Scheduling: The 2017 Mexican Grand Prix

The 2017 Formula One season rolls into Mexico where it looks like, barring any reliability trouble, Lewis Hamilton will become a four-time Formula 1 champion.

The race is exclusively live on Sky Sports, the second time that Sky are likely to screen the championship winning race. The first occasion the 2015 US Grand Prix, where Hamilton secured his third championship with three races to spare.

It may be a weekend of championship deciders, with the Australian Grand Prix moving Marc Marquez closer to the MotoGP Riders’ Championship, which he is more than likely to secure in Malaysia.

NOTE: Clocks go back one hour on Sunday 29th October, with the change from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. The times listed are for BST on Saturday and before; GMT for Sunday and afterwards…

Channel 4 F1
28/10 – 22:00 to 23:40 – Qualifying Highlights
29/10 – 22:30 to 00:45 – Race Highlights

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
27/10 – 15:45 to 18:00 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
27/10 – 19:45 to 22:00 – Practice 2
28/10 – 15:45 to 17:15 – Practice 3
28/10 – 18:00 to 20:40 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event from 19:00)
29/10 – 17:30 to 22:15 – Race
=> 17:30 – Track Parade
=> 18:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 18:30 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 21:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
26/10 – 17:00 to 18:00 – Driver Press Conference
26/10 – 20:15 to 20:30 – Paddock Uncut
27/10 – 22:00 to 22:50 – Team Press Conference
27/10 – 22:50 to 23:20 – The F1 Show
01/11 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
26/10 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
27/10 – 15:55 to 17:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
27/10 – 19:55 to 21:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
28/10 – 15:55 to 17:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
28/10 – 18:55 to 20:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
29/10 – 18:30 to 21:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

MotoGP – Malaysia (BT Sport 2)
27/10 – 02:00 to 09:00
=> 02:00 – Practice 1
=> 04:45 – Reaction and Build-Up
=> 06:00 – Practice 2
28/10 – 02:00 to 09:15
=> 02:00 – Practice 3
=> 05:00 – Qualifying
29/10 – 02:30 (BST) to 02:45 (GMT) – Warm Up
29/10 – 03:30 to 08:15
=> 03:30 – Moto3 race
=> 05:15 – Moto2 race
=> 06:45 – MotoGP race

MotoGP – Malaysia (Channel 5)
30/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights

Euroformula – Barcelona (BT Sport/ESPN)
28/10 – 13:45 to 14:45 – Race 1
29/10 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Race 2

Formula Renault Eurocup – Barcelona
28/10 – 11:15 to 12:15 – Race 1 (BT Sport 3)
29/10 – 09:15 to 10:30 – Race 2 (BT Sport 2)
29/10 – 14:30 to 16:00 – Race 3 (BT Sport/ESPN)

International GT Open – Barcelona (BT Sport/ESPN)
28/10 – 14:45 to 16:30 – Race 1
29/10 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Race 2

Porsche Supercup – Mexico
28/10 – Race 1
=> 21:05 to 22:00 (Sky Sports F1)
=> 22:45 to 23:15 (Eurosport)
29/10 – Race 2
=> 16:25 to 17:20 (Sky Sports F1)
=> 16:30 to 17:15 (Eurosport 2)

Speedway Grand Prix – Australia (BT Sport 1)
28/10 – 08:45 to 12:15 – Races

World Rally Championship – Wales Rally GB
27/10 – Day 1 Highlights
=> 22:35 to 23:05 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 00:00 to 00:30 (BT Sport 1)
28/10 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Live: Gartheiniog II (BT Sport 2)
28/10 – Day 2 Highlights
=> 22:35 to 23:05 (Motorsport.tv)
=> 23:00 to 23:30 (BT Sport 1)
29/10 – 09:00 to 10:00 – Live: Brenig I (BT Sport 3)
29/10 – Live: Power Stage
=> 12:00 to 13:30 (Channel 5)
=> 12:00 to 13:30 (BT Sport 3)
29/10 – Day 3 Highlights
=> 22:15 to 22:45 (BT Sport 3)
=> 22:35 to 23:05 (Motorsport.tv)
31/10 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights (Channel 5)

World Touring Car Championship – Japan (Eurosport 2)
29/10 – 03:45 to 07:15
=> 03:45 – Qualifying
=> 04:30 – MAC3 race
=> 05:00 – Race 1
=> 06:15 – Race 2

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

Update on October 27th – Due to a tropical storm heading its way, the WTCC action will now all take place on Sunday, with Eurosport 2 on air for three and a half hours.

