Watching The Races

Thursday, 2 May 2013

We got confirmation today that the free video stream for the Giro will not be available for this year’s edition. It leaves fans looking for new channels and ways to watch the race.

It’s also symptomatic of a structural problem in the sport where different races are on different channels. Even the most loyal fan is left struggling with broadcast schedules, TV subscriptions and more. All this is hampering efforts to build the sport.

Imagine you’re a Formula 1 fan, you can find a channel and perhaps pay for a premium subscription but you’re guaranteed every race will be on your TV. By contrast cycling’s mode is atomistic and equivalent to watching the Grand Prix de Monaco on one channel whilst the Malaysian GP is on another.

Now if it’s a channel hop away, no problem. But often it requires real effort and cost instead. Rather than skipping channels, you are left having to install a satellite dish to get one channel and then acquiring a special internet TV offer for another and maybe getting cable TV installed for another. Worse, fix that satellite dish onto the roof this year and maybe the broadcast deal is changed for next year.

Right now many US viewers can watch the Giro with a subscription to BeIn Sport but this is a cable channel. If you live somewhere where there’s no cable then maybe there’s no Giro.

Why?
Each race negotiates its own TV package. More strictly each race organiser, so for example Tour de France company ASO sells its rights in one package meaning the Tour and Roubaix are on the same channel whilst RCS sells the rights to its races and the Giro and Milan-Sanremo are on another. But after these two companies the market gets very fragmented with lone races often selling their TV rights by themselves.

Pirates of the Videostream
However there are are solutions for viewers. The most common one is the pirate video stream. The technology is simple. Business Week explains how it happens:

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 cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv offer plenty of race information and amongst the content they list the websites where these video streams can be watched. Sometimes there are legitimate video links but often they’re the pirate variety with more pop-ups and viruses than a children’s library.

Premium Pirate
Just as some swarthy type sailed the seas in leaking hulks encrusted with barnacles, others had sleek ships. It’s the same for those navigating the web. With a virtual private network (VPN) you can have an account that lets you connect to the web via a server in the country of your choice. Often this service comes via subscription for example Witopia (no endorsement, I’m not a customer, just mentioning an example of the technology).

Select, say, Italy, and the VPN tunnels your web connection to a server in Italy so that when you visit a sports or TV website you are not blocked by the geo-restriction service. Better still, you can get the quality video stream intended for the domestic audience. Gone are the Georges Braque pixels along with the pop-ups and malware too. It’s as if you’re in the foreign country although obviously with the foreign language too.

However I’m told some broadcasters are wise to this and have been blocking internet connections within their home country if they suspect they’re being used for the wrong reasons so you could easily pay for this only to get nothing.

Were expectations different in the past?

Illegal, Immoral?
It depends on jurisdiction but often watching a pirate video stream is legal whilst the  the act of streaming the content onto the web is illegal. But it’s still questionable to watch as you’re not paying for content and by extension not supporting the sport.

But there’s more to it than that. If you can’t get the race on TV or via a legal internet stream such as the useful Eurosport Player then viewing a stream means you’re not necessarily depriving a legitimate broadcaster of audience or revenue. Even the biggest teams tweet links to the pirate feeds. Perhaps none of this makes it right but it seems to be widespread nonetheless to the point where there are so many races available to watch via a range of sources that the problem these days is only one of quality, of bandwidth: now that we have these races, we want them in HD.

A Master Plan
It’s a topic for another day but imagine if all the main races could club together and sell their races as one package? Suddenly the potential audience could be huge. Better still, rather than races competing against each other in the distribution market, suddenly a monopoly is created. This could mean fans are forced to open their wallets but the certainty and stability of the offer could be a price worth paying. Especially because you can probably find the Tour de France easily but imagine a single channel that promises to bring you every World Tour race and many others too.

But the problem here is that the largest audience for the Tour is in France, most people watching the Giro are in Italy. So the main negotiations are with the domestic broadcaster. Sure it’s good to have the free stream for the Giro but at best this got 116,000 viewers last year, and the daily average was 49,300 a day. When we see numbers like this we see that the market for a video stream is not as big as you might think.

