We’ve a few days before the next race and Erol asked a few questions in a comment which I think are good for a wider audience:-
“I came across your site doing a Google search for Cycling coverage on TV, and am hoping you can spare a few minutes to provide me with some information. At the moment I currently receive British Eurosport 1 & 2 through my Sky box but I am fed up with having to pay for poor coverage of cycling events, especially when compared to International Eurosport which is also free.
From the google searches I’ve done it seems that Internation Eurosport’s English feed is only broadcast through analogue, whereas the digital feed for International Eurosport is in German. My problem is that I live in South Wales where analogue is due to be switched off next year so it won’t be very cost effective to buy all the analogue kit if it won’t work in 12 months time. Is my only realistic long term option to buy a dish that would allow me to pick up digital International Eurosport (plus a German dictionary!)?
By the way – fascinating stuff reading about all the foreign channels that show cycling. Are you able to recommend a good dish that could pick up these channels? I like the sound of the motor control too. I don’t fancy climbing up a ladder every other day to reposition the dish!
I’ll give the easy answers first: I believe pretty much any dish on sale in the UK should pick up the channels located at 28e and 19e from South Wales. 60cm or larger will also pick up 13e and 5w without much trouble and that’ll cover most of the cycling channels in the main European languages. 80cm will pick up a few more, but I don’t have listings for most of them, so don’t often cover them. I’m currently just over the water from you, in Somerset, using a 60cm solid dish which I think was Technisat-branded, but I’m not climbing the ladder to check today.
Usually, the biggest challenge is finding a place for the dish that has an unobstructed view of several satellite positions and not just Freesat’s home at 28e (which is all most people here care about, after all). There are online tools which can help, but nothing beats standing outside with a compass after using one of the satellite position calculators.
To watch several satellites, you can either use a motor or an offset bracket with several LNBs and a switch. A motor is better because you only need one LNB and can use a smaller dish; an offset bracket is better because I hear that it’s a bit simpler to install and offers near-instant channel-changing between satellites. I use a USALS motor bought a couple of years ago from Brymar, but other direct sellers like SatCure or high-street stores like Maplin have them too.
You’re quite right that the free-to-air Eurosport digital broadcast is only in German at the moment, while English is available on analogue. While that analogue signal will probably be switched off eventually (watch AnalogueSat for news), that’s not the same as the “analogue switch-off” or “digital switchover” (DSO) advertised on your local TV channels. The date given in those adverts is for terrestial broadcasts received through your aerial: around that date, the old BBC-1, BBC-2, itv, C4/S4C and five signals will cease and only Freeview will be broadcast. It has nothing to do with satellite TV: the main UK satellite TV system went digital-only years ago.
I’m not sure whether we’ll get Eurosport in English on digital after they switch off the analogue, but I don’t think they’ve even announced when switch-off will happen yet. AnalogueSat reports that some other analogue channels at 19e will switch off in 2011 and 2012, so you’ll probably get a couple of years of viewing. If you get a combined analogue/digital receiver, or a digital receiver with a “LNB pass-through” socket and a second-hand analogue receiver, you can run both from one dish and a single LNB very easily.
Eurosport 2 doesn’t seem to be free-to-air anywhere, but more of the cycling is on International Eurosport than Eurosport 2. I think I’ve read that Sky has a stake in British Eurosport, so I doubt that will ever be free-to-air, even if BBC+itv’s Freesat is successful.
Anyone with any more questions? Please ask in a comment and I’ll try to answer.