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Eurosport to broadcast Formula E live in the UK

Eurosport are to broadcast Formula E live in the UK alongside Channel 5, the broadcaster confirmed this morning.

The press release left room for interpretation, but speaking to this site, Eurosport say that they “will be broadcasting Formula E in the UK live on a non-exclusive basis.” The contract is part of a wider Eurosport deal with Formula E across Europe, where the channel will broadcast the series in 54 markets. The deals vary from exclusively live coverage to sub-licencing to a free-to-air broadcaster.

The 2017-18 Formula E season will be the second and currently final year of Channel 5’s contract, and the first of three seasons with Eurosport. I have heard suggestions that Channel 5 may have a greater on-air presence for some rounds this season, implying that they see Formula E as a medium to long-term investment. Channel 5’s coverage of season three averaged 280,000 viewers according to overnight viewing figures.

For readers unaware, Liberty Global and Discovery Communications are minority investors in Formula E. And Eurosport is part of the Discovery family, meaning that it is no major surprise to see Formula E’s presence on Eurosport expanded across their various outlets. The UK situation beyond season four with regards free-to-air television remains to be seen…

Based on their track record with other motor racing series’, I would expect Eurosport to use their own commentary line-up. Eurosport’s resident lead commentator Martin Haven did stand-in for Jack Nicholls as lead commentator for Formula E’s World Feed last season, and would be prime contender to lead Eurosport’s coverage of the electric series.

Scheduling: The 2017 United States Grand Prix

For the first time in a decade, UK viewers will be able to watch the United States Grand Prix live on free-to-air television. The race is the sixth from the Circuit of the Americas and could see Lewis Hamilton clinch his fourth world title.

Channel 4’s live coverage will feature Mark Webber and Eddie Jordan on punditry alongside Steve Jones and David Coulthard. After missing Japan, Lee McKenzie will be back with the team, whilst Rachel Brookes is expected to return to Sky’s F1 team following injury.

On the scheduling front, there is an unusual four-hour gap between the end of practice three and the start of the qualifying. The explanation is that the organisers want to persuade fans to stay for the Justin Timberlake concert following qualifying (yes, really).

Qualifying does not start until 22:00 BST as a result, the latest I believe qualifying has started for viewers in Europe since the 1983 United States Grand Prix West from Long Beach!

On Sunday, to allow for drivers to be introduced individually by legendary announcer Michael Buffer, the pit lane will open 15 minutes earlier. Hopefully the UK broadcasters cover the festivities throughout their race day build-up.

Channel 4 F1
20/10 – 15:55 to 17:35 – Practice 1 (More4)
20/10 – 19:55 to 21:35 – Practice 2 (More4)
21/10 – 16:55 to 18:30 – Practice 3 (Channel 4)
21/10 – 21:00 to 23:35 – Qualifying (Channel 4)
22/10 – 19:00 to 23:15 – Race (Channel 4)
=> 19:00 – Build–Up
=> 19:35 – Race
=> 22:10 – Reaction

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
20/10 – 15:45 to 18:00 – Practice 1 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
20/10 – 19:45 to 22:00 – Practice 2
21/10 – 16:45 to 18:15 – Practice 3
21/10 – 21:00 to 23:40 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Mix)
22/10 – 18:30 to 23:15 – Race
=> 18:30 – Track Parade
=> 19:00 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 19:30 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 22:30 – Paddock Live

Supplementary Programming
18/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
19/10 – 17:00 to 18:00 – Driver Press Conference
19/10 – 20:30 to 20:45 – Paddock Uncut
20/10 – 22:00 to 22:50 – Team Press Conference
20/10 – 22:50 to 23:20 – The F1 Show
25/10 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Review

BBC Radio F1
19/10 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
20/10 – 15:55 to 17:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
21/10 – 21:55 to 23:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
22/10 – 19:00 to 22:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

MotoGP – Australia (BT Sport 2)
20/10 – 00:00 to 07:00
=> 00:00 – Practice 1
=> 02:45 – Reaction and Build-Up
=> 04:00 – Practice 2
21/10 – 00:00 to 07:15
=> 00:00 – Practice 3
=> 03:00 – Qualifying
22/10 – 00:30 to 02:15 – Warm Up
22/10 – 02:30 to 07:15
=> 02:30 – Moto3 race
=> 04:15 – Moto2 race
=> 05:45 – MotoGP race

