Pirate Video Streams

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

In race previews I’ve mentioned one way to watch the sport is via “pirate video feeds”. A couple of readers have since been in touch to point out these sources are illegal. So here’s a small piece about the subject and why I link to them.

High Definition
To define this the video is sent as a stream over the internet to your computer or other device. Unlike a file that you download, the data are sent in a stream so you can watch things as they happen, for example a live broadcast. The technology is relatively simple. In a lengthy article on the subject Business Week explains how it happens:

This can be as simple as purchasing a $50 HDTV adapter, which plugs into a computer’s USB port and allows the PC to receive live TV. Deploying so-called screencast programs that make copies of everything on the PC screen, a user can then capture a channel carrying a sports event and stream it over a live video site.

Websites like justin.tv and Ustream allow streaming off all kinds. Now you can stream a child’s birthday party so grandparents can tune in but often these sites are carrying TV broadcasts.

Illegal broadcasters
The pirate part is because these streams are usually illegal and under attack from genuine sports broadcasters. It is more a threat for “pay per view” events but none the less sites like justin.tv are the subject of much legal wrangling. It boils down to taking reasonable steps, if justin.tv is notified of an illegal stream then it has a duty to stop it. But can Sporza or Eurosport employ staff to scour the internet for the illegal feeds? And if notified, how much time is reasonable for a website to act to remove the video? In a matter of hours the sports event is finished.

The Ethics
So should we watch these illegal streams? The simple answer is no, since they are illegal. But this hasn’t stopped me and for many wanting to watch a race it’s the only way. Of course “the only way” isn’t a justification, only an explanation.

But there’s more to it than that. If you can’t get the race in your home country on TV or via a legal internet stream such as the Eurosport Player then viewing a stream means you’re not necessarily depriving a legitimate broadcaster of audience or revenue. Another argument, again no justification is that everyone else is doing it. Even the biggest teams tweet links to the pirate feeds.

Never Mind The Ethics
Everyone’s going to have their own view, this blog isn’t here to tell you have to behave. Instead there’s a perfectly rational argument for supporting proper broadcasts instead of pirate feeds: a real TV broadcast or proper internet stream is so much better. The image is bigger and better, there’s no chance of a virus infecting your computer and the feed won’t vanish with 5km to go. All this is worth paying for.

Of course sometimes this isn’t possible sometimes and it’s a sign of how much you like the sport that you can watch a 400px x 400px box on screen with poor image quality and a foreign language audio.

UCI TV
There were once plans within cycling’s governing body, the UCI, to offer some centralised TV stream, something like UCI.tv but this hasn’t happened. This is ambitious if not impossible. The rights to each race rest with each organiser and co-ordinating a deal between all the different interests is like trying to herd cats. Even if you could get everyone together in a room each would have varying interests national deals and local media laws to address. It is still worth pursuing.

Summary
Illegal but unavoidable? If you can get a proper broadcast on TV then do it as the picture quality is much better, similarly subscription packages for Eurosport seem good value if it’s available in your area. But if not then watching a small window with overlaid adverts and foreign language commentary marks you out as a hardcore fan of the sport. I won’t be hosting the video on here but am happy to point you in the right direction.

  • A tip: Try using an HDMI cable to hook up your computer to your TV. I’ve been surprised by the boost to the image quality. It might just be my hardware so don’t rush out to buy new things. But if your computer and TV have HDMI sockets and you’ve got a cable nearby, give it a try.
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{ 59 comments }

Michael June 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Trying to watch cycling in Canada in very painful. It’s no where close to mainstream so the TV coverage is horrific and when there has been TV coverage it’s crap. Trying to legally stream online is also super painful as for example with the eurosport player I get the following error message “Sorry, Eurosport Player is currently not available for viewing in your geographical location”. Last year I wanted to pay NBC to way the Tour Of California and it was region blocked. So even though I want to pay I can’t keep even get the coverage I want. Give me Eurosport in canada and I would be happy to pay.

Marty J June 12, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Or watch NBC Sports and endure 20 minutes of commercials per hour . . . Plus profiles, product placement, and jabber. One ends up with 15 minutes of cycling. Illegal, perhaps. Unethical, no. I owe no duty to NBC Sports, I even pay them to endure their awful programming. I am happy to have it, or I would not pay. BUT, I often watch the stream so I can watch live. Like Michael said, give us better alternatives, and we would be happy to pay. Unfortunately, the rights are structured to offer monopolies – which I believe are illegal and unethical.

