Formula E gets big boost from global TV deal with leading F1 broadcaster Fox
Innovation
Formula E
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Aug 2013   |  1:36 pm GMT  |  62 comments

Formula E, the new all electric racing series due to start in September 2014, is set to receive a substantial boost from a deal with the Fox Sports Network for coverage on TV and online of the 10 race series.

The deal, to be announced this afternoon, means that much of the globe is covered, with 80 territories under the Fox umbrella; the USA, Latin America and South East Asia in particular, with the UK and parts of Europe still to be filled in.

The Fox Sports network is currently a big player in Formula 1 broadcast coverage, with the Latin American and South East Asian platform playing a significant part in the reach of the sport. Between them those two regions account for around 30% of F1′s global audience.

The US is clearly becoming an increasing centre of interest for the series with rounds in Los Angeles and Miami, an American team (Andretti) and coverage on Fox Sports 1.


It is interesting to see the areas of the globe which are more openly embracing the series and its zero emissions racing concept, with Europe lagging behind, although London and Berlin will host rounds of the series.

Interestingly, Fox’s stated interest in Formula E is not just as a sports series and an entertainment, but it was also attracted by the opportunity to play a part in a wider social transition,

“With a global approach to acquiring knowledge and fast-tracking technology through the world of international racing competition, the FIA Formula E Championship is much more than just another weekend at the track…it makes racing an integral part of solving one of the world’s most daunting challenges and we are thrilled to be a part of that process,” said Fox’s Latin America president Carlos Martinez.

The initial idea for Formula E came from a request from the EU to the FIA to help promote electric vehicles and to use motorsport as a means of driving innovation and increasing the rate of development, particularly of battery and range technology.

Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag welcomed the Fox deal, “We are very proud to announce this major agreement between FOX and the FIA Formula E Championship and to be partnering a truly global organization that fully believes in the future of racing.

“This global broadcasting deal will bring our Championship to nearly 90 countries and a potential 180 million households worldwide, giving our partners, our teams, and our team’s partners a platform to visualize the association to the values of this competition. We are particularly happy to join FOX at the time when FOX Sports 1 is being launched. America is a key market for electric cars and to show our races live in the US will be central to promoting this type of mobility.”

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62 Comments
  1. Michael says:

    can’t wait for Formula E to start :) are there proposed circuit maps for London I can oggle and any idea ticket prices? might be getting too ahead of myself, but this is a huge leap for electric powered transport

    1. Ross says:

      Circuit locations won’t be officially confirmed until next month, so track maps are probably a little way off. Can’t wait to see what the ticket prices will be like. If the promoters get it right, I reckon it’ll take off just like T20 has alongside test cricket. Odd analogy but I think it works! http://currente.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/smashing-the-boundary-when-racing-cars-is-like-playing-cricket/

  2. CarlH says:

    JA on FE?

    1. Roberto says:

      Yes please!!!

  3. Jodum5 says:

    Good for them. This seems like an interesting idea.

  4. KGBVD says:

    Is it telling the Fox willingly gave up the right of F1 this year to NBC Sports?

    It remains to be seen if Fox Sports 1 will try to reacquisition F1, but I don’t see any deals on the horizon.

    1. PZ says:

      I’m not sure “willingly” is quite the right word there. I think FOX is just trying to add to their depleted sports programing now that they’ve also lost most of the soccer content too.

  5. Ross says:

    It’s amazing how fast this series is developing. Ron Dennis and Jenson Button were quoted a couple of months as saying they didn’t see the long-term viability of the sport (despite being part of the consortium developing the racing car!).
    The fact that this story was broken yesterday in the Wall Street Journal might indicate that it’s being taken a bit more seriously across the pond than it is here. It’ll be interesting to see what the broadcast rights are like here. New BT channel, perhaps?

  6. Jonathan Dye says:

    Is FOM involved in this or is it something we may stand a chance of seeing in the UK as a free to air broadcaster may be able to afford to show it.
    It would be a shame if this exciting new formula was lost to a wider audience for a short term financial gain which would end up sending Formula E to an early grave.

    1. James Allen says:

      Nothing to do with FOM

    2. Ross says:

      Free to air as in BBC/ITV/4/5? Problem might be popularity though. Will those channels fall over themselves to sign up a minority sport? Without being disparaging, it has taken an awful long time to get women’s rugby/football etc on the TV. Formula E might have a bit of a wait on its hands.

