2.4GHz wireless microphone solutions for 16 roving ENG cameras.”
    • “Working with Dorna at the actual live MotoGP races around the world is a great extension to our research laboratory, and further demonstrates Audio-Technica’s commitment to sports audio broadcasting,” said Kazuhiro Onizuka, Audio-Technica’s Head of Global Engineering.
  • BT Sport filmed a special feed of this year’s British Grand Prix in 4K HDR (high dynamic range) and HD HDR resolution, whilst Sony filmed snippets from the Italian Grand Prix in 8K HDR resolution. Both were showcased to audiences at the International Broadcasting Convention last month.

Electric racing

  • A cumulative television audience of over 411 million viewers watched the 2018-19 Formula E season, according to figures published by the championship. The figure is an increase of 24 percent year-on-year.
    • As a result, an average of 32 million viewers watched each race in 2018-19, compared with 28 million viewers for the 2017-18 season, an increase of 14 percent.
    • The reason the cumulative increase is larger is because the 2018-19 season had one more race than 2017-18 (13 compared with 12), skewing the cumulative metrics.
    • It is unclear whether the figures Formula E have cited only account for the race broadcast, or whether it includes other media, such as news snippets.
  • Formula E also touted a growth of 61 percent year-on-year in the video space, whilst 72 percent of their followers are under 35. Unsurprisingly, Formula E’s social media experiment, Voltage, was absent from their media release.
  • Extreme E is teaming up with Paramax Films and Titan Cinema to bring the off-road series to the silver screen in a Giant Screen / IMAX project. Extreme E is giving filmmakers behind the scenes access the teams, drivers, and locations throughout Extreme E’s conquest.
  • FOX Sports Asia is to air Extreme E live across Southeast Asia from series launch in February 2021.
    • “[The deal] represents a huge commitment from a leading sports media company and ensures we will be able to bring top-tier coverage of the series to millions of households across Southeast Asia,” explained Ali Russell, Extreme E’s Chief Marketing Officer.

See anything else worth mentioning on the news front? Drop a line in the comments section below.


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