Conclusion
Cycling’s jumbled calendar means different race owners are left to negotiate their own TV deals. This means fans trying to follow the sport are left with the often cluttered choice of hertzian TV, satellite, cable and internet subscriptions. Even if you do have cable running into your home or a satellite receiver then you’ll often find different packages from rival networks each hosting the races. Faced with the conflicting options it’s easy to see why pirate streams have become widespread.

Perhaps the sport needs to think of a way to stream races? But it’s also a question of expectations. We’re getting used to having many races to watch but we’re not used to them being in high quality on TV and it’s the gap that frustrates.

Longer term we could ask if the TV will survive? But for now cycling fans are left with a variety of TV channels and internet subscriptions or alternative pirate options and VPNs. Faced with this many will just go for a ride, it’s not worth the hassle. But if the core audience is finding it too hard to follow, don’t expect the world to watch.

Pin It

{ 77 comments }

Stephen May 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm

I can always tell that the tv rights deals are made from the ‘sales’ side of the equation and not from the ‘marketing’ side.

As a marketing person myself, I would want my ‘race’ to be visible to everyone. I would sell tv rights at a lower cost to broadcasters with the caveat that I would also be broadcasting a web stream. The broadcaster would pay a lower fee, allowing them to recoup more from their own ad revenue based on the understanding that they are having to do more work on their end to attract viewership. Then, as the race organizer, I would sell advertising on my live stream at a worldwide audience markup.

Now I know someone from the business and sales side is going to tell me this will never work. And I will challenge you: if there is such an abundance of pirated streams being widely viewed, is YOUR system really doing it better?

The Inner Ring May 3, 2013 at 12:08 am

Good stuff. But I quoted the Giro audience. Say 50,000 more watch via pirate streams of other means and we’re still talking only 100,000 a day. It’s not the big communal audience TV is famous for.

Michael May 3, 2013 at 2:19 am

I live in Europe and here we don’t have that big af problem to watch races. The channel Eurosport shows most of the big races and they offer what they call the Eurosport Player.

Tbis is a streaming service on the internet at a cost of only 8 $ for a month. If Eurosport is not offered in the US just go to unblocks.com and create an account for any european country. Set up your PC, Ipad og mac with the new settings and you are in Europe. Just 5$ a month.

By the way Eurosport player can be cancelled at any time you wish. And they have many reruns of they races.

So watch the Giro, Tour and Vuelta Live in HD for only 39 dollars, and you can then ad more races in between the big ones.

And this is no even illegal. Just reverses is how I watch US television

yhw May 3, 2013 at 6:51 am

yes, but the VPN service is not quite so simple– you say you can watch in HD but in my experience, using VPN from the US to tunnel to a UK server and connecting to a legit eurosport player account results in significant bandwidth reduction. Definitely can’t support HD, and depending on the time of day, traffic, etc the quality can be pretty marginal and sporadic (and of course guaranteed to be the worst quality just as the action is peaking…)

michael May 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Works fine for me, but it maybe because I run a 50/50 MBit/s fiber connection

Espresso May 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm

The point on expectations is important. 5 years ago I’d watch the Tour de France and the classics, maybe catching the highlights of the Tour in the evening.

Now I am at work I can watch everything at my desk, I’ve been watching Giro Trentino and plan to watch a lot of the Giro. None of this was possible until recently.

The Inner Ring May 3, 2013 at 12:11 am

True, I suppose that’s a function of the Internet being everywhere, both as a broadcast medium and at your work. It’s certainly changing and the potential for larger audiences is there but reaching it is the big ask.

Geoff Bumble May 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm

There are parallels with football in the UK where Sky, Setanta, itv, bbc, Eurosport and others all show different matches from different competitions. Doesn’t seem to stop football’s popularity?

The Inner Ring May 3, 2013 at 12:13 am

Football can be more tribal. Do you need several accounts / channels to follow your team?