      1. KRB says:

        It all depends … what makes for great sport TV is if the event looks like a great experience. Case in point is the US Grand Prix in Austin last year. It looked like everyone, and I mean everyone, was having a whale of a time. That doesn’t always come thru on TV, but it did (for me anyways) for the USGP.

        Miami and LA are great locales to have a race, so already it’s easier to create that “place ya gotta be” vibe about the race. Sunshine and ocean are very helpful ingredients to get that.

        I hope they do well.

  7. DB4Tim says:

    This will be an a awesome series and most timely …very cool!!!!

  8. Paul D says:

    I think people will struggle to get excited by electric racing.

    It was interesting to see people’s comments and reaction at the Goodwood FOS whenever an electric car went up the hill (e.g. the Drayson) and it wasn’t positive at all.

    The engine noise is a massive part of the emotive experience of watching racing.

    1. Ross says:

      Only insofar as modern car racing is concerned. No one watches Ascot, Tour de France or Americas Cup for engine noise. Electric car racing will simply be a different sport. Held in the middle of city centres, there will probably be more than enough ambient noise.

    2. Blade Runner says:

      Why cant they give the electric cars an exhaust noise generator then? It cant be beyond the capabilities of the engineers involved in this to come up with a sound that could make the racing far more acceptable and exciting for race fans.

      Especially with F1 now going to sound like the BTCC, this is an excellent opportunity for this electric series to supply racing fans with the noise they want to experience.

    3. KGBVD says:

      Engine noise WAS a massive part of the emotive part of watching racing.

    4. John from CA says:

      Hopefully FOX mutes the sound. Maybe they could add Renault v10 engine screaming in place of the dentist hand drill sound.

  9. While it is probably a positive move toward world exposure and the enthusiasm of the article is probably good – here in the USA from this fan’s perspective, Fox Sports, whatever, isn’t doing itself any favors — they have garbaged up the F-1 website compared with their undeling “Speed” and have lost the good handle they had on F-1 to NBC and NBC has messed up the F-1 coverage with Lee Dippey and a lot more commercialism. Result from here is it’s saving a lot of time to simply wait for JA on F-1 to provide the results and insights. While the broadcasts are missed, we do ave JA on F-1 Thanks, James !!

  10. Matt says:

    I’m concerned about FOX being the global broadcaster for Formula E.

    FOX in America has always been fairly right wing and there won’t be a lot of support or attention from Rupert Murdoch towards a green, eco formula. It doesn’t appeal to their target audience and it isn’t a good fit with their TV portfolio.

    The social transition aspect reeks of bullshit. The only angle I can see here is advertising dollars from US Electric car firms. If those advertising dollars don’t materialise then just how interested in Formula-E will Fox be?

    1. Ross says:

      FEH (the Formula E equivalent of FOM) hasn’t explicitly confirmed which countries Fox has exclusive control over though, apart from the US. So it’ll be interesting to see if some of the big players come piling in or if they’ll be waiting for those same advertising dollars.

    2. Quade says:

      @Matt
      Good points.

    3. KGBVD says:

      I think this is Fox’s white herring.

      “Look, we support the environmental concern — we carry Formula!”

      I wouldn’t expect any changes on Fox News as a result.

    4. Christopher says:

      I don’t think your premise that right winged viewers of Fox will be disinterested works. Fox News is definitely more right than the other news channels, but the average viewers on regular Fox channels and Fox Sports varies as much as any other station. All types watch football, baseball, racing etc.
      I think the reason it will not do well in America is that so few Americans like or care about electric cars as a viable option. Like others stated above, sound (and smell) are a huge part the excitement to watching motorsports. How will they keep people interested in watching a silent movie with miniature Indy Cars. Even the best anchors can not fill that void. FE make go over in Europe, but I have my doubts it will last more than a season or two.

      1. RodgerT says:

        On the F1 forums I visit frequently most of the posters who support FE are American, and it’s people from the rest of the world who whinging about the noise, or lack of.

  11. Dan says:

    This is good to hear!

  12. Ben says:

    Are there any rumours on who is likely to be driving in this series?

    1. James Allen says:

      They are hoping for Kobayashi, Kovalainen, Alguersuari, Senna Petrov type guys

      1. Robert says:

        Which, to be fair, make up a fairly good pool of drivers, with some good name recognition!

        But I agree, without the sound and the fury, it will be hard to get behind such racing. It’s like saying a bike is a Harley…but without the sound and rumble. Such sounds DO things to human beings, deep in their nubbins…and no amount of “clean” speed will replace that.

