Scheduling: The 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans

The Summer holidays may be in full force for most, but for the World Endurance Championship, this weekend marks the 89th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans!

For WEC, the weekend is round six of the 2021 season, with the Hypercar category now in the limelight.

Replacing the LMP1 category, the new category sees five cars competing for overall victory, with two Toyota’s, one Alpine, and two Glickenhaus entries in the running.

On the broadcasting side, over 300 people are involved in the production, covering both behind the scenes and on-air personnel. 104 cameras will cover the action across the week, with 44 of those cameras on-board 14 different cars.

The action in the UK airs across Discovery’s portfolio of channels, the brand having recently extended their rights agreement to cover Le Mans for an additional five years.

Live coverage of full race airs on Eurosport, with Discovery’s free-to-air station Quest airing the start and finish live.

Tom Gaymor continues to lead Discovery’s commentary team for UK viewers, alongside Mark Cole and Jake Sanson. For Sanson, it is the first time that he has commentated on Le Mans.

David Brabham, Charlie Robertson, and Chris Parson complete the UK team, whilst Tom Kristensen will continue to provide his expertise across Discovery’s output.

Ever wondered what commentators read before a season of motor racing starts? Take a look at the WEC’s graphics guide.

Alternatively, fans can watch the action via the WEC app. This year, voices including renowned commentator David Addison and five-time Le Mans winner Oliver Gavin join the World Feed team.

Gavin makes his Le Mans commentary debut, having retired from competitive action last October.

Martin Haven, Graham Goodwin and Allan McNish continue to lead the offering, alongside Addison, Gavin and Darren Turner and Gavin. In pit lane, Louise Beckett and Duncan Vincent will provide additional analysis.

Radio Le Mans will be doing their thing throughout the week, with John Hindhaugh leading the team.

The race starts at 16:00 local time (15:00 UK time) on Saturday, an hour later than in previous years and an hour and a half later than last year. As was the case last year, the World Feed will not be covering the first practice session, with live coverage kicking in from Wednesday evening onwards.

Wednesday 18th August
17:45 to 19:10 – Qualifying Practice (Eurosport 2)
20:50 to 23:10 – Practice 2 (Eurosport 2)

Thursday 19th August
13:00 to 16:00 – Practice 3 (Eurosport 2)
19:50 to 20:45 – Hyperpole (Eurosport 2)
20:45 to 23:10 – Practice 4 (Eurosport 2)

Saturday 21st August
10:15 to 11:00 – Warm-Up (Eurosport 1)
11:00 to 12:15 – Road to Le Mans (Eurosport 1)
14:15 (Saturday) to 15:30 (Sunday) – Race (Eurosport 1)
=> live coverage of the start from 14:15 to 17:00 on Quest on Saturday
=> live coverage of the finish from 13:00 to 15:30 on Quest on Sunday

Full scheduling details for the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans. Scheduling details correct as of Tuesday 17th August and are subject to change.

If details change, I will update this article.

Update on August 21st at 14:50 – Tom Gaymor is no longer commentating for Eurosport today after being admitted to hospital with suspected appendicitis.

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Scheduling: The 2021 Berlin E-Prix

18 drivers. 2 qualifying sessions. 2 races. 1 weekend. And 1 championship.

With 60 points still on offer, there are 18 drivers still in contention to become the first ever Formula E World Champion as the series heads to Berlin for a double-header finale.

From Nyck de Vries on top currently with 95 points, all the way down to Alex Sims in 18th on 44 points, any one of those could exit Berlin as champion

The chances of someone clawing back that margin are highly unlikely, but Formula E has proved this season that anything is possible.

Following Channel 4’s one-off deal for the London E-Prix, live coverage of the Tempelhof weekend airs across the BBC and Discovery.

The first race airs live on Discovery’s free-to-air station Quest, with BBC Two picking up coverage of the season finale on Sunday.

In addition, the BBC’s and Eurosport’s digital platforms, as well as Eurosport 2, will be covering the action from both races.

It is unclear if the BBC are providing bespoke wrap-around content from Salford, as they have done previously when races aired on BBC Two, or whether Formula E themselves are providing localised UK coverage, like they did in London for Channel 4.

Vernon Kay presents the English-language feed, alongside Nicki Shields, with Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti on commentary, the latter three having been part of Formula E’s content offering since the very first race in Beijing 2014.

Series organisers say that “over 40 broadcast and digital partners” will cover the season finale, with a “strengthened” free-to-air offering in place.

Outside of the UK, broadcasters including Sat.1 (Germany), L’Equipe (France), Channel 20 and Italia Uno (Italy), CBS Network (USA) and SABC Sport (South Africa) will be airing the E-Prix.

