Scheduling: The 2017 Hong Kong E-Prix

“When the moment comes, let’s stand together!” Formula E is back for its fourth season! The championship heads to Hong Kong for their first two E-Prix (note the new stylisation) of the 2017-18 season.

Live coverage of the race in the United Kingdom will air on Eurosport, following a wider deal between Eurosport’s international arm and Formula E. However, despite also having live rights, free-to-air broadcaster Channel 5 are airing both Hong Kong races on a two-hour tape-delay. To a degree, the tape-delay does not matter much given the races start at 07:00 UK time each day, and Channel 5 would argue that the audience demand to watch Formula E at that time is very small.

When Channel 5 committed to Formula E in 2016, they did so on the basis that every race would be live on television, but as fans saw Channel 5 broke that promise towards the end of season three. Channel 5 say that “some” races will air live on their station this season; just how many remains unclear. Vernon Kay replaces Andy Jaye as Channel 5’s lead presenter, steering the ship on-site from Hong Kong, although it feels rather moot to be on-site with tape-delayed coverage, but that is the situation Channel 5 have decided to proceed with.

Elsewhere, both Channel 4 and Sky are airing their Formula 1 season reviews this weekend, meaning that neither channel will be airing original F1 content over the festive period. Channel 4’s review will be voiced by Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch. The AUTOSPORT Awards return on Sunday with a new look. Under the ownership of Motorsport Network, out goes Steve Rider and in come Lee McKenzie and David Coulthard as presenters. Motorsport Network have collaborated with Velocity, part owned by Coulthard, on the revamp.

Formula E – Hong Kong (online via YouTube)
01/12 (Friday night)– 22:55 to 23:55 – Race 1, Practice 1
02/12 – 01:25 to 02:10 – Race 1, Practice 2
02/12 – 02:45 to 04:10 – Race 1, Qualifying
03/12 – 00:25 to 01:25 – Race 2, Practice
03/12 – 02:45 to 04:10 – Race 2, Qualifying

Formula E – Hong Kong
02/12 – 06:00 to 08:00 – Race 1 (Eurosport)
=> 06:00 to 06:45 – Qualifying [tape delay]
=> 06:45 to 08:00 – Race [live]
02/12 – 09:00 to 10:45 – Race 1 (Channel 5)
03/12 – 06:00 to 08:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport)
=> 06:00 to 06:45 – Qualifying [tape delay]
=> 06:45 to 08:00 – Race [live]
03/12 – 08:55 to 10:40 – Race 2 (Channel 5)

AUTOSPORT Awards (Motorsport.tv)
03/12 – 20:30 to 23:35
=> 20:30 – A Night of Stars: 30 Years of the AUTOSPORT Awards
=> 21:30 – Live Ceremony

Formula 1
03/12 – 00:30 to 01:00 – Nico Rosberg: My Life after F1 (BBC News)
=> repeated throughout the weekend
03/12 – 12:00 to 13:00 – 2017 Season Review (Sky Sports F1)
03/12 – 13:00 to 14:00 – 2017 Season Review (Channel 4)

World Touring Car Championship – Qatar (Eurosport 2)
01/12 – 11:30 to 13:00
=> 11:30 – Qualifying
=> 12:30 – MAC3 race
01/12 – 18:15 to 20:15
=> 18:15 – Race 1
=> 19:15 – Race 2

As always, the schedule will be updated if anything changes.

Advertisements

Channel 4 F1 versus Sky Sports F1: Your 2017 Verdict

Whilst the 2017 Formula One season was not as nail biting as the 2016 season finale, the championship has seen a lot of good wheel-to-wheel racing. A competitive Ferrari meant that Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ driver Lewis Hamilton kept squabbling through the first half of the season, until the start-line collision in Singapore turned the championship on its head.

On the broadcasting side, 2017 marked Channel 4’s second season covering Formula 1. Has Channel 4’s coverage in year two been as good as their first year analysing the sport? Over on Sky Sports, has their coverage upped the ante this season, or do you feel that their programming still has inherent, fundamental problems?

It has been a big year elsewhere. Over in America, NBC bowed out of Formula 1, Abu Dhabi marking their final race before the contract is handed over to ESPN. If you are in America and reading this site, will you miss NBC’s output? And lastly, have you enjoyed following Formula 1 in the first year under Liberty Media’s ownership?

The best thoughts and opinion will form a new article on this site in a few weeks’ time.

