Scheduling: The 2020 Santiago E-Prix

After a two-month gap since Saudi Arabia, Formula E roars back into action in South America for the Santiago E-Prix.

The Santiago race was under some jeopardy prior to the festive period, with social unrest taking place elsewhere in Chile, however the race is understood to be going ahead as planned.

In a surprise move, practice airs live for the first time on the BBC, in addition to qualifying and the race. Motorsport Broadcasting is working to confirm if this is a one-off arrangement, or permanent for the remainder of the season.

Discovery’s Eurosport platform is also covering qualifying and the race, albeit the former airs on tape-delay; with Quest airing late-night highlights.

Fans wanting to watch shakedown will need to venture to Formula E’s social media pages for Santiago.

On a Formula E related note, Motorsport Broadcasting would like to send best wishes and positive vibes over to legendary commentator Bob Varsha, who has commentated on Formula E, Formula 1, and IndyCar, amongst other championships in his illustrious career.

RACER confirmed earlier this month that Varsha is battling a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer. Fans wishing to help support Varsha and his family at this time can do so over on a GoFundMe page that has been set up.

Formula E – Santiago
Shakedown, Practice and Qualifying air live on YouTube
18/01 – 10:55 to 11:55 – Practice 1 (BBC’s digital platforms)
18/01 – 13:10 to 13:55 – Practice 2 (BBC’s digital platforms)
18/01 – Qualifying
=> 14:45 to 16:15 (BBC online)
=> 18:05 to 18:45 (Eurosport 2)
18/01 – Race
=> 18:00 to 20:30 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 18:45 to 20:00 (Eurosport 2)
19/01 – 00:00 to 01:00 – Highlights (Quest)

As always, I will amend the schedule if details change.

Update on January 16th – Speaking to this site, Formula E says that it intends to air as “many sessions as possible live across the BBC this season,” with practice airing on the network where possible.


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Motorsport Broadcasting: Your 2019 Verdict

The chequered flag has fallen on another year of Formula 1, and with it the end of the 2019 motor racing season.

Despite both MotoGP and F1 having a relatively predictable outcome, the journey to the destination has been enticing throughout. From the thrilling German Grand Prix on four wheels, to Alex Rins beating Marc Marquez at Silverstone by milometers on two wheels, there was something for everyone this year.

Off track, 2019 has been a year of change for fans of F1 in the UK. Live coverage of the sport aired exclusively on Sky Sports for the first time ever, following in the footsteps of MotoGP which moved to BT in 2014. Only the British Grand Prix aired live on free-to-air television.

In the social media space, F1 continues to make excellent strides in an ever-changing world, whilst others have had to rethink their strategy to work out how best to engage with their audience.

Now, Motorsport Broadcasting wants your opinion on the past twelve months. Which personality has shone in 2019 and deserves a bigger presence in 2020? What was the low-light from a broadcasting perspective for you this season? And, if there was one thing you could change next season, what would it be?

As always, the best thoughts will form an article on this site over the festive period.


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Scheduling: The 2019 Diriyah E-Prix

As the traditional motor racing season winds down, the electric sounds of Formula E return to our screens live from Diriyah in Saudi Arabia. Now in its sixth season, Diriyah plays host to round one of 14, which concludes in London next July.

The double-header takes place across Friday and Saturday, with live coverage continuing across BBC’s digital platforms and Eurosport. As of writing, BT Sport are not covering Formula E this season, so fans wanting to watch shakedown and practice will need to head to Formula E’s social media platforms.

In addition, based on information from Formula E’s ‘Ways to Watch‘ page, UK fans will not have access to the YouTube stream for qualifying and the race, meaning that the BBC and Eurosport are the only legal ways for fans to watch the live action.

Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti return to commentary, with Vernon Kay and Nicki Shields on presenting duties. However, Bob Varsha is not returning to his role in the commentary box, Formula E opting to return to a two-man booth. As of writing, there are no immediate plans for Formula E’s radio commentary feed to return as season six begins.

Fans watching Formula E should expect to see a few new camera angles this season, with e-racing365 reporting that helmet cameras are set to make their way into the coverage.

