UK F1 TV viewing figures rise, but Sky hit the skids

It has been a promising start to the 2015 Formula One season in the UK, with TV viewing figures recording an increase of eight percent compared with the first half of 2014, unofficial overnight viewing figures show. The figures have been boosted by better scheduling decisions, along with closer racing heading into the Summer break.

> BBC viewing figures increase 12 percent
> Sky slides to record low
> Combined numbers up on 2012 and 2014, but down on 2013

For newer readers to the blog, it is worth mentioning what the figures cover. All the figures in this post are BARB overnight viewing figures. BBC’s viewing figures are for their entire programme, irrespective of whether it ran 160 minutes or 190 minutes. Sky’s viewing figures are for the three and a half hour slot from 12:00 to 15:30, or equivalent. The pay-TV broadcaster opted to split their race day programming into four blocks, the numbers for Sky Sports that I report on this site covers the Pit Lane Live and Race Show segments and are all weighted averages. Sky’s figures also include any simulcasts that have occurred. For the avoidance of doubt, the last four races have been simulcast on Sky Sports 1: Canada, Austria, Britain and Hungary.

To the contrary, online viewing is not included. Only Sky will know how many people are watching Formula 1 via Sky Go, similarly the same can be said for BBC iPlayer, although some figures are released into the public domain for the latter, which I’ve summarised below. All comparisons are for the first half of each season. 2015’s half way figure includes Hungary, as it was round 10 of 19. 2014’s half way analysis did not include Hungary, as it was round 11 of 19.

The 2015 story
Beginning with Sky Sports F1, their race day programming from 12:00 to 15:30 has averaged 657k. As mentioned, that number includes Sky Sports 1 simulcasts. It is the lowest number since the channel has launched. The previous lowest was for the first half of the 2013 season, which averaged 724k. The 2015 number is down 15.3 percent on the first half of 2012, down 9.3 percent on 2013, and down 11.9 percent on 2014. You don’t need to know a lot about viewing figures to realise that the numbers are grim for Sky. Only three races have increased year-on-year for the broadcaster – Spain (up 5.0 percent due to exclusivity), Austria (up 4.3 percent) and Britain (up 27.0 percent due to no Wimbledon clash). All the other races have dropped, in some cases by fairly sizeable proportions.

The substantial drop for Sky is surprising given that at the end of 2014, I was reporting the highest figures since channel launch for the broadcaster. Quoting from that post, I said: “It will be intriguing to see if Sky can continue the upwards swing heading into 2015, or whether BBC can claw back a few viewers off Sky that they have lost during 2014.” It is difficult to say exactly why the audiences have dropped, although I think the negative publicity that Formula 1 faced at the beginning of 2015 could be attributed to it. Sky’s numbers are also affected by the earlier start times for Australia, Malaysia and China, all three of which dropped year-on-year, although you would expect same day timeshift to make up the drop in figures.

Where Sky have dropped, BBC have gained. Their average audience has increased by 12 percent, up from 3.12m to 3.51m. 2015’s number is down though on 2013’s first half average number of 3.81m, which was influenced by the “multi 21” controversy, alongside the German Grand Prix highlights show directly following the final of Wimbledon. BBC’s figures so far this season are good. Luck has come their way compared with previous years: the removal of the German Grand Prix meant that BBC have three live races in a row, whilst the crew have also covered both of the surprise Ferrari victories live this season.

Only one race has recorded a lower audience on the BBC compared with last year, that being the Spanish Grand Prix which the broadcaster screened as a highlights programme versus live in 2014. Every other race has increased, which shows that, even in Sky’s fourth season, free-to-air is still king. Sky should be attempting to make in-roads into BBC’s audiences, but that is not happening, meaning that they are in turn failing to entice new people on-board.

Online and other viewing
As I have said before, tracking online viewing is incredibly difficult due to the nature of the beast. However, that is set to change soon. It was announced by BARB last month that they would be releasing the TV Player Report from September in beta. The report will provide “official figures on the level of viewing to on-demand and live-streamed content through online TV Player apps.” The report should give us a better indication of the broader picture regarding online viewing. I would expect some mentions of sporting events, depending on the size and shape of the weekly reports.

