Dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix peaks with just 2.8 million viewers

A peak audience of just 2.8 million viewers watched Lewis Hamilton win a dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix last Sunday, overnight viewing figures show.

There were several factors different about the Grand Prix last weekend compared with yesteryear. Both the qualifying and race started at 17:10 UK time, the latest slot for the Brazilian round of the season since 2009. That year, qualifying started at 18:00 UK time, with the race starting an hour earlier.

Whilst a later time slot should result in higher audience figures, Formula 1 faced strong competition over the weekend, including the Manchester derby. Outside the sporting arena, there were also a variety of events broadcast on television to mark 100 years since the end of World War I.

Race
For the first time for a Sky-exclusive Grand Prix, the pay-TV broadcaster opted to air the race on their general entertainment channel Sky 1 as well as their dedicated F1 channel. An audience of 998k (5.6%) watched from 16:00 to 19:30 across the two channels, their lowest for Brazil since 2015 when BBC One also aired live coverage.

682k (3.8%) watched via the F1 channel, with a further 370k (2.0%) watching via Sky 1, the two numbers combined slightly higher than the total audience reported above, as Sky 1 joined the programme later at 16:30.

After a brief increase to 1.49m (8.9%) by 17:25 as Max Verstappen clawed his way through the pack, audience figures dipped to a low of 1.35m (7.2%) during the second half of the Manchester derby. Figures increased rapidly from 18:25 onwards as the final whistle blew at the Etihad, the race peaking with 1.72m (9.0%) at 18:35 as Hamilton won the Grand Prix.

Sky’s peak figure of 1.72m is an increase on their 2017 peak of 1.60m (9.8%), but down on the equivalent 2016 figure of 1.75m (8.1%). The F1 channel peaked with 1.13m (5.9%) at 18:25, the first five-minute segment after the final whistle. Sky 1’s simulcast peaked with 616k (3.2%) at 18:40, a solid number considering the channel rarely airs Formula 1 action.

Nevertheless, Sky themselves are happy with both their Brazil audience, and Mexico figures from two weeks ago. Barring any very low figures for Abu Dhabi, Sky’s overnight F1 viewing figures on race-day will be higher than what they were on average throughout the 2017 season, which is good news for them heading into 2019.

Later in the evening, Channel 4’s highlights programme attracted just 748k (9.3%) from 22:30 to 00:45, down on last year’s number of 968k (13.0%) across the same time slot, a very poor number considering the circumstances for both years were identical from a championship perspective.

Channel 4’s broadcast this year peaked with 1.04m (10.3%) at 23:05, compared with a peak figure last year of 1.38m (13.1%). A plausible explanation is that the Sky 1 simulcast resulted in Channel 4’s highlights programme losing some of their audience, but does not account for all of the differential in my view.

The combined average audience of 1.75 million viewers is the third lowest of 2018, and the lowest for Brazil on record. The figure is a decrease of 11.4 percent on last year’s audience of 1.97 million viewers.

The peak audience of 2.76 million viewers is down by a slightly lower 7.4 percent year-on-year, but is still comfortably the lowest for the Interlagos round since at least 2005, if not before.

Qualifying
Live coverage of qualifying on Sky Sports F1 averaged 339k (2.2%) from 16:00 to 18:35, a decrease on last year’s audience of 436k (3.7%).

What is telling is how few people are tuning in to Sky’s build-up programming. Last year, 334k (3.3%) watched their pre-session discussion, compared with just 76k (0.6%) last weekend, the heavy drop a direct result of Sky splitting their qualifying show up into two distinct segments in the television schedules.

Sky’s coverage peaked with 645k (3.9%) when Lewis Hamilton clinched pole, also down on the equivalent number last year of 743k (5.5%) in an earlier time slot.

An audience of 1.02m (5.2%) watched Channel 4’s highlights show from 20:45 to 22:15, a drop compared with the 2017 audience of 1.14m (5.4%). Both Channel 4’s average and peak figures were down in raw volume, but broadly level in share.

