News round-up: ITV extends BTCC contract, Formula E highlights go global

Before I get into the round-up, no news on anything BBC F1 related concerning 2016. If we hear nothing before Christmas, we have to assume that things are staying the same for next season. Hopefully we will have direct confirmation one way or the other soon.

Formula E creates highlights programme for YouTube… but is it uploaded by a robot?
For those of you who are unable to watch the full session replays on the Formula E website because of geo-blocking, or new contractual agreements mean that you can no longer access the series, there is some good news. A 50-minute highlights programme will now be uploaded to YouTube one week after each ePrix, with no restrictions in place. Beijing and Putrajaya‘s extended highlights are already online.

Unfortunately Formula E has gone a few steps backwards in the accessibility ranks recently, but the move to upload an extended highlights programme to YouTube is certainly a sensible move. As usual, the question is whether anyone will (or has) noticed. You can do the best thing in the world, but if you do not communicate the message to the right people, you’re in a problematical situation. I am hopeful that things will improve for the Punta del Este ePrix in three weeks time, it should be better for the production team generally that the race takes place in a European friendly time zone.

Speaking of scheduling, whilst Battersea Park and Mexico are definitely taking place, question marks remain about Berlin, unfortunately the calendar for the second year running is fragile. That is the nature of having a series that takes place primarily on temporary circuits, inevitably things that are more important contextually will emerge.

Lastly on Formula E, I would be surprised if Roborace is covered live anywhere. The news was covered widely by a lot of technology outlets, and reached the people it needed to, such as the BBC, Mashable, Wired and The Verge. It is a great news story in my eyes for Formula E, and (coming from a Computing background) I’m fascinated to see how exactly the Roborace goes down. I look forward to the first Roborace testing session at Donington Park (because that surely will be a thing?) next Summer.

BTCC and ITV extend agreement
The main news on the rights front actually comes from ITV, with the announcement that they have extended their agreement to broadcast the British Touring Car Championship until 2022, taking their contract into a twentieth year. It is ITV’s longest agreement in history with the championship. Although viewing figures for the series have dropped recently, it is still fantastic news for the series and for fans, maintaining their presence on free-to-air television in the UK.

It also shows again that the championship, from a broadcasting perspective, clearly considers exposure over funding. I imagine they could get more money off a pay-TV partner, but choose not to in order to reach the widest possible audience. Okay, as mentioned numbers have dropped, but BTCC are unlikely to find another partner who are willing to dedicate the amount of airtime that ITV4 does to the championship.

Although this contract does not take effect until 2017, reading the article on the BTCC website, it looks like nothing has changed versus this deal. The timing is interesting, given that there have been rumours recently about ITV potentially being in the F1 race soon should BBC opt out. However, ITV have broadcast BTCC and F1 at the same time previously, from 2002 to 2008 they held the contract for both series.

In relation to Formula 1, Alan Gow said “the fact that we enjoy more live free-to-air television that even Formula 1 in the UK is testament to not only the BTCC but also the dedication and passion expressed by the ITV Sport team.”

Race of Champions makes history
Live coverage of the Race of Champions averaged 54k (0.4%) on Saturday 21st November on Sky Sports F1 from 15:00 according to overnight viewing figures, which will have been significantly up on the channel’s slot average during non-F1 race weekends. It was surprising to see Sky in their studio considering the Olympic Stadium is only an hour journey away from the studio.

You could say that the event made a bit of history, as Martin Haven was commentating alongside Jennie Gow for the World Feed coverage, which Sky largely used interspersed with studio discussion. Haven noted on Twitter that Gow would become UK’s first female motor sport commentator by commentating on the event, which is an amazing achievement. On the main stream motor sport outlets (I’m thinking BBC, Sky, ITV and BT to some extent) we have female presenters and pit lane reporters, but I do not ever recall a female commentator commentating on motor sport. It was a welcome change. and I enjoyed listening to a different voice during the proceedings.

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