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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News round-up: F1 to remain on ESPN in US; Eurosport UK to air British Speedway

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, ESPN extends their relationship with F1 stateside, whilst British Speedway finds itself with a new home in the UK…

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 #6 (October 15th): New Brabham film released; MotoGP moves towards HDR resolution

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

Site update
Some of you may remember the site update I posted at the end of September, with details on a major change for me (not for the site). The good news: I moved into my own house in the middle of October! So far, I am pleased to say that everything has gone according to plan, with no hitches.

Of course, that does mean I have spent less time on the site front in recent weeks, a situation I expect to continue until the festive period before the usual New Year cycle kicks in.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the guest articles from Jack Ainslie and Nigel Chiu focusing on IndyCar and World RX respectively, giving a different perspective on motor sport broadcasting. A huge thanks to both Jack and Nigel for their contributions in recent weeks.

If anyone else is interesting in writing a guest article over the next few months, please drop me a line, all ideas are welcome.

Formula 1

  • ESPN have retained the rights to broadcast F1 in the US through to the end of 2022 in a new three-year deal. The broadcaster will again simulcast Sky Sports’ UK offering commercial free, covering every F1 session as well as F2, F3 and the Porsche Supercup.
    • Despite earlier suggestions that NBC were interested in reclaiming the rights they lost back in 2017, I understand that NBC and F1 were some distance apart from both a financial and forward-thinking perspective.
    • F1’s US audience figures have increased significantly since ESPN came on-board, increasing by 24 percent since NBC’s final season in 2017.
  • Netflix’s Drive to Survive, which returns for season two in early-2020 has undoubtedly helped the surge in interest stateside.
    • The increased interest also applies to Mexico where circuit organisers say has caused an increase in the number of women attending the Mexico race.
    • Speaking to RaceFans, Mexico’s race promoter Alejandro Soberon said “We noticed that we have like a 30 percent increase in interest [from] women. We have tested and it’s related directly related to the Netflix series. And they answer and they comment and at least in Mexico, it was wildly successful.”
  • By far the biggest story in terms of column inches surrounded a new graphic which debuted at the Japanese Grand Prix showing the condition of each tyre. The graphic depicted the condition in intervals of ten, in percentage form from 100% (full grip) to 0% (no grip).
    • However, the graphic came under heavy criticism, with Pirelli’s Mario Isola calling the graphic “misleading“, and that they are not supplying F1 with the data.
    • It did not take F1 to respond, issuing a press release just an hour before the Mexican Grand Prix, with a full explainer of what the ‘improved’ graphic contained.
      • In their explainer, F1 noted that the graphic, powered by AWS, uses several public sources, such as live timing data, live telemetry data, tyre compound and stint length to build the overall picture.
    • RaceFans have a detailed article on F1’s thinking on the graphics front, featuring comment from Dean Locke, who is F1’s Director of Broadcasting and Media.
  • Leeds Crown Court have jailed a man for 18 months after he threatened to shoot BBC F1 commentator Jack Nicholls and journalist Clive Myrie.
    • Ian Hargreaves, 66, sent threatening messages about both Nicholls and Myrie through the BBC’s online complaints form.
    • Writing on Twitter, Nicholls said “Some people really don’t like my commentary. A huge thanks to the BBC who have been amazing throughout.”
  • Good news for fans of the official F1 season reviews: Duke Video have confirmed that the 2019 season review is reverting to the 2017 format after heavy criticism of the 2018 review.
    • As in 2017 and before, additional content will supplement the feature-length four-hour review.
  • The F1 team performed what was a herculean effort to get operations back up and running following Typhoon Hagibis ready for race day at the Japanese Grand Prix.
    • Motorsport.com interviewed Andrew James, who works as F1 centre’s technical director to get the inside story.
  • F1 came away as winners from the Broadcast Tech Awards, winning ‘Best 360 / VR Production’ award.

Formula E

  • As first revealed by e-racing365, Bob Varsha will not be part of the Formula E commentary booth for the upcoming season, which begins on Friday 22nd November in Saudi Arabia. Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti remain with the team on commentary.
  • I am expecting Formula E to announce this week the destination of several television deals for season six, including their UK free-to-air partner.
    • Last season, the championship aired across the BBC, Quest, Eurosport and BT Sport. The Eurosport arrangement is a two-year agreement that started last season, but the status of the other three are unknown as of writing.