1.42m (7.1%) were watching Channel 4’s broadcast towards the end, compared with a peak of 1.49m (7.2%) twelve months ago.

Both combined audience metrics were down by a similar margin when compared to their race counterparts. The average audience of 1.36 million was down by 13.7 percent, whilst the peak audience of 2.06 million viewers decreased by 7.5 percent year-on-year.

The 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix ratings report can be found here.

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BBC to broadcast 2018-19 Formula E season across digital platforms

The BBC are to broadcast live coverage of the 2018-19 Formula E season across its digital platforms, both parties have today confirmed.

The electric series started life on ITV4, with coverage moving to Channel 5 from season three onwards. Now, at the start of Formula E’s second generation, the championship is again on the move, this time to the BBC. It is the first time that the BBC have aired live motor racing in visual form since their television coverage of Formula 1 ended in 2015.

However, the BBC’s Formula E coverage will be primarily absent from BBC’s television outlets. Instead, live coverage will air via the Red Button and via the BBC Sport website, with on-demand coverage via BBC iPlayer. Formula E says that one race this season will air on either BBC One or BBC Two.

“It’s great news that live motorsport is returning to our screens at the BBC,” said Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport. “I’ve no doubt the upcoming season will bring with it some exciting wheel-to-wheel moments and we can’t wait for it to begin.”

“The ABB FIA Formula E Championship will continue to be broadcast to the masses and across a variety of platforms in the UK,” said Ali Russell, Media & Business Development Director at Formula E. “It’s imperative that Formula E remained on a free-to-air network in such an important territory and key market for motorsport.”

“What better place to showcase some of the best and most competitive racing than on the BBC. We’re fully-charged and ready for the new season on the streets of the most recognisable cities – and this year promises to be more intense and unpredictable than ever.”

Formula E’s contract with the BBC is in addition to their agreement with YouTube, meaning that the championship will be available live, and free, via two of the biggest platforms in the United Kingdom.

Reflecting on their two-year deal with Formula E which expired at the end of season four, a Channel 5 spokesperson told this site “We have enjoyed working with Formula E over the last few years. We wish them every success with their new broadcast deal with the BBC.”

Potential for significant exposure with BBC deal
As I alluded to in my analysis around Formula E’s YouTube deal, there are many reasons why Formula E has struggled to gain traction in the United Kingdom. Little marketing from organisers, a lack of promotion, poor scheduling, and apathy towards the series from the wider public are just a few of the reasons.

During the past two seasons, Channel 5’s scheduling of Formula E has been haphazard, with the championship airing live across Channel 5 and their sister channel 5Spike to little fanfare. Half the races in season four aired live on 5Spike, with audience figures suffering as a result.

Collectively, a weighted average of 177k (1.8%) watched Channel 5’s coverage according to overnight audience figures supplied by Overnights.tv, the series regularly rating below slot averages and failing to pick up traction. The broadcaster treated the series as a slot filler, but when you look at the broader picture, the audience figures did not justify giving the series a bigger profile.

In addition, Eurosport, which has a separate pan-European deal with Formula E encompassing the UK, made little difference to the overall total figures. Unfortunately for Formula E, it was a catch 22 situation, and it is easy to see both their perspective and the Channel 5’s perspective.

So, what were the alternatives?

The clear alternative from the outset was Channel 4, but their new Formula 1 deal dashed Formula E’s hopes, for 2019 at least. With Channel 4 out of the equation, going back to ITV was another possibility, but Formula E’s vicious circle would continue.

A trip down the EPG to a lower-ranked channel in the small hope that it may boost their profile was highly unlikely. Pay-TV was a possibility, but such a deal would kill Formula E’s profile in the UK. As someone within the Formula E circles told me, “what if the alternative is BT Sport?” Such an announcement would have gone down like a lead balloon…

Outside of Formula 1, MotoGP and the TT races, the BBC has had little interest in motor racing since at least the early 2000s. As a one-off experiment, Formula E highlights appeared on the BBC website in March, which would have only helped Formula E’s cause if metrics were good.

