Formula E

TV analysis: How the first Formula E broadcasts on new German TV channel DF1 went

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

The German TV channel DF1, which was launched on 1 January, has broadcast its first four Formula E races. Promising ratings at the start of the season were followed by a sobering Diriyah E-Prix before things picked up again last weekend in Sao Paulo. What was clear beforehand was that the figures achieved to date are hardly comparable with ProSieben's reach. For DF1, the task now is to further develop the programme and build momentum.

694,000 - that's how many people tuned into the Formula E TV programme on DF1 at the start of the season in Mexico. A really strong figure for the season opener, considering the 2023 season average on ProSieben (709,000). On average, 29,000 viewers followed Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein's commanding victory in Mexico City, with a maximum of 127,000 people watching at the same time. This corresponded to a market share of 0.2 per cent. In the advertising-relevant target group (14-49 years) it was 0.8 per cent.

With the start of the season, DF1 has set the bar high by its standards. However, the first race of a new championship year had always attracted many interested viewers. As expected, the second race weekend in Saudi Arabia brought disillusionment. The race on the early Friday evening in particular marked a low point for Formula E in Germany with an average attendance of 13,000 spectators.

Back to season 1 figures

The last time a broadcast of the electric series achieved similar figures was in 2015 (Season 1), when Formula E was still available on Sky pay-TV. The lowest figure for Eurosport (seasons 2 to 5) was 36,000 and dates back to the 2016 Long Beach E-Prix. The market share for the 2024 Diriyah E-Prix was also comparable to the first year of Formula E. Less than 0.1 per cent of the target group tuned in to the first of the two desert races.

This figure rose again to 0.4 per cent for the Sao Paulo E-Prix. The average number of viewers last Saturday was also more than twice as high at 29,000. DF1 reached a total of 322,000 viewers with the broadcast from Sao Paulo, with a maximum of 50,000 at any one time. The qualifying broadcasts were usually a little worse by the way, but not too much. DF1 has not yet released any figures for the live stream.

German TV reach & market shares on Sat.1, ProSieben & DF1

 

Before the start of the season, the Munich-based broadcaster and broadcast partner ServusTV secured the expertise of ex-Formula E driver Daniel Abt - an important signing that greatly benefits the programmes. Abt commentates - as viewers of ProSieben know - with experience, expertise and humour. The entertainment value during the races is just right.

Of course, there is still room for improvement in the supporting programme compared to the high-end studio production of recent years. But DF1 and ServusTV are already getting a lot out of the short-term line-up of the Formula E programme. The new broadcast partner was only announced a good two weeks before the start of the season.

DF1 must show entire qualifying

The biggest point of criticism: At the Sao Paulo E-Prix, DF1 decided not to show the qualifying until the duel phase. As a result, Formula E fans were unable to watch the entire group phase on television. The reason for this is the long break between the group phase and the quarter-finals, during which the broadcaster loses viewers.

We have already commented that Formula E needs to make fundamental changes to this long break. However, as long as qualifying remains as it currently is, DF1 will have to find a solution that allows the entire qualifying session to be shown.

So what is the first small interim conclusion about Formula E on DF1? The channel is already making a lot of Formula E, if you ignore that qualifying thing. The task now is to build up momentum and slowly but surely grow a fan base. Of course, this also depends a lot on external factors. For example, on the race calendar, the quality of the E-Prix and the general awareness of the new TV channel.

But at least there are now many races in a short space of time, which offer a good opportunity for growth. "We are of course hoping for a push towards and with the European races," a spokesperson for the broadcaster told e-Formula.news. But first, it all starts with the Tokyo E-Prix in just over a week's time. We are keeping our fingers crossed that things continue to improve.

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