It emerged today that Formula E has signed a broadcasting deal with the Fox Sports Network that will see the new electric racing championship aired in more than 80 countries across the world when the series gets underway in September 2014.
It's an impressive result for the nascent championship, which now has the potential of being beamed into millions of homes around the world.
"This global broadcasting deal will bring our Championship to nearly 90 countries and a potential 180 million households worldwide, giving our partners, our teams, and our team's partners a platform to visualize the association to the values of this competition," explained Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag. "We are particularly happy to join FOX at the time when FOX Sports 1 is being launched. America is a key market for electric cars and to show our races live in the US will be central to promoting this type of mobility."
With only three of the debut season's ten races taking place in Europe, the Formula E calendar is heavily weighted in favour of countries served by FOX.
But the demographics of the FOX coverage mean that while viewers in the Americas and across swathes of Southeast Asia will have access to televised Formula E, Europeans curious about motorsport's foray into the electric world will not. Given that the creation of Formula E was triggered by the European Union, who asked the FIA to use motorsport to promote and stimulate electric vehicle development, this is unfortunate.
The real feather in Formula E's hat comes thanks to the US arm of the deal, which will see all of the races broadcast live on the FOX Sports 1 channel. This is more than Formula One has been able to manage; NBC streams all races live, but only selected grands prix are shown live on the network. But Formula E can boast two US races and one home grown team, while it has been a long time since F1 has offered American fans a local team or driver to get behind.
By partnering with one of the United States' largest networks, Formula E is giving teams and potential sponsors a fantastic opportunity to present themselves to the public as supporters of the brave new automotive world. Whether or not electric vehicles become the future, early association with Formula E is an easy way for brands to define themselves as technological pioneers in the well-established US market and in the emerging markets of FOX's other territories.
Such brand-building will prove to be useful even if the racing itself doesn't appeal, as companies can link themselves with feel-good marketing terms like 'innovation', 'green', and 'future' and enjoy the uptick in profits that follows improved public perception.