Formula E – Diriyah (race 1)
Shakedown, Practice and Qualifying air live on YouTube
22/11 – Qualifying
=> 07:45 to 09:15 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 07:55 to 09:10 (Eurosport 2)
22/11 – Race
=> 11:00 to 13:30 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 11:45 to 13:00 (Eurosport 2)
22/11 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights (Quest)

Formula E – Diriyah (race 2)
Shakedown, Practice and Qualifying air live on YouTube
23/11 – Qualifying
=> 07:45 to 09:15 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 07:55 to 09:05 (Eurosport 2)
23/11 – Race
=> 11:00 to 13:30 (BBC’s digital platforms)
=> 12:00 to 13:00 (Eurosport 2)
23/11 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights (Quest)

Virgin Australia Supercars – Newcastle
Also airs live on SuperView (£)
23/11 – 04:15 to 07:00 – Race 1 (BT Sport 1)
24/11 – 04:15 to 07:00 – Race 2 (BT Sport 3)

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

Update on November 21st – So, in a late addition, the big news is that it appears the BBC are also showing Formula E qualifying live this season across their digital platforms. Meanwhile, Eurosport’s online Player service will cover both Formula E practice and the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Series live.


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BBC retains Formula E rights for 2019-20 season

Updated on November 14th.

The BBC will continue to air Formula E during the upcoming 2019-20 season, organisers have confirmed.

The free-to-air broadcaster, who took over the rights from Channel 5 last season, will air every race live via their online platforms, encompassing BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website, and BBC’s Red Button service.

In addition, the Marrakesh and Rome rounds of the championship will air on either BBC One or BBC Two, an increase on the one race (Hong Kong) that aired on BBC Two last season.

Although the London E-Prix is returning to the Formula E calendar this season as a double-header event, there are no plans to air either race on either BBC One or BBC Two.

Motorsport Broadcasting understands that this is due to E-Prix weekend clashing with the opening weekend of the Olympics from Tokyo. The 2020 Olympic Games begin on July 24th, with the double-header taking place on July 25th and 26th.

Formula E’s existing arrangements with Eurosport continue for qualifying and the race, the pan-European broadcaster having signed a two-year deal last year encompassing the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

Quest also returns to the fray in a similar vein to last season. The free-to-air broadcaster will air highlights of every round, plus live coverage of selected races.

Of course, Discovery Communications has an investment in Formula E, and owns both Eurosport and Quest, which makes deals such as these easier to negotiate.

Based on Formula E’s press release, BT Sport’s involvement in Formula E is no more, leaving Formula E’s shakedown and practice sessions, as well as the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Series without a home (update – see footnote at bottom of article).

Fans wanting to watch these sessions will need to head to the relevant social media channels moving forward. In addition, based on information from the Formula E website, the YouTube stream of the race will be geo-blocked for UK viewers.

Jerome Hiquet, Formula E’s Chief Marketing Officer, said “We are extremely pleased to be back on the BBC for yet another exciting year of electric racing, with more races selected to be shown live on network channels.”

“Expanding our broadcast partnership and offering different ways to watch Formula E on the BBC helps bring British fans closer to the sport than ever before.”

Session 2018-19 season 2019-20 season
Shakedown BT Sport
YouTube
YouTube
Practice BT Sport
YouTube
Europort Player
YouTube
Qualifying BT Sport
Eurosport
YouTube
BBC online / Red Button
Eurosport
YouTube
Race BBC online / Red Button
BT Sport
Eurosport
YouTube
BBC TV (one race)
Quest (selected races)
BBC online / Red Button
Eurosport
BBC TV (two races)
Quest (selected races)

Good news from the outset, but not as great as hoped?
Formula E remaining on the BBC is good news for a championship which has clearly struggled to find a stable home in the UK.

All races will continue to be available via the BBC Sport website, whilst two races could capture a wider audience via BBC’s television outlets.

However, it is a sign of how wanted Formula E is by broadcasters when a press release is issued by organisers eight days before the season opener, with seemingly little fanfare and under the radar.

Formula E is keen to shout that it is a series on the rise, yet that does not show in television deals worldwide, which is bad news from a financial perspective given that is where the money lies.

Arguably the demographics where Formula E is rising are those that do not watch television in their masses, but you would expect some ripple effect across the board if there was a genuine rise.

The BBC deal is good, do not get me wrong. But, the fact that only 2 out of 14 races are airing on BBC TV compared with 1 out of 13 last season suggests that the needle never moved far enough.

Back in March, an average audience of 229k (4.6%) watched the Hong Kong E-Prix on BBC Two, peaking with 355k (6.5%), a solid number considering the fact that the race went largely unadvertised.

Evidently, it was not enough to persuade the decision makers to do something different this season which, and as someone who really wants the championship to break out into the mainstream, is a real shame.

On the World Feed front, Vernon Kay will continue to front coverage of the series, which begins next Friday in Saudi Arabia. Nicki Shields returns from maternity leave, with Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti remaining in the commentary box.

Update on November 21st – So, in a late addition, the big news is that it appears the BBC are also showing Formula E qualifying live this season across their digital platforms (I’ve updated the table in the main body as a result). Meanwhile, Eurosport’s online Player service will cover both Formula E practice and the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Series live.


