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The current state of pro cycling - an appraisal

Page 2 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
Jan 11, 2018
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thehog said:
Doping has never really impacted the sport of cycling in terms of viewership. Since Cookson liked to pretend it didn’t exist th sport has lost some of its edge. Now when we see Sky do as Sky do there needs to be this absurd narrative to justify that’s not doping related. Probably some of the reason people are turning off. A doping scandal here and there was always good for the sport.
I think there is a little truth in this, but there are definite limits on how many scandals and positives people can accept. 2006-08 was impressive, to a point, from an anti-doping point of view, but by the end of the '08 Tour it was starting to do significant damage to the sport, its following, TV deals, and its already battered reputation.

Lance coming back in 2009 was part of the reason for the change of tact, but I think as well the UCI and ASO were just fed up with being the doping pariah of the sporting world while pretty much every other sport did nothing, and suffering as a result. A pity they didn't stick it out, but really it's understandable that they didn't - why should cycling bear the brunt on its own?

Yeah cycling has probably been less 'sensational' and gathered less cheap headlines since, but I'm not sure that that extra attention really was a net benefit for the sport in the long run.
 
Jan 12, 2012
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DanielSong39 said:
UCI has been fully complicit in the Sky dominance though.
But they have to be, because they always need to be courting new sponsors. The ideal thing for the UCI under the current system is we have a whole World Tour made up of teams like Sky: long term investments, big spending and busily promoting the sport on posters and vans around their home countries. The trouble is that pro-cycling believes its own *** about the return on investment for sponsors, you hear 300-400% RoI quoted on 'relatively small' investments. If that were true the FTSE100 companies would be queuing up, so where is everyone? The truth is that Sky are the same as every other company that supports cycling, there's a cycling fan sufficiently high up in the company structure for them to drop a load of €€€ in exchange for some nice VIP hosting opportunities. Hopefully the advertising investment washes its face but these things are so difficult to quantify you can produce whatever bottom line number you want. For the thirty years I've been following it, pro-cycling has always been the best available return on sponsor investment and simultaneously constantly struggling to find sponsors.

thehog said:
The real problem here is the Tour and not so much the remainder of the calendar. For the much part Classics, one day races and Giro / Vuelta from a visual watching perspective haven’t been too bad. It’s really when Sky do as Sky do in GTs it turns what could be a visual spectacle into something very boring. The Tour globally outranks all other cycle racing by far so Lappartient is right to seek some form of reform.
And conversely the Tour is pretty much the only race of the year that isn't struggling for cash. Getting/forcing the best riders to make more of a commitment across the calendar would make a difference. Cycling isn't particularly analogous with tennis of course, but in that sport if I turn on a Masters 1000 tournament it will have all the same players I already know from my casual watching of Wimbledon or Roland Garros so I have a starting-off point. But there's no incentive for someone like Froome to ride even LBL or Lombardia so they clear off to the top of a volcano somewhere, and anyone tuning in to the race wonders if this is such an important race why can't the riders they've heard of even be bothered turning up? There's no particular reason why the top 100 in the world can't each be riding two GT's and three Monuments per year. Then you've just got to come up with some way of making them actually want to be competitive in all of those... one of the spin-off benefits is that if Froome needs to be competitive at LBL and Lombardia then those opportunities don't exist for Henao or Moscon (both top-10's in the last two editions) so they're less likely to take support roles which weakens the big trains. Maybe it's time even to acknowledge the unspoken truth that the Tour is the season pinnacle, and contrive a system where the rest of the calendar becomes a qualification system.
 
Jan 11, 2018
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Certainly some form of more fair, equitable and beneficial income distribution for the teams really should be considered. At the moment the teams are basically expected to be self-sufficient, which in modern pro sport is incredibly old-fashioned. TV and race sponsor money should be making its way to the teams in some fashion, preferably in a way that benefits the smaller ones most, though of course in most other sports this last part doesn't happen - quite the opposite.

I think talking budget caps is fine, and should be on the table, but as a couple of other posters have said increasing the overall size of the pie should be the main priority, so that everyone is better off and the sport becomes more attractive to sponsors and media. There's surely room for improvement in this space, without simple making the sport more commercial, which nobody wants. Retaining the traditions and small/local races and teams is important too.
 
Mamil said:
Certainly some form of more fair, equitable and beneficial income distribution for the teams really should be considered
But what income? It appears to be an article of faith that "the Tour is pretty much the only race of the year that isn't struggling for cash." If even ASO have to use the cash from the Tour to fund other races, what are you saying needs to be more fairly, equitably and beneficially distributed?
 
Jan 11, 2018
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fmk_RoI said:
Mamil said:
Certainly some form of more fair, equitable and beneficial income distribution for the teams really should be considered
But what income? It appears to be an article of faith that "the Tour is pretty much the only race of the year that isn't struggling for cash." If even ASO have to use the cash from the Tour to fund other races, what are you saying needs to be more fairly, equitably and beneficially distributed?
TV money. Like every sport TV deals and other rights are where the real money is now made, all the more so for cycling where most of the road-side spectating is free. I'm sure the TV money for cycling is smaller than most, but it would still be significant and there would certainly be ways of making it bigger. The teams get very little of it.