In terms of Sky Go, Sky say that it is now available in six million households.As I alluded to earlier, that figure means nothing without further detail. Just because it is available in six million households, it doesn’t mean that those six million households are using it regularly, let alone watching sports content. Over on the BBC TV, the Malaysian Grand Prix attracted 553k requests, Bahrain had 466k requests. As the BBC files show, the numbers include those that watched the live streams as well as On Demand afterwards. The highest number of requests that an F1 show has ever received on BBC iPlayer is 662k for the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix (although that is down to the circumstances involved). Aside from that, F1 has settled into the half a million requests region for iPlayer requests. If F1 is getting around that number on iPlayer, it is fair to assume that Sky Go’s numbers for Formula 1 struggle to hit 100k.

Combined audience and final thoughts
The combined TV average at the halfway stage of 2015 is 4.16m, an increase of 12 percent on 2014’s halfway figure of 3.87m. The viewing figures so far for 2015 are also up on 2012, but are down on 2013’s halfway average audience of 4.53m. Overall, the viewing figures so far have been really good, although admittedly as I have mentioned above, the BBC gets the majority of the credit for the increase. The TV viewing figures will be slightly below those recorded from between 2009 and 2011 when BBC covered the coverage exclusively, but when you include the online audience on BBC iPlayer, 2015 will not be that far behind 2011’s numbers. Working out the exact amount is impossible for a variety of reasons, but F1 2015 stands up well in comparison.

It is a very significant turnaround compared to this time last year, when I was reporting the lowest viewing figures for TV since 2008. The climb can be attributed to better scheduling, a lack of opposition this Summer, as well as a British driver being on top. However, the figures may be a surprise considering all but the last two races before the Summer break were mediocre in nature. Either way, anyone hoping that Formula 1’s viewing figures were going to drop will probably be left disappointed by the latest set of numbers. The only viewing figures that are dropping are Sky’s, a fact that they will be looking to turn around significantly in the latter half of 2015.

With reference to the 15 minute reach figures, a BBC spokesperson said “We’re delighted that our Formula 1 TV coverage continues to go from strength to strength with 1m more people watching our coverage compared to at this stage in 2014. It’s been a fantastic season so far and we look forward to bringing audiences the thrilling action of F1 for the remainder of 2015.” Sky did not respond within the timeframe to a request for comment concerning the viewing figures. If Sky do comment on the figures in the forthcoming days, I will amend this article.

overnights.tv-bannersF1

Advertisements

F1 moves along on new media, but more work is needed

Five months ago, Formula One Management (FOM) launched official F1 accounts on both YouTube and Instagram. It was a long time in the making, and both were much needed in order to drive younger fans towards the sport, letting them engage with the content produced. How successful has it been so far?

Whilst Formula 1 has a lot of problems on and off the circuit at the moment, social media is one area where the team are starting to get things right. Their Instagram feed launched on March 14th and has since amassed 254,000 followers, which is very impressive in the time period. The majority of Formula 1’s images on Instagram get in the region of 14,000 likes, which helps boost their profile further on the image sharing website. Instagram is owned by Facebook, so some of the traffic could be coming from there. However, Formula 1 does not have an official profile on Facebook, meaning that they are missing out on a whole new audience potentially. For example, MotoGP has 752,000 subscribers on YouTube, but 8.9 million likes on Facebook. When analysing Formula 1 teams and drivers, Facebook has a bigger reach than Twitter and Instagram thanks to Facebook’s significantly bigger user base. The good news for FOM is that their own social media numbers should increase exponentially through the year as more people become aware of the content.

The thing that does surprise me is the lack of integration on the official F1 website with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. A typical article does not have options to share the content on social media websites. Compare that to the Sky Sports or BBC websites where there are various ways to share the content. If anything, FOM should be proactive towards social media services, and treat it as two-way traffic. A user posts a link to Facebook which can then drive other users towards the website, at the moment, FOM are missing out on that aspect.

