Venturing into video

Current E Putrajaya 201114 Shields and di Grassi share a laugh

Formula E has positioned itself as a digital first series, a sport born in and built for the internet age. In this era of ultra-connectivity and where anything can be accessed with a mobile device, anywhere, at any time, content is king and video is the supreme ruler.

Video sharing website YouTube, owned by search giant Google, reckons that it receives more than a billion viewers every month, and that more than six billion hours of video are watched at its site every month. With figures like that, it is little wonder that getting a decent presence on YouTube is now seen as critical for any self-respecting marketing operation.

How has Formula E fared when it comes to online video? Has the series been true to its founding philosophy and served up great dollops of the stuff? Or has it been seduced by lure of TV dollars?

We’ve trawled through YouTube this week to find out. The short answer is that you won’t need to do an Oliver with what’s on offer. First, the series has an official channel. That’s quite something, especially in light of the stance that F1 organiser FOM has taken to the channel, treating it more like sprouts at the side of a Christmas dinner – toyed with, earnestly discussed but ultimately slid into the bin.

Formula E has got stuck in from the outset. Track layouts, explanations of the rules, events such as the opening of the technical headquarters at Donington Park, driver interviews, technology analysis and highlights of every race – they’re all there. In fact, clips include Formula E cars driving across Westminster Bridge in London, the Prost/Heidfeld collision in Beijing and Jean-Eric Vergne being interviewed in both English and French on a beach in South America. You’ll even find one of Michela Cerruti dancing the tango.

The first video of 2014 featured Lucas di Grassi driving along the Las Vegas Strip. Since (and including) that video, the series has posted 123 videos to date, totting up to more than 337 minutes of footage. That averages out at two videos per week and around 2min45 per video.

This commitment to embracing online video is reflected in the popularity of the series channel, which boasts more than 21,000 subscribers and, across the videos considered here, 2,624,173 views at time of writing. That’s more than 21,000 views per video on average, not bad when you consider that 36 of those videos – almost a third – were posted before the series had even begun.

The teams have taken up the challenge with varying degrees of commitment. This is how they compare in the same period (looking just at videos posted to official YouTube channels):

Organisation Number of videos Footage in minutes Views Subscribers
Formula E 123 337 2.6million 21,000
Amlin Aguri 23 33 23,550 343
Audi Sport ABT 8 20 1,403 2,906
China Racing 7 3 35,780 44
e.dams-Renault 1 18s 72 3
Mahindra Racing 10 15 6,440 189
Venturi 7 6 9,160 367
Virgin Racing 19 33 14,000 242

 

It’s clear that teams could be doing more with video, although we understand that they are somewhat restricted when it comes to filming their cars on track at race events. Just look at the figures for the short videos our friends at Electric Autosport posted during last summer’s Donington tests, and the superbly shot and beautifully crafted moving artwork that tyre partner Michelin puts together at every event:

Electric Autosport 10 12 383,000 472
Michelin Passion 21 143 454,050 6,622

 

That’s not to say there isn’t some good content being produced by the teams. We particularly like Virgin’s arcade-style Fanboost video, Venturi’s on-board footage from the Punta del Este test and the e.dams-Renault advert (Blur’s Song 2 is always a winner in our books).

It’s been a very good start to tackling online video content by the series. As teams get settled and have a clearer idea of how their marketing strategies (and budgets) are working, we expect to see them expanding their use of video through 2015, particularly when constructors are announced. Along with more technology-based videos, we’d like to see some more fun stuff. Hands up for burn outs, donuts and drag races. And for heaven’s sake, someone put Nicki Shields in a Spark-Renault. That we’d very much like to see.

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