The whole cycling model is old-fashioned and woefully inadequate. This article is a couple of years old, but the issues haven't really changed and it gives a good summary of a few of the main ones, including the question of revenue distribution:

https://www.businessinsider.com/aso-uci-war-tour-de-france-pro-cycling-2016-1/?r=AU&IR=T
 
Mamil said:
TV money. Like every sport TV deals and other rights are where the real money is now made, all the more so for cycling where most of the road-side spectating is free. I'm sure the TV money for cycling is smaller than most, but it would still be significant and there would certainly be ways of making it bigger. The teams get very little of it.[/url]
Try and work with me on this, I'll take it slowly for you.

It is an act of faith that, beyond the Tour, all other races struggle. Agreed? Apart from the Tour, all other races struggle financially. That's an act of faith in discussion about cycling economics. Has already been presented in this discussion without dissent.

So. Those TV revenues. We're limited to the Tour's TV revenues if all other races struggle financially. You would agree with that, that that automatically follows from the article of faith that all races bar the Tour struggle financially? I mean, you can't take what others don't have to give, can you? ASO, you would also agree, run more than just the Tour. So - if the article of faith that only the Tour makes money is to be believed - it surely follows that the Tour's profits are subsidising other ASO races, you would agree?

All this really makes the next series of questions very, very easy for you. What do you think the Tour's TV revenues are? How much of that is subsiding other races run by ASO? How much do you think is available for each team once distributed fairly, equitably and beneficially?

Some numbers, please. Facts. Not just things you're "sure" of, please.
 
Mamil said:
thehog said:
Doping has never really impacted the sport of cycling in terms of viewership. Since Cookson liked to pretend it didn’t exist th sport has lost some of its edge. Now when we see Sky do as Sky do there needs to be this absurd narrative to justify that’s not doping related. Probably some of the reason people are turning off. A doping scandal here and there was always good for the sport.
I think there is a little truth in this, but there are definite limits on how many scandals and positives people can accept. 2006-08 was impressive, to a point, from an anti-doping point of view, but by the end of the '08 Tour it was starting to do significant damage to the sport, its following, TV deals, and its already battered reputation.

Lance coming back in 2009 was part of the reason for the change of tact, but I think as well the UCI and ASO were just fed up with being the doping pariah of the sporting world while pretty much every other sport did nothing, and suffering as a result. A pity they didn't stick it out, but really it's understandable that they didn't - why should cycling bear the brunt on its own?

Yeah cycling has probably been less 'sensational' and gathered less cheap headlines since, but I'm not sure that that extra attention really was a net benefit for the sport in the long run.
During the Festina scandal Festina reported increased sales. However point taken 2006-2008 it was getting a little absurd and the Lance comeback all the efforts for anti-doping appeared to dissipate in favor of the marketing dollars the Armstrong comeback could bring. The Sky entry into cycling there was a crossover point before Armstrong went down and they were already in full swing with their special program which was switched into “zero tolerance” doping doesn’t exist anymore mantra. Cookson was much the same. The perception that there was no doping rather than actual anti-doping was his way of dealing with the issue. We are where we are now because for too long the UCI after McQuaid pretend doping is no longer prevelant in cycling.

I’d hate to think the amount of doping positives that has taken place that was pushed underground by the UCI in the last four years.
 
memyselfandI said:
Koronin said:
What exactly are you going to trade? Teams do NOT trade riders like North American sports trade players. It's a totally different way of running things. Same reason there is no draft and players aren't traded in soccer/football. What level do you have to be at to be drafted? There are teams who don't even sign amateur riders to their WT rosters, other teams do. Then you have the pro conti and conti teams that have to find riders. These teams are NOT set up the same way the NHL and MLB minor league systems are set up. These teams sign riders from all levels just like the WT teams do. It's not possible for it to work the way cycling and even more so sports in Europe are set up. It doesn't work in auto racing in North America either.
I know all this, of course it's not possible now. It needs administrational/organizational/teams structure rebuild and franchising model buildup for revenue share, like everything. Main level for drafting would be prolly national/international U23. It would not change much on ProConti/Conti/amateur level that would be feeder/farm for WT as usual. Main thing is build up drafting lottery for WT that would balance the game and make competition harder for teams.

You want that, you'll need to start a whole new organization. Drafting is very much a North American based sports thing and doesn't fit any European model. It would do virtually NOTHING to make competition harder or balance anything. Most teams are not even looking at the same young kids. Most WT teams aren't interested in the young riders and would prefer to leave them to the Conti and Pro Conti teams to develop. Then you have a team like Movistar who when looking for young kids typically are looking within their own borders. How many U-23 kids are even at the WT level? Also take Movistar, NONE of the U-23 riders they have signed over the past 5 years were on either U-23 or National teams. They mostly looking to the Spanish Conti and Pro Conti teams to pull riders from. You put in a draft that almost no teams would even bother with. That isn't where most get their young riders from.
 
