For the second year in a row Eurosport are not covering the UCI World Championships, as the television rights have been secured by the BBC. Whilst Hugh Porter is a very knowledgable commentator he just doesn’t quite match the insightful Sean Kelly. Having to search through the red button area to see if and when the cycling might be on, is another obstacle that often disappoints.
A different option has become mainstream this year and may well change how we as cyclists watch our sport in the future. The UCI Youtube channel is showing every minute of the action live as it happens. It is available free on desktops, laptops, iPads and smartphones. The feed is exactly what is provided to TV stations and the commentary so far by Phil Liggett has been very watchable.
For those who say that watching it on a computer is not the same as watching it on TV, that too has its solution. A google chromecast dongle for €39 or an apple tv for €109 give the option of watching anything on youtube for free on your tv set. As long as you have good broadband it is just as good as the analogue picture. In time it will probably even match the HD images.
To be able to watch Ryan Mullen yesterday and Mark Downey and the very impressive Michael O’Loughlin as they put down the gauntlet to the other cycling nations live as it happened was fantastic.
You can watch the entire junior Time Trial here again if you like :
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This year has also seen the introduction of on-bike cameras to bring viewers right into the heart of the action. It is only a matter of time before this too will be available live just as it is in formula 1 racing.
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Black Umbrella have been doing great work on the domestic front for the past two years. Adrian O’Connor, Jill Leonard and their team have been producing very high quality video clips from both Sunday races and bigger events such as The An Post Ras and The Suir Valley 3 Day, that have really brought fans closer to the action and given cyclists the ‘pro’ feeling of being televised. The quality of many of these productions is so good that TV stations such as Setanta and even Eurosport occasionaly now broadcast them.
Ronan Fox has done the same at this years Ras na mBan and built on what Black Umbrella did last year to give the race a great online viewership.
Stickybottle and Irishcyclingnews have given a platform for fantastic photographers to display their images to an enthusiastic cycling public and provide reporting of each and every event on a scale and quality unseen by many other sports.
Much is often spoken about the lack of mainstream tv coverage for cycling on the likes of RTE and how this is not helping the development of the sport. Teenagers nowadays are constantly connect and constantly online. How many would bother with the nine o’clock news when they have already seen it all the day before, or even live as it happened?
This is where online coverage and social media are hugely important. To capture the hearts and minds of young people and to encourage them to take up the beautiful sport of cycling they must have a steady stream of content available in the form that they are going to be accessing. Online video and live streaming may well hold the key to the continued development of cycling in Ireland and beyond.