MotoGP – Australia (Channel 5)
23/10 – 19:00 to 20:00 – Highlights

European Le Mans Series – Portimao (Motorsport.tv)
22/10 – 12:45 to 17:20 – Race

World Superbikes – Jerez
21/10 – 09:15 to 14:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
22/10 – 10:00 to 15:00 – Support Races and Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
24/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

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

Higgs happy with current BSB UK TV deal

A leading figure in the British Superbikes series believes that the championship currently has the right balance in terms of television coverage in the United Kingdom. The comments came from Stuart Higgs, who is the series’ director for the MCE British Superbikes championship.

Currently, the series airs exclusively live on Eurosport, with highlights broadcast on ITV4. Higgs believes that Eurosport’s presentation of the championship has improved since they first started exclusive coverage in 2008. “We joined Eurosport at a time when they were not taken very seriously, this was before Discovery took them over.”Their presentation standards have massively improved, at the start, the EPG, and the pictures that you were watching would not always match up! Now, they have some serious rights, the US Open tennis, the Olympics, and we are a big part of their platform.”

The most recently development has been with Eurosport’s over the top Player service, where exclusive BSB content has aired on the service since the Cadwell Park of the championship. “We’re very happy with the mix. The premium sports fan gets their fix on Eurosport with qualifying and the race. More of our races are now free-to-air on Quest, which is important for us, getting us back to the position that we were in 2007 [when ITV stopped covering the series live].”

“To have live free-to-air, live premium sport, and tight highlights on a premium-brand free-to-air channel on ITV4, it’s on balance stronger than just being on BT. BT’s presentation values are excellent, but we would be pigeon-holed below MotoGP.”

Higgs appreciates that there is a major challenge for the championship, and other series, when the next round of television rights begin in 2021, with the media landscape radically changing. “The new and emerging sports fans of 2021 are 13 to 15 years old at the moment. I’ve got a twelve-year-old daughter, and she doesn’t watch television, not interested. She’s busy watching things on YouTube or talking on social media. The critical thing for all sports is how to engage and make your product more engaging, more understanding.”

“Television is the most important visibility platform that we have and it will be for the foreseeable future. Integration between social media and other delivery platforms is the challenge. Some sports are massively advanced in that area, you’re seeing live sport appear in weird places like Twitter or Facebook. There is an expectation now from people that you click on something, and you see it, which conflicts with the pay-TV model where you pay to view it. The whole monetisation of sport, content, and broadcasting, I don’t believe anyone has the right answer. There’s a number of theories, and you’ve just got to see what works for your audience.”

> Behind the scenes in the BSB OB truck: the monitor wall
> Behind the scenes in the BSB OB truck: the key roles and responsibilities

According to overnight viewing figures supplied by overnights.tv, highlights of the British Superbikes series on ITV4 have averaged 155k (0.8%) in a Wednesday evening slot this season up until and including August, peaking with around 200,000 viewers. Live coverage of race day across Eurosport and Quest has averaged 98k (1.0%), peaking with 182,000 viewers.

Is BTCC’s live ITV4 programming in need of a refresh?
Higgs also commented on the British Touring Car Championship, which follows a similar schedule to the British Superbikes series. Higgs believes that the BTCC programming on ITV4 needs a refresh.

Since relinquishing Formula 1 at the end of 2008, the touring car series has aired live on Sundays on ITV4 for around seven hours from 11:00 to 18:00. The marathon broadcast contains live coverage of all three BTCC races, with live coverage of the support series’, including the Ginetta Juniors and the Porsche Carrera Cup.

But Higgs claims that this style of broadcast outdated. “It’s not a bad show when it comes to the racing, but their programme is like watching paint dry,” Higgs says. “You’ve got to inject some excitement and personality into it. Being live for seven hours on a free-to-air channel I don’t think works any more.” British Eurosport’s BSB programme is typically presented by Matt Roberts, James Whitham and James Haydon, whereas ITV4’s BTCC coverage is fronted by Steve Rider, Louise Goodman and Paul O’Neil.

