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Published on November 14th, 2015 | by Jo Borrás


Formula E Surpasses Formula 1 In Viewership — Say What?!

November 14th, 2015 by  

Originally published on GAS2.


The all-electric Formula E racing series has proven to be quite successful in its first full year of operation. There was a lot of optimism for the series when it began its 2015 campaign, but I don’t think anyone foresaw this happening: according to the TV ratings, Formula E has greater popularity in North America than F1.

I’ll give you a chance to ponder what that means for the future of F1 in the US, and — more importantly — the future of the electric motor as a real, high-performance option, in general, while you read the official Apex Racing PR announcement, below …

The US has a growing appetite for electric racing according to the latest TV viewing figures, which demonstrate that Formula E has greater popularity in North America than F1.

The Nielson ratings demonstrated that the Putrajaya ePrix coverage on FOX scored a 1.2 overnight rating for the replay on Sunday afternoon – a higher rating than any F1 race achieved this year in the US, with the Monaco Grand Prix drawing a peak rating of 1.1 as the most watched race.

The live broadcast of the Putrajaya race on FOX drew 60,000 viewers, despite its early morning billing. It is believed that the Sunday replay of the race received a boost in viewers owing to the NFL game that preceded it.

In contrast, NASCAR drew a 2.6 overnight rating, its highest of the year to date, while the much-billed MotoGP title showdown generated an average of 130,000 viewers on Sunday morning on Fox Sports 1, according to Racer.com

These are impressive figures for Formula E as the burgeoning series is just two races into its second season, particularly when competing with established motorsport categories, as well as one of the most intense and promoted title showdowns in recent MotoGP history.

Formula E returns to the US for the Long Beach ePrix on 2nd April 2016.


… then ask you to weigh in on what Formula E’s ratings might mean for the hybrid-reliant Formula 1 and ethanol-heavy IndyCar series in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Don’t forget that Formula E is getting ready for some big changes in 2016 and beyond — do you think they’ll ruin a winning formula?

Let us know!

Sources | Images: Apex Racing PR, via Andretti Autosport.

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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

  • nate

    that villeneuve guy he’s fe right now

  • Max Persian

    I managed to catch a few Formula E races this year, and it’s easy to see why North Americans are tuning in: They put on a more exciting race than F1 has in years. I fell asleep during today’s Brazilian GP and only woke up as the drivers were on the podium, and didn’t even bother to back up the DVR as I knew I missed nothing. Their turbo hybrid cars are ugly and sound awful, there is no passing at the front, too many of the drivers are big crybabies, and worst of all they are abandoning the European venues with loyal fans and great tracks in favor of crappy dates in questionable locales whose dictators, err, leaders will throw obscene sums of oil money into their greedy pockets. I hope it improves once Bernie finally dies, because I don’t see a lot to be happy about now.

  • Steve Grinwis

    Anyone know where I can watch some of the past races?

    Also: I’d love to see some Electric RallyCross.

    RallyCross is some of the best racing you can view right now, IMHO, and it’s something that electrics would be great at… There’s typically a 6 car wide pile for the first corner, and they need massive Torque off the line. The races are also relatively short, the longest being about 6 laps, and each lap typically being less than a mile. Lots of time to recharge cars between laps…. 😀

    • Keanwood

      That sounds like electric could do great! The more we see EVs in sports (and movies/TV) the better.

    • I think there are a lot of highlights on YouTube, but Gas2 has been covering it closely and has a number of posts about highlight videos: http://gas2.org/tag/formula-e/

  • No way

    And considering that Mexico has a driver in the F1 but not in the FE surely the North American numbers are still in favor of the F1.

    One day though it might become not only more popular than F1 but even the most popular motor sport of all. Long way there though. 😛

  • Ross

    Sorry any F1 fans but your sport must die.

    • dRanger

      So in a world overflowing with long, violent and pointless sporting events, you have chosen to single out F1. Perhaps you’re kidding?

      • Ross

        Indycar must die also. Happy now?

        • dRanger

          Dude, I am always happy. I attribute much of that steady joy to avoiding sporting events of any kind.

    • Jason Fice

      I am an F1 fan, a big one too. Thanks for the condolences, and I think you’re right.

      It seems plausible that F1’s carbon footprint wouldn’t be that much worst than other large travelling shows or maybe even other sports, as the gasoline the racecars actually burn is not very significant compared to running the event and transporting gear. The problem with F1 is its image problem of being wasteful. Also, its main selling feature of being high tech will erode as people rightfully start to view ICE as old and wasteful. Therefore F1 will disappear and I’m getting into Formula E!

      • Keanwood

        What do you think is more plausible: F1 dying off in favor of FE or electric cars breaking into F1 and FE dying off?

        • Jason Fice

          Well I imagine that Bernie will kick the bucket before electric racing becomes wide spread, so I guess either scenario is possible.

      • Brooks Bridges

        What about the carbon footprint of the live spectators? Suspect it dwarfs that of the cars actually racing.