Jan 11, 2018
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fmk_RoI said:
Mamil said:
TV money. Like every sport TV deals and other rights are where the real money is now made, all the more so for cycling where most of the road-side spectating is free. I'm sure the TV money for cycling is smaller than most, but it would still be significant and there would certainly be ways of making it bigger. The teams get very little of it.[/url]
Try and work with me on this, I'll take it slowly for you.

It is an act of faith that, beyond the Tour, all other races struggle. Agreed? Apart from the Tour, all other races struggle financially. That's an act of faith in discussion about cycling economics. Has already been presented in this discussion without dissent.

So. Those TV revenues. We're limited to the Tour's TV revenues if all other races struggle financially. You would agree with that, that that automatically follows from the article of faith that all races bar the Tour struggle financially? I mean, you can't take what others don't have to give, can you? ASO, you would also agree, run more than just the Tour. So - if the article of faith that only the Tour makes money is to be believed - it surely follows that the Tour's profits are subsidising other ASO races, you would agree?

All this really makes the next series of questions very, very easy for you. What do you think the Tour's TV revenues are? How much of that is subsiding other races run by ASO? How much do you think is available for each team once distributed fairly, equitably and beneficially?

Some numbers, please. Facts. Not just things you're "sure" of, please.
Your condescending attitude and rudeness are disgusting. But I will kindly put it down to vertigo from being on your high horse all day, and indulge you a bit.

Firstly, it wasn't me who said that only the Tour makes money, so you're wrong to be pushing that with me. While it obviously far and away makes the most, I don't think it follows that all the other races are running at an individual loss - the Vuelta and big classics have their own TV appeal, and these and other races have their own individual sponsors, some global, some local. I don't think anyone fully knows the inner workings of the ASO or RCS, but I'd find it very hard to believe that they're having to sink all their revenue from the Tour and Giro respectively into financing other races. For example I have seen data that suggests that the Dauphine basically breaks even each year. Not ideal, but it's not costing the ASO money either.

To look just at the ASO, 2015 data (from the article I linked above) says that global broadcasting rights just for the Tour amount to 50 million euros per year, while 2013 data says that the ASO reported revenue of 180 million euros and a profit of 36 million euros. Granted it isn't a huge amount, nor is all that revenue just from cycling. Giving a slice of that profit to the teams wouldn't make a huge difference, but it would be something, and certainly fairer than the current situation where they get nothing from it other than limited prize money, despite the fact that without the teams there would be no race.

By comparison the FIFA world cup rakes in around $2 billion USD in broadcast rights. Even down here in little Oz, our Aussie Rules football has a tv deal worth about $420 million AUD a year. The 2015 rugby world cup, which appeals only to a limited number of countries, made 110 million pounds from broadcast rights. In no way are we comparing like with like - the FIFA world cup is on a whole different level to the Tour, the AFL runs over 27 weeks, and the rugby is only every 4 years - but I think it's fair to say that as a general rule the amount of money now available from broadcasting deals in other sports suggests that the ASO's miserable 50 mil, plus whatever else for the other races, is pathetically small. Arguments that cycling has only limited global appeal are relevant but a bit of a cop out - the Tour is broadcast live in 60 countries, and in some form or another in 190. 50 mil from all that is weak.

I don't think the ASO is maximising its broadcasting/media rights potential, not even close. As far as I can see it's barely even begun to tap into the potential of digital/online/app/social media sources of revenue for a start. Its model is conservative and out of date, and hurting the sport. It needs change. Problem is the ASO are clearly doing ok for just themselves, and see no need to go out on a limb for the other stakeholders. I call that short-sighted.
 
It would hardly be surprising if TV/online viewership has trended downward, with the rise of e-gaming and social media and on-demand entertainment sucking away fans from just about every sport. Not sure what pro cycling can do about that -- maybe offer more streaming options.

To answer the OP, I have to ask myself whether I get the same value from being a cycling fan now as I did when I was a teenager watching Greg LeMond in the mid-80s. The answer is "maybe just a little less." I admit that LA had me fooled for a while there, and I was pretty well fed up after Landis's bust. I only just really started tuning in again in 2016, to be honest. But I have to say that in comparison to most other pro sports, cycling is still pretty great. You want "boring and predictable, corrupted by money and turning a blind eye to doping"? Watch men's tennis or the Champions League.

If I had to point to a problem, it's doping -- specifically the fact that the sport is pretty ambivalent about whether it wants to truly be anti-doping. Given the wishy-washy stance of most riders to things like Froome's AAF, I have to still believe that they're either all doping or would dope if it meant they'd win (or be recruited by Sky). If the teams truly wanted a clean sport they'd cut budgets and salaries and contribute 10 percent of their budgets to anti-doping efforts. But they don't -- which leads me to believe the financial health of pro cycling isn't tied to whether it's clean or not...
 
Bolder

WT Teams pay EUR 129,540.00 per year to bio passport via CADF
PC Teams pay EUR 86,700 per year to bio passport via CADF

So in total, the WT & PT teams fund the bio passport EUR 4.67 Million each year alone. I'm not aware of any sport contributing anything like this, if at all to bio passport.