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Scheduling: The 2019 British Grand Prix / New York City E-Prix

Formula 1 heads home to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix!

For the first time this season, the race airs live on free-to-air television, with Channel 4 airing live coverage of the Grand Prix. Both Channel 4 and Sky have an ensemble cast on offer for the weekend.

No restrictions in place for Channel 4
Steve Jones continues to front Channel 4’s presentation team, with Eddie Jordan, Mark Webber and David Coulthard alongside him. Lee McKenzie will be roving the pit lane, as well as providing paddock interviews, whilst Coulthard will also be alongside Ben Edwards in the commentary box.

It is worth noting that the restrictions in place for Channel 4’s highlights programming are lifted for the British Grand Prix weekend, meaning that the structure of Channel 4’s coverage will remain similar to last season.

Simon Lazenby fronts Sky’s offering, with analysts including Martin Brundle, Jenson Button and Damon Hill providing analysis. Brundle is alongside David Croft on commentary, whilst Ted Kravitz is also back with his Notebook output.

As-is now tradition for Silverstone, Sky’s F1 Show airs on Thursday afternoon, but this year the show airs live from Club corner due to the renovations currently taking place on the main start-finish straight.

The change means that there is no Welcome to the Weekend on Thursday, as The F1 Show effectively moves from Saturday into its time slot. Welcome to the Weekend moves to Wednesday under the title of Welcome to Silverstone.

As noted recently, Sky Sports have gone the extra mile in the run-up to Silverstone. During the Silverstone weekend, a special documentary will air focusing on Sir Frank Williams’ fifty years in Formula 1. The documentary premieres following the Formula Two feature race on Saturday.

In addition, Sky are also continuing with their live coverage throughout the Friday lunch break, meaning that they are live from Silverstone from 09:30 to 17:00 on Friday, a set-up this site has advocated for a long time.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 is airing a special interview segment, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff interviewing England’s football manager Gareth Southgate. The film first airs on Friday after the second practice session.

Over on 5 Live, Jack Nicholls’ commitments with Formula E mean that Formula Two commentator Alex Jacques is his super-sub for the whole of the Silverstone weekend.

Cricket World Cup set to throw a spanner in the works
There is plenty going on from both broadcasters to make Silverstone feel like a special weekend. However, the Grand Prix faces stiff competition from both the Wimbledon finals, and the Cricket World Cup final.

The Cricket World Cup final is interesting, because Sky Sports have announced that they will make the final free-to-air if England make it. And who holds the free-to-air highlights rights for the Cricket World Cup? Channel 4….

Various media outlets are reporting that Channel 4 and Sky are in talks, in the event that England make the final. Either the Grand Prix will need to be moved to More 4 or, the Cricket World Cup final will need to air on More 4 during the Grand Prix.

If England made the final and I was a betting man, I would place good money on both the F1 build-up and post-race analysis moving to More 4. Nothing is confirmed, and will not be confirmed until Thursday 11th July, when England’s semi-final takes place.

Elsewhere…
The 2018-19 Formula E season comes to its conclusion with a double-header in New York, as Jean-Eric Vergne looks set to clinch his second championship. Both races air live across BBC’s Red Button, Eurosport 2 and BT Sport 2.

Prior to the big weekend, Sky Sports F1 are airing live coverage from the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The channel usually covers two-hours of live action, but has expanded the live amount this year to three hours. The action airs this Sunday (7th July) from 14:00.

With Formula 1, MotoGP, Formula E, IndyCar, the W Series, and much, much more motor sport coming up throughout July, there is plenty on offer to whet the appetite.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
12/07 – 09:55 to 11:50 – Practice 1
12/07 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2
13/07 – 10:55 to 12:25 – Practice 3
13/07 – 12:55 to 15:50 – Qualifying
14/07 – 12:55 13:10 to 16:45 17:30 – Race