Saturday’s race takes place earlier than usual for a double-header, this to give organisers time to reverse the circuit layout ready for the season finale on Sunday.

Friday 13th August
15:55 to 16:55 – Practice 1 (YouTube)

Saturday 14th August
06:55 to 07:40 – Practice 2 (YouTube)
08:45 to 10:15 – Qualifying (YouTube / BBC Red Button / Eurosport 2)
12:30 to 14:30 – Race 1 (BBC Red Button / Quest / Eurosport 2)
=> Quest coverage runs from 13:00 to 14:30

Sunday 15th August
06:55 to 07:40 – Practice 1 (YouTube)
08:25 to 09:10 – Practice 2 (YouTube)
10:15 to 11:45 – Qualifying (YouTube / BBC Red Button / Eurosport 2)
14:00 to 16:00 – Race 2 (BBC Two / Eurosport 2)

Full scheduling details for the 2021 Berlin E-Prix. Scheduling details correct as of Saturday 7th August and are subject to change.

As always, if plans change, the article above will reflect the updated scheduling details.

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Formula E looking for ‘channel consistency’ and audience consolidation in future TV deals

Formula E are looking for ‘channel consistency’ and audience consolidation in future television deals, series organisers have told Motorsport Broadcasting.

Since the electric series launched in 2014, Formula E has aired across five different broadcasters in the UK.

Currently, the series airs live across BBC’s digital platforms, with live coverage also airing on Eurosport, but both deals end following the 2020-21 season.

Speaking to Motorsport Broadcasting on the eve of the New York E-Prix weekend, Formula E’s chief media officer Aarti Dabas said that the series was exploring making it ‘simpler’ to watch Formula E moving forward.

“When you drive a message, with the clutter that’s around, you want a simple message, watch it on this channel, live,” Dabas believes. “You don’t want five different channels over there and five calls to action.”

“It’s a good question because we’re definitely looking at a more consistent channel strategy in the UK and other markets. And when I think of the channel strategy, I know that every race currently we are like, is it on BBC Red Button, is it on network, is it on Quest. It’s hard.”

Dabas, who joined Formula E in June 2020, believes that channel consistency, along with localised content, are both key if Formula E is going to become a tier 1 sport in key territories.

“For us we are aiming to be a tier 1 sport, and channel consistency is going to drive the numbers,” Dabas says. “We are looking to see how we can have consistent channels whether it’s with BBC, or with any other channel that we go with.”

Sat.1 deal in Germany an early success story for Dabas

Citing her previous role, Dabas notes that cricket saw a 50% jump in audiences in India following the creation of a localised feed, instead of the Indian coverage taking the English language feed.

Dabas’s team are trying to replicate that approach in Formula E, with their deal with German station Sat.1 an early success story.

Sat.1 airs a one-hour bespoke pre-show, with a dedicated on-site crew producing coverage for German viewers, featuring the likes of former racer Daniel Abt on commentary.

“It took a while to do and draft the deal [with Sat.1], because both from their end and ours, we wanted to work on something that helped them grow their audiences. Eventually they want younger people to watch their channel, and Formula E is the right fit.”

“They’re [Sat.1] actually owning the product with language, relevant talent, so it doesn’t look like they just take the World Feed.”

“I think ultimately that is the model we want to replicate in most key markets because that is what’s going to build audiences for us.”

“The second New York race is on CBS [in the US], a big free-to-air channel. There’s marketing support on the This Morning show on CBS which is a huge crossover from sport into entertainment.”

“We have to look at growing holistically rather than actually ‘here’s a sport, here’s a feed’, put it on and people will watch, those days are gone I think.”

Formula E is taking a long-term approach on the rights front, aiming to build their audience first, with the hope that revenues will follow later.

“It’s a hedge bet, placing 3 million for three years in a territory for rights. But in those three years, if that sport is not performing and building audiences, you’ve actually taken the sport backwards,” Dabas tells me over a Teams call from New York.

“I think, rather than focus on revenue first, you focus on audience first, and then the revenue follows. Those are the sports that will see growth, rather than sports that are looking at short term revenue versus long term growth.”

Formula E re-assessing social media content strategy

The championship is also re-assessing their social media content strategy to help them grow audiences further.

“When I joined, I could see that the Formula E content was all over,” Dabas recalls.

“It was everywhere, the teams were putting it out, partners, broadcasters, YouTube, but ultimately did that actually grow the audience? I think for us it’s about working with partners and adding value, otherwise we’re simply just putting the content on YouTube.”

“Avid fans will probably love it because they can see it for free, but we have to go beyond those fans and I think hopefully in two or three years we can reach a position where we reach the fans who don’t yet know us.”