An alternative approach suggested by Higgs is a short live programme, with both race one and two of the day airing on tape-delay. “They’d be better off by doing a tight edit of race one and race two, then coming live for race three, with a big build-up and big audience. In this day and age, people’s lifestyles have changed. Not many people have the luxury of staying in on a Sunday afternoon for seven hours, your wife will be nagging you, the kids will be bored,” claims Higgs.

Viewing figures for the British Touring Car Championship dipped to a low of 154k (1.7%) in 2016 live on ITV4. However, audiences have rebounded so far this year, bringing in an average of 200k (2.2%), peaking with 370,000 viewers per race.

Scheduling: The 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix

The 2017 Formula One season heads into its last third, with the final running of the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Sepang circuit has been a fixture on the calendar since 1999, initially in an October slot, before moving to March in 2001. Last year, the race returned to an October slot, but that was not enough to save Malaysia from the axe as attendances have dropped in recent years.

The final Malaysian round will air live on both Channel 4 and Sky Sports. Mark Webber and Susie Wolff are alongside Channel 4’s usual line-up fronted by Steve Jones and David Coulthard. Over on Sky, Rachel Brookes remains on the sidelines due to knee injury, Brookes out of both the Malaysia and Japanese Grand Prix next weekend. Sky’s coverage is simulcast across both Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix at various points during the weekend.

Elsewhere, this weekend marks the end of the British Touring Car Championship season, its final round taking place at Brands Hatch.

Channel 4 F1
Sessions
29/09 – 03:40 to 05:40 – Practice 1
29/09 – 07:55 to 09:35 – Practice 2
30/09 – 06:55 to 08:25 – Practice 3
30/09 – 08:55 to 11:45 – Qualifying
30/09 – 13:30 to 15:30 – Qualifying Replay
01/10 – 07:00 to 10:45 – Race
=> 07:00 – Build–Up
=> 07:35 – Race
=> 10:00 – Reaction
01/10 – 13:30 to 16:15 – Race Replay

Supplementary Programming
30/09 – 08:25 to 08:55 – F1 Meets… Nigel Mansell

Sky Sports F1
Sessions
29/09 – 03:45 to 05:45 – Practice 1
29/09 – 07:45 to 10:00 – Practice 2 (also Sky Sports Main Event)
30/09 – 06:45 to 08:10 – Practice 3
30/09 – 09:00 to 11:40 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports Main Event)
01/10 – 06:30 to 11:15 – Race
=> 06:30 – Track Parade
=> 07:00 – Pit Lane Live (also Sky Sports Main Event)
=> 07:30 – Race (also Sky Sports Main Event and Mix)
=> 10:30 – Paddock Live (also Sky Sports Mix)

Supplementary Programming
27/09 – 20:30 to 21:00 – F1 Report: Preview
28/09 – 08:00 to 08:30 – Driver Press Conference
28/09 – 20:45 to 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
29/09 – 10:30 to 11:15 – Team Press Conference
29/09 – 11:15 to 11:45 – The F1 Show

BBC Radio F1
28/09 – 21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
29/09 – 03:55 to 05:35 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
29/09 – 07:55 to 09:35 – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
30/09 – 06:55 to 08:05 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
30/09 – 09:55 to 11:05 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
01/10 – 07:30 to 10:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)

British Superbikes – Assen
30/09 – 14:30 to 17:00 – Qualifying (Eurosport 2)
01/10 – 11:15 to 12:00 – Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
01/10 – 13:00 to 18:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
04/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

British Touring Car Championship – Brands Hatch (ITV4)
01/10 – 10:30 to 18:35 – Races

Euroformula – Monza (BT Sport/ESPN)
30/09 – 14:00 to 15:00 – Race 1
01/10 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Race 2

International GT Open – Monza (BT Sport/ESPN)
30/09 – 15:00 to 16:30 – Race 1
01/10 – 13:00 to 14:30 – Race 2

World Superbikes – Magny Cours
30/09 – 09:15 to 14:00 – Qualifying and Race 1 (Eurosport 2)
01/10 – 10:00 to 11:15 – Support Races (Eurosport 2)
01/10 – 12:00 to 13:00 – Race 2 (Eurosport 2)
03/10 – 20:00 to 21:00 – Highlights (ITV4)

World Rallycross Championship – Germany (Motorsport.tv)
01/10 – 13:00 to 15:05 – Race

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