Anonymous May 3, 2013 at 5:41 am

Yes. Until ESPN/Setanta/BT entered the market, then so long as you signed over your children to Sky (or maybe fork out for a club channel – never looked at one myself), you’d get the bulk of the live coverage, as most people get the “free-to-air” channels through the TV licence fee. One gripe many people have with Sky is that you rugby, darts, or cricket fans have to pay through the nose for subscriptions, as they are all effectively bunded with football.

Philip May 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm

“more pop-ups and viruses than a children’s library”

Belter.

AKa May 3, 2013 at 12:05 am

INRNG: the Merckx of metaphors.

The Inner Ring May 3, 2013 at 12:17 am

Cannibalising the language

Igam Ogam May 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Brilliant (on both occasions).

Stani Kleber May 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm

+1!!!

George Poolman May 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Completely agree.

And on top of the quality of pictures, the quality of production is lacking. Domestic production of the French and Italian Grand Tours is very high, or is talked of as such. But for cycling to be the major commercial sport it has the potential to be, where is the English package, business’ lingua franca?

From a UK perspective, which should be a rapidly growing market for all WT racing, the coverage is largely poor. The Tour is covered reasonably well but largely on a digital-only back channel (ITV4), the rest of the calendar is absent from non-subscription channels. There’s Eurosport but it’s an anachronism, Sean Kelly +1 talking over a stream they have no control of, and often can’t see as well as viewers, from wherever BR Eurosport is on the outskirts of London!? So for the Tour and Giro we might be lucky enough to get finish line based commentary, but it changes little, aside from anecdotes of meeting old friends in the neutral zone. Sports production is way ahead, where are the interviews, in-depth features, studio, faces to put to names? If another sport is packaged better and (therefore) more widely known, football, rugby, cricket, any familiar Anglo sport, why strain to watch cycling? It’s an automatic choice for the regular and casual sports fan, only the avid are left.

It seems to benefit, perversely, the printed English media, which is excellent and broad in its coverage. Could Acquarone or Prudhomme ignore the special interests of Australian, UK, American broadcasters and invest in a full English production workup which is then sold complete. It won’t happen but the domestic monopolies of the rights leave no competition inside countries, hence the somewhat lacking coverage, having watched these three varieties. Perhaps they could sell online, TV is moving there. It is classic cycling mess: the motos are there, the helis, the plane feeding all the streams back through hell and, often, high water. But yet the disjoint is the technologically very feasible last step of a)passing this all onto domestic producers, and more importantly, b) dressing it up with some actual journalism and insight over the top. These people exist, they’re all talking on twitter, why are they not visually recognisable?

In inrng italic style: why is this blog specifically written in english? . . .

George Poolman May 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm

that came out long.

ed: printed English media would obviously be aided by better English language TV, rather than in place of, as it seems to be somewhat at the moment, as I see it

Anonymous May 2, 2013 at 11:32 pm

All TV in the UK is now digital, so coverage being on ITV4 isn’t an issue…

Mike Fay May 2, 2013 at 11:36 pm

All TV in the UK is digital now, ITV4 is no harder to receive than ITV1 or BBC1, it’s just the relative promotion levels and it being past the first few channels on the digital numbering that make it a ‘back channel’

Anonymous May 3, 2013 at 1:39 am

for sure, but it still stands kiina

graeme May 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I agree I find it odd watching eurosport that when a stage ends the programme does. No analysis no interviews, just “see you tomorrow” I much prefer ITV’s coverage of the tour, with chris and matt.

I think if sky continues broadcasting bigger races it will change, hopefully for the better. Imagine having a camera on a sprinters bike as he comes through the pack to the line, that’d be more exciting than f1 any day.

The Inner Ring May 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Presumably cycling is a low cost operation and the audience ratings don’t justify more cycling air time. If they could add 30 minutes of analysis with three ad breaks then they probably would.