Meanwhile on two-wheels…

  • A new MotoGP television graphic debuted during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. First focusing on Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales, the graphic shows the heart rate of a rider during the heat of the action.
    • In the example Vinales tweeted, his heart rate is at a rather calm 112 beats per minute.
  • Eurosport in the UK have secured the rights to British Speedway until the end of the 2024 season.
    • British Speedway for many years aired live on Sky Sports, gaining a passionate following, but since 2017 has aired to a smaller audience on BT Sport.
    • The move to Eurosport, along with free-to-air highlights on Quest and DMAX, will help revitalise speedway in the UK, which has been on the decline in recent times.

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


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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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News round-up: Bratches set to exit F1 role; Eurosport executive joins Formula E

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, news emerges of potential upcoming changes to Formula 1’s leadership team.

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 #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

ICYMI: Round-Up #1 (May 13th): Turner returns to F1 fold; F1 adjusts OTT pricing; Barrat joins Formula E’s TV team

Formula 1

  • Earlier in the season, news outlets revealed that Netflix’s cameras would be getting up close to Mercedes during the German Grand Prix weekend, as part of filming for series two of Drive to Survive. Unfortunately for Mercedes, race day turned into a bit of a disaster.
    • The Press Association reports that, after the Germany disaster, Mercedes invited Netflix back for the closing phase of the Hungarian Grand Prix one weekend later. The race saw Lewis Hamilton come from behind to take victory away from Max Verstappen in the closing laps.
  • According to RaceFans, Formula 1 and Sky are rumoured to be working on a multi-part documentary to be released in Summer 2020. The series will coincide with Formula 1’s 70th anniversary, although no details have been officially confirmed as of writing.
  • Sean Bratches is set to leave his role as F1’s Managing Director of Commercial Operations at the end of the year, the BBC’s Andrew Benson is reporting.
    • Bratches joined F1 following Liberty Media’s acquisition of the group in 2017, and has spoken in recent times about F1’s free-to-air and pay TV mix.
    • Benson also reports that Chase Carey and Ross Brawn are set to remain in their existing roles.

DTM / W Series

  • The DTM touring car series is holding a joint event with Super GT at Fuji in November, in what both are billing as a ‘Dream Race’. The joint event presents many decisions about which drivers will take part.
    • However, speaking to Autosport last month, Audi motor sport boss Dieter Gass said that having drivers’ share duties is unlikely as DTM believes there are “complication[s] in explaining the rotation to TV audiences.”
  • As of last month, there was no word on where W Series’ documentary will air. I understand that series bosses are flexible as to where the series eventually ends up, and in what format. Production company Whisper filmed documentary content throughout, from the first driver selection test through to season finale.

Formula E

  • One of Eurosport’s leading figures is to join Formula E, e-racing365 reports. Sebastian Tiffert, who was Eurosport’s former executive producer for their Olympics Games offering, is to join Formula E as the head of their media content department. Tiffert is set to “manage the broadcast, social and digital media elements” of Formula E.

MotoGP

  • Vislink Technologies have extended their contract with Dorna to be MotoGP’s official RF systems supplier. Vislink, who have held the contract since 2002, will continue to partner with MotoGP for the next three seasons.
    • “The continuation of our engagement with Dorna is testament to our leadership in live sports broadcasting, and delivering reliable, crystal-clear video to MotoGP fans around the globe,” said John Payne, President and COO of Vislink.

Elsewhere…

  • Dieter Rencken reports that negotiations are ongoing to sell Motorsport Network.
    • Billionaire Mike Zoi leads the group, which owns the likes of Motorsport.com, Autosport and F1 Racing, as well as a stake in Formula E. Other stakeholders within the group include McLaren boss Zak Brown (chairman) and James Allen (EMEA President).
    • Rencken adds that Dmitry Mazepin, whose son Nikita Mazepin races in Formula Two, is in the running to purchase the group.
  • The promotor of the World Rallycross series is reporting strong interaction figures over on Facebook. Using figures from Crowdtangle, IMG’s Vincent Haas notes that the series has the highest interaction rate of any motor sport series on the social media platform, as well as over 50 million video views.
  • Netflix subscribers will soon be getting a slice of NASCAR action, but maybe not in the way they expected. The two parties are collaborating on a new comedy series starring Kevin James.
    • The Crew sees the action play out in a NASCAR garage, with James acting as crew chief.
    • NASCAR’s Matt Summers (Managing Director, Entertainment Marketing & Content Development) and (Senior Vice President & Chief Digital Officer) will serve as Executive Producers from NASCAR’s perspective.

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


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