In comparison to the above numbers, Formula 1’s YouTube channel has 67,000 subscribers. It is significantly lower than Instagram. I attribute that to the instant aspect of Instagram versus YouTube. With Instagram, liking pictures is instant, you are unlikely to ‘like’ a picture that is six months old. But on YouTube, you are just as likely to watch a video that was posted six months ago compared to one that was posted yesterday. Examining what videos are popular on Formula 1’s channel makes for interesting reading:

Most watched videos on Formula 1’s official YouTube channel
1. 224,000 – F1’s Greatest Lap? Ayrton Senna at Donington 1993 (uploaded 3 months ago)
2. 145,000 – Your Favourite Monaco Grand Prix – 1992 Senna v Mansell (uploaded 2 months ago)
3. 110,000 – Raikkonen Wins At Suzuka From 17th On The Grid | Japanese Grand Prix 2005 (uploaded 3 months ago)
4. 106,000 – Your Favourite Chinese Grand Prix – 2006 Schumacher’s Last Win (uploaded 3 months ago)
5. 95,000 – Michael Schumacher Weathers Stormy Sepang | 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix (uploaded 4 months ago)

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the most-watched videos on their YouTube channel contains archive video as the main draw. Sky’s viewing figures may not show that, but casual fans are clearly interested in archive footage of a bite-sized nature. The amount of archive content has increased on their YouTube channel recently, but they are not uploading much content outside of that during race weekends, with other footage instead being kept solely on the official website. On the whole area of video though, Formula One Management need to be keeping an eye on World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) recent figures for their over-the-top Network.

After a slow start last year, WWE’s new model is proving more popular, and profitable, than their old pay-per-view model for their monthly extravaganzas. With over 1.2 million subscribers for the WWE Network, other companies need to be looking to see if that model is worth investing in. And that includes FOM, as I’ve spoken about before. Wall Street certainly liked WWE’s news. Unfortunately FOM tend to be behind the bend rather than ahead of the bend. One day I hope it does happen. But their journey is only just beginning, whereas WWE began their Network journey years ago.

Personalities fill FOM’s Facebook void
As mentioned above, FOM (or Formula One Digital Media – whichever you prefer) do not currently have any presence on Facebook. The exact reason for the lack of a Facebook page is unclear, although Marissa Pace did state in interviews late last year that the plan was to launch YouTube first, then Facebook later. Whilst it is great that FOM have a strategy, it could be argued that Facebook can be exploited a lot more than YouTube, so should have been targeted first.

On Facebook, Mercedes have a combined audience of 12.26 million accounts, with a reach of around 10 million accounts. Compare that to Twitter. Mercedes there have a combined audience of 4.37 million accounts, reaching around 3 million accounts (the reach is lower than the combined audience as one account can follow many pages). Overall, Facebook from a Formula 1 fan perspective is nearly twice as popular as Twitter. Facebook is worth ten times more than Twitter, which for FOM means that they are losing a huge cut of a potential audience.

How Formula 1's and MotoGP's stars compare on social media, as of July 2015.
How Formula 1’s and MotoGP’s stars compare on social media, as of July 2015.

Trying to analyse social media demographics is incredibly difficult, but the consensus tends to be that Facebook has a broader reach, Instagram a younger reach, with Twitter potentially more dedicated in what accounts may tweet about. Looking at Formula 1 on Facebook, as alluded to above, the official Mercedes AMG Petronas account has a huge 10 million likes. It is not quite the biggest motor sport page on Facebook: Valentino Rossi has 10.77 million likes. Obviously, 10 million is a relatively small number when you compare it to football clubs, for example, Chelsea FC have 44 million likes, but it isn’t a number that should be underestimated. When including Twitter and Instagram, almost two-thirds of Mercedes followers come from Facebook. Lewis Hamilton is twice as popular as Fernando Alonso on Facebook – with 3.2 million likes compared with 1.7 million likes for the Spaniard.