The backdrop to the deal came in the form of a meeting between Formula E’s supremo Alejandro Agag and the Head of BBC Sport Barbara Slater.

Clearly discussions between the two parties were fruitful, with a positive outcome for all involved, and better than some of the potential alternatives. With live Formula 1 behind a pay wall for all but one race from 2019, now is the time for Formula E to strike while the iron is hot.

Some clarity still to emerge
The cost to the BBC is likely minimal, if not close to zero.

Channel 5’s coverage in season four was produced by North One Television, with production costs halved between Channel 5 and Formula E. What we do not know at this stage is whether the BBC will produce any bespoke wrap-around coverage for their UK audience.

It is unclear whether the BBC’s deal covers practice and qualifying, I have requested comment from the corporation on this front.

The BBC deal allows Formula E to reach different segments of the UK audience. YouTube gives them access to the non-sport audience, whilst the BBC Sport website opens the door to watchers of many different sports.

However, anyone expecting Formula E to receive “the BBC treatment” needs to reduce their expectations significantly. Yes, being on the BBC’s platform is great, but there is a reason the series is not on BBC One or BBC Two, and that’s because audience figures so far do not suggest that the championship could draw a wider audience, even on BBC One.

Whether Formula E were happy to take the Red Button option, or whether the BBC presented them with a ‘take it or leave it’ option is again unclear. Formula E’s deal likely fits in with the BBC’s ambition to “stream 1,000 extra hours of live sport a year,” although I hope the Formula E deal is not a ‘quota filling’ exercise.

Most of the sports broadcast on the Red Button are domestic competitions, such as the football Women’s Super League, grass-roots athletics events and the British Basketball League. For these events, the corporation takes the feed that the host broadcaster provides with no wrap-around, at minimal cost, and is therefore considered inappropriate for BBC One or BBC Two.

Earlier this year, the BBC streamed the Goodwood Festival of Speed live on their website, a move that went unnoticed within the motor sport community. If the BBC promotes Formula E well, with supplementary website articles and content from their existing talent (such as current Formula E commentator Jack Nicholls), this could be a very good deal for the championship.

Is the BBC deal better than the previous Channel 5 contract? You win massively with the BBC, you lose the traditional television facing slot. However, the latter was increasingly becoming irrelevant, due to a low audience base in the first place.

For me, the deal is fantastic news, as it gives the championship a consistent, high-profile outlet, instead of in previous seasons, where broadcasters threw the series from pillar to post.

The BBC website is one of the biggest in the UK, and this deal gets Formula E in the door. If the metrics are strong, I am hopeful that the championship could transition onto one of the BBC’s main television channels, which must be the main aim for everyone involved in this deal.

In 2019, Formula E will be live, free-to-air on the BBC, whilst Formula 1 will be live, behind a pay-wall on Sky Sports. For the times, they are a-changin’…

Scheduling: The 2018 Rally Australia / Valencian MotoGP

Ogier. Neuville. Tanak. Three contenders, but only one can be World Rally Champion in 2018. The rallying year comes to a climax down under in Australia, as Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak look to dethrone Sebastien Ogier from the top of the mountain.

All the action unfolds through the night live via WRC’s over-the-top All Live platform, with selected stages and daily highlights airing on BT Sport. If you miss the live action, fear not, you can watch again on All Live via their on-demand playback. Free-to-air highlights follow later in the week as usual on Channel 5.

Also concluding this weekend are MotoGP and the World Touring Car Cup. The latter forms part of the blue riband Macau weekend which, along with the Formula Three and GT races, airs live on Eurosport. The only thing from Macau not live on Eurosport is the Macau motorcycle race, that presumably airing via Motorsport.tv’s over-the-top service.

Into the virtual world, Sky Sports F1 plays host to the final of the 2018 F1 ESports series, which is also airing live on Formula 1’s Facebook page.

Elsewhere, a special Billy Monger documentary, produced by Oxford Scientific Films, airs on BBC Two on Monday evening, the documentary looking at his ongoing road to recovery.

