Motor racing-Formula E reports 32% rise in TV audience for season seven

FILE PHOTO: Motorsport - Formula E - Berlin ePrix - Berlin-Tempelhof, Berlin, Germany - May 25, 2019 General view of spectators in a stand REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

LONDON (Reuters) - The electric Formula E series saw a 32% year-on-year rise in global television audiences last season with free-to-air deals in key markets driving the growth after a pandemic-hit 2020, it reported on Monday.

The city-based championship, whose biggest shareholder is telecoms group Liberty Global, said that for the first time most viewers (62%) were watching races live by the end of the season rather than as highlights or repeats.

Formula E said its cumulative audience rose to 316 million, despite a shortened season and the lack of races in Asia due to COVID-19.

Season seven, running from February to August 2021, was the first as a full FIA-sanctioned world championship and had 15 rounds with Dutch driver Nyck de Vries winning the title for Mercedes at the final race in Berlin.

The heavily-disrupted sixth season ran from November 2019 to August 2020 and had 11 races, six of them held in the space of nine days at Berlin's old Tempelhof airport to complete the calendar.

The 2018-19 season five featured 13 rounds.

Formula E said Germany saw the biggest audience growth, increasing 338% compared to season six, with races broadcast free to air on Sat.1. Brazil's audience grew 286%.

Live audiences in Britain were up 156% year-on-year, with the two London races broadcast on Channel Four.

"It’s clear there is strong fan interest in Formula E’s electric racing in cities," said Formula E chief executive Jamie Riegle.

"We are delighted to see our strategy of partnering with broadcasters committed to localised, engaging and accessible free-to-air coverage paying off."

Season Eight is due to start in January, 2022, with a record 16 races in 12 locations.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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