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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Scheduling: The 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

The championship race may be over, but the racing continues as Formula 1 heads to Interlagos in Brazil for the penultimate round of the 2019 season.

Unusually, the race on Sunday faces tough sporting competition in the form of England’s last Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo. The match kicks off at 17:00 live on ITV, whilst the Grand Prix starts at 17:10 on Sky.

Although England themselves have already qualified for the tournament next Summer, expect the football to put a significant dent in F1’s audience figures.

Elsewhere, both the World Rally Championship and MotoGP series conclude in Australia and Valencia respectively, the latter airing live on BT Sport 1 for the season finale instead of its usual BT Sport 2 home.

Fans of the annual Macau Grand Prix will need to look elsewhere for viewing options, with no UK TV channel currently airing the race (last year the race aired live on Eurosport).

Channel 4 F1
16/11 – 22:50 to 00:20 – Qualifying Highlights
17/11 – 22:30 to 00:30 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
15/11 – 13:45 to 15:45 – Practice 1
15/11 – 17:45 to 19:45 – Practice 2
16/11 – 14:45 to 16:30
=> 14:45 – Practice 3
=> 16:10 – Paddock Walkabout
16/11 – 17:00 to 19:30 – Qualifying
=> 17:00 – Pre-Show
=> 17:55 – Qualifying
17/11 – 15:30 to 20:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event from 16:00)
=> 16:30 – On the Grid (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 17:05 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 19:00 – Paddock Live
=> 20:00 – Notebook

Supplementary Programming
14/11 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Drivers’ Press Conference
14/11 – 18:00 to 18:30 – Welcome to the Weekend
15/11 – 20:30 to 21:00 – The Story so Far
16/11 – 19:30 to 20:00 – The F1 Show
20/11 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Midweek Debrief

BBC Radio F1
All sessions are available live on BBC’s F1 website
15/11 – 13:55 to 15:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15/11 – 17:55 to 19:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15/11 – 21:30 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
16/11 – 17:55 to 19:10 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
17/11 – 17:00 to 19:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)

MotoGP – Valencia
Also airs live on MotoGP’s Video Pass (£)
15/11 – 07:45 to 16:15 – Practice 1 and 2 (BT Sport 2)
16/11 – 08:00 to 16:00 (BT Sport 1)
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
=> 15:00 – MotoE: Race 1
17/11 – 07:15 to 14:30 (BT Sport 1)
=> 07:15 – Warm Ups
=> 08:45 – MotoE: Race 2
=> 09:30 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag
18/11 – 18:00 to 19:00 – Highlights (Quest)

World Rally Championship – Australia (All Live – BT Sport Extra 1)
Also airs live on WRCPlus.com (£)
14/11 – 05:30 to 07:45 – Stages 1 and 2
14/11 – 21:45 to 07:00 – Stages 3 and 10
15/11 – 21:00 to 08:30 – Stages 11 to 19
16/11 – 19:00 to 04:00 – Stages 20 to 25

World Rally Championship – Australia
15/11 – 12:30 to 13:00 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
16/11 – 04:00 to 05:00 – Stage 16 (BT Sport 1)
16/11 – 12:15 to 12:45 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
16/11 – 21:30 to 22:30 – Stage 22 (BT Sport 1)
17/11 – 11:15 to 11:45 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 3)
18/11 – 18:55 to 20:00 – Highlights (5Spike)

World Touring Car Cup – Macau (Eurosport)
15/11 – 05:30 to 07:00 – Qualifying
16/11 – 06:50 to 07:45 – Race 1
17/11 – 00:40 to 01:15 – Race 2
17/11 – 03:10 to 04:15 – Race 3

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

Update on November 13th – The final round of the World Rally Championship season in Australia has been cancelled due to the rapidly spreading bush fires. On the F1 front, both BBC and Sky got their Friday and Saturday schedules out by an hour, I have updated this article with the revised schedule.

For readers looking for the action from Macau, that airs live on Motorsport.tv‘s online platform.


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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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