Formula 1 unveils new logo and branding

New F1 logo

Formula 1 have officially unveiled their new logo following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, that heralds a new era for the sport heading into 2018. Formula One Management worked in collaboration with Wieden+Kennedy London to design the logo and associated typeface. The logo is one of the three that we expected to see following the designs logged with the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office, except with a red influence.

Speaking to Creative Review, Richard Turley, who led on the project at W+K, appears to suggest that the work was an indirect result of the Global F1 Fan Survey conducted earlier this year. The piece is a fascinating look at how the logo as developed, from initial concepts through to the final version, also pointing out that W+K initially looked to refine the current logo that Carter Wong had designed, but moved away from that idea.

Formula 1’s commercial chief Sean Bratches elaborates on why the sport have moved away from the Carter Wong design. In an interview with Motorsport.com, Bratches says “You cannot stitch the old logo chevron to the right. A number of brands, particularly in this day and age, are trying to simplify their marks to enter the digital space. Look at Starbucks, or Coca Cola which has taken the condensation off their logo to enter digital. We felt we had to go a little bit further and really retool to position us on a going forward basis.” Bratches also says that the negative space of the Carter Wong design “does not work well in digital.”

The strategy all came out of that intensive fan-focused [activity]. That was the starting point, then we could write a brief in and around what the identity needed to do. Perhaps one of the problems that [F1] inherited is that they had a logo but they didn’t really have an identity. What [Formula 1] wanted was something that was simple. – Richard Turley, speaking to Creative Review

The final design, according to Ellie Norman, who is Formula 1’s Head of Marketing, “takes inspiration from the low profile shape of the car, two cars crossing a finish line.” The idea of the new logo is for it to be flexible, so although red is currently in the designs, it may be that the colour changes depending on location, or on the race victor. Supplementing the new logo is three different typefaces designed by Marc Rouault, with the F1 Regular typeface expected to make its way onto the World Feed for 2018 based on the snippets in the Creative Review article.

Analysis
In my opinion, the typefaces produced by Rouault are the highlight as it currently stands. The pit in and out addition to the timing wall looks promising, although it remains to be seen how his typefaces will look on television (see the foot of this article for a preview). In any form of art, you should be looking to better the incumbent, and I am unconvinced that the new logo does that. For a world-class brand, the logo does not feel like one that represents a world-class sport.


Reading the quotes from Bratches, the comparisons with Starbucks and Coca Cola feel odd. Both brands refined their logo, by evolving their previous concepts. Neither brand decided to overhaul their logo completely, which is what Formula 1 have chosen to do. For me, it feels like a detachment from the past, a deliberate one to move away from the Bernie Ecclestone era.

In terms of the three designs we saw, it could have been worse. But I also feel that it could have been so much better. The logo does not shout ‘F1’ to me. Maybe it will in three months’ time…

2018 World Feed mock-up.png

F1 to launch two over-the-top products in 2018

Formula 1 has confirmed that it is launching two over-the-top products in 2018.

Speaking during the live F1 ESports Final broadcast, streamed live across social media, F1’s commercial chief Sean Bratches said “We’re going to be relaunching our digital platforms next year, with brand new responsive web, social capability.”

“We’re going to launch a live and a non-live OTT product. We’re going to continue to foster a greater environment around ESports. We’re going to launch four fan festivals in cities around the world.”

The idea that F1 would be launching two products in 2018 has been mooted for some time with Bratches speaking at industry events, but this is the first time that the news has been confirmed during a Formula 1 broadcast. Of course, this is fantastic news and many, many years overdue.

Formula One Management (FOM) have yet to release an official press notice to media and fans, meaning that there are many, many questions to be answered…

1 – Will the live over-the-top service be geo-blocked? I would expect the live service to be geo-blocked in many countries where Formula 1 airs live on pay television, such as the UK. Would a non-live service also be geo-blocked? It depends on what such a service would contain. For example, a non-live service which opens up FOM’s archives might infringe on Sky’s current offering.

2 – Which personalities will be part of F1’s live offering? Anyone who has worked with FOM on their digital media platform within the past few years has put themselves in the best position to be part of their future offering. For that reason, expect the likes of Rosanna Tennant to lead the line-up.

Assuming FOM does not use Sky’s commentary for their over-the-top product, Alex Jacques may find himself in pole position as Formula 1 lead commentator thanks to his work covering Formula Two and GP3 with Davide Valsecchi. The likes of Will Buxton and Jason Swales should also be mentioned, maybe fans in America will still hear their voices on ESPN after all…

3 – Will Formula Two and GP3 be offered as part of the live service? If Liberty Media wants to promote the two championships under the “Road to Formula 1” banner, the answer here must be a yes. If a live service is to be popular, it needs to be an all weekend offering, encompassing all on-track action. Back in 2002, F1 Digital+ only covered Formula 1 action despite fans paying £14.99 to watch the weekend.