Hamilton is by far Formula 1’s most popular driver across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which is partly why Mercedes’ combined audience is so much higher across these outlets. As good as Hamilton’s numbers are, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Rossi dwarfs Hamilton’s figures, although Hamilton’s combined audience across the three main social media platforms is higher than Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. Marquez and Lorenzo though have a bigger reach than the remainder of the Formula 1 field. It doesn’t help that two of Formula 1’s biggest stars have no social media presence. Okay, I can understand why Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen stay off social media, but you can also understand why Bernie Ecclestone makes comments like he does surrounding Hamilton and his marketability.

The Formula 1 social media statistics, as of July 2015.
The Formula 1 social media statistics, as of July 2015.

Ferrari has the highest skew towards Facebook, with 75 percent of their combined followers originating from there. In comparison, only 36 percent of Toro Rosso’s fans come from Facebook, although that number could drastically change if Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz continue to make an impression in the latter half of 2015. Of course, FOM have zero percent. It’s difficult to say exactly how many likes they would have on Facebook, but you have to be looking at nearly ten million likes, if not higher. The raw numbers in the two figures above really show much much you need a presence on Facebook, as I outlined earlier in this piece. Force India and Lotus have the biggest relative impact on Twitter, the latter shouldn’t be too surprising when you consider the content that they upload to the site in order to be distinctive. Only 23 percent of Mercedes’ following originates from Twitter, but this is down to the huge Facebook number rather than a low Twitter base.

Formula 1 teams, drivers and media are only just beginning to exploit Instagram, and that is clear in the figures. Only Mercedes break the one million mark. Hamilton and Felipe Massa are the only two drivers to really grab hold of the image sharing site. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, who are big on Facebook and Twitter, currently have a very small presence (follower wise) on Instagram.

I think Formula 1 needs to exploit Facebook much more than what it currently is. That will only happen when FOM lead the way by joining the website and share content. I wonder if they are looking to be a part of Facebook’s video monetisation scheme? A lot of work has happened in the past half a year, and it will be interesting to track the numbers further as Formula 1 continues to exploit the various platforms.

Formula E: Your 2014-15 Verdict Revealed

The 2014-15 Formula E season concluded at the end of June in London, with a peak audience of nearly 1.2 million viewers watching Nelson Piquet Jr win the championship live on ITV in the UK. Since then, readers have been making their voices heard on the blog.

I posted my thoughts on Formula E’s first season a few weeks ago. Normally when I ask for people’s opinions, the responses are varied. This isn’t the case here. It is clear from the responses that the first season of Formula E was a success.

I absolutely loved the first season of the Formula E. It breathes fresh way to the sport and enhances where motor sport needs to go. Like Formula 1. – Mikey

Really enjoyed it. Surprisingly great and close racing. – Liam

Not everyone was happy about Formula E, though. Vadim was unhappy that the final round of the season was held in a park, thus closing it for the weekend:

This was a procession. Battersea Park completely wrong venue. No room to overtake and it’s trashed the park in the process. There is no way there were 30,000 people there. If there were 5,000 I’d be surprised.

There were several points made about ITV’s coverage, the first about the length of the pre-show:

I felt there was too much race “build up”, with no development and little in the way of news to report (a few driver changes), they could have cut this down. Similarly the guests in the studio were of little importance. Just some on track grid walks would suffice. – Ross

ITV did a decent job. Too much waffling on overall. There was no need for such large build ups for each race. – thomasjpitts

f1picko disagrees, feeling that ITV should do more with their Formula E coverage:

ITV need to do more with their coverage. At least present the first race, last race and all European races from the track. Show more covergae on ITV, so like, Practise live on ITV.com, Qualifying on ITV4, and then the race on ITV, with highlights on ITV4/ITV at least for all euro races and the first one.

By far the most important point for me surrounded the future of Formula E on ITV. No details for season two have yet to be announced, and as Buzzboy highlights, it is vital that Formula E does not head to pay-TV:

As an avid follower of F1 which following SKY and the BBC sell out deal as someone rightly put we are left with half a book and my interest has waned….so Formula E don’t sell out to Sky develop this sport on every level and it will grow.