There is plenty of offer to whet the appetite as the motor sport season draws to a close.

World Rally Championship – Australia
Every stage live via WRCPlus.com
15/11 – 20:30 (Thursday) to 07:15 (Friday) – Day 1 (All Live)
16/11 – 12:15 to 12:45 – Day 1 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
16/11 – 20:00 (Friday) to 07:15 (Saturday) – Day 2 (All Live)
16/11 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Stage 9 (BT Sport 2)
17/11 – 01:00 to 02:00 – Stage 13 (BT Sport 1)
17/11 – 12:30 to 13:00 – Day 2 Highlights (BT Sport 2)
17/11 – 19:00 (Friday) to 03:30 (Sunday) – Day 3 (All Live)
17/11 – 21:30 to 22:30 – Stage 21 (BT Sport 2)
18/11 – 02:00 to 03:30 – Stage 24 (BT Sport 1)
18/11 – 14:00 to 14:30 – Day 3 Highlights (BT Sport 1)
21/11 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (Channel 5)

MotoGP – Valencia (BT Sport 2)
16/11 – 07:45 to 15:15 – Practice 1 and 2
17/11 – 08:00 to 15:15
=> 08:00 – Practice 3
=> 11:00 – Qualifying
18/11 – 07:30 to 15:00
=> 07:30 – Warm Ups
=> 09:15 – Moto3
=> 11:00 – Moto2
=> 12:30 – MotoGP
=> 14:00 – Chequered Flag

MotoGP – Valencia (Channel 5)
20/11 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

FIA GT World Cup – Macau (Eurosport)
18/11 – 04:00 to 05:30 – Race

Formula Three World Cup – Macau (Eurosport)
18/11 – 07:30 to 08:30 – Race

World Touring Car Cup – Macau (Eurosport)
17/11 – 06:00 to 07:30 – Race 1
18/11 – 00:00 to 01:15 – Race 2
18/11 – 03:00 to 04:00 – Race 3

World Endurance Championship – 8 Hours of Shanghai
18/11 – 02:30 to 09:30 – Race (BT Sport 3)
18/11 – 05:30 to 07:30 (Eurosport)
18/11 – 08:30 to 09:15 (Eurosport)

F1 ESports Series (Sky Sports F1)
17/11 – 19:00 to 21:00 – Final

Driven: The Billy Monger Story
19/11 – 21:00 to 22:00 (BBC Two)

The schedule above will be updated if anything changes.

How All Live is changing the face of rallying: planning

Whilst many motor racing publications tend to focus on Formula 1 or MotoGP’s broadcasting exploits, elsewhere in the motor sport spectrum, a quiet revolution has been taking place that deserves far more attention than what it has received.

To discover more, this writer took a trip up to Deeside to see what the fuss was about for a three-part series. If you missed the first part, head over here

So, the World Rally Championship has laid its production foundations for the future of the series. WRC gives fans 24/7 access to the championship, broadcasting every stage live on their All Live over-the-top service to fans worldwide. It is a herculean operation that requires a significant amount of planning.

Planning for a rally event, as is true for most forms of motor racing, starts years before the event takes place, sourcing out potential new locations for the rally to conquer. “Normally we get sent a provisional itinerary from the promoter, which we comment on,” says Steve Turvey, who is WRC’s Location Director.

“They already know what we want, sometimes that isn’t possible, sometimes it is a compromise, sometimes it is a negotiation, but there is a common goal to make it work for TV. Some organisers will say ‘there you are, take it or leave it’, others come to us with an open book and say ‘tell me what you want’, and that’s part of the job.”

The operational angle
The planning phase ramps up in the months leading into the rally, with a reconnaissance mission taking place beforehand. Commonly known as a ‘reccee’, the purpose of it is for the production team to source out the best shots for television.

“We drive all the stages during the reccee, choosing the action shots for the highlight packages,” Turvey tells me. “We sometimes trim the live stages to get the best section for the last part of the stage. There’s a few things we look out for, as an example, we don’t want anything that is tree covered, we want the good vantage points.”