4 – The pricing options. With two different products, I suspect you will see three different tiers of pricing. Entry level for the non-live product, a medium level for the live product with a high-end level covering both products. There’s little point talking about the UK here, but prices need to be reasonable to entice fans in. A steep entry price will turn fans away from buying.

The pricing also needs to be simple. There might be a temptation to have different pricing ‘levels’ within the live offering. For example, a live offering for just the World Feed, and then a live offering with all the added extras as was rumoured for this year. But at which point does the pricing become complicated. FOM need to follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) with all aspects of the product, including pricing.

I think the live product will launch before testing, especially when you consider comments made during Sky’s coverage of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which indicated that testing will air live. There is not long to go before the New Year, meaning that an announcement regarding the content of both over-the-top platforms should be with us sooner rather than later.

New Formula 1 logo and enhanced testing coverage coming for 2018

Sky Sports F1’s live coverage of the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice session featured some interesting lines, both from Sky’s F1 team and Formula 1’s chairman Chase Carey. Carey was a guest in Sky’s commentary box for the last 30 minutes of their practice coverage.

Carey, along with Sky F1 commentator David Croft, revealed that a new Formula 1 logo will be unveiled on Sunday, possibly straight after the final race of the 2017 season. Carey said “We want to provide a fresh energy to the sport, we thought the new logo was a great way to emphasise that.”

The current logo, dubbed as ‘flying F1‘ will appear for the final time this weekend. It was first introduced in 1987, and was designed by Carter Wong. The logo was eventually rolled out across the full product by 1994. One half of the team, Phil Carter spoke to graphic design site Seven Feet Apart in the Summer, and said:

“We wanted to capture that energy and excitement of Formula One and we’d been playing around with the ‘F’. Then there was the realisation that with a little bit of manipulation, we had the left half of the one. The lines of speed formed the other half of the one.”

“After 2 or 3 seasons, the marque became established. People now know it and it’s one of the most recognised brand symbols in the world. It doesn’t need changing – it still does exactly what it needs to.”

Liberty Media disagree with that last sentence, and under the Formula One Group guise have logged three new prospective logos with the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO), all of which garnered negative feedback via social media channels. It is unknown which of the three logos will become the official logo, or whether the three logos will serve different purposes. Or, it is possible that we have not yet seen the new logo yet…

Fans have praised Liberty Media this season for their interaction with fans both at the circuit, and on social media. An example of this is via Reddit, where an account controlled by Formula One Management has been asking fans for their opinions on key matters, such as the Safety Car procedure.

Not once, across any medium has discussion turned to a new logo. Has Liberty Media conducted any user research into what a new logo should or should not look like? It feels like the design and implementation of the logo has been completed on a whim without consultation.

Besides the usual corporate jargon, the main reason I imagine is to detach the previous Formula 1 with the current and future Formula 1 from a marketing perspective, and creating a new logo helps in that respect. Personally, I have no problem with creating a new identity, but I do have a problem with a logo that looks amateur and out-of-place for a world-class global brand.

A logo should be memorable and synonymous with what the sport represents. The best option would be to tweaks to the current logo, in my view. If Liberty Media wishes to be transparent and give fans a say, this is not the way to do it. I am willing to be proven wrong, and I still hope the new logo looks better on television than as a still image, but I am unconvinced.

Elsewhere during Sky’s coverage of practice, it was heavily hinted that live coverage of testing will be returning for 2018. Sky’s pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz referred to testing coverage, noting that whilst plans are still to be confirmed, initial ideas are “interesting” and that David Croft is going to be spending time next February and March “standing in a commentary box”. The last time Sky aired testing coverage live was in 2013, as part of their effort to drive attention towards their 3D offering.

The idea of live coverage of testing returning in some form fits in with Formula 1’s plans for an over-the-top service, widely reported recently but not yet officially confirmed. If you want an over-the-top service, you need to produce the content alongside that to draw fans in, and enhanced coverage of testing fits that box. Whilst the phrase “live coverage” was not explicitly stated, you certainly get the impression that is the direction where testing coverage is heading.

Earlier this year, during the 2017 pre-testing season, Formula One Management made an effort to showcase more on-track action via social media, such as on-board footage. The commercial rights holder also lifted a variety of restrictions that were previously in place, allowing teams to film from the paddock and pit lane.