        • Jason Fice

          Yeah, that was part of my point. I was including that with the “running the event” carbon costs.

        • Dragon

          Yep. Which means Formula E really isn’t a clean sport until all the support crew and all the visitors get there on renewable electric power. But at least it promotes clean vehicles and maybe eventually displaces ICE powered races.

    • haha 😀

  • Matt

    “Formula E has greater popularity in North America than F1”
    Note that F1 racing is not as big in the US as EU. In USA it is bot leg racing, I mean NASCAR. If it you change “NA” to “EU” then I would be all OMG!

  • Martin

    Just curious were are those races held (locations) and how do the track times compare to ICE racing?
    And how do they do ‘fuel’ stops?
    Those races have two advantages: much better for the environment and less noise!

    • No way


      Both have been racing in Monaco, the FE race track was half the length of a normal F1 race and also did fewer laps. Time-wise the F1 cars were about 43% faster. On a non-city track the percentage would be a lot more.

      FE do car changes. Two cars per person per race so you drain the battery of the first car, then get into a pit stop where you change to the second car with a full battery waiting. It would be fun to see battery swaps, but because of security issues it’s very unlikely that it will ever be considered.

      It is early on and we will see lots of improvement as mainly the battery, but also other parts of the cars, get better. It’s still very exciting racing though, with a lot more drama, crashes and take-overs than Formula 1.

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      • dRanger

        Maybe I’m just dense today, but what’s the security issue with swapping batteries?

        • No way

          Sorry. Safety, not security. =) Now the battery is an integral part of the structural integrity during a crash. It’s also perfectly sealed in to almost eliminate the possibility of a battery fire.

          Battery swapping would possibly compromise both those aspects. And they are probably afraid of incidents that would put Formula E and EVs into a bad light. Even though their counterpart using gasoline is not perfectly safe people still look at the known differently than the unfamiliar.


          • dRanger

            I don’t know about the average viewer but in any kind of serious crash I would MUCH rather be sitting above a rigid battery case than any kind of fuel tank.

          • Calamity_Jean

            I agree, at least if the battery case is strong enough not to pop open.

          • dRanger

            In my somewhat limited experience, EV battery cases are designed a bit better than your average TV remote, so no worries.

          • Calamity_Jean

            OK, sounds like fun!

          • Bob_Wallace

            On the Tesla the battery pack is below the car’s floorboard (battery swaps are done from below). You’d have to be in some sort of extreme collision before the floorboard lost its integrity.

            Your bigger danger is the leaking gasoline from the car that crashed into you.

            (Note: EV drivers are so pure of spirit that they could never be at fault in an accident. ;o)

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Having never watched any automobile race in my life I am surprised and intrigued by this. Is the season now over? Maybe CleanTechnica can post upcoming E races so we can set aside time to watch them?

    • No way
    • Edward Hunter

      Far from over Ivor, we’re two rounds into an 11 round championship which began in Beijing in October and ends in London in July.

    • Benjamin Nead

      Here’s the schedule for the remaining races in the 2015/16 season.
      All dates are on Saturdays . . .

      Dec. 19, 2015 / Punta del Este, Uruguay

      Feb. 6, 2016 / Buenos Aires, Argentina

      March 12, 2016 / (to be announced)

      April 2, 2016 / Long Beach, USA

      April 23, 2016 / Paris, France

      May 21, 2016 / Berlin, Germany

      June 4, 2016 / Moscow, Russia

      July 2, 2016 / London, England

      It appears that Fox Sports is where a US-based TV viewers would be able
      to watch and I don’t think I have that (I get a cable based feed from my internet service provider for the living room television, but it’s basically just the fee antenna channels.)

      I do have an iPad, though, and it appears that this app will get me an
      online feed on that device . . .


      I’m not what you’d call a sports fan. The whole football/basketball/baseball
      thing is a non-starter for me. Gasoline auto racing is also something that doesn’t typically hold my interest. But I’m going to try to watch some of these Formula E races, if I happen to be free on those days. I’ll print the above schedule and hang it next to my wall calendar for a reminder.

      Or . . . perhaps Clean Technica can post short reminder articles a day
      or two before each race?

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Yeah. I don’t watch TV period. However I’ll go to a sports bar or something to watch the above if CleanTechnica posts a reminder or I remember to put the above into my calendar. Thanks.

        • Edward Hunter

          They also put a lot of highlights on their YouTube channel and on Dailymotion. For some countries they even do a livestream, so you don’t need a TV license at all to watch it.

          • Ivor O’Connor


        • Note taken.

          I honestly have always despised car racing (just find it **really** boring) but have become intrigued by this. Not sure if I could watch a whole race, but I’m curious to try.

          We will post reminders in days preceding the races. 😀

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Very nicely put. Better than I put it.

    • cynthia shahan

      The same here. I have never been interested in car racing. After experiencing the test drive of the BMW i3, I am more intrigued. Yes, perhaps CT will post some E races. Great idea.

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