This has been a busy week for cycling coverage with live video streaming of the Vuelta a Espana, Tour de Pologne and Tour of Missouri. The Tour of Britain live coverage has been limited to Twitter text updates but they perhaps will have live streaming next year. As far as I can recall, this is the first time we’ve had some form of live internet coverage for FOUR races simultaneously.
The 2007 season has been phenomenal in terms of live video streaming of bike races with Eurosport doing more than last year, even if the trend toward the latter part of the season has been to restrict Eurosport access to countries or regions. But more race organizers and television stations, notably in Spain, have gotten into live video streaming too. France is unfortunately behind Spain and Italy, among other European countries, in streaming races live on the net. But France Télévisions has at least gotten into the game of live streaming this season and their regional coverage in the form of reportages of races big and small surely is unmatched.
The 2007 Tour of Missouri, which ends on Sunday, has seen an unprecedented number of live viewing options for a U.S. race, and an inaugural race at that. Beyond justin.tv and the Adobe Tour Tracker familiar to cycling fans who watched the Tour of California or Tour de Georgia earlier this season, fans can watch the Tour of Missouri on cycling.tv and wcsn.com. All this interest is good for the sport and cycling fans will benefit from a little broadcast competition in 2008.
Television coverage in some form is critical to the survival of professional bike races. Tour of Missouri organizers obviously understand this. There is every reason to believe that the coverage of races like the 2008 Tour of California and Tour de Georgia, if it survives, will be improved compared to 2007.
The 2007 UCI Road World Championships, September 26-30, are right around the corner. The World Championship Sports Network (WCSN) has the U.S. rights to these events. For the U.S. market, it is important that cycling fans turn out in great numbers to watch. That is the best way to ensure that the sport and the coverage continue to grow in 2008.