George Poolman May 4, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Yes. Or they economise as it supports the rest of Eurosport’s less popular coverage, to fill the schedule. A cash cow or whatever

George Poolman May 4, 2013 at 6:56 pm

could not agree more, it’s exciting because it will inevitably come but intriguing to see progress’ march through cycling’s poky quasi-politics and traditions over the next years, decades?

George Poolman May 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm

*intransigence

KumonDad May 2, 2013 at 11:45 pm

The whole nature of content delivery is ready to be shaken up and it’s going to be Sky that does it. Young Murdoch had a great vision – a vision of MAMILs with a new passion for cycling and cash to spare. He found cheap content to hook the punters in during the football off season and a satellite broadcasting model under threat from digital app delivery.

The answer? Snap up cycling, add some pizazz to its broadcasting as they did with football and F1 and everyone’s an HD winner. Loyal satellite subscribers, quality coverage and great publicity via Team Sky. In 2 years time cycling coverage will be great if you’re prepared to pay for it.

Budge May 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm

So long as those of us that are tight arses and wear tatty Ron Hills can still watch Eurosport for (almost) free. I don’t want to have to pay for football to watch cycling

Shawn May 3, 2013 at 12:07 am

Currently, ASO packages the rights for many of their races together with the Tour. However, here in the States, the network that has paid for this package refuses to broadcast some races at all and other races get a 1 hour summary show weeks later and at 2AM. Packaging the whole calendar together may not ensure that fans get to see much more racing. As opposed to taking whatever money they can for a package, it’s in the interest of the promoters (or larger negotiating entity) to require live broadcasts or, at minimum, live streaming. Otherwise, they fail to grow the value of their product. They need to leverage the popularity of the Tour to make other races properly available.

The Inner Ring May 3, 2013 at 12:16 am

It’s not just in the USA. French viewers were treated to the last 10 minutes of Liège-Bastogne-Liège because tennis was deemed more important. And buying the rights but leaving the video on the shelf happens in other countries too like Britain.

Gingerflash May 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm

These problems will happen regardless.

The fact is that in most of Europe access to the bigger races is easy. In the UK, Eurosport, ITV4 and occaionally Sky Sports cover everything most fans would like to see. Only some early season semiclassics are missing.

Having one company or joint venture selling the rights to all cycling would not prevent the buying channel deciding that another of its events, for which it has also paid a lot and has viewers to satisfy, is more important.

Mark May 3, 2013 at 12:18 am

Having the competition for races drives up the price, but only if its demand. In North America there is mostly garbage on TV during the time the races run, but there is a very small fan base. The cost and effort of negotiation for broadcast rights is not worth while and then we only see a few races. I think the WorldTour should force organizers to make a broadcast package for the under served areas of the world, and more people will stumble upon races and the fan base will grow. That’s how I became an Aussie Rules fan, I came home from the bar and it was the only thing on. The market isn’t going to just appear based on the Tour playing once a year.

AK May 3, 2013 at 12:20 am

As a Dutchman I’m in a luxury position with NOS and Sporza in high quality in the most basic TV package. But I lived in the US for a while so I feel your pain.
I understand why broadcasters would not like the free streaming. And they are RCS’s customers. But the least they could do is offer it to IP adresses from countries where they sold nothing.

HodH May 3, 2013 at 12:29 am

As another option there’s always cyclingtorrents.nl, if you don’t mind not watching it live.

Anonymous May 3, 2013 at 1:40 am

are there english language versions on there?

Sherlog May 3, 2013 at 1:58 am

Only dutch, as the name implies ;-)

Dieter May 3, 2013 at 9:32 am

Actually there are almost always English language versions available on cyclingtorrents.nl. Often you can find both the Eurosport version and the version with Phil and Paul.

Mr Bad Example May 3, 2013 at 5:51 am

Just say your own Ligget-isms every 15-20 minutes and you won’t miss a thing – “the peloton is angry”; “suitcase of courage”; “lit the blue touch-paper” etc etc.

The Inner Ring May 3, 2013 at 8:37 am

I don’t have an account with them but know it’s a great archive, imagine Youtube but packed with full race coverage.