On top of that:

Race Organisers anti-doping contribution is 16.83 % of their prize money to fund CADF
Riders anti-doping contribution is 2% of their total prize money paid to fund CADF

If we take Tour de France. EUR 2 million prize money.
ASO paid EUR 336,600 towards anti-doping (CADF)
Riders paid EUR 40,000 towards anti-doping (CADF)

Also, every riders National Federation has to pay CHF 7500 to UCI Anti-doping Tribunal for each anti-doping case opened against one of their riders.
 
Re:

samhocking said:
Bolder

WT Teams pay EUR 129,540.00 per year to bio passport via CADF
PC Teams pay EUR 86,700 per year to bio passport via CADF

So in total, the WT & PT teams fund the bio passport EUR 4.67 Million each year alone. I'm not aware of any sport contributing anything like this, if at all to bio passport.

On top of that:

Race Organisers anti-doping contribution is 16.83 % of their prize money to fund CADF
Riders anti-doping contribution is 2% of their total prize money paid to fund CADF

If we take Tour de France. EUR 2 million prize money.
ASO paid EUR 336,600 towards anti-doping (CADF)
Riders paid EUR 40,000 towards anti-doping (CADF)

Also, every riders National Federation has to pay CHF 7500 to UCI Anti-doping Tribunal for each anti-doping case opened against one of their riders.
Thanks for the explanation. I knew they contributed some. I don't know what the figures are in other sports, but for instance NFL drug testing is financed by the league -- with revenues I assume coming from TV and perhaps individual team contributions. I assume it's the same for any professional sport with a "league," whereas cycling has to do it at least partly internally. (I think running/tri races also have to pay for testing)

Still, the overall antidoping program feels unsatisfactory to me. Sure, we know other sports are probably as dirty as cycling, but no other sport has had so many crippling PED-related scandals at the very highest level, on the most public stage -- and continues to do so. So perhaps teams and riders need to really have significant skin in the game.
 
Lappartient appears well aware that TV audiences are down, Cycling has become boring in a world competing with many distractions. He and ASO must find a new format.

No patriotism or Thomas-effect in the UK: audiences for @itvcycling highlights show are down 18% compared to average of last 5 years. Best watched was stage 11 (La Rosière), worst was stage 5 (Quimper). UK audiences are the lowest since 2013 & first Froome victory. #cycling #TDF
 
fmk_RoI said:
Mamil said:
TV money. Like every sport TV deals and other rights are where the real money is now made, all the more so for cycling where most of the road-side spectating is free. I'm sure the TV money for cycling is smaller than most, but it would still be significant and there would certainly be ways of making it bigger. The teams get very little of it.[/url]
Try and work with me on this, I'll take it slowly for you.

It is an act of faith that, beyond the Tour, all other races struggle. Agreed? Apart from the Tour, all other races struggle financially. That's an act of faith in discussion about cycling economics. Has already been presented in this discussion without dissent.

So. Those TV revenues. We're limited to the Tour's TV revenues if all other races struggle financially. You would agree with that, that that automatically follows from the article of faith that all races bar the Tour struggle financially? I mean, you can't take what others don't have to give, can you? ASO, you would also agree, run more than just the Tour. So - if the article of faith that only the Tour makes money is to be believed - it surely follows that the Tour's profits are subsidising other ASO races, you would agree?

All this really makes the next series of questions very, very easy for you. What do you think the Tour's TV revenues are? How much of that is subsiding other races run by ASO? How much do you think is available for each team once distributed fairly, equitably and beneficially?

Some numbers, please. Facts. Not just things you're "sure" of, please.
An article for reference:
http://inrng.com/2017/11/amaury-sport-accounts-finances/

This shows the annual reported revenue and profit of the ASO as a whole.

The reality is individual races rarely report their financial outcomes so it's pretty hard to say specifically.

The ASO has a total annual profit of ~€40-50 million. They run a lot of different events, including Paris-Dakar rally.

TdF is clearly a major event for them, so even if it was responsible for half of their total profit, €25M is not much money in world sport terms. The ASO's revenues would include money from TV rights (~€20 million according to Velonews report) and hosting fees from bidding towns/regions. In terms of world sport this is peanuts.

In the linked article it shows the Dauphine did report its revenue and profit separately and in 2016 it made a measly profit of just €0.012M on a budget of €2.29M (a 0.5% return). If a race like the Dauphine is running that close to the bone one can only imagine the finances of many other races.

Bike racing, like many sports, is highly dependent on taxpayer subsidy. Even the TdF. How much taxpayer money is used to bid for stage hosting rights which contributes to ASO's profit?

In many locations it is state tourism promotion bodies that pretty much underwrite races. If they withdraw support, the races fold.

Here's an earlier article about the RCS income/profit from cycling:
http://inrng.com/2015/05/giro-finances-rcs-gulf/

Again the lack of itemised details means a few assumptions but even being generous with those the reality is the returns are very skinny, even for the Giro. Their best way of making money is to start the race somewhere outside of Italy and rake in some hosting rights money.

I know the 4 major races in Australia are all underwritten by State governments: Cadel Evans GORR, the Herald Sun Tour, the Tour Down Under and the National Road Race Championships, the latter also receiving local government money. No big race here would survive without the taxpayer funding it.
 