“And then for our avid fans we have something else to give to our digital products. Avid fans should be actually looked after and rewarded for being avid fans, and right now all we’re doing is putting it out on YouTube.”

Dabas believes the content across Formula E’s platforms, whether it is the championship-led channels or the team channels needs to have a narrative.

“There has to be a narrative and we should cross promote each other, rather than all of us trying to be on top of each other, diverting attention and fragmenting audiences.”

“So, I think when I talk about the consolidation audience approach, I think there is also about complementary content rather than competing content that we need to look at.”

Formula E’s UK broadcast plans for the London E-Prix weekend, which takes place on July 24th and 25th, will be announced shortly.

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Scheduling: The 2021 Monaco Grand Prix

After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Formula 1 returns to the streets of Monte Carlo for round five of the 2021 season, the Monaco Grand Prix!

So far in 2021, Lewis Hamilton has claimed three victories, with Max Verstappen winning a dramatic Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Can Verstappen close the gap on Hamilton around the principality?

The upcoming week is set to be a bumper one for Sky Sports, with over 48 hours of live motor sport airing on Sky’s F1 channel.

F1 – the coverage

Live coverage of the blue riband event airs exclusively on Sky Sports, with most of the action simulcast across Sky’s F1 channel and Sky Sports Main Event.

Free-to-air highlights of qualifying and the race follow a few hours later on Channel 4, whilst the BBC also covers every session live via BBC Radio 5 Live.

Joining Steve Jones out in Monaco for Channel 4’s trackside offering are David Coulthard and Mark Webber, whilst Alex Jacques joins Coulthard in the commentary booth. In addition, Eddie Jordan is with the team, the first time Jordan has joined them since 2019.

Meanwhile over on Sky, Ted Kravitz returns to the team having missed the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

As is tradition in Monaco, all the Friday action moves to Thursday, with only the first Formula 2 sprint race taking place on Friday morning.

The timing of the second Formula 2 sprint race on Saturday morning leaves fans wanting to watch it live with a slightly early alarm call: the race beginning at 07:20 UK time…

F1 – over-the-top

Fans watching via Formula 1’s over-the-top platform outside the UK will hear a different voice to usual on the Pit Lane Channel.

Tom Gaymor, who is a regular voice over on Eurosport, steps into the hot seat for the first time on F1 TV. Alex Brundle and Sam Collins join Gaymor in commentary, with Rosanna Tennant reporting from on-site.

Also new this weekend is the Porsche Supercup commentary line-up, as Harry Benjamin and Shaun Hollamby commentate on the series for the first time.

All F1 sessions are available to listen live via BBC’s F1 website

Wednesday 19th May
17:00 to 18:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
18:00 to 19:30 – F1: Drivers’ Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)

Thursday 20th May
08:40 to 09:35 – F2: Practice (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
10:00 to 11:45 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 10:25 to 11:35
12:15 to 13:05 – F2: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
13:45 to 15:30 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
=> also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 13:55 to 15:05

Friday 21st May
10:35 to 11:40 – F2: Sprint Race 1 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)

Saturday 22nd May
07:10 to 08:15 – F2: Sprint Race 2 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
10:45 to 12:10 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 10:55 to 12:05
13:00 to 15:30 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
=> also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 13:55 to 15:05
16:05 to 17:25 – F2: Feature Race (Sky Sports F1)
18:00 to 19:00 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook (Sky Sports F1)
20:00 to 21:30 – F1: Qualifying Highlights (Channel 4)

Sunday 23rd May
09:30 to 10:15 – Porsche Supercup: Race (Eurosport, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event)
12:30 to 17:30 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1)
=> 12:30 – Grand Prix Sunday (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 13:55 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> also BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 13:50 to 16:00
=> 16:00 – Chequered Flag
=> 17:00 – Ted’s Notebook
18:30 to 21:00 – F1: Race Highlights (Channel 4)

Full scheduling details for the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix. Scheduling details correct as of Thursday 13th May and are subject to change.

Why, and how, are Sky Sports airing so much motor sport over the next week? The answer is the Indianapolis 500…

Indianapolis 500 build-up – the key details

UK fans will be able to see most of the Indianapolis 500 build-up, practice and qualifying exclusively live on Sky Sports F1.

There are exceptions, but this is where coverage overlaps with Sky’s Monaco Grand Prix offering, which understandably takes priority.

Normally pre-pandemic, the 500 immediately follows the Monaco race, but this year the two are on different weekends, the first time this has happened since 2010.

Motorsport Broadcasting understands that practice will come with limited commercials on Sky, but that qualifying and the race will run ad-free for UK fans.