Although the team now covers every rally stage live, there is still an element of ‘the old’ and ‘the new’ on the production side.

As in previous years, television networks around the world, such as BT Sport, cover several stages live, meaning that the production team still produces a World Feed for these stages. The remainder are exclusive to the new over-the-top platform, which brings with it a new requirement for the team to consider during planning.

“As a minimum, we want to see every WRC car through each stage for All Live, so we’ve got to consider the timings carefully. We need to make sure there’s enough time between the first WRC car starting and the final WRC car finishing, before the next stage starts to avoid any overlap.”

Turvey’s planning in the weeks before each rally must take this into account. A spreadsheet created by him builds up a timeline for all four days, broken into five-minute intervals, covering on and off-air times, sunrise and sunset, the talent involved with each stage (both on and off-air), the studio guests and so on.

The production team meticulously plans everything to the finest detail, down to the helicopter route! The helicopter might seem trivial, but no plane, no on-board cameras. The spreadsheet is not simply X + Y for calculating the gap between stages, but Turvey uses historical information, such as the average speed to calculate the stage gaps. Turvey describes it as “military operation”, everything reviewed with a fine-tooth comb.

“There’s absolutely nothing left to chance, everything is planned to the second. We know exactly the second the first car starts and the last car finishes. We’re trying to cover the rally, but we’re not trying to change it. The organisers have got ideas of their own, they start at 07:56 [here in Wales] for example because that is the first minute that they will get full daylight for everybody, and then they will be running until they start to get darkness.”

With rallying covering a large terrain, it means that WRC’s personnel are constantly on the move, which they monitors through a own tracking system to ensure that elements outside out of their control do not hold them up, such as marshals, closed roads, “or even if we’re snowed in during Sweden” as Turvey puts it!

“We appreciate it is live TV, so that is very much plan A, sometimes we end up with plan C,” Turvey continues. “If you have an event like Turkey, when the entry list was decimated due to the conditions, what we ended up broadcasting was nothing like the original plan, and that’s the great thing about the people we’ve got. We’ve got multi-skilled, multi-talented reporters out there.”

The editorial stance
On an editorial level, it is critical that the team is singing off the same hymn sheet. At their Deeside base for the Wales Rally GB, there are multiple production offices on the go, which Kevin Piper, WRC’s Editor in Chief, describes as a “multi-layered operation.”

There are at least four layers to the WRC production operation: highlights (both 26-minute and 52-minute), the bite-size news segments, All Live, and the World Feed; and that is ignoring all the invisible layers that are in between.

As stories unfolded during the Wales event, you could hear the production team chatting to one another, ensuring that the outlook was consistent across all of WRC’s products. “I take overall responsibility for the editorial content which is an ongoing process throughout the year,” Piper tells me.

“I take on-board ideas and proactively get suggestions from the rest of the team. We talk to each other between each event so that we know where we want to go moving forward.”

As part of the planning phase, Piper’s team are also in regular dialogue with WRC’s manufacturers and drivers, so that they can get the best on-screen product and interviews on-air. The 52-minute highlights programme contains a mixture of on-stage action, as well as feature segments, which requires co-operation from the teams involved.

“We know what the features for the highlights show are before we arrive at an event, and we’ll shoot these in advance of the event on the Wednesday and Thursday, ready for our editors to edit them during the weekend,” says James Parnis, who leads the 52-minute highlights strand of programming.

“For the Wales show, we’re doing a three-minute feature with Craig Breen and Scott Martin, who are having drone flying lessons from the guys at DJI Pilots. Because of what happened in Turkey, we’re also doing a technical feature, which we shot before the event on drivers and co-drivers having to repair their own cars out on the road section.”

2018 Wales Rally GB - time line snippet
The All Live and World Feed time line for Saturday morning’s action in the Wales Rally GB, covering stages 10 through to 14.

“By pre-planning, shooting stuff and editing stuff before the event even begins, that gets us ahead of the game. That’s the plan anyway, it doesn’t always pan out like that, sometimes we have to be reactive and come up with feature ideas during the event,” Parnis continues.