The views surrounding the commentary were surprisingly split, with both positive and negative comments:

Loved the entire season and the TREMENDOUS commentary by Dario and Jack. So much fun to listen to. – not Jp

The commentary has been awful from Jack Nicholls as he gets to excited easily, he’s trying to mimic Murray Walker and it doesn’t work. – caine2013

Jennie Gow developed through the year and was decent. Great, enthusiastic commentators helped too. – thomasjpitts

There were a lot more views on the original post, but the above is just a snapshot of what blog readers are talking about.

MotoGP’s UK ratings rise year on year

2014 saw MotoGP move to pay television in the UK, with live coverage of the sport now on BT Sport, BBC having lost the rights the previous spring. ITV did get in on the act though, with free to air highlights airing on ITV4. So, how have things progressed since this time last year?

> Audiences record slight increase versus 2014
> BT Sport sees 40% increase
> ITV highlights drop, but still above BT

The picture at the end of 2013 was that around one million viewers on average were watching MotoGP on BBC Two. During the first half of 2013, an average of 1.15 million watched the series across the BBC and British Eurosport. That number excludes BBC iPlayer. All the numbers that follow are BARB overnight viewing figures as usual, and exclude the likes of ITV Player and BT Sport’s app. Does this mean we are missing a significant chunk of the audience? It is difficult to tell, but when you are playing with a low audience anyway, a audience of 50k for example watching the BT Sport app makes a fair difference to the numbers. Not a huge difference, but perhaps noticeable. Anyway, ITV and BT, being commercial broadcasters, do not realise the on demand numbers into the public domain.

Last year, BT Sport’s live coverage from 12:30 to 14:00 (or equivalent) for the first half of the season averaged 155k. At the time, I commented that the number was poor and I stand by that submission when you consider what the BBC was getting the year before. Okay, the reach of BBC Two is many magnitudes bigger than BT Sport 2, but either way I did not expect MotoGP to lose 80 to 90 percent of its audience. In comparison, BT Sport’s live coverage so far this season has averaged 218k, an increase of 41 percent year on year. Every live race that BT Sport has covered has rated higher than 2014. The biggest jump year on year was for Le Mans, which went from 112k in 2014 to 262k in 2015, and peaked with 330k (4.4%), which is BT Sport’s highest MotoGP peak to date.

There are many reasons why BT Sport’s coverage has increased considerably year on year. The first is related to the fact that their coverage has been presented on location for this season. It is no secret that viewers are more likely to be engaged in coverage when they can get closer to the action. The other is that BT Sport may have more subscribers than this time last year, but I’m not convinced that argument holds up as their Premier League coverage has not increased by anywhere near the same amount. Two words can sum up the main reason for the increase in my opinion: Valentino Rossi. I will admit to being openly biased here. I am a Rossi fan, and it is fantastic to see him winning again. No doubt that has converted some of the ITV highlights watching audience into watching BT Sport’s coverage live. It is just unfortunate then that the 41 percent increase represents an increase of only 63k and not something of a much bigger volume…

With the UEFA Champions League coming on board for BT, alongside the changes to their subscription packages, it will be interesting to see how MotoGP’s numbers are affected, if at all. Surprisingly, ITV4’s highlights numbers have dropped 11 percent. An average of 327k have watched Monday’s highlights programme so far this year, in comparison with 366k for the first half of 2014. I should note that ITV4 are repeating the MotoGP Highlights show a lot more this year, which may explain why the Monday airing has suffered as a result. As is usual practice for the blog, repeats are not included in the figures outlined (aside from +1 channels). The high number of Le Mans on BT Sport was not replicated on ITV4 – in fact, on the weekend, BT Sport 2’s live coverage beat ITV4’s highlights number: 262k for BT’s live MotoGP portion of the show versus 253k for ITV’s highlights. It is an interesting anecdote, and does indicate that the pendulum is swinging towards BT Sport. The audience for the first half of 2014 was split 70/30 in ITV4’s favour. That split has tightened up to 60/40, still in ITV4’s favour but significantly closer than before.