Sky will take NBC’s coverage (NBC’s network channel, NBC Sports Network or Peacock) throughout the build-up, with Leigh Diffey leading proceedings.

Full coverage details for Sky’s race day offering are yet to be confirmed.

Tuesday 18th May
15:00 to 19:00 – Practice
20:00 to 23:00 – Practice

Wednesday 19th May
20:30 to 23:00 – Practice
=> session begins at 17:00

Thursday 20th May
17:00 to 23:00 – Practice

Friday 21st May
17:00 to 23:00 – Practice

Saturday 22nd May
18:00 to 23:00 – Qualifying
=> session begins at 17:00

Sunday 23rd May
18:00 to 21:30 – Qualifying
=> 18:00 – Last Chance
=> 19:30 – Fast Nine

Full scheduling details for the 2021 Indianapolis 500 build-up. Scheduling details correct as of Friday 14th May and are subject to change.

The week is jam packed for motor sport fans, as one of the most exciting periods of the motor sport year begins…

Last updated on Thursday 20th May.

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BBC and Eurosport retain Formula E rights as season 7 approaches

The BBC and Eurosport will continue to show Formula E for the 2020/21 season, it has been confirmed.

As in the past two seasons, the BBC will air live coverage across their free-to-air platforms, including the Red Button service, BBC iPlayer, and the BBC Sport website.

Some races may also air on BBC One or BBC Two, however this is dependent on how the Formula E schedule evolves across 2021 owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Extending our partnership with the BBC gives us the platform to bring the unpredictable action of our all-electric racing to people in the UK on mainstream channels and the popular BBC digital channels, as we also look to engage the next generation of sports fans around the world with our BBC Global News content partnership,” said Aarti Dabas, Formula E’s Chief Media Officer.

In addition to the BBC’s offering, live coverage will air on Eurosport, whilst fans can also watch every session live via Formula E’s YouTube channel.

Since launching in 2014, Formula E’s live coverage has jumped around various stations: from ITV4, to Channel 5 and now remaining on the BBC. It is unknown whether Formula E benefits financially from the current BBC deal.

Normally the broadcaster pays the series to air their content, but it is likely that the amount of money exchanged here is negligible, given that the electric series benefits more from the deal than the BBC.

The season kicks off this Thursday, with 2 night races in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

Thursday 25th February
15:10 to 16:10 – Practice 1 (YouTube)

Friday 26th February
10:55 to 11:55 – Practice 2 (YouTube)
12:45 to 14:15 – Qualifying (YouTube / BBC Red Button)
16:30 to 18:30 – Race 1 (YouTube / BBC Red Button / Eurosport 2)
=> Eurosport 2 coverage runs from 16:50 to 18:00

Saturday 27th February
10:55 to 11:55 – Practice 3 (YouTube)
12:45 to 14:30 – Qualifying (YouTube / BBC Red Button)
16:30 to 18:30 – Race 2 (YouTube / BBC Red Button / Eurosport 2)
=> Eurosport 2 coverage runs from 16:50 to 18:00

Full scheduling details for the 2021 Diriyah E-Prix. Scheduling details correct as of Sunday 21st February and are subject to change.

Fresh from the I’m a Celebrity castle, Vernon Kay returns as Formula E presenter, Kay now heading into his fourth season with the team. Joining him in pit lane are the usual trio of Jack Nicholls, Dario Franchitti and Nicki Shields.

Who’s who?

Behind the lens, Formula E partners with many external stakeholders to execute its vision.

Production companies Aurora Media Worldwide and North One Television bring their expertise together to form Formula E TV, the entity responsible for producing World Feed coverage of every session.

Aurora have been part of the Formula E journey since the championship’s first ever race in Beijing in 2014, with North One joining them ready for the 2017/18 season.

On the facilities front, Timeline TV provides equipment and facilities for the production team to use every race weekend, ensuring that everything Formula E TV wants to achieve on-screen is technically possible.

No series is complete without a strong brand and social media presence, which is where both Little Dot Studios and CSM enter the picture.

In recent years, Little Dot has been responsible for some of Formula E’s best social media projects, including their stunt involving a Formula E car and a cheetah in 2017. The stunt has amassed 45 million views on YouTube, easily the most watched video on Formula E’s YouTube channel.

In addition, Little Dot works with Formula E’s outfits, helping them on their social media journey.

Meanwhile, CSM’s involvement surrounds Formula E’s PR and branding, on and off-site, ensuring that the championship’s branding is consistent across all platforms, from trackside hoardings all the way through to Twitter.

Eight races are currently scheduled for season seven, with further race announcements expected in early spring.

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