Dieter May 3, 2013 at 9:33 am

And better quality!

Vanilla_Thrilla May 5, 2013 at 10:20 am

Tried it once. Fine if you’ve got all day to wait around for an entire race to download. Not much use if you want to wake up and watch the last 30-60 mins of a mountain stage before work and before you get bombarded with the results

NZ may be the worst country on earth to watch World Tour cycling. Most races finish at 3am, so live streams aren’t useful, and no TV coverage of anything other than Tour or Paris-Roubaix, so can’t digitally record anything. Just get 3min finish highlights on steephill or youtube.

NickV May 3, 2013 at 1:43 am

Reading this post makes me so grateful for the tireless work of SBS here in Australia.
They’ve shown the TdF live (every stage) since 2007, and these days we get 8 live stages of the Giro and about the same of the Vuelta.
Because of the bundling ASO do with le Tour rights we also get some Paris-Nice and Dauphine stages and the ASO classics.
Since 2008 the classics catalogue has grown from just Paris-Roubaix to now include all of the spring monuments (+ Amstel Gold).
SBS fortuitously started broadcasting the Worlds the year Cadel won too!

Other than having to watch the races between about 11pm and 2am due to our ‘down under’ geography, I think Australia has the best English language coverage by far…

Mr Bad Example May 3, 2013 at 5:53 am

OLN/Versus/NBC Sports has GREAT Tour coverage here in the US, and when they do the classics it’s usually decent as well. But they only cover a handful of races outside the Tour, and other channels do a pretty shaky job.

If we could get a dedicated channel that did all races as well as the Tour – heck, just buy feeds from British/Aussie channels – I’m curious to see what sort of ratings they would draw.

regsf May 3, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I have to disagree with the quality of the OLN-Versus-NBC programming in the US. During the TDF you may see less than 30 minutes per hour of “tires on the road” coverage. The rest of that hour is a constant barrage of ads and rider profiles. Furthermore Phil and Paul’s narrative is what I would describe as serving the lowest common denominator of racing knowledge and often strategically flat-out wrong. Not to mention Phil’s constant gaffs regarding rider ID and play by play action.

The Inner Ring May 3, 2013 at 8:38 am

Australia’s interesting as almost every race is on SBS but this year the Tour Down Under was on another channel. As the sport gets more popular it is getting split across channels. But both channels seem easy to access, just press the remote.

NickV May 3, 2013 at 9:11 am

The Tour Down Under has been on Channel 9 for the last 2 years (the Worlds when they were held in Melbourne/Geelong were also on 9).
The TDU race organisers sold the rights to them after the ‘Cadel wins Tour’ hype started and although most punters miss SBS’s knowledgeable broadcast team, the organisers have an obligation to reach a broader audience (for their sponsors) and it seems the move was justified – http://www.cyclingtips.com.au/2012/01/channel-9-tdu-broadcast-ratings-analysis/

Both channels are free to air in Australia.

Nick Squillari May 3, 2013 at 11:23 am

Full telecast of the Giro won’t start until stage 8.

That’s not a slight on SBS, they have been fantastic in increasing our cycling viewing each year. It’s the spoilt Italian brat in me that would love to see every stage of the Giro live (if only I could afford Eurosports).

Jamin May 3, 2013 at 1:52 am

My interest in cycling has sprung up over the last 7-8 years. Before that I was a major surfing fan.
They stream all heats of every event (which can take up to 2 weeks to complete) live free on the ASP World Tour site and concurrently broadcast on payTV in Australia.
I see so many similarities between the sports (specific passionate & well-heeled audience, long periods of not much action, awkward broadcast locations, audience time-zone issues, few dominant sponsors, podium girls, ‘younger’ spin-off alternatives, delight for nostalgia, historical substance abuse).
It’s not rocket science but if a bunch of evolved-hippies can work it out, what’s with the UCI?

