SBD/February 18, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Formula E CEO Agag Says Digital Interactions, TV Ratings Key To Series' Success

Agag says FE is focusing on two main markets: the U.S. and China
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag sat for a Q&A with Tony DiZinno of NBCSPORTS.com, who noted Agag is a "veteran European Parliament politician who has expanded into motorsports in both Formula One and GP2." The FE season begins in September, "but testing will occur all year in preparation." Below are excerpts from the Q&A:

Q: Do you see FE as a trend-setter to shape the direction of global motorsport, or would your preference be to be unique as the only all-electric form of motorsport?
Agag: I think we will be on our own for a bit. ... To go full electric, we won't see that for quite a number of years. Also take into account we have an exclusive license from the FIA to be the only all electric global motorsport competition for formula cars.

Q: What’s going to be the initial measure of success from year one? Fan interest? Media interest? TV ratings? All of the above?
Agag: We think the measure of success of the championship will lay more in the digital space, in the number of people interacting with the championship, the number of young people interacting with the championship; that plus the traditional way of measuring like TV ratings.

Q: You have F1, GP2 series experience personally. What have you learned in those championships that you feel you can take to transition into FE, either from a commercial standpoint, a marketing standpoint or a competition standpoint?
Agag: The number one priority is that the teams make money, and costs need to be kept low. ... The second one is very important: to offer to sponsors a halfway point between motorsport and sustainability.

Q: How important was it to ensure you had "name" teams in the championship to provide the series a legitimate foundation of operations?
Agag: It was very important because what we need to deliver is a true grid. This cannot be taken for a show or parade of electric cars. ... Having Andretti, Dragon, DAMS and others brings that legitimacy to make motorsport fans say, "Let's give this championship a chance because these true racing names are involved." Andretti was a major turning point for the championship when they signed up back in July. We really felt when people like that started calling us from the motorsport world, it gave great credibility for the championship.

Q: Clearly with two races on either coast, the U.S. is an important market for FE. Given there are so many other forms of motorsport here, how do you plan to have the U.S. attention be captured?
Agag: Our two main markets we always say are the U.S. and China. ... We have a special chance; but we need to be different. ... We have two teams, two races in the U.S.; we also have Leonardo DiCaprio, an American name and working with a Monaco-based team. ... Also having TV with Fox Sports is very important (NBCSPORTS.com, 2/17).
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