Overall though, the numbers remain low compared with 2013. Even taking into account BT’s ratings increase, a combined average of 545k for the first half of 2015 is still massively down on BBC Sport’s figures for 2013, albeit 5 percent up on the average of 521k for the first half of 2014. BT Sport should be very happy with their figures – momentum is on their side. The momentum needs to be replicated in ITV’s highlights show. And, for whatever reason, that just is not happening at the moment. Neither BT Sport or ITV responded to a request for comment from this blog concerning MotoGP’s viewing figures.

The 2014 mid-season MotoGP ratings report can be found here.

overnights.tv-bannersF1

Looking back at Formula E’s inaugural season

The 2014-15 Formula E season came to a thrilling climax on June 28th from Battersea Park in London, with Nelson Piquet, Jnr clinching the championship in a finale that could be described as the electric version of the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix. Overall, the inaugural season has been a success, ten cities hosting eleven rounds. But what has gone well, what hasn’t gone well and what could be improved for season two? There are a lot of lessons that the championship could learn going forward, but also some things that they should be congratulated on.

Viewing figures and scheduling
According to overnight viewing figures from overnights.tv, the inaugural season of Formula E averaged 216k (2.6%) on ITV4 for their eleven race day programmes, with an average peak audience of 366k (4.1%). It is worth remembering that the championship decider was broadcast live on ITV to an audience of 700k (6.9%). Removing that number brings Formula E’s average down to 168k (2.2%), with an average peak of 285k (3.4%). Broadcasting the final race live on ITV’s main channel made a huge difference to the season average. The audiences for ITV4 have been solid, but they have not been spectacular. In my opinion, I don’t think ITV is all to blame for that.

Formula E: the future?
Formula E: the future?

Some of Formula E’s scheduling decisions during season one were bad, some their own fault, and some beyond their own control as we saw with Malaysia being moved from October to November, thus creating a two month gap between rounds one and two. Their season two calendar unfortunately does not fill me with much hope. The Formula One season starts in April, and I had hoped that Formula E would take advantage of that fact. Instead, what the provisional calendar shows is an seven week gap between rounds three and four, with a further six week gap between rounds four and five, neither gap makes much sense. Formula E should capitalise on Formula 1’s absence with a race every three weeks (Christmas aside), if feasibly possible.

The season two problems are compounded by Battersea Park’s date currently showing as TBA. The calendar needs to be more compact, to get the viewers into a routine in the off-season. From ITV’s perspective, it is difficult to promote something that is not on regularly. There’s less incentive for ITV to broadcast races on their main channel with long gaps. As of writing, we don’t know whether ITV will be covering Formula E for season two. I assume the answer is yes, given that ITV’s Formula E presenter Jennie Gow has referenced Formula E in some of her tweets recently, in but this has yet to be confirmed to me. I would outline what I think ITV should do scheduling wise for season two, but I think it is worth waiting until official confirmation that they are actually screening season two live first…

Graphics and Direction
The World Feed for Formula E’s inaugural season was produced by Aurora Media, who packaged each session with their own broadcast crew, led by Nicki Shields, with Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti on commentary (more on that later). From a graphical perspective, the package was slick, and looked great in high definition. Unfortunately, the graphics did not stand up very well in standard definition, which was evident when I watched the races live on ITV4. The main timing graphics wall, which included the energy percentages, was superb. Easy on the eye, allowing the casual viewer to easily track the story of the race. Kudos to whoever came up with that idea for the percentages on screen, because it was executed fantastically. There were two graphics in my opinion which suffered from fatal flaws.

The first problem was the speedometer, which stayed the same for the entire season. The problem here was that too much information was being conveyed in a small amount of space. One of the core fundamentals of any user interface is that the user should be able to understand what it is telling you within around 10 seconds. When I’m looking at the speedometer, what exactly am I focusing on? And is that information important for the casual viewer? If the guy who watches every race struggles to understand or digest the graphic, then the casual viewer has no chance. It is good that this information is being provided to the viewer, but it certainly needs to be separated out to be made more useful (aka. separation of concerns).