Sam May 3, 2013 at 5:22 am

I was just discussing this with a friend. If skateboarding and surfing can handle it given their cultural haritage and awkward presentation of sport (watching guys jump down stairs for two hours is difficult to spice) why can’t cycling?

m_m May 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I’d say it is a bit more complicated to correctly follow a 180km stage in the Alps with breakaways and possible rain, than setting up four cameras on tripods along the beach and having two ex-surfers sitting in a booth yaking away …

TourDeUtah May 3, 2013 at 3:07 am

The reason why race promotors are not providing free or inexpensive coverage is the short sighted pursuit of tv $$. The euro tv market has no doubt reached its peak, but if you want to grow your market in the rest of the world, restricting access is not the answer.

Don’t know if I’ll be able to view the Giro here in US. Universal Sports has the rights, but my cable provider will not allow US to be sold via the internet. Boo, Hiss, on Comcast and the congresses willingness to allow the cable/net providers to carve america up into spheres of influence. No competition, reduced programming, higher fees. That’s all that comes from that formula.

Bottom line, it’s all greed.

Stephen May 3, 2013 at 5:59 am

and thusly why i have no qualms or no moral/ethical dilemma with seeking an alternative means to watch a race that I want to watch.

The Inner Ring May 3, 2013 at 8:39 am

Giro is on BeInSport TV, not US

TourDeUtah May 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I stand corrected.

I still ahve a bad taste in my mouth from last years coverage on US. They actually had the audacity to post in another cycling forum to promote their Giro coverage. Problem was, most cable providers only provided US Sports in a premium package (i.e. mucho dinero.) At least I was able to pay for an Internet feed. Then my cable provider (Comcast) stopped priding the US feed.

My efforts to follow the Tour of Romandie were in vein. Everytime I tried to connect to their event, I was directed to a schedule page and was not able to click onto the listed event. Sadly, I will have to rely on the 4 minute highlight videos. :’(

Kristen May 3, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I actually miss the opportunity to pay for streaming coverage of the Giro on Universal Sports. I was under the impression that Universal Sports itself had to stop providing the option to pay for streaming as part of the process of getting themselves including in Dish and/or DirecTV packages. So, as much as I’d love to complain about my cable provider, the lack of pay-for-streaming isn’t their fault (this time).

Anonymous May 3, 2013 at 3:25 am

I pay $70 p. m. for cable with a sports package to get Eurosport in Australia. They show every race worth watching except the Tour, because stupid SBS has the sole rights to it. SBS commentating SUCKS compared to Eurosport. I hate SBS!!!

Anonymous May 3, 2013 at 6:23 am

true, TDF on SBS is a major irrit, with that fake Frenchman cooking something up first and then Matthew Bloody Keenan droning on with extracts from his Boy’s Own Big Book of Cycling, I’m usually asleep 10 minutes in

AustinCX May 3, 2013 at 4:45 am

It’s close to zero hour in the U.S. and I’m still uncertain as to how I will watch the battle between Wiggo and Nibali unfold. Rest assured us Yanks will find a stream somewhere, otherwise how can we keep up with the eloquent inrng comment section which pairs nicely after each stage ?

Stephen May 3, 2013 at 6:18 am

I may have mentioned this before on another topic, but I was travelling for a wedding the weekend of Paris-Roubaix and was fortunate to have both good quality wifi and NBCSN available. Because the streaming of Eurosport started an hour earlier than the “live” broadcast, I started watching the stream, expecting to switch over to the TV when the coverage started.

Now, most of us know the story of NBCSN’s ‘live coverage’ of Paris-Roubaix. And really, the 12km (at the start, probably closer to 15 km at the end) delay didn’t bother me as much as NBCSN jumping into a 5 minute commercial break after every 5 minutes of race coverage.

I thought I was doing the good and right thing by watching the race on a ‘legitimate’ broadcast, but that broadcast was SO terrible that I elected to go back to the stream, losing out on nearly 13km of racing, just so I could watch competent coverage…and actually watch bicycle racing instead of a marathon of commercial breaks and poorly narrated events in the race.