Alex Simmons/RST said:
fmk_RoI said:
Mamil said:
TV money. Like every sport TV deals and other rights are where the real money is now made, all the more so for cycling where most of the road-side spectating is free. I'm sure the TV money for cycling is smaller than most, but it would still be significant and there would certainly be ways of making it bigger. The teams get very little of it.[/url]
Try and work with me on this, I'll take it slowly for you.

It is an act of faith that, beyond the Tour, all other races struggle. Agreed? Apart from the Tour, all other races struggle financially. That's an act of faith in discussion about cycling economics. Has already been presented in this discussion without dissent.

So. Those TV revenues. We're limited to the Tour's TV revenues if all other races struggle financially. You would agree with that, that that automatically follows from the article of faith that all races bar the Tour struggle financially? I mean, you can't take what others don't have to give, can you? ASO, you would also agree, run more than just the Tour. So - if the article of faith that only the Tour makes money is to be believed - it surely follows that the Tour's profits are subsidising other ASO races, you would agree?

All this really makes the next series of questions very, very easy for you. What do you think the Tour's TV revenues are? How much of that is subsiding other races run by ASO? How much do you think is available for each team once distributed fairly, equitably and beneficially?

Some numbers, please. Facts. Not just things you're "sure" of, please.
An article for reference:
http://inrng.com/2017/11/amaury-sport-accounts-finances/

This shows the annual reported revenue and profit of the ASO as a whole.

The reality is individual races rarely report their financial outcomes so it's pretty hard to say specifically.

The ASO has a total annual profit of ~€40-50 million. They run a lot of different events, including Paris-Dakar rally.

TdF is clearly a major event for them, so even if it was responsible for half of their total profit, €25M is not much money in world sport terms. The ASO's revenues would include money from TV rights (~€20 million according to Velonews report) and hosting fees from bidding towns/regions. In terms of world sport this is peanuts.

In the linked article it shows the Dauphine did report its revenue and profit separately and in 2016 it made a measly profit of just €0.012M on a budget of €2.29M (a 0.5% return). If a race like the Dauphine is running that close to the bone one can only imagine the finances of many other races.

Bike racing, like many sports, is highly dependent on taxpayer subsidy. Even the TdF. How much taxpayer money is used to bid for stage hosting rights which contributes to ASO's profit?

In many locations it is state tourism promotion bodies that pretty much underwrite races. If they withdraw support, the races fold.

Here's an earlier article about the RCS income/profit from cycling:
http://inrng.com/2015/05/giro-finances-rcs-gulf/

Again the lack of itemised details means a few assumptions but even being generous with those the reality is the returns are very skinny, even for the Giro. Their best way of making money is to start the race somewhere outside of Italy and rake in some hosting rights money.

I know the 4 major races in Australia are all underwritten by State governments: Cadel Evans GORR, the Herald Sun Tour, the Tour Down Under and the National Road Race Championships, the latter also receiving local government money. No big race here would survive without the taxpayer funding it.

The races in the US are excessively sponsorship driven, without major sponsorship money they don't have the money to run the race.

Vuelta a Murcia lost it's funding from the region this year which was around 30,000 Euros and was over 1/3rd of their budget for their one day race.
 
As for TV broadcast costs, for half decent coverage (not tour level) it's at least $100k per day and by and large cycling is a sport where most races would have to pay to be on TV, not the other way round.

It's only the few of the very biggest races where there is some TV rights money. Even so, for the world's biggest bike race it's a tiny amount in world sport terms. In the USA the TV rights deals for college sports are worth many billions of dollars. Heck even high school sports in America are into the realm of TV rights deals worth more than pro cycling.

Money really is the problem. With big money comes a better class of expertise in running a business, the low quality amateurs eventually get found out and eliminated. Likewise in terms of support structures. There is also a higher grade of corruption as well.

Doping will exist whether there is money or not, we already know that given the amount of doping in amateur ranks. All doping requires to exist is competition, not money.
 
Important for some context that all sports are seeing continually declining viewers, not only cycling. The demographic and cultural shifts are simply luring younger audiences away from live sport and terrestrial TV viewing. An example would be my son and his friends. Huge cycling fans, but they simply don't turn the TV on to follow it, like they don't watch childrens TV after school either, they simply view all of their content via their phones and tablets. They consume their sport on youtube, on demand, facebook, twitter etc etc. The TV is what you play Xbox on, your tablet is what you watch video on via social media.

If we take Sky UK & their several £billion Premier League TV rights, they are seeing 19% fall in TV viewing figures last year alone. BT Sport and Eurosport are seeing 9% fall in all sports TV audiences across the board as an average. Those trying to blame falling TV audiences on Team Sky's Tour success are simply wrong, because it's happening in all sports already anyway, because young people are simply not watching live sport, they are just not as interested as previous generations in live sport. I think we'll eventually find terestrial live TV forces to move into the online area. BBC were pumping significant money into World Cup this year for example with their World Cup apps and on demand streaming etc. Cycling and the stadium-less niche sports where full cycling TV coverage with planes and helicopters etc is something like £20K/minute for Tour of Britain will find it increasingly difficult I feel. Cookson was on the right path pushing the online interactive and media technologies, live feeds from TV bikes, consumer being his own director etc. I hope Lappartient continues this because it will be critical to revenue once TV basically won't pay for itself using traditional media outlets.
 
