ITV will not broadcast season three of the Formula E championship in the UK leaving the series without a terrestrial television free-to-air partner, this site can confirm.
The broadcaster has shown the series since its inception on ITV4, with the London ePrix aired live on ITV’s main channel. Overnight viewing figures, supplied by Overnights.tv, show that appetite for the series in the UK has declined across the two seasons so far. The inaugural 2014-15 season averaged 216k (2.6%) across the eleven rounds live on ITV and ITV4, but live coverage of the 2015-16 season averaged just 138k (1.3%) across ITV and ITV4, a drop of 42 percent. 2015-16’s number includes the Mexico ePrix which was aired live on BT Sport Europe.
Formula E’s highlights programming have not fared well on ITV’s main channel for the 2015-16 season, averaging around 170k and being beaten by all five of its terrestrial television competitors on numerous occasions. The fact of the matter is, Formula E rated below the relevant slot averages for ITV wherever and whenever it was aired. This news is not a major surprise, when you consider that horse racing will fill up most of ITV4’s Saturday content from 2017.
> February 2016: Addressing Formula E’s issues in the UK
Sources have indicated to this writer that Channel 4 or Channel 5 are candidates to pick the series up. For Channel 4, it would fit well into their growing motor sport portfolio following their recent acquisitions of Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship. Formula E will be a nice addition to Channel 5 alongside the World Rally Championship. The BBC are not expected to get involved, but time will tell.
There is also the possibility that Formula E will be placed exclusively behind a pay wall, in which case BT Sport or Eurosport are the likely homes for the electric series. Both channels already air highlights as filler content throughout the week. It will be fascinating to monitor events as the next few weeks unfold. In my opinion, Formula E needs to stay live on free-to-air television. But, I am not convinced the ratings on ITV and ITV4 have been strong enough to persuade Channel 4 and 5 to get in on the act. Hopefully I am proven wrong on that front.