Advanced Television

Liberty Global, Discovery boost Formula E

March 10, 2015

By Colin Mann

Liberty Global and Discovery Communications have signalled their growing interest in the field of premium sporting rights by becoming minority shareholders in Formula E Holdings Ltd, the company behind the organisation and promotion of the electric single-seater car race series inaugurated by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA.

According to Formula E, the arrival of these two global media companies represents an important step in the long-term development of the series and confirms its potential on the motorsport scene. It says their strategic vision and strong financial backing will provide stability as well as creating a solid base from which the company can expand in the future.

“It is a significant step forward for Formula E to receive the backing of two major global media companies when we are barely halfway through our first season,” commented Alejandro Agag, Formula E’s CEO. “The experience and knowhow they bring will provide a significant boost to Formula E. We look forward to creating new opportunities together to develop and promote premium content for a global audience.”

Niall Curran, President of Liberty Global’s media investments group, said that like Formula E, its business is closely connected to sustainability, speed and entertainment, describing the deal as “a great match” adding that Liberty Global was delighted to be supporting Agag and his team in building a new global sports media property, while building its portfolio of strategic content investments.

“We are very pleased to join Formula E’s ownership group. With unmatched global distribution, our Velocity, Turbo and Eurosport brands, and 30 years of experience as a global media company, Discovery’s unique expertise will help develop this new and unique motor sport,” said Bruce Campbell, Discovery Communications Chief Development & Digital Officer and General Counsel.

Currently in its first season, Formula E has secured a number of TV distribution deals, notably with Sky Deutschland, ITV in the UK for live coverage and BT Sport for highlights Canal Plus in France, TV Asahi in Japan, FOX Sports, with full US exclusivity across the FOX family of networks, including FOX Sports 1. FOX Sports also has exclusive and non-exclusive rights in more than 80 territories including Canada, Latin America/Caribbean, Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and other areas of Asia, India and Africa. The deal, across all territories, includes exclusive and non-exclusive on-line and mobile transmission rights.

Although some of these deals are multi-year, the involvement of Liberty Global and Discovery suggests that future rights and coverage may follow on affiliated platforms.

David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications, has previously said that the broadcaster’s acquisition of a controlling interest in pan-European sports channel Eurosport has given it the opportunity to create a bigger and better service, and admitted that it would consider acquiring premium sports rights.

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