Re:

samhocking said:
Important for some context that all sports are seeing continually declining viewers, not only cycling. The demographic and cultural shifts are simply luring younger audiences away from live sport and terrestrial TV viewing. An example would be my son and his friends. Huge cycling fans, but they simply don't turn the TV on to follow it, like they don't watch childrens TV after school either, they simply view all of their content via their phones and tablets. They consume their sport on youtube, on demand, facebook, twitter etc etc. The TV is what you play Xbox on, your tablet is what you watch video on via social media.

If we take Sky UK & their several £billion Premier League TV rights, they are seeing 19% fall in TV viewing figures last year alone. BT Sport and Eurosport are seeing 9% fall in all sports TV audiences across the board as an average. Those trying to blame falling TV audiences on Team Sky's Tour success are simply wrong, because it's happening in all sports already anyway, because young people are simply not watching live sport, they are just not as interested as previous generations in live sport. I think we'll eventually find terestrial live TV forces to move into the online area. BBC were pumping significant money into World Cup this year for example with their World Cup apps and on demand streaming etc. Cycling and the stadium-less niche sports where full cycling TV coverage with planes and helicopters etc is something like £20K/minute for Tour of Britain will find it increasingly difficult I feel. Cookson was on the right path pushing the online interactive and media technologies, live feeds from TV bikes, consumer being his own director etc. I hope Lappartient continues this because it will be critical to revenue once TV basically won't pay for itself using traditional media outlets.

Cookosn did a very poor job, he was obsessed with The Tour De Yorkshire (because he has a house there), TV and taking selfies of himself. Lappartient is looking at format changes similar to what cricket had to do. 200km mountains stages with no one attacking will not work on any platform, TV social media etc. The sport itself needs a fundmental change. The 65km Stage was a good test to see what might work on the future and I hope Lappartient counties his good work and undo the damage that Cookson has created.
 
Jan 11, 2018
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Alex Simmons/RST said:
As for TV broadcast costs, for half decent coverage (not tour level) it's at least $100k per day and by and large cycling is a sport where most races would have to pay to be on TV, not the other way round.

It's only the few of the very biggest races where there is some TV rights money. Even so, for the world's biggest bike race it's a tiny amount in world sport terms. In the USA the TV rights deals for college sports are worth many billions of dollars. Heck even high school sports in America are into the realm of TV rights deals worth more than pro cycling.

Money really is the problem. With big money comes a better class of expertise in running a business, the low quality amateurs eventually get found out and eliminated. Likewise in terms of support structures. There is also a higher grade of corruption as well.

Doping will exist whether there is money or not, we already know that given the amount of doping in amateur ranks. All doping requires to exist is competition, not money.
I must say I was surprised when I saw the figure for the broadcast rights for the Tour. It's tiny. Granted cycling is little compared to the really big sports, but the Tour at least still has considerable global reach, yet is pulling less TV money even than rugby union, which really only interests 10 countries, most of which are fairly small.

I feel like the ASO is either selling itself short, doesn't care, or simply hasn't realised the economic potential in the modern, digital age of broadcast/media content.
 
Re: Re:

Mamil said:
King Boonen said:
Domination of the GC by one team for long periods is the norm in the tour, literally since trade teams were implemented. The national team period changed it a bit, but multiple wins were still common. It's more obvious with Sky as they have existed a single headline sponsor team with their main staff/winners over this period, similat to Banesto and US Postal. If Froome moved to a new team set up by BrandZ, took his best domestiques, staff and won 2 more tours in the same way I think people would argue this is a continuation of the same dominance. If we look at it like that, going back we have US Postal/Discovery/Astana, before this it was Banesto, before this it was Gitane-Campagnolo/Renaut-G-C/Renault-Elf/La Vie Claire, before this it was Faema/Molteni, before this it was Saint Raphael/France. Even pre WW2 where the idea of a team gets more complicated the race was dominated in blocks of 4-odd years by the same teams. During these periods we see the occasional win from a different team and in-between them we generally see a small period of different winners.

Even the way the wins are distributed isn't that uncommon. Wiggins, Froome, Thomas. Armstrong, Landis then Contador. Van Impe, Hinault, Fignon, Hinault, LeMond. Anquetil, Aimar.

Basically, all this furore over Sky dominating the GC in the TdF and attempts to "level the playing field" seems misplaced. Question the manner in which it's done, who it's done with etc. but a team winning multiple Tours in a row is exactly what we should be expecting.
It is, and it's a point well made, but I'd still argue that Sky's current dominance is a little different to what has gone before due to three factors: 1) 3 different winners in 6 years is unusual, all the more so when they're all riders who haven't show the 'traditional' indicators of being GC contenders, and suggests a template for producing winners rather than them just having the best rider/s on their team. 2) the ultra-controlling, dull way that Sky ride has probably only previously been paralleled by USPS. 3) the Tour is now a semi-global TV event first and foremost, so it MUST be an entertaining product for hours for casual fans, not just for the die-hards, in the papers, and the brief moment when the riders go past the fans on the roadside. So dominance is now bad for business, particularly when that dominance is done in a boring manner, as Sky's mostly is.