The qualifying kW output during the second 2015 London ePrix.
The qualifying kW output during the second 2015 London ePrix.

The second problem I found concerned the qualifying graphics. I also want to put this under the “let’s make the commentators job easier” category. The graphic itself is an addition to the timing wall, and normally sits to the right of it, which shows the amount of kilowatts that the driver is currently using. Normally, it is either 150 kW for a slower lap and 200 kW for a fast lap. The problem I have is that the graphic fluctuates considerably as the driver goes round the lap, sometimes even going into negative values. I mentioned this on Twitter a while back, and the reaction to the graphic seemed positive so it may be just me that feels this way.

Across the season, the direction was largely good, highlighted by the superb camera angles. I don’t think you can ever get tired of seeing Formula E cars leap over kerbs and hurl themselves towards the fence and the onlooking camera. One worry before the season was whether the camera angles would convey the speed well, however for me this was quickly dispelled with round one in Beijing, as described above. Not every round was perfect, I didn’t think the open airfield of Berlin portrayed the cars well, as it meant that the camera angles were not generally as close as previous rounds. But overall, it was good and for the most part it was clear that the team were learning as they went along, the pit sequence an example of something which improved significantly as the season progressed, helped by the aforementioned on-screen graphics.

However, as with the graphics, there were two aspects about the direction that I wasn’t a fan of: cutaways and heli-cam. I can understand the occasional cutaway to Alain Prost or whoever in the pit lane. But as the season progressed, the cutaways felt more intrusive on the coverage, and also held onto the subject for far too long, some shots seemingly stuck forever. A separate issue was heli-cam. It works the majority of time in Formula 1 as it can help visualise the speed at places like Monza. But when the Formula E cars are slower than other single-seaters as it is, you really shouldn’t use any shots that highlights this fact. The heli-cam was used frequently in London, and I wasn’t a fan. I don’t like saying this, but the direction behind the restart of the second London race was a mess as a result.

Commentary, other bits and looking ahead
The commentary team of Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti does not need much explanation, nor analysis. Why? Because it was Nicholls and Franchitti that helped made Formula E what it became during season one. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Nicholls and Franchitti are currently the best motor sport commentary duo around. The young, energetic style of Nicholls alongside the veteran analysis from Franchitti is a fantastic combination, and one that I hope is maintained for season two. It certainly deserves to be.

A helicopter shot looking down at Battersea Park during the second 2015 London ePrix.
A helicopter shot looking down at Battersea Park during the second 2015 London ePrix.

A few other bits to round off. Social media is good, with great use of Grabyo for instantly sharing clips from the race, which has paid off with famous stars sharing the clips. Weirdly though, there has not been much direct interaction with fans from Formula E themselves, in the form of Q&A’s and the like. Furthermore, I found that Formula E did not promote their own live streaming, which was incredibly bizarre. I mean, if you want someone to access the live streaming, surely you would provide a direct link to it? As I say, the social media content itself is great, but the interaction, not so. The website is okay, but it is not optimised for mobile browsing as far as I can see. Speaking of live streaming, if you didn’t have a direct link to it, chances are you would find it difficult to spot it. It is silly that the Video page, linked from the homepage, has none of the full sessions listed, but the Live Streaming page, not linked from the homepage, has every session listed. A goldmine if you want to grab new fans, if you ask me, which is not being exploited.

Season one for Formula E has gone incredibly well. Have they proved the naysayers wrong? I’d like to think so. The points I have outlined above will only serve to get better as time progresses. The cars will only get faster, the technology will become more mainstream and attract a bigger audience. Formula E has its baseline. But the race is not over. The chase for viewers is only just beginning. Please, just don’t do anything stupid. Keep it free and accessible, and you will attract more viewers.

Oh, and the segway is fantastic. Never forget the segway.