Cyclone June 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

I watch the pirate streams all the time. As stated by others, give me a better alternative and I would gladly pay to actually be able to read the jerseys of the riders during the race!

BT Chen June 14, 2012 at 9:20 am

I`m very think so ! Give me Eurosport in China and I would be happy to pay!could you tell me where can I get the address of Eurosport(Englinsh) of Sopcast or NBC? Thx

Reply

@Eijkb June 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm

When you click full screen on the pirate streams, the overlay ads disappear ;-) And you will get the stream immediatly, not having to wait till the ads close. Tip: Get your hands on some old LCD screen, not HD or with 1024 x 768 pixels (second hand for little money) and the quality is okay, when you watch the scream on this second monitor. You can surf, watch statistics and so on on your main screen.

JimW June 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I have been doing this since cross season. I get the twitter going in the other window if I don’t have work to do and it is a nice supplement. It’s like hanging out with a bunch of people at the race, sort of. :) Depending on the race coverage I’ll do the better video full screen and have the English commentators in a tab for volume. The Giro was awesome quality and that worked out really well. I left the Italian announcers on at a bit lower volume so whenever something happened they would alert me with the shouting. I never missed a good moment!

The feeds are good for the sport I think. As others have stated if the packaged product is falling short and there is an alternative a serious fan is going to find it. Better yet an interested fan can get involved without cost and become an invested fan who will follow and spend on the sport in one form or another. Possibly.

Sean Y June 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Now that every major cycling publication website shows a picture and headline of the winner (even on steephill.tv a few weeks ago during the Giro), it’s useless to try to stay away from coverage- so I try to watch live via internet feed when I can.

I’d love for some larger-scale PPV program (and it has to be comprehensive but not prohibitively expensive) showcasing track, road, MTB, and ‘cross. Maybe it’s tiered subscription (like Cycling.tv is/was) or maybe it’s truly PPV by event. Maybe you get 10 events for one price and it’s up to you to decide which 10 you want to watch. Separating them into separate packages is cumbersome.

retro June 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Unfortunately it is not always the case that a proper internet stream provides a better service. In the past, here in the US, I have signed up for the Versus or NBC Sports or whoever official streaming packing for the tour, only to find the paywalled web site so larded up with gewgaws and technical bugs that it was almost impossible to use. Very frustrating – so I resorted to pirate streams and other unauthorized sources, which were easier to use and provided a better quality of service, telling myself that I could do so with a clear conscience – after all, I had paid the licensed content provider! The pirate streams have the virtue of being very simple and in some ways can be more reliable. It’s sad that the official streams do not always achieve the same.

Ian June 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

More than anything, I’ll watch a feed rather than pay Eurosport a subscription to find that the tennis / ice-skating / moto-gp has over-run… again.

Kasper June 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I have several online subscriptions to TV broadcasters, including Eurosport who does a good job streaming live cycling. Unfortunately Eurosportplayer.tv and their iPhone app is country specific, so if they choose not to broadcast for example ToS to the danish audience, then bad luck, I can’t see the British feed.

In that case, I have no moral troubles with watching a pirated broadcast of the British eurosport, because I have already payed for it and to some degree feel, that I should be able to watch it.

ed c June 12, 2012 at 9:06 pm

well eurosport player can be bit flaky at the moment so despite paying them i sometimes watch a stream.

Martin W June 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm

The Giro’s free official stream deserves a mention. From the race organisers’ point of view fans are going to watch the Giro somehow, so at least the traffic goes to their site rather than to an illegal stream where it would otherwise go.

The alternative is to sell the online streaming rights many times in many different territories and then spend time and money on trying to police the internet (good luck with that!). It also means your efforts are all directed at *preventing* people seeing your product (if they haven’t paid) rather than *helping* them to do it. The other way round makes so much more sense and the Giro organisers are to be congratulated, I think, for understanding that their customers are ultimately not the local TV companies but the fans.

