ITV will discontinue its coverage of FIA Formula E in the sport’s third season, according to a report today by The F1 Broadcasting Blog.
The news, thus far officially confirmed by neither ITV nor Formula E, does corroborate what Current E sources revealed to us in the past week.
ITV has broadcast Formula E races live since the sport’s debut in 2014. Typically, races have been carried on ITV4, with an hour’s build-up recapping qualifying and offering some technical and news context. Well-known motorsport TV reporter Jennie Gow has hosted all programmes, joined by an array of pundits including technical expert Marc Priestley and drivers such as Jaime Alguersuari, Jolyon Palmer, Alex Brundle and Jann Mardenborough. The London season finale was shown on the main ITV channel in both 2015 and 2016.
Live coverage of the sport’s first visit to Mexico, in 2016, was shelved in favour of snooker in March, prompting coverage to move over to BT Sport, available only via a subscription.
We have asked both ITV and Formula E for comment and will update you when we know more.
ITV will not broadcast season three of the Formula E championship in the UK leaving the series without a terrestrial television free-to-air partner, this site can confirm.
Overnight viewing figures, supplied by Overnights.tv, show that appetite for the series in the UK has declined across the two seasons so far. The inaugural 2014-15 season averaged 216k (2.6%) across the eleven rounds live on ITV and ITV4, but live coverage of the 2015-16 season averaged just 138k (1.3%) across ITV and ITV4, a drop of 42 percent. 2015-16’s number includes the Mexico ePrix which was aired live on BT Sport Europe.
Formula E’s highlights programming have not fared well on ITV’s main channel for the 2015-16 season, averaging around 170k and being beaten by all five of its terrestrial television competitors on numerous occasions. The fact of the matter is, Formula E rated below the relevant slot averages for ITV wherever and whenever it was aired. This news is not a major surprise, when you consider that horse racing will fill up most of ITV4’s Saturday content from 2017.
Sources have indicated to this writer that Channel 4 or Channel 5 are candidates to pick the series up. For Channel 4, it would fit well into their growing motor sport portfolio following their recent acquisitions of Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship. Formula E will be a nice addition to Channel 5 alongside the World Rally Championship. The BBC are not expected to get involved, but time will tell.
There is also the possibility that Formula E will be placed exclusively behind a pay wall, in which case BT Sport or Eurosport are the likely homes for the electric series.