There's plenty of proof in modern pro sport that too much dominance loses fans and money - Ferrari's return to the top in F1 in 2000 was a great story initially, but come 2004 people were well and truly over it and turning off in droves, all the more so because it was perceived that Schumacher's dominance was aided by financial advantage, a compliant no. 2 driver, and strong suspicions that Ferrari had the FIA in its pocket. Strong parallels with Sky there.

Dominance can be accepted but it has its limits - there has to be the perception that it will end, sooner rather than later. Already the numbers for cycling are down. I'd say 2 more years of Sky Tour dominance and the situation will be becoming dire indeed, all the more so if that dominance continues its creep into the other GTs too.

Of course, it's not up to Sky to address this - in terms of pure results they're just doing their job, though of course they could be much more appealing in how they go about it. But the UCI needs to have a good hard look at how things stand and what can be done to make things better. Not just to 'curb Sky', as I've said in another post, but to make things better, more competitive and more sustainable for everyone.
This gets difficult as it crosses both the legal and illegal ways of dominating and relies on some assumptions.

The number of winners isn't that unusual, It's happened twice before in about 5 periods where one team was dominant. Usually it signals the end of that teams dominance and a short period of single wins. The "traditional" angle is also a difficult discussion that is going on elsewhere, I'll just say I don't believe that Sky have some secret formula other teams don't. Money and corruption are much more likely.

Is it the winners or the team that are the issue? If Landa had won would he be getting as much scorn as Thomas? If Bernal takes over in the next couple of years will he? It'll be interesting to see if the second case happens and clearly it ties in with the perceived natural ability of the rider.

I'm not old enough to remember much before Indurain but I do remember his wins being very, very predictable. I don't remember enough to know if it was as boring as the two periods that followed, someone else might.

As to making it entertaining for casual fans for hours that's just not going to happen. How many casual fans sit down and watch 5 days of a cricket test match? Or 9 innings of baseball? Or 4-odd hours of NFL or however long it takes? If you want cycling to appeal to the masses then you need to arrange short races (and this is where track racing and crits appeal). Otherwise you have to design courses that are predictable enough that you can centre TV and advertising around it, and that will in turn ruin the racing for proper fans. It's not an easy thing to grow and it's why cycling is, I think, unlikely to gain massive popularity beyond the more dedicated fanbase. As for bad for business, I'd like to see proof of that, i.e., viewing figures for the Tour pre USPostal and Pre Sky and during their dominance. If anything, in a sport like cycling, I wonder if it's actually the opposite?
 
Re: Re:

King Boonen said:
Mamil said:
King Boonen said:
Domination of the GC by one team for long periods is the norm in the tour, literally since trade teams were implemented. The national team period changed it a bit, but multiple wins were still common. It's more obvious with Sky as they have existed a single headline sponsor team with their main staff/winners over this period, similat to Banesto and US Postal. If Froome moved to a new team set up by BrandZ, took his best domestiques, staff and won 2 more tours in the same way I think people would argue this is a continuation of the same dominance. If we look at it like that, going back we have US Postal/Discovery/Astana, before this it was Banesto, before this it was Gitane-Campagnolo/Renaut-G-C/Renault-Elf/La Vie Claire, before this it was Faema/Molteni, before this it was Saint Raphael/France. Even pre WW2 where the idea of a team gets more complicated the race was dominated in blocks of 4-odd years by the same teams. During these periods we see the occasional win from a different team and in-between them we generally see a small period of different winners.

Even the way the wins are distributed isn't that uncommon. Wiggins, Froome, Thomas. Armstrong, Landis then Contador. Van Impe, Hinault, Fignon, Hinault, LeMond. Anquetil, Aimar.

Basically, all this furore over Sky dominating the GC in the TdF and attempts to "level the playing field" seems misplaced. Question the manner in which it's done, who it's done with etc. but a team winning multiple Tours in a row is exactly what we should be expecting.
It is, and it's a point well made, but I'd still argue that Sky's current dominance is a little different to what has gone before due to three factors: 1) 3 different winners in 6 years is unusual, all the more so when they're all riders who haven't show the 'traditional' indicators of being GC contenders, and suggests a template for producing winners rather than them just having the best rider/s on their team. 2) the ultra-controlling, dull way that Sky ride has probably only previously been paralleled by USPS. 3) the Tour is now a semi-global TV event first and foremost, so it MUST be an entertaining product for hours for casual fans, not just for the die-hards, in the papers, and the brief moment when the riders go past the fans on the roadside. So dominance is now bad for business, particularly when that dominance is done in a boring manner, as Sky's mostly is.

There's plenty of proof in modern pro sport that too much dominance loses fans and money - Ferrari's return to the top in F1 in 2000 was a great story initially, but come 2004 people were well and truly over it and turning off in droves, all the more so because it was perceived that Schumacher's dominance was aided by financial advantage, a compliant no. 2 driver, and strong suspicions that Ferrari had the FIA in its pocket. Strong parallels with Sky there.

