Channel 4 to provide FTA coverage of Formula E's London comeback
Formula E, the international electric car racing series, has today announced a free-to-air rights deal in the UK with commercial broadcaster Channel 4 for its upcoming London races.
Under the agreement, Channel 4 will provide live coverage of the two E-Prix races in the country’s capital on 24 and 25 July.
The races, which will be using the world’s first indoor and outdoor track at ExCel London, will be shown on the broadcaster’s linear channel as well as its All4 on-demand streaming platform.
Channel 4 will be providing over four hours of coverage over the weekend with extensive build-up and post-race analysis, marking its first broadcast of the series. Its deal only covers the race and not practice or qualifying.
The broadcaster was given an opportunity to snap up the rights to the London races as the BBC, the UK rights-holder, cannot show the E-Prixs due to its upcoming coverage of the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Eurosport, the pan-European sports broadcaster, will also not be providing live coverage on its linear channels because of the Olympics but will be showing all London sessions via its OTT streaming platform.
The BBC will be showing cricket's The Hundred on its BBC Two channel, while Eurosport's free-to-air Quest channel will be broadcasting live British Superbike coverage, which ruled out the respective channels as alternative options.
Live coverage of free practices and qualifying will additionally be available on Formula E’s owned platforms.
In February, Formula E renewed its rights deal in the UK with the BBC for the 2020-21 season and the public-service broadcaster had provided coverage of the previous races in Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain, Monaco, Mexico and USA.
With the Channel 4 agreement, it means Formula E will have aired on all four main free-to-air outlets in the UK since its inaugural season in 2014-15 after also featuring on ITV and Channel 5.
The London E-Prix, which comprises rounds 12 and 13 of the season, marks the return of racing to the UK after five years and the first major event to take place at ExCel London.
It is the penultimate E-Prix on the Formula E calendar and will be followed by the season-ending race in Berlin, Germany next month.
Aarti Dabas, Formula E chief media officer, said: “We are pleased to add Channel 4 to our ever-growing line-up of media partners. The UK is a key market for Formula E’s ecosystem of teams, manufacturers, partners and drivers.
“More importantly, we wanted to provide our growing UK fanbase and potential new fans with easy access to watch and engage with the live coverage of their home races.
“This partnership for the London races provides both Formula E and Channel 4 an opportunity to engage with progressive motorsports fans and new audiences.”
This unexpected opportunity could potentially put Channel 4 in the frame to secure rights to the series for next season as the existing rights deals with the BBC and Eurosport expire at the end of this campaign.
The Formula E deal enhances Channel 4’s motorsports portfolio as it also holds rights to show highlights from Formula 1, while it will air live coverage of the top motor racing series’ British Grand Prix this weekend.
Earlier this month, Dutch beer manufacturer Heineken was named as the race title partner of this year's London E-Prix.
Meanwhile, Extreme E has today signed a broadcaster deal in Portugal with Sport TV, the pay-television operator, to cover the remainder of its debut season.
Sport TV will show this year’s Extreme E races — or X Prixs — live, as well as highlights, previews, reviews and a 20-part magazine programme about the series on its linear channels.
The races will also be available to watch on Sport TV’s digital platform. All content will be broadcast in both English and Portuguese.
The pay-TV broadcaster’s coverage will also extend to Portuguese-speaking regions in Africa including Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé, Principe and Equatorial Guinea.
Sport TV’s live offering will begin from the Arctic X Prix which takes place in Greenland from 28 to 29 August.
The first Extreme E race, the Desert X Prix, took place in Saudi Arabia in April and was followed by Senegal’s Ocean X Prix in May.
The series has concluded a host of rights deals for its inaugural season and this month added Moroccan public-service broadcaster Société Nationale de Radiodiffusion et de Télévision and Seven Network, the Australian free-to-air commercial network.
Among the organisations with which Extreme E has agreed its various coverage deals are international pay-television broadcaster BeIN Sports for the Middle East and North Africa, US media network Discovery in Europe and North America, pay television network National Geographic in Latin America, pan-regional pay network Fox Sports Asia for south-east Asia and Motorsport TV for Russia.