      2. Erik says:

        Cameos from Schumacher, Webber, Mansel, Hakinen?..

    2. Ross says:

      Lucas di Grassi is the official development driver, so they already have one former F1 racer (and current F1 tyre tester) on board.

    3. Fernando Cruz says:

      Attracting big names can be the key for success. It will be interesting to see how many of them the promotors of the championship can attract.

      This is my list of drivers:

      Robert Kubica – Mark Webber – Alvaro Parente – Bruno Senna – Kamui Kobayashi – Heikki Kovalainen – Jaime Alguersuari – Sebastien Buemi – Nick Heidfeld – Timo Glock – Vitaly Petrov – Lucas di Grassi – Christian Klien – Vitantonio Liuzzi – Jerome d’ Ambrosio – Luiz Razia – Nicolas Prost – Adam Carroll

      I hope Formula E and WEC (and GT Series and so on…) can work together to make it possible (avoiding races in the same weekend of a Formula E event), as it would be good for everyone (FE, WEC, GT Series…)

  13. Quade says:

    I have to say I am pleasantly shocked that this sport is taking off!
    It didn’t seem that people would accept the artificial sounds and enforced battery changing pit stops, but it seems to be gaining momentum at a wicked rate of knots.

    I can see technology from this series leeching out to the wider World in a way far more relevant than F1 ever was.

    1. Erik says:

      If this is successful and more and more high level teams join down the line then there will be immense competion to develop the technology within the sport. This technology will then improve at a geometric rate (batteries, charge times, harvesting) and inevitably trickle into road cars and presto, electric cars become A) fashionable and B) a lot more efficient therefore viable as day to day transport. Oh and C) fast..

      For me the writing is on the wall.

  14. Rob Newman says:

    Great idea but not sure how long it will last. Anyone remember A1 GP?

  15. Cliff says:

    It is great that Formula E have signed a broadcast deal but unless they fix the existing technical flaws in their series design, the series will not hold an audience. The way the rules are written, the teams will not be racing, they will be struggling to make the batteries survive.

    Here is a link with more detail: http://www.proev.com/Misc/RE/130325/wpFE3.htm

    1. Ross says:

      Great piece, looking at the technical side. But engineering challenges have never been insurmountable – and engineers love best something that looks impossible.

  16. petes says:

    Solves the problem then of where do unwanted ex F1 drivers go Very neat!
    Just FWIW while I can’t judge Fox’s F1 broadcast commitment from where I sit, I can see their written commitment to the sport. Not worth wasting time on.

  17. Michael says:

    Great in principle because electric cars are inevitably the future. But they’re basically giant Tamiyas with the pilot sitting on board rather than on radio stand.

    The main reason people go to races instead of just watching them on tv is the sound and the feel of the high power acoustic energy hitting the body. In every other respect, basically, it’s better to watch races on the internet.

    These things will sound like big “plastic” kayaks on wheels resonating with the sound of gnashing gearbox cogs. Not something to particularly look forward to as the future of live automotive events. I’m no ludite, but neither feel the rush to skip ahead to these things prematurely.

  18. Monktonnik says:

    I’m pretty enthusiastic about this.

    Is there a deal for broadcasting in Australia, even if it is only online?

      1. William says:

        I don’t like it at all it should be on One

      2. Simon Lord says:

        How about New Zealand? Minor market, I know, but it’s not clear from the report.

  19. Tony says:

    Not sure how this will translate to television. Will we have to turn our tele volume up to full? The commentators will be louder than the cars.

    1. Spyros says:

      This is a general problem these days. We can already hear the Merc safety car in F1, occasionally… presumably its V8 will be even more audible next year.

      I wonder what sort of safety car FE will have…

      1. Simmo says:

        Hopefully it won’t need one, and will use better technology than that (such as a simple speed restricting device for a set period of time)

      2. Spyros says:

        Interesting idea. Or they could dump the batteries, put a scalectrix rail or a dodgems’ style roof grid, and cut the power when there’s an incident…

  20. Erik says:

    This is big Fox Sports 1 is a massive player, the riff raff don’t get a showing on that channel. Goes to show you how interested parts of the globe are in this emerging technology.

    I think F1 missed the boat a bit when Todt approached them with this type of formula change and F1 turned it down. Take a look at the car manufacturers these days and what their working on for the future and its not petrol engines. F1 just spent a fortune updating its engine formula only to be completely outdone in terms of energy saving relevance once this series starts up.