Also of course it means I can watch the Giro for free ;-)

Ablindeye June 12, 2012 at 10:41 pm

This. More official, high quality, free streams from race organisers please, it makes sense in so many ways. Hopefully more will follow the Giro (and if I remember correctly some of the classics or another stage race earlier this season?).

I found myself regularly watching the free Giro stream just for the superior picture, quality despite not speaking a word of Italian.

The Inner Ring June 12, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Yes. If a race doesn’t have any coverage in countries X, Y and Z then allowing a free stream is great. Everyone wins. It doesn’t clash with the host broadcaster who has paid for the rights, the race organiser gets extra viewers for not that much of a extra cost, the teams get a bigger audience to please their sponsors and fans can follow the racing with ease.

Larry T. June 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm

I’m with you. The Giro folks seemed to decide rather than trying to get big rights fees (like selling tix to an event) they’d rather get their “product” in front of as many cycling fans as possible, letting the sponsors/advertisers get plenty of eyeballs on their offerings. The TV thing is going the way of music, these network bigwigs either need to get in the game or face losing any revenue from movies, sporting events or whatever. I’ve paid money for pretty much all of the various schemes like Cycling TV, Universal (or whatever it’s called these days) and found ALL of them inferior to what you can find on the ‘net or get on broadcast TV in Italy. I won’t even go into the awful “Heckle and Jeckle” stuff shown on US broadcast TV….I can only watch those with the sound turned OFF.

Martin June 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I thought the Giro coverage was ok – but it was still a relatively low res, single bitrate stream. I actually think that AToC and Radioshack nailed it this year with their online coverage. Beautiful, reliable HD adaptive stream – it looked fantastic! Of course, i much prefer Eurosport commentary to the ramblings to the two prats who do the American coverage.

I’d love to know what the cost to buy online distribution rights to all World Tour events globally are – and how many subscribers to an online service would be required to recover the costs. I’d be so tempted to give it a shot if it was feasible.

Rob June 12, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Good points about not depriving the broadcaster of legitimate revenue.

But much more importantly, a stream can be watched while slacking at work :D

Rob June 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Same in the US – trying to keep up with cycling in Europe would be impossible without pirate feeds.
Unless it’s the TDF you’ll never see it on any of the stations. For the classics season, NBC is hit-or-miss on whether they’ll show any cycling at all.

wait – checking cycling on nbcsports.com – Apparently Sagan won stage 3 of the Suisse! Too bad stage 4 ended with another Sagan win over 3 hours ago.

Quentin June 12, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Coverage of most of the big races has got a lot better in the U.S. over the last few years, but right now Le Tour and the Tour of California (and the Colorado race with the long name) seem to be the only races that get covered live. Usually the delayed coverage is fine because I don’t have time to watch it live anyway, but there are times when I’d really like to see it live and I resort to the illegal feed. However, if a race organizer provides a legal video feed with foreign language commentary (thank you, Giro!), I’ll gladly watch that rather than an illegal feed. I understand racing enough that I don’t really need Phil and Paul to explain it to me all over gain anyway, so it’s actually more interesting to try and learn to understand what’s going on Italian.

Quentin June 12, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I should also add that if the Giro is going to provide web streaming, they should consider creating a channel for my Roku to get it straight to the TV. I suspect this will happen in the future when the internet streaming boxes for TV get more standardized.

Simon Fielder June 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I think that pirate streams are not exclusively a cycling orientated phenomena but reflect the internet in general i.e. more bandwidth equals more possibilities including the streaming tv channels.
My observation is that with many cycling events they are fairly inaccessible i.e. if you don’t have satellite tv (in the UK) you go to the pub to watch the football whereas for cycling this isn’t possible. For me I started enjoying Eurosport so much I signed up for the monthly subscription which is just £4 in the UK which I think is very reasonable/attractive. I agree with other comments that the platform isn’t overly robust and was surprised that you have to pay again to watch on a smartphone. That said I think Eurosport are doing the right thing but offering the player at a low enough price to attract people away from a pirate service and all the downsides (unreliability, adverts etc).