The features, which WRC also plays out on All Live, help the 52-minute programme breathe although Parnis is keen to emphasise that the on-stage action takes priority. “Look at the Saturday in Turkey, so much happened! Whilst we have our own ideas, if the action out there on the stages is incredible, then that takes precedence. That’s what people want to watch, they want to see the best action.”

Quickly as the weekend ends, Piper is looking ahead to future events. “Once the event is established, you follow the storylines on top of the features as with any live event. Afterwards we have a debrief as we look ahead straight away to at least the next rally, if not a little bit further than that.”

The television feeds
Calling the job of a television director ‘easy’ is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, however the introduction of All Live has helped WRC’s television director Marko Viitanen this year.

“From a director’s point of view, making that one live television stage needed a lot of prep, because you needed to know what happened on the previous stages,” Viitanen says. “Now, when you’re directing All Live, you live the rally from start to finish. You know the order of the cars by heart, you know your shots, because you’re seeing all the on-board shots. You have the information burning through your brains, it is kind of easier!”

“I always compare directing rallying to cross-country skiing. In the best possible scenario, you have several cars on stage, and we can balance and bounce cars between the splits. We can actually put pictures to the stuff you, me, rally fans sitting at home have been watching on the timing screens for years.”

The set-up for the live World Feed stages is different to that for the over-the-top All Live stages. “We have a range of materials on offer for the World Feed,” Turvey notes. “There is a long action section at the end of the stage, covering the last couple of kilometres. We call this a line-cut section consisting of typically seven cameras, with an OB (outside broadcast) van.”

“We have a set team both on and off-air, with Jon Desborough leading commentary. In addition, there is a full graphics package, start camera, finish camera with interviews.”

All the work that Turvey is doing is on-top of his existing role from 2017, and as the team leaves Deeside, Turvey is already planning further ahead. “We’ll do the initial planning for [the next round in] Spain before we leave here, which is the on-air and off-air times. By the end of this weekend I’ll have this information ready for Spain.”

Beyond Spain, discussions are already beginning about next year’s rally, with the possibility of the opening stage moving to Liverpool and Manchester. And with that, the cycle for the 2019 Wales Rally GB begins already, it is the show that never stops…

Coming in the third and final part, we continue our look behind the scenes at the breadth and depth of WRC’s production suite.

Is Formula E’s streaming partnership with YouTube the recipe for UK success?

Last week, it was announced that Formula E fans in the United Kingdom will be able to watch the action in the upcoming 2018-19 season via the championship’s YouTube channel, with every race being streamed live.

The first two seasons of the electric series aired live on free-to-air television on ITV4, whilst the series has more recently aired across Channel 5 and 5Spike. As the series heads into season five, a free-to-air deal remains up in the air, with only Eurosport on-board currently, although Formula E says further UK rights deals are upcoming.

As part of the rights agreements in place, the official YouTube stream of the race, consisting of the World Feed, was geo-blocked for the UK. The only way for the UK audience to watch was via the respective television partner.

Now, Formula E has turned back to YouTube to try to boost its UK profile. The picture on the television front for season five will become clear soon, and it will be fascinating to see where Formula E ends up.

As analysis of Formula E’s audience figures on this website has shown on numerous occasions, the championship has struggled to hook in the casual fan in the UK. There are many reasons why: little marketing from organisers, a lack of promotion, poor scheduling, and apathy towards the series from the wider public.

But what has happened has happened, you cannot turn the clock back. Instead, Formula E must now move forward, making the most of the opportunities presented to them, both on the traditional television platform, and over-the-top. The launch of their Gen2 car presents them with an opportune time to do that.

From a UK perspective, Formula E joins a variety of motor racing championships in the YouTube arena including the Blancpain GT Series, British GT, European Le Mans Series and the Euroformula Open to name just a few. Live streaming the World Feed output on YouTube is not innovative, however series organisers are going a step further to make it so.

Enter the term ‘influencer’.