Supplementary Programming
12/07 – 15:35 to 16:00 – Wolff meets Southgate

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
12/07 – 09:30 to 17:30
=> 09:30 – F1: Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event from 09:45)
=> 11:55 – F2: Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 12:45 – Paddock (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 13:45 – F1: Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 15:55 – F2: Qualifying
=> 16:30 – The Story so Far
=> 17:00 – F3: Qualifying Tape-Delay
13/07 – 10:30 to 12:30 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 10:30 – Practice 3
=> 12:10 – Paddock Walkabout
13/07 – 13:00 to 15:35 – Qualifying (also Sky One and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 13:00 – Pre-Show
=> 13:55 – Qualifying
14/07 – 12:30 to 17:30 – Race
=> 12:30 – Pit Lane Live
=> 13:30 – On the Grid
=> 14:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 16:00 – Paddock Live
=> 17:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
07/07 – 14:00 to 17:00 – Goodwood Festival of Speed
10/07 – 18:30 to 19:00 – Welcome to Silverstone
11/07 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
11/07 – 16:30 to 17:30 – The F1 Show
12/07 – 16:30 to 17:00 – The Story so Far
13/07 – 17:00 to 18:00 – Sir Frank: 50 Years in F1
17/07 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
11/07 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
12/07 – 09:55 to 11:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
12/07 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/07 – 10:55 to 12:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
13/07 – 13:55 to 15:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14/07 – 14:00 to 16:30 – Race Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Formula E – New York City (race 1)
Also airs live on YouTube
12/07 – 20:45 to 21:30 – Shakedown (BT Sport 2)
13/07 – 12:15 to 13:30 – Practice 1 (BT Sport 2)
13/07 – 14:45 to 15:45 – Practice 2 (BT Sport 2)
13/07 – 16:30 to 18:00 – Qualifying (BT Sport 2 and Eurosport 2)
13/07 – 20:30 to 22:30 – Race: World Feed
=> live on BBC’s digital platforms
=> live on BT Sport 2
=> live on Eurosport 2 from 21:00 to 22:00

Formula E – New York City (race 2)
Also airs live on YouTube
14/07 – 13:45 to 15:00 – Practice (BT Sport 2)
14/07 – 16:30 to 18:00 – Qualifying (BT Sport 2 and Eurosport 2)
14/07 – 20:30 to 22:30 – Race: World Feed
=> live on BBC’s digital platforms
=> live on BT Sport 2
=> live on Eurosport 2 from 21:00 to 22:00

Euroformula – Red Bull Ring (BT Sport/ESPN)
Also airs live on YouTube
13/07 – 14:30 to 15:45 – Race 1
14/07 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Race 2

Formula Two – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
12/07 – 11:55 to 12:45 – Practice (also Sky Sports Main Event)
12/07 – 15:50 to 16:30 – Qualifying
13/07 – 15:35 to 16:50 – Race 1
14/07 – 09:50 to 10:50 – Race 2

Formula Three – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
12/07 – 17:00 to 17:30 – Qualifying Tape-Delay
13/07 – 09:20 to 10:10 – Race 1
14/07 – 08:30 to 09:20 – Race 2

IndyCar Series – Toronto (Sky Sports F1)
13/07 – 19:00 to 20:30 – Qualifying
14/07 – 20:00 to 23:00 – Race

International GT Open – Red Bull Ring (BT Sport/ESPN)
Also airs live on YouTube
13/07 – 15:45 to 17:15 – Race 1
14/07 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Race 2

Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Series – New York City (BT Sport 2)
13/07 – 13:30 to 14:15 – Qualifying 1
13/07 – 18:45 to 20:00 – Race 1
14/07 – 12:55 to 13:40 – Qualifying 2
14/07 – 18:45 to 20:00 – Race 2

Porsche Supercup – Britain (Sky Sports F1)
14/07 – 11:10 to 11:50 – Race

World Superbikes – Laguna Seca
Also airs live on World Superbikes‘ Video Pass (£)
13/07 – 18:45 to 19:45 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
13/07 – 22:00 to 23:15 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
14/07 – 18:45 to 19:45 – Qualifying Race (Eurosport 2)
14/07 – 22:00 to 23:15 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
17/07 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

As always, coverage plans are subject to change back, so check back here for further adjustments.

Update on July 11th – England are in the Cricket World Cup final, having beaten Australia. Free-to-air coverge will now air live on Channel 4, but will switch to More 4 during the Grand Prix.

In my view, Channel 4 have made the right call here. England were last in the CWC final in 1992, whereas the British Grand Prix is a yearly event, so the decision to move some of the build-up and the reaction of the F1 to More 4 is a no brainer. Of course, the F1 is going to be squeezed massively on Sunday, but that is FOM’s fault on the scheduling front and not Channel 4’s or Sky’s.

Elsewhere, Claire Cottingham has confirmed that she will be part of Channel 4’s coverage this weekend, and likewise Alex Brundle has announced that he will be alongside Alex Jacques on Formula Two commentary for the feature race.

Update on July 12th – Interestingly, perhaps contractually, F1’s build-up and post-race show is not airing on More 4. Instead, Channel 4 have trimmed their F1 programming by an hour, with 15 minutes cut from the build-up and 45 minutes cut from the post-race analysis, leaving a total length of 3 hours and 35 minutes.