Mark June 12, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Cycling.tv did a good job in 2009 broadcasting any big event that wasn’t available in the North American market, (and race for Canadians that were available in the US but not in Canada) providing their own English commentary over a Flemmish broadcast. They offered the spring classics this year but have not been able to offer anything but recaps for other races. I paid $100 USD for the whole year in 2009, this year, with reduced offerings, its $80. The events were available Live and On Demand (usually available within a few hours). The UCI and its broadcasters are losing money by not offering these events to North Americans. Perhaps someone owns the rights to theses races for NA and aren’t using them, they should sell them off to a company such as cycling.tv.

Jack Thurston June 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I don’t have a TV but if the Eurostar internet player actually worked on my Mac, I’d happily pay for it. I did pay for it last last summer but it was so unreliable that I ended up using the pirate feeds or watching the most important races on the big screen in the small but growing number of London cafés that show cycle sport.

Jack Thurston June 12, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Eurosport, not Eurostar. Obviously.

matt June 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I remember David millar in his book mentioning when he was banned in 2006?? and just getting back into cycling if he couldn’t get round to rob hayles’ eurosport house he would use feeds….
… If its good enough for dave.

Kris June 12, 2012 at 10:28 pm

I too would pay to watch Eurosport live. Canadian TV doesn’t cover a number of races and without the pirate feeds we are left out in the cold.

I have heard about using VPN’s to get around the geographical challenges but haven’t pulled the trigger on signing up. If anyone else has gone down this path, please pass your experience along.

Thanks.

Martin W June 13, 2012 at 12:11 am

In the past I’ve used the FoxyProxy plugin for Firefox to watch US TV shows, and found it worked very well. It’s paid for not free but it is relatively simple to set up.

Martin W June 13, 2012 at 12:12 am

One more thought though – you may have to pay one subscription per region, which might not be all that great when you want to watch races from many different broadcast countries.

Playvelo June 12, 2012 at 10:34 pm

@Mark I did the same thing in ’09. I was disappointed in the end & now I just go with the pirate feeds.

Living in California a lot of races end in the morning when I’m eating breakfest. The alternative to the pirate feeds is to wait 12 hours for delayed coverage, by which time I usually know the entire outcome of the race. If the UCI, Eurosport, ASO or any other organization offered a subscription to all of the major races with HD coverage I would be one of the first in line. Seems to me there is revenue stream that isn’t being tapped.

Btw, this thread is more interesting if you hum along to the Clash’s Radio Clash.

Ken June 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Part of the problem for me is differentiating the legitimate feeds from the pirates. I’m not adverse to paying for a good, clean, legal presentation. But, how do you tell?

drfrot June 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm

“a real TV broadcast or proper internet stream is so much better. The image is bigger and better,”

Ha!

Have you been any where near the Eurosport iOS Player in the last few days? Completely unwatchable!

Dave R June 13, 2012 at 12:18 am

Bravo, and thank you to Inrng for provoking this discussion! I confess that I may have been willfully blind to the fact that the feeds found at Cyclingfans and Steephill are pirated…but when a Sunday morning rolls around and I want to see what’s happening live(!) over in Europe I will readily click and settle in to enjoy the action. Here in North America we are overwhelmed with pro football, basketball, baseball, golf etc. But, now, the internet gives fans the ability, worldwide, to decide what they’d like to follow. Maybe, by putting this out there for discussion, some movement can be made toward a viable solution for cycling fans. I’d be willing to pay a reasonable amount for dependable coverage…so I hope race organizers, UCI, broadcasters and other vested interests are paying attention-there is a fanbase out there that extends beyond the Eurozone.

Tricky Dicky June 13, 2012 at 1:23 am

This is an interesting topic. Very relevant to the UCI’s mission to “internationalise cycling”. SBS here in Australia are doing a good job of trying to get more coverage on TV. Eurosport is also available (but only one channel, so good luck if a couple of no-name tennis players are having a game somewhere in the world: I once actually had to phone up Eurosport Australia to persuade them to switch their feed from a re-run of the European Curling Championships to Live Paris Roubaix FFS… but they did, so kudos to them for that).

As said above, the Giro’s initiative is brilliant. I could even cope with a few more ads if they want. Other races should consider this – package up some of the big races, sell some advertising – not too much – and stream it globally wherever host broadcasters have not purchased TV rights AND committed to showing the race live. Why not even offer some of the team sponsors some of the ad space as a reward / payoff for entering their teams?

