How is Formula E Doing On TV?
The fourth Formula E Prix just ended last weekend, and the F1 Broadcasting Blog chimed in on UK viewership and general impressions. First some real viewership numbers:
Interest was high for Formula E’s inaugural race back in September, with a peak audience of 477k (6.8%)for the live airing. When factoring in the evening highlights, this figure increased to 713k. A combined average of 426k dropped sharply to 160k for round two in Putrajaya, thanks to a clash with the Formula 1 season finale. Numbers have increased since then, however. An average of 197k (1.1%) tuned into the Punta del Este ePrix, with 260k (1.2%) tuning in last weekend for the Buenos Aires round of the championship. The peak of 423k (1.9%) for Buenos Aires was still down on the figures recorded in Beijing. Highlights of both Punta del Este and Buenos Aires are not included, as the airings were next day and the figures for both were negligible.
To me, it makes sense that the inaugural race was the peak, and that dropoff was going to occur immediately after. That Buenos Aires recovered more than 50% of the inaugural race numbers is a very good thing, and something to build off of.
By broadcasting the last three rounds on ITV’s main channel, it would show that ITV Sport are committed to the series and want Formula E’s audience to increase further ready for season two. This point is absolutely critical. If Formula E is to be successful in the UK, it has to stay live on free-to-air television, I cannot emphasise that point enough. It can not be snapped up by BT Sport for ridiculous amounts of money.
This is an astute observation that I wonder would be made in the US. The way we package sports for cable at the expense of free TV begs a few questions about the differences between the structure of US and UK television, as well as how it’s consumed. In the US, it’s on an obscure Fox Sports channel, which kind of dooms it. NBC Sports would have been a more natural fit, especially since it’s the channel that carries F1. The only way Formula E would find it’s way to network television would be if Kanye, Kim, and Jay-Z were starting in the first row.
The trick for living in the Chicagoland area and wanting to watch Formula E, other than the airtime, is whether the local channel carries it or not. When the Punta del Este racetime moved too far, the channel simply moved to other programming. I had to try to make sense of the race via the livestream. And while I was glad to see a livestream, it was largely unedited.
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