ITV has not signed up Formula E for a second season yet, with less than two months to go until the opening race in Beijing.
As preseason testing gets under way at Donington Park, Current E has learned that discussions between ITV, which screened all of the first season races, and FEH, the sport’s organiser, are still ongoing but no closer to a resolution.
“We are interested in screening Formula E races next season and are in contact with the rights holder,” an ITV spokesperson told us today. “Nothing has been decided yet.”
Formula E’s TV coverage in the UK during the inaugural season received mostly positive reviews, with particular praise for the host broadcaster, Aurora, which puts together the race footage and on-screen graphics.
ITV systematically stepped up the time set aside for each Formula E race, hosting the first 10 races on its ITV4 channel with more and more live content throughout the season. Coverage culminated in hosting the London season finale live on its flagship channel with a full roving pit lane team, which drew a peak audience of nearly 1.2 million viewers.
Season two broadcasting is not a straightforward story, however. Billionaire businessman John Malone is one of the largest shareholders in Discovery Communications, owner of the Discovery channel and the largest shareholder of the Eurosport channel. He is also the chairman of Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media and which has a 9.9% stake in ITV. As of March this year, both Discovery and Liberty are major shareholders of FEH.
FEH will be looking to grow its income in the second season as it positions itself as a viable, sustainable business and as it moves towards securing return on investment for its backers. While free to air TV deals might be very useful for growing its new audience, FEH will also be looking a strong financial deal too.
We’ll bring you more when we hear it.