    Bernie is probably 5 years away from dissapearing from the sport (if that), so if these Formula E guys do a half-decent job at marketing the series to a young generation who will grow up with hybrids and electric cars then F1 may look pretty old hat pretty soon. Some of the F1 teams are already hedging their bets.

  21. MaxCO2 says:

    “Zero emissions”?

    I don’t think so.

    Every vehicle has emissions, it’s just a matter of where, and how, the energy used to propel the vehicle is generated.

    If you’re burning coal to generate the electricity, it’s highly likely that there are more emissions involved than with a conventionally fueled vehicle.

    And, even the materials used to construct the race car create emissions in the process of their creation and fabrication.

    1. Me says:

      While racing?

      1. MC says:

        Cute, but his point is valid. The energy used while racing does not come free of emissions. “Green” energy is always a shell game.

        Hopefully this will be more successful commercially than the Chevy Volt but I’m not holding my breath.

      2. Spyros says:

        …and let’s not forget that 99% of the emissions in F1 don’t have anything to do with the racing cars.

        Will the Formula E cars (and teams) travel around the world in sailing boats?

      3. Ross says:

        Very valid point. I dug out some figures related to this. Carbon footprint figures for F1 and how they compare here: http://currente.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/full-confessional-please/

        In short, the race fuel really accounts for very little. But the bigger picture I guess is that if we clean up the power supply and switch to using electric cars in town, we’ll have much cleaner air all round, even if it isn’t a perfect solution.

    2. Bradley says:

      Typical efficiency of a thermal power plant (eg coal) ~ 45%.
      Typical efficiency of a top end internal combustion engine ~ 15%. Possibly approaching 20% with turbos and F1 teams optimising for fuel efficiency.

      Even allowing for coal having a higher carbon footprint per unit of energy than oil, you’re getting lower emissions by burning coal for electricity than using an ICE.

      And if you consider that the UK is expected to have about 35% of its electricity from renewables in 2020, with most of the rest of Western / Southern Europe doing better than that, then comparing to coal is very misleading. Western European electricity is certainly carbon intensive, but is decarbonising fast. Unless you’re in Germany closing its nuclear plants and turning coal back on… but even that’s not a long term fixture.

  22. Racyboy says:

    If they’re quick, nobody will give a damn about how they sound.

    1. Me says:

      Finally…

  23. JR says:

    Don’t forget you can text vote for your favourite FE driver to get a power boost.

    Are Ant and Dec presenting it?

  24. Truth or Lies says:

    The sound F1 makes is awesome and for me standing amongst the trees near the Lesmo’s in Monza, not even seeing the cars, but hearing them scream past is a most amazing sensation, there is something almost spiritual about it.

    However when watching F1 on TV or even from a grandstand, when the cars are in close racing positions, its the ducking and diving, side by side moments or high speed changes of direction which keep me on the edge of my seat. I remember last weekend watching the BTCC on TV and despite the muffled sound, still being entrawled by the ferociously close racing.

    So right now I am of the opinion that if the racing is close, the absence of noise won’t be such a big issue. After all its a very different form of Motorsport and I am starting to think, maybe has potential to spring some big surprises interms of popularity. It’s accessibility for large spectating audiences may well be a game changing moment for the future of circuit racing in the 21st century.

  25. JohnBt says:

    Maybe it takes time for fans to get used to it. We will know if the series stays for a long period or loses appeal. At the moment I’m not thrilled yet.

  26. Ian Pringle says:

    Despite all these press releases and deals, has anyone actually committed real money yet? There is no car on track no real track plans in place and no enormous subsidy to get teams on board.

    What would a one season budget be for this series compared to Euro F3, Formula Renault, GP3 or GP2?

    Two cars per driver per race would suggest its just not remotely going to be competitive.

    In the meantime the 2014 F1 power plants are massively increasing their KERS power, and hybrid is now the only way to win Le Mans. Alternative energy cars already have their showcase.

    1. Ross says:

      The official customer car for the inaugural season is being launched next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Several major companies are signed up and investing time and money (Williams, McLaren, Renault, Dallara, Michelin), suggesting there’s a fair amount of cash already washing around. And apparently, the cars will be made available to the teams for no capital cost, just a share of sponsorship revenues. Which all suggests it will be far easier for teams to enter, making it more viable than entering some of the other formulae.

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