Dominance can be accepted but it has its limits - there has to be the perception that it will end, sooner rather than later. Already the numbers for cycling are down. I'd say 2 more years of Sky Tour dominance and the situation will be becoming dire indeed, all the more so if that dominance continues its creep into the other GTs too.

Of course, it's not up to Sky to address this - in terms of pure results they're just doing their job, though of course they could be much more appealing in how they go about it. But the UCI needs to have a good hard look at how things stand and what can be done to make things better. Not just to 'curb Sky', as I've said in another post, but to make things better, more competitive and more sustainable for everyone.
This gets difficult as it crosses both the legal and illegal ways of dominating and relies on some assumptions.

The number of winners isn't that unusual, It's happened twice before in about 5 periods where one team was dominant. Usually it signals the end of that teams dominance and a short period of single wins. The "traditional" angle is also a difficult discussion that is going on elsewhere, I'll just say I don't believe that Sky have some secret formula other teams don't. Money and corruption are much more likely.

Is it the winners or the team that are the issue? If Landa had won would he be getting as much scorn as Thomas? If Bernal takes over in the next couple of years will he? It'll be interesting to see if the second case happens and clearly it ties in with the perceived natural ability of the rider.

I'm not old enough to remember much before Indurain but I do remember his wins being very, very predictable. I don't remember enough to know if it was as boring as the two periods that followed, someone else might.

As to making it entertaining for casual fans for hours that's just not going to happen. How many casual fans sit down and watch 5 days of a cricket test match? Or 9 innings of baseball? Or 4-odd hours of NFL or however long it takes? If you want cycling to appeal to the masses then you need to arrange short races (and this is where track racing and crits appeal). Otherwise you have to design courses that are predictable enough that you can centre TV and advertising around it, and that will in turn ruin the racing for proper fans. It's not an easy thing to grow and it's why cycling is, I think, unlikely to gain massive popularity beyond the more dedicated fanbase. As for bad for business, I'd like to see proof of that, i.e., viewing figures for the Tour pre USPostal and Pre Sky and during their dominance. If anything, in a sport like cycling, I wonder if it's actually the opposite?
I was a teenager during the Indurain era but remember it being relatively exciting although I struggle to work out why now because he was winning the thing by minutes and never had serious competition.

I suspect that this is partly because I was an impressionable teenager, partly because cycling TV coverage in the UK was still relatively new and exciting and partly because the level of information and analysis in the UK simply wasn't available at the time so the races themselves had an air of mystique to them.

For example, I'd never heard of Alvaro Mejia in 1993 yet looking now I can see that he was a very good rider and hadn't appeared from nowhere in the '93 tour like it seemed at the time. Nowadays I can know too much and that takes a bit of the buzz of races away. We all knew about Quintana in 2013 for example and him going well wasn't surprising at all even though he was new to the tour.

Luckily i still love actually cycling myself more than ever so not all is lost!
 
What made the Indurain years bearable was there was only a 30 mins highlight show back then on C4 and half of that was adverts. But as you say, especially in UK, Continental Road Racing was like this untouchable exotic mystery only 4 people in the entire UK watched and actually understood and it was so uncool to like cycling it made it even more exotic.
 
Re:

samhocking said:
Important for some context that all sports are seeing continually declining viewers, not only cycling. The demographic and cultural shifts are simply luring younger audiences away from live sport and terrestrial TV viewing. An example would be my son and his friends. Huge cycling fans, but they simply don't turn the TV on to follow it, like they don't watch childrens TV after school either, they simply view all of their content via their phones and tablets. They consume their sport on youtube, on demand, facebook, twitter etc etc. The TV is what you play Xbox on, your tablet is what you watch video on via social media.

If we take Sky UK & their several £billion Premier League TV rights, they are seeing 19% fall in TV viewing figures last year alone. BT Sport and Eurosport are seeing 9% fall in all sports TV audiences across the board as an average. Those trying to blame falling TV audiences on Team Sky's Tour success are simply wrong, because it's happening in all sports already anyway, because young people are simply not watching live sport, they are just not as interested as previous generations in live sport. I think we'll eventually find terestrial live TV forces to move into the online area. BBC were pumping significant money into World Cup this year for example with their World Cup apps and on demand streaming etc. Cycling and the stadium-less niche sports where full cycling TV coverage with planes and helicopters etc is something like £20K/minute for Tour of Britain will find it increasingly difficult I feel. Cookson was on the right path pushing the online interactive and media technologies, live feeds from TV bikes, consumer being his own director etc. I hope Lappartient continues this because it will be critical to revenue once TV basically won't pay for itself using traditional media outlets.
As much as one would like to deny it and ignore it as a factor, Sky's dominance in the grand tours is not the audience redeeming quality that some might like it to be. Yes it's great for British cycling fans and the popularity of the sport in that country but it is never ever a draw for the result of a major event to be with little doubt as to its likely outcome. Happy times in England. More time to ride our bikes in the other parts of the cycling world. The generational changes that you mention are of course a factor but please open your eyes.
 

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