And this one experience is emblematic of why I feel justified in my decision to watch pirate feeds instead of the shit coverage available through legitimate means.

Kristen May 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I second your justification for watching streaming. While I was reading the other comments for this post, I went over to NBC Sports’ website to check on what of the Tour they are broadcasting this year. While I have plenty to say about the difficulty of finding other races, I always appreciated the volume of Tour coverage given by OLN/Versus/NBC Sports. Apparently, this year, though, they are beginning broadcasts at 8am (EST) everyday. This means no expanded live coverage for key mountain stages, and it means that some broadcasting may very well be delayed a la Liege.

Maybe it was naive, but I didn’t expect NBC Sports to be capable of any further disappointment. I was wrong.

BenB May 3, 2013 at 10:15 am

That’s a nice touch, the 50′s housewife watching Tommy Voeckler!

noel May 3, 2013 at 10:23 am

I never understood why Sky hasn’t backed their investment by covering the sport – always assumed they are waiting for existing deals to run off…
whether you are a fan of the Murdochs or not, they generally seem to be able to lift coverage to another level when they get involved (football, cricket etc). With the Go Pro type cameras around these days, surely we can get ridercams, selective access to radio feeds etc etc. All this stuff gets done in F1….

Brook May 3, 2013 at 11:12 am

Sky had the rights to the Tour of Romandie this year. At least in the UK.

ulfhjensen May 3, 2013 at 11:55 am

Currently on-board cams are not allowed by the UCI…

The Inner Ring May 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm

It’s not much value but I suspect Sky will love the Giro where Italian broadcaster RAI have to say Sky every few minutes, it would be like getting Pepsi to say Coke for three weeks.

Also rider cams are not allowed as they’ve been used by teams but the broadcast/video rights belong to TV companies.

Anonymous May 3, 2013 at 11:23 am

So unless I pay money to the Murdoch scum, I miss Romandie.

Anonymous 2 May 5, 2013 at 10:23 am

I don’t pay any money to ‘Murdoch scum’ and I didn’t miss Romandie.

Bundle May 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm

The packaging of TV rights for different races actually infringes on free competition. The authorities should force ASO and RCS to unbundle their offer. And Tour de Suisse, Tour de Romandie, Volta a Catalunya, Vuelta al País Vasco, and other “stand-alone” small tours, have a lot at stake in challenging the unfair competition they get form Dauphiné, Paris-Nice, or Tirreno-Adriatico.

gear_ratio May 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Not only do different races sell rights to different broadcasters but some broadcasters don’t use what they have. Here in the UK, ITV4 have a rights package with ASO to show the TdF live. Everything indicates they also have live rights for other races such as Roubaix. But do they screen it, no. They screen re-runs of other ‘classics’ such as Columbo instead.

Hence part of the issue here is old fashioned linear broadcasters thinking they know best.

There is a massive gap in the market for an internet ‘broadcaster’ to buy internet ‘broadcast’ rights for each race, and users have a single subscription to that. Initially commentary may be in the race counties native tongue, but over time fees will cover employment of country specific over-commentary. Anyone want to come and invest with me ??

balkou May 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

An other issue is that of the commentary. I see that the vast majority wants to have commentary on their native language, but if you master some languages, watching the Giro in Italian commentary, or Tour in French, it has an added value. And especially watching the post-stage shows. Unfortunately you have no choice as a tv viewer/customer. Why should I pay the overestimated price in my local satellite provider with its mainly dull commentary and don’t let me chose the channel I prefer. Especially in the so called “common market” geo-restricting is ridiculous even if you’re willing to pay.

Richard EASTHAM May 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm

“… with more pop-ups and viruses than a children’s library” – brilliant!