RayG June 13, 2012 at 10:49 am

And as long as I have to buy a lot of Pay TV rubbish before I can add Eurosport to the package in Australia, I’m not going to bother.

CyclingTV was good for the CX World Cups last northern winter, but they haven’t given me much of a return on my (admittedly minor) investment since.

Julius Kusuma June 13, 2012 at 2:07 am

For quite a long time a few years ago I subscribed to Cycling.TV, but thanks to their terrible web interface I still used other sources. Is this the curse of being a cycling fan in the wrong country??

cd June 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Same here. Could never get Cycling.tv to work. This was 3-4 years ago. Maybe it was a Mac problem, no idea. Gave up and went to the pirate feeds. Would pay for good feeds like Eurosport.

In the US, on a lot of cable systems, we lost universal sports channel, which airs Giro and Vuelta. Very frustrating.

Tom June 13, 2012 at 2:11 am

Isn’t it ironic that cycling fans who excoriate riders who resort to using illegal and unethical means (i.e. drugs) to stay employed ,at the same time go to extremes to justify their own illegal and unethical means to violate someone else’s copyrighted material (i.e. the video stream) simply for their enjoyment. If live video is not available where you live, or if you don’t want to pay for it, you still have the option to get up to the minute coverage by accessing live text updates. When well done live text updates can sometimes be as exciting as video and they are both legal and ethical. (Did Matt really justify his use of pirate video based on a rider banned for admitted doping violations admitting that while serving his ban he accessed illegal pirate video because sometimes it was just to inconvenient to use legal sources?)

Big Mikey June 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Except, of course, that text updates do not come with vidoe.
But, thanks for the ethics lesson.

ChrisO June 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I don’t care if they use drugs… does that mean I can watch the pirate video feeds ?

I have no live video available through a broadcaster and no legal internet feed available. I actually end up paying quite a lot for a VPN and a subscription to Eurosport.

But of course that’s also technically illegal.

So you think I should make do with text feeds (and I’ve never found a good cycling text feed anyway) because no broadcaster can be bothered to pay for the rights or screen the Tour in my region… but that’s apparently my problem.

Most people will pay or legally access content where they can – look at iTunes. The problem is with the providers not the viewers. If nothing else these feeds help to create interest and demand to the point where a broadcaster is willing to step in and make the investment in the rights.
I say this as someone with 20+ years of broadcast experience, quite a bit of it involved in commercial rights and licensing.

ToTheBillyoh June 13, 2012 at 3:29 am

Interesting discussion. As Tricky Dicky says, SBS in Australia are doing a great job – with both broadcast and simultaneous and stand-alone streaming. But they cannot cover all the races. As the experience with iTunes proves, if content providers offer an affordable price for their product people will gravitate to that away from the illegal. Attracting a numerically significant audience means they should make money.

Adrian Holman June 13, 2012 at 6:07 am

I live in Dubai and rely on pirate streams for almost all the races I want to watch. I would happily pay a subscription to Eurosport or other provider but am told “not available in your region” – I still dont understand why.

Jonathan Vaughter's Sideburns June 13, 2012 at 6:12 am

I already pay a ton for cable to watch the races, then Comcast dropped Universal Sports (although it owns it). When I went on the website, it said I have to pay $20 to stream the Giro. But I already pay comcast too much money for cable, just to spend another $20 on a website that Comcast owns.

Give me pirate feeds. Just wish they all came with Todd Golgulski

Mark June 14, 2012 at 1:16 am

You like Todd Golgulski? When the Giro was on I tried to find a stream that was close in timing to my tv in order to get commentary that wasn’t Todd Golgulski.

Papageno June 13, 2012 at 9:25 am

As I go through the commens above I must conclude that we are willing to pay if we can get quality (without too much commercials and no flaky images) but the UCI/organisers don’t offer them (except Giro organisers). They can hunt the “illegal” streams but they better provide us a good stream. After all we all want to see the race…

Sam June 13, 2012 at 9:57 am

I liken this to the debate in the music industry. They complain that pirating material reduces income to the artists, depriving them of sales they might have otherwise had. I tend to disagree.

I (and many others) use pirated material as it is free. If there were no free sources, then whilst I might be willing to pay for some events, others would not be watched as I only have limited resources to spend. So for some, either I watch them for free, or not at all.

I think that instead of cursing pirate material, and trying to get them blocked, the owners of the song/footage should try to be more innovative, trying to make legal sources more accesable and cheaper, see it as a way to make extra sales rather than losing them.

ave June 13, 2012 at 11:46 am

Legally speaking they might be illegal , but tell me what difference it makes if I switch on my TV at home and watch the Eurosport (SD) program, or open an “illegal” internet feed of the same program in my office? Eurosport gets my money through my cable provider, and through the ads I watch.

Tomi June 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Note: in many countries, this is the distribution that is illegal, not the viewing. Only people who set up the streams are doing something wrong.

Check your local laws before saying that this or this is illegal.

The Inner Ring June 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Good distinction, thanks.

jj June 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I paid the $19.95 for Universal Sports Giro. It was great except for the annoying commercial everytime you connected—and if you were inadvertently tossed off (bandwidth issues or whatever?) you had to sit through it again as the peloton was hitting the 2k mark. But really I loved it, you could rewind it in the moment to watch something you just missed. I split screened so I ran the race full screen through my HDMI cable to the tv, while keeping the cyclingnews text feed, rider start list etc on the macbook air. My question is, what are the options in US for the Tour? Is cycling.tv carrying it? I would gladly pay for a quarterly subscription as it is much less than cable, but I can’t tell if they’re running the Tour live. MSNBC doesn’t seem to be offering an online subscription as of yet.

Raouligan June 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I pay for Eurosport it’s great, I tend to use feeds particularly for Cyclocross, and would willingly pay for them, I don’t have an issue with paying for anything that I’m using, it really is a ludicrous world though that sets media as being regional specific, particularly when almost anything is available across region illicitly without restriction.

As ever it’s the lawyers and rights holders that are stopping this rather than the technology…

AK June 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm

It sounds from the comments as if there is a business opportunity here. I’m not planning to give it a shot, but it would be interesting to know some numbers. Is anybody here close enough to the fire to have an idea of what internet broadcasting rights for a country like Canada would cost?
BTW, somebody asked about IP tricking. I used StrongVPN’s service for a while to keep using my paid NetFlix account after moving out of the US. Very easy, good service, not very expensive. No idea about legal issues though. I think that where I live now it is distribution, not watching, that is illegal, but how this counts I would not know.

ian June 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I am Canadian. I would pay for a quality video feed. Coverage is far better that even 5 years ago. I use the pirate feeds, and do so unrepentantly. I consider it my way of showing that there is a demand for more coverage.

Dave E June 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm

What this comes down to is the difference between Broadcasting and Narrowcasting.

On a sport broadcasting platform like Sky Sports in the UK their main focus seems to be on football (remember if you have Eurosport on your UK Sky platform, it is not actually part of the sports package, but part of the News package!).
Other sports are secondary, as I found out, when I subscribed to Sky Sports to watch rugby. Over the year (minimum subscription time) I found I was getting very little if any rugby and a lot of football, so I dropped Sky Sports and used my subscription money to buy a season ticket for my favourite rugby team!

What you say, has that got to do with cycling?
Well it could be suggested that as far as the big platform broadcasters are concerned showing a sport like cycling is secondary to showing pastimes like darts, tiddlywinks etc. so for now they have not gone after cycling rights (however with Sky in cycling I wonder how long this will last).
This means that broadcasters like Eurosport or Rai etc, who know how popular cycling actually is, can show cycling (free to air) to its so called “niche audience” or narrowcasting and make a profit while doing so (after all they would not be showing cycling if there was not an advertising market for it).

Of course Eurosport, Rai and so on are mostly available in Europe and the comments here show that there is a market for cycling around the world that rights holders can fulfil on-line.
This is where narrowcasting really comes into its own. If rights holders did what the Giro did this year and streamed the event live along with commentary and if they were to allow delayed playback, for those who can’t watch live stream, then the narrowcasting will fulfil the demand, and if marketed properly it will make the rights holders money by creating more of a demand.
Of course to make people watch the original stream over the pirate one, the original streaming would have to offer something more than the pirate streamers, and that’s something the marketeers would have to come up with.

Remember too that cycling is in-danger of becoming a Pay Per View secondary sport on the multi platform broadcasters.
With the world in a recession, discretionary spending on subscriptions to sports channels are under pressure, so it would be in the interest of the PPV broadcasters to cheaply obtain cycling rights in the hope of getting more subscribers.
Of course this might seem well and good at the start but when the fans, and more importantly cycling sponsors realise that the three weeks of the Tour, Vuelta and Giro are regulated to a 30 minute highlight package shown between a three hour broadcast of some football teams playing in a local league in the south of Timbuktu and live coverage of the North-West of Scotland Tiddlywinks regional play-offs, the damage to our sport will have been done, and no matter how many pirate streams show the 30 minutes of highlights it wont bring back any lost sponsors.

So for the sake of cycling narrowcasting (streaming on-line, by the rights holder) is a win win model for all involved.

Final word, with more and more of us spending our time by a computer, and with HD streaming and HD computer monitors, why think that TV is the future? Streaming on-line will become big business.
Get in early, get your core market and make money!

chru June 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Just wait till it gets Sky-jacked!

Jon June 13, 2012 at 6:51 pm

For those of us who live outside of Europe and crave cycling which isnt shown on Canadian TV, I have found a cure. You need a service that spoofs a UK IP address (there are several free versions out there on t’internet), dowbnload and activate. Some of the free versions have ‘pop ups’ and whilst this can be pain, its not that much of one. Then you can watch Eurosport, ITV4 or BBc to your hearts delight – as Ned Boulting famoulsy said “Big Box Ticked”

Interested June 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm

UCI and race organizer who owns tv rights for said race should charge a fee to watch online (say $6/race) or offer a subscription to that organizer’s races that year (RCS = $20; ASO = $30) – enter into a reveneu sharing agreement with the teams as way to give them back a modest income stream and perhaps add some budget stability…

Il Ciclone Rosso June 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm

To add my 2 cents:
1. Used to keep my viewing confined strictly to Versus, back when they were offered as part of the channel package I selected from our satellite provider. At the time they showed MSR, de Ronde, P-R, L-B-L, Amstel, Fleche, the Giro, the Tour & Lombardia. That was good enough for me. I could watch the “big” races, coverage was decent and I could put up with P&P.
2. Satellite channel offerings have since changed and the only way I can now get Univ Sports/NBC Sports/whatever is to buy a separate sports package and then record the races and watch them later. Finances have kept me from doing this. Yes, I know it’s a relatively small amount but I have to trim somewhere, and this sin’t the only area that got cut.
3. This spring I watched the FREE streaming of the classics on Sporza’s website. You go to the site, select the button/tab that is for the live stream and you’re set. Commentary is in Dutch but I think it adds some additional culture to the whole thing. They also have a side bar that shows the break and it’s members, the chase group and its members and their times relative to the peloton. Overall, a very nice and LEGAL way to watch the classics. If memory serves they showed most of the familar races (HLN, KBK, de Ronde & P-R).
4. I used La Gazzeta’s stream for watch Strade Bianche, MSR and the Giro. Again commentary in Italian, but it’s really not a problem following the race. Hopefully they’ll have a stream of Lombardia this fall.
5. Also, this may not be for everyone, but some of the Netherlands TV channels streamed FREE coverage of a few Women’s races in the early season (Drentse 8, Ronde van Drenthe, Novilon Eurigio & some other mid-March to early-April stuff). Can’t remember the exact channels/broadcasters (RTV maybe).
Not sure what I’ll do for le Tour & other major races. There is a legal/ethical issue, especially since if I had the money I could pay to view at least some of these races. Just because I can’t pony up the cash doesn’t necessarily entitle me to use pirate feeds, after all it’s not my right it’s a priviledge. Don’t know, however, if my conscience will hold out the rest of the year.
Guess that’s what we have to deal with, being followers of (at least in the USA) a fringe sport.

Noah, age 9 June 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm

My two cents:
1. Use free Eurosport, Gazzeta or something on Sports-lives.
2. Pirate streams have annoying pop-up ads at 200 metres to go in a sprint finish

Benjamin Hall June 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I often watch\listen to races at work and always use pirate streams because they are reliable (ish). The Eurosport player is a horrendous service that barely works! I pay for Eurosport TV but gave up on the online player ages ago.

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