Formula E set to award TV rights in UK

We’ve been speaking of Formula 1 broadcasters and awards over here but this news is about the new kid in town. Can electric open-wheel race cars draw a crowd? Will city-center venues and quiet machinery appeal to urbanites and motor sport fans alike? Better yet, will people actually watch a series such as Formula E?

If Christian Sylt is correct, and he usually is, then BSkyB or BT Sport may just get the television rights to the series for the UK. According to Sylt, the series is speaking with both broadcasters and will announce the decision soon. According to Formula E chief executive Alejandro Agag, the announcement of drivers for the 2014 launch-year will bring even more interest with regards to the television rights:

“Broadcasters kind of all got a bit excited after the TV Asahi announcement,” says Agag adding “we are talking with BT Sport and with Sky.”

He adds that a deal is not likely to be done until drivers are announced in early 2014 as this will increase the attention on the series. “The strategy in the UK and in Europe is to wait until the drivers are out in February or March then we go for it because we can get more value.”

The name most closely aligned with the series is former Formula 1 driver Bruno Senna but with McLaren engines, Williams F1 batteries and teams ran by Audi and Richard Bransons’s Virgin, the interest is gaining steam already…or should I say watts?

The other appealing part of Formula E for broadcast networks, such as Fox Sports here in the US, is that fact that the cars will not last more than 25 minutes prompting a car change by drivers mid-race. With a 50-minute race and podium celebration, the series is set to offer networks a one hour program that fits nicely into their broadcast schedule.

“The TV people we are talking to absolutely love it. One hour races and they love the pit stop concept because the drivers are going to run. Everybody will have the same distance between their car and the other car. This running, the TV people love it. You can actually have overtaking here.”

Agag adds that despite the being in talks with BT Sport and BSkyB his ultimate aim is “to do free-to-air even if we get less money. Free-to-air would be great: BBC or ITV.”

You can see how this format would be appealing to broadcasters but what do you think? Is a one-hour race long enough for you? Would Formula 1 benefit from shorter races? Will you be watching Formula E or is this another A1GP for you? Tell what you think.

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