Luca Bandido May 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Annoying it may well be, but I do quite enjoy watching races via different media channels, and I find that not having a central go-to channel adds a bit of variety. Don’t you think that the incomprehensible (to me anyway) Flemish commentary on sporza.be adds an extra dimension to the early season? Or that finally finding a pirate stream (which isn’t that hard) gives a sense of slightly illicit excitement? Cycling feeds tend to be of a much higher quality than their football equivalents, and I for one would prefer things stay as they are rather than become as homogenous and dull as Super Sunday. And dare I say it, I actually find the more mainstream cycling coverage (thinking specifically ITV in the UK…) somewhat wooden. Either way I would prefer to have to seek out a decent fix in the cyber back alleys, rather than having a watered-down version administered from an anodyne pipette.

Felipe May 3, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Maybe an option would be for the WT race organizers to sell the content at a symbolic price to the UCI Channel on YouTube, and the UCI – wich is supposedly in charge of promoting the sport – could promote a in depth analysis before and/or after the races. 30 min or so. The guys at GCN (another channel on YouTube) could offer some help. And UCI is already doind that with CX, as is RedBull sometimes with the MTB XCO World Cup events. At least its a way of having all the cycling content in one safe place, and the domestic broadcasters could still make their money with local audience.

Ronan May 3, 2013 at 6:02 pm

A small point but the end of the live, free Giro strem is at the behest of IMG, who have taken over the global media sales for RCS and the Giro. While we all love to watch stuff for free, that tells me that they know what they’re doing and will be maximising the profitability for RCS.

Lots of people say it’s short sighted, but giving away your main asset for free is not a route to sustainability. As for selling ad space on their strem, the overheads of employing sales teams at regional level would be huge, complicated and not a guarantee of income. Maybe leave the ad sales to the ad sales people, the marketing to the marketing people and the cycling to the cycling people?

ChrisO May 4, 2013 at 10:58 am

Ronan it depends how you define maximising profitability – getting a few extra dollars one year, but basically peanuts, or attracting bigger audiences and making the rights significantly more attractive in the long term.

The evidence regarding streaming and related content in online forms is that is INCREASES the amount of TV consumed. NBC did a study during the 2012 Olympics – they found that people who consumed Olympics content on other devices (PC, tablet, mobile) also watched twice as much TV coverage as people who only watched on TV.

So by limiting the coverage to TV only they are limiting the audience – and audience is what ad sales people pay for and why broadcasters buy rights and what ultimately funds the sport.

As for online ad sales it has developed into a very efficient process and either broadcasters would simply be using their existing teams selling inventory, or there would be people willing to take it on commission.

And BTW I’m TV Ratings people.

Winternet May 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm

The F1 is not a good example. I mean, there’s 19 races in a year. That’s something that is manageable for a TV network. The cycling calendar is just too big for that. The proper comparison would be if the Giro stages were showing in different channels.

And also what is considered worth getting tv coverage? Do we need the Rund um Köln on TV? Probably not, right? If we’re looking for the WT races, then Eurosport pretty much covers all of them.

Eb in AZ May 5, 2013 at 3:21 am

possible correction, unless I missed something in the comments I believe that the free video stream of the Giro from Rai Sport is available, same as last year. I watched it this morning for hours including the finish. Got the link from steephill.

sam smith May 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

The extent of the comments highlights what a frustration this is for so many of us. I recently moved from the UK, leaving behind the generally excellent scope and coverage of Eurosport for the irritating mash-up in the US. Three different channels on direct TV (BeIn a welcome addition, but the delayed feeds arent great) and why cant Universal Sports get HD? Virus-ladden pirate feeds. Cycling torrents guilts you about free-riding. Inconsistent youtube (thanks to those who publish a while before getting busted (not like we can get Eurosport anyway). Tried VPN service to get Eurosport player, but the service would face periodic interruption…naturally at the worst time. Honestly, makes you think you’re trying to do something illegal. Many above have said it right – there’s clearly a small but loyal fanbase that is hungry and umderserved. Between race organizers and broadcasters, there’s an equation here of nearly zero marginal cost and some modest (but likely to grow….if allowed) marginal revenue. Please, somebody, anybody, take my money!

Thanks for posting on this topic, inrng.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: