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’…

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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.

Formula E’s fourth season struggles to pick up traction

The fourth season of the electric Formula E championship struggled to gain viewers in the United Kingdom, overnight audience figures suggest.

For the first time, Eurosport aired live coverage of the series in the UK, with every race covered besides the Paris E-Prix, which aired on tape delay.

Channel 5 provided free-to-air coverage for the second season running. However, the championship received less than optimal coverage from the broadcaster, with some races demoted to 5Spike, and others not aired live.

Race Date Live Highlights
Hong Kong (R1) 02/12/2017 n/a Channel 5 (tape-delay)
Hong Kong (R2) 03/12/2017 n/a Channel 5 (tape-delay)
Marrakesh 13/01/2018 Channel 5 n/a
Santiago 03/02/2018 5Spike n/a
Mexico City 03/03/2018 5Spike Channel 5
Punta del Este 17/03/2018 Channel 5 n/a
Rome 14/04/2018 5Spike Channel 5
Paris 28/04/2018 5Spike Channel 5
Berlin 19/05/2018 Channel 5 n/a
Zurich 10/06/2018 Channel 5 n/a
New York (R1) 14/07/2018 5Spike n/a
New York (R2) 15/07/2018 5Spike Channel 5

Of the twelve races in total, four aired live on Channel 5, six aired live on 5Spike, whilst the season opening Hong Kong E-Prix double header aired in tape-delay form on Channel 5. When races aired live on 5Spike, Channel 5 committed to airing a 60-minute programme the following day. The exceptions were Santiago and the first race of the New York weekend, the latter failed to make the air following a technical error.

The Rome and Paris rounds of the championship clashed with live coverage of the Aviva Premiership Rugby, where Channel 5 have a contract to air five live games per season. Considering Formula E announced their calendar months in advance, and the final set of rugby games was announced in March, Channel 5 could, and should have, avoided Formula E weekends.

Having four Saturday’s of sporting action is better than two Saturday’s where they are competing against themselves for the same demographic. If anything, it demonstrates a serious level of incompetence from Channel 5. With inconsistent scheduling, channel switches, and large gaps between some rounds, it is little wonder that Formula E has struggled to gain traction this season.

Where Channel 5’s main channel did not air coverage live, this site has accounted for 5Spike’s live coverage, combined with the Channel 5 highlights programme that aired on most occasions. Eurosport used Formula E’s World Feed output as the basis for their coverage. Instead of taking the World Feed commentary led by Jack Nicholls, Eurosport opted to use their own in-house team off-tube, usually led by Tom Gaymor and Mike Conway.

Fans cannot watch the race itself live via Formula E’s social media channels, including YouTube, as the existing broadcasting rights restrict this.

The 2017-18 story
The season started with an average audience of 217,000 viewers watching both Hong Kong races across Eurosport and Channel 5, a marginal increase on last year’s figure of 206,000 viewers on Channel 5.

Whilst the tape-delay situation was frustrating at the time, you can see Channel 5’s logic in it: a new presentation setup combined with the time zone difference meaning that a 09:00 time slot is significantly better than a 06:45 time slot.

Viewing figures took a downward turn with Marrakech, which averaged 198,000 viewers on January 13th, a poor figure for an afternoon round. With no highlights programme on Channel 5, Santiago bottomed out at 118,000 viewers across 5Spike and Eurosport.

Highlights of the Mexico City E-Prix on Channel 5’s main channel helped push its combined audience of 290,000 viewers above last year’s figure of 238,000 viewers, with Punta del Este two weeks later (live on Channel 5) also in a similar ballpark.

But channel hunting for Paris and Berlin meant that Formula E never hit 300,000 viewers until the Zurich E-Prix, which averaged 301,000 viewers. The combined peak audience of 412,000 viewers was also the highest of season five.

The season ended badly in New York, with a combined audience of just 69,000 viewers watching Jean-Eric Vergne winning the championship in race one, due to Channel 5’s highlights programme failing to make the air. The second race of the weekend picked up only 146,000 viewers.

Combined average and final thoughts
An average audience of 18k (0.20%) watched Eurosport’s coverage across the whole season, covering 15-minutes of build-up and some post-race reaction. The highlight for Eurosport was the Santiago E-Prix in February, which averaged 32k (0.17%), peaking with 65k (0.35%).

Formula E for Eurosport, in the United Kingdom at least, is filler and nothing more, part of a wider pan-European deal. If anything, Eurosport’s audience figures show that Formula E needs a free-to-air deal in this country otherwise the series will sink without trace.

Collectively, Channel 5’s coverage attracted a weighted average of 177k (1.8%) across the 12 rounds, a significant decrease on season three’s audience of 280k (2.6%), following the same trajectory that ITV’s coverage faced between their first two seasons, although it should be noted that ITV did not mess with the scheduling in the same way that Channel 5.

When Formula E airs live on 5Spike, the championship loses three-quarters of its audience. The races that Channel 5 aired live, including Hong Kong’s tape-delayed coverage, averaged 220k (2.2%), whilst 5Spike’s live races attracted 61k (0.46%). It is also worth pointing out that Formula E consistently rated below both Channel 5’s and 5Spike’s respective slot averages.

A combined audience of 196,000 viewers watched Channel 5’s and Eurosport’s season four coverage of Formula E, a hefty decrease of 30 percent on the 2016-17 average audience of 280,000 viewers. The audience is an increase on season two’s average audience of 138,000 viewers when the championship aired live on ITV4, but down on season one’s average of 216,000 viewers.

When factoring in ITV’s highlights programming, season four is likely to be the lowest on record for Formula E in the UK. Where could live free-to-air coverage of Formula E be heading next in the UK? Head over here to find out…

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News round-up: Perry goes full season for BT; BBC commissions Monger/Zanardi special

As the first half of 2018 concludes following a frantic period on and off the track, here are some of the broadcasting stories you may have missed over the past few weeks…

Perry expands BT Sport’s MotoGP commitments for 2019
Suzi Perry will present every round of BT Sport’s MotoGP in 2019, she has confirmed. In response to a fan question on Twitter, Perry confirmed that she will be in the hot-seat for all of the expected 19 rounds next season.

Perry has shared presenting duties with Craig Doyle since 2016, although Doyle has been part of BT’s MotoGP coverage since its inception in 2014. However, as first reported by Motorcycle News, Doyle is ending his commitments at the end of this season to focus on his ever-expanding rugby commitments with BT.

At the half way stage of 2018, BT Sport’s MotoGP coverage has averaged 117k (1.45%) for its race day programme from 09:30 to 14:15, or equivalent according to overnight viewing figures, identical to last year’s audience figure of 117k (1.29%).

In comparison, an average audience of 403k (2.2%) have watched Channel 5’s highlights programme, a decrease on last year’s equivalent figure of 446k (2.5%). The World Cup has hit Channel 5’s MotoGP overnight viewing figures. Their audience for the Catalan round dropped by 38 percent year-on-year, thanks to a clash with England’s opening World Cup fixture against Tunisia.

Meanwhile over in Italy, MotoGP will be remaining on Sky for the next three seasons.

Formula E’s destination hinges on Channel 4’s Formula 1 future
As of writing, there is no official confirmation or additional information as to whether Channel 4 will continue to air Formula 1 in 2019, beyond what was reported during the British Grand Prix weekend last month.

If you are Formula E, the sooner Channel 4’s Formula 1 deal is finalised the better. I understand that, whilst Channel 4 has shown interest in Formula E, the series may well remain on Channel 5 should Channel 4 retain F1.

A separate obstacle between Channel 4 and Formula E concerns the finances of the contract. During season four, Channel 5 and Formula E agreed to split the production cost, something that is proving trickier to negotiate with Channel 4.

Formula E’s fifth season starts in Saudi Arabia in December, so there is no immediate rush to confirm the UK contract. In 2016, when Formula E moved to Channel 5, the announcement was made just one month before the season began.

BBC commissions motor sport special
The BBC’s World Service has commissioned a motor sport documentary to air across their networks later this year. The one-off special sees Billy Monger meet Alex Zanardi, both of whom had their lives changed following high-speed motor racing accidents.

Following his crash in 2001, Zanardi has gone on to win gold medals at the Paralympics, whilst Monger returned to racing this year after his own accident last year. Jennie Gow went with Monger to visit Zanardi in Italy, and will present the special programme.

The special will air across BBC Radio 5 Live, online and television later this year. Normally BBC World television documentaries also air on the BBC News Channel, so expect the documentary to turn up there, as opposed to one of their general entertainment outlets.

Elsewhere in the BBC spectrum, the broadcaster aired a special technology feature filmed during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend. Their weekly Click programme went behind the scenes, with presenter Spencer Kelly interviewing people from Mercedes and Formula One Management, focusing on the latest developments in F1. If you have 15 minutes spare time, this is worth a watch.

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Where next for live free-to-air coverage of Formula E in the UK?

Generation 1 of the electric Formula E series ended last weekend in New York, with Jean-Eric Vergne picking up the season four crown. In December, the next iteration blasts off the starting grid in Saudi Arabia.

For fans in the UK, whilst coverage will remain on Eurosport, the free-to-air home of the championship is again up in the air. I look at where the series may end up…

ITV
The UK’s largest commercial free-to-air broadcaster, ITV aired the championship during its first two seasons. Live coverage aired on ITV4, with Jennie Gow fronting the extensive coverage from ITV’s London Studios. ITV4 typically dedicated an hour of build-up to the race, followed by half an hour of reaction following the podium celebrations.

In Formula E’s first season, ITV aired the season ending London E-Prix live on their main channel, to a peak audience of 1.18 million viewers, which remains Formula E’s biggest audience to date. Unfortunately, audience figures slipped for season two, and both sides parted company. This was not all Formula E’s fault, and ITV should take some blame for the drop in audience figures.

Is a return to ITV4 likely? On the basis that audience figures have not improved significantly since ITV left the party, one would think not. However, North One Television have created a well-oiled product on Channel 5 with Vernon Kay at the helm, and persuading ITV4 to get back in on the act might be easier if North One remain involved. After all, North One and ITV have history on four-wheels…

Channel 5
Channel 5 took on the Formula E baton from ITV, in a two-season deal covering the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that Channel 5 were unprepared, having had little experience in broadcasting live motor sport.

Eventually, studio coverage did appear, but technically was far behind what ITV had been producing beforehand. With problems from the outset, North One Television coming into the Formula E fold came at an opportune time, as they also grappled control of Channel 5’s live coverage ready for Channel 5’s second season covering the sport.

It was clear though that Channel 5’s executives were not in the game for their second year, with live coverage regularly demoted to 5Spike in favour of repeats on their main channel. In their defence, and regrettably for the series, repeats would regularly out-rate Formula E. I would be surprised if Channel 5 continue to cover Formula E moving forward.

BBC
After ditching Formula 1 at the end of 2015, are the BBC likely to get back involved in top-level motor sport? Bear in mind that the reason F1 left the BBC was purely financial, which does not apply to Formula E given that its contract value is currently very small.

Back in March, highlights of the Mexico City E-Prix surfaced on the BBC Sport website as part of efforts from Formula E to try to boost its mainstream media profile in the UK. The BBC described the agreement at the time as a one-off, which remains the case today. Formula E averaged around 300,000 viewers when it aired on Channel 5, so it is feasible that its audience would double if races aired live on BBC Two.

At this stage, I do not see BBC getting involved, at least in the television space. One possibility is that an online-only offering could appear, with television rights heading elsewhere. A presence on the BBC’s online platforms would help Formula E significantly, in turn helping their audience figures wherever Formula E turns up.

The decision here could hinge on whether the metrics for the short-form Mexico highlights were any good. If they were, who knows, maybe an online offering could become a regular thing from season five onwards.

Channel 4
Having filled 170 hours with Formula 1 action in 2017, Channel 4 have a gaping hole in their schedules from next year. Even if the broadcaster airs highlights from 2019, they still have ten empty daytime weekends that need original content and repeats of Come Dine with Me and The Simpsons only go so far.

2018 Santiago EPrix - Vernon Kay and Felix Rosenqvist
Channel 5’s Formula E presenter Vernon Kay interviews Mahindra driver Felix Rosenqvist.

Formula E is a perfect fit for the network and would help fill some of the Formula 1 hole. There are a lot of questions around what Formula E would look like for Channel 4, and arguably until we know the answer with F1, we are unlikely to find out the Formula E answer.

For Channel 4, retaining Formula 1 in some form is their number one priority. The terms of that deal dictate the way forward. Is Channel 4’s F1 programming a Whisper Films production or a Sky Sports one? How long will their highlights shows be? Will Channel 4 take Sky Sports F1’s commentary? Would Liberty Media have a problem with Formula 1 and Formula E on the same network?

Until we know those answers, only then can we start to wonder whether Whisper or North One will produce Formula E for Channel 4 if they are interested in the electric championship. David Coulthard is certainly interested, he has been around the Formula E paddock lately, and did commentate on the Berlin E-Prix back in May alongside Jack Nicholls.

Quest
If all else fails, as it appeared to with live coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, the fall-back option could be Discovery-owned Quest. Eurosport currently airs Formula E live, so a deal where a specific number of races air live on Quest could be an option.

But for Formula E, this option will send the series into oblivion in the UK and should be avoided. In its fifth season, Formula E still needs free-to-air television more than a free-to-air station needs Formula E. Like in the first four seasons, any new television deal is unlikely to come with a significant financial cost to whichever network chooses to air the championship.

Only once viewing figures and prestige increases can Formula E start to ask for cash. Until then, they are unlikely to get much, if any. Free coverage on Formula E’s social media channels such as YouTube is unlikely as this could be in violation of Eurosport’s current agreement with the series.

Whoever does air Formula E next season, do not throw the series into a graveyard time slot, or onto a sister network because it under performs initially. Give it a hug, wrap your arms around it. Perseverance does pay off and viewers do not come overnight. It takes time, and future Formula E broadcasters in the UK must be prepared to give it that time and not expect big numbers on day one.

Where do you think Formula E is heading next? Have your say in the comments below.

A further piece analysing Formula E’s season four viewing figures will be posted in August.