Stepping into the unknown
The E-Prix itself will still feature commentary from Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti, but prior to each race ‘influencers’, such as KSI, will join presenter Laurence McKenna in the YouTube Space London studios. From a motor racing perspective, using ‘influencers’ during race coverage is innovative, and a step into the unknown for Formula E.

The stream will be UK-only to begin with, although Formula E hopes to open it out to other markets in the future. Other countries with access to Formula E’s YouTube stream will receive the World Feed only as in previous years.

“Working in tandem with some of the biggest names and influencers allows us to grow our existing audience, which is primarily a younger and more digitally-engaged demographic,” says Ali Russell, Formula E’s Media and Business Development Director. “This partnership truly fits their needs and viewing habits.”

So, what is an influencer, and how does it work on social media? Here, we use a very basic example. Influencer X has 10 million followers, and promotes product Y. The aspiration is that a percentage of influencer X’s followers start regularly engaging with product Y, boosting the profile of said product.

We have not seen influencers get involved with a motor racing series on Formula E’s scale before, meaning that it is difficult to say how much of an impact they will have on Formula E’s total audience. The new audience may come for the influencer, but whether they stick around for the E-Prix is another question.

It also depends on how the influencers promote Formula E across their own social media platforms. For example, KSI has 2.4 million likes on Facebook, 4.6 million followers on Twitter and 19.7 million subscribers on YouTube (whilst collating those statistics, I can see several people I know in my age bracket [26 to 30] are following him, so he is clearly of relevance to some).

There is a very big difference between KSI passively tweeting a reference to Formula E, compared to say, KSI doing a video blog about the championship and explaining why his audience should follow the series, or even doing a behind the scenes piece. The latter could genuinely be influencing, resulting in a successful partnership, the former would result in little gain.

Anyone can pretend to influence with the right mindset, but the execution is critical here to the Formula E’s success. What Formula E does not want is a high bounce, and that is people who click onto the live stream and quickly disappear before the race begins.

I am intrigued to see how this works in practicality. How will the pre-race build-up lead into the race without alienating those that are viewing for the first time? Formula E needs to strike the right balance to not alienate one group or the other.

I dare say, and I absolutely mean this with the greatest of respect to Nicholls and Franchitti because I thoroughly enjoy their commentary, but Formula E should consider having a commentary team specific to the YouTube stream. Nicholls and Franchitti will be talking to viewers worldwide, and might come across as detached to those watching the bespoke stream.

If an influencer is going to influence, surely the influencer needs to be present throughout the race itself as opposed to just the pre-race build-up? If you have tuned in to watch the influencer, going ‘cold’ from the YouTube Studio into the World Feed could be the jump-off point for the non-motor racing watchers.

If done right, however, the rewards could be huge for the championship to break through and attract a new fan to motor sport…

BBC Red Button a possible home for Formula E
During the Valencia test, e-racing365 reported that the BBC could broadcast races via its Red Button service for season five. One assumes that would also cover the BBC Sport website.

The BBC deal is currently unconfirmed, but if it comes off, it means Formula E will not be on a traditional television channel in the free-to-air space at all. Nevertheless, being live on the BBC Sport website would offer the series significant exposure.

Again, it feels like Formula E has exhausted all avenues on the television front, and that going behind the BBC’s Red Button is one of the last free-to-air options available to the series, alongside YouTube.

If the BBC deal comes off, it means that the YouTube broadcast could have far more flexibility, with Formula E in the knowledge that the sports fans could tune into the championship via the BBC website.

I am interested to see how many people view Formula E live in the UK via their YouTube channel. Some of the streaming figures for motor racing events on YouTube have historically been very poor, with only the dedicated fan of that series sourcing it out.

You are more likely to stumble upon something via a TV set than via a YouTube live stream. You are unlikely to channel hop to Formula E’s YouTube channel, which is why the influencer aspect of the YouTube deal is important.

Season five is a step into the unknown for Formula E, and as the young kid on the block still, it is exactly the kind of series that should be trying things like this.

After all, trying something new is better than not trying at all, and for that I commend Formula E for going down the ‘influencer’ route.