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Old 05-27-03, 10:09 AM   #1
bac
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Lack of Racing Coverage in USA, and the obvious conclusion?

After reading posts that speak of the obvious lack of racing coverage in the US, I wondered why it is this way. Then it came to me - there is almost NO interest in watching racing, as almost nobody rides in the US. If people rode, there would be interest. If there were interest, there would be coverage.

Consider this - there is more interest on the weekends in watching a taped fishing program, than watching a grand tour stage live. That about sums up the level of interest, and the relative number of cyclists in the US.

It's sad to think that there are so many who will never know the absolute joy of riding. To be honest, I don't think it will ever change in the United States. The cycling culture is past dead, and it's not coming back in my lifetime.

Taped fishing beats out live coverage of the Giro? Ugh.
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Old 05-27-03, 10:21 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally posted by bac
After reading posts that speak of the obvious lack of racing coverage in the US, I wondered why it is this way. Then it came to me - there is almost NO interest in watching racing, as almost nobody rides in the US. If people rode, there would be interest. If there were interest, there would be coverage.

Consider this - there is more interest on the weekends in watching a taped fishing program, than watching a grand tour stage live. That about sums up the level of interest, and the relative number of cyclists in the US.

It's sad to think that there are so many who will never know the absolute joy of riding. To be honest, I don't think it will ever change in the United States. The cycling culture is past dead, and it's not coming back in my lifetime.

Taped fishing beats out live coverage of the Giro? Ugh.
You read my mind, seriously!

I was actually going start ranting how I have over 300+ TV channels and none of them ever show the Tour de France.

OLN shows it, but I dont have OLN!!!!!!!!
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Old 05-27-03, 10:27 AM   #3
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Originally posted by smelly
You read my mind, seriously!

I was actually going start ranting how I have over 300+ TV channels and none of them ever show the Tour de France.

OLN shows it, but I dont have OLN!!!!!!!!
I feel your pain!!!!

I ended up buying digital cable in addition to my satelite just for OLN - all the other channels are redundant. So when the Giro is looked over in favor of a taped fishing show - I scratch my head regarding my $55/month OLN expense.
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Old 05-27-03, 10:33 AM   #4
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I have always wondered what US Postal get out of their sponsorship. The fans in Europe who follow cycling on TV have their own perfectly good postal systems.
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Old 05-27-03, 10:47 AM   #5
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Originally posted by bac
I scratch my head regarding my $55/month OLN expense.
We had OLN on our basic expanded cable last Spring for the Giro, etc... Just before the TdF they reshuffled the channels and moved OLN over to the digital cable... Of course, we only discovered this when my wife went to flip on the Tour. The next day I put the Direct TV dish on the roof of the house and that afternoon we had the tour. Cancelled the cable and haven't regretted it since.

I justify the Satellite TV expense by noting that it's about the same as the digital cable service that was offered to us, only suffers signal outages in the worst torrential downpours (not all that often) and gives me access to SpeedTV; something that disappeared from our previous cable service a long time ago.

So, at least for us, dumping cable has been a positive experience.
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Old 05-27-03, 10:52 AM   #6
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Originally posted by MichaelW
I have always wondered what US Postal get out of their sponsorship. The fans in Europe who follow cycling on TV have their own perfectly good postal systems.
I'm starting to wonder too. I'd always been under the impression that the USPS was trying to compete with FedEx and UPS as a worlwide parcel carrier, but some cursory investigation reveals no real evidence of this. Apparently USPS subcontracts their European deliveries to a company over there.

In the UK have you ever seen an advertisement for any delivery services from USPS?

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Old 05-27-03, 11:16 AM   #7
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I do not get cable. I have rabbit ears and get 4 channels. Every weekend golf and NASCAR rule the airwaves.

Not hard to see why we have an obesity problem in this country!!!
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Old 05-27-03, 11:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by bac
After reading posts that speak of the obvious lack of racing coverage in the US, I wondered why it is this way.
You nailed it... there aren't enough people who buy stuff riding bicycles. Mass marketing and TV ad revenue is what determines where the cameras go. I remain somewhat amazed that auto manufacturers are the ones who continue to underwrite the cost of broadcasting OLN's TV coverage. Where are Trek, Cannondale, Pacific Cycles, American Bicycle Group and Huffy? How about Bell Sports, CocaCola (Gatorade) or Pepsico (PowerAide)? If the folks who tune in to watch OLN's bicycle racing coverage aren't even considered to be a target audience for the companies who manufacture or sell bicycles or sports drink products it gives you an idea of just how little clout cyclists have on Madison Avenue.

All that aside, there is some interesting history with regard to the US and bicycle racing. Since others have done a nice job of writing concise summaries I'll provide links to those instead of paraphrasing...

6 Day Racing Events
http://coachcarl.com/uscycling.html

Track Cycling
http://www.austinvelodrome.org/page12.html

Barney Oldfield & The Growth of Auto Racing
http://www.cartrackers.com/Buyers_Gu...2411101.1.html

So, in short, the bicycle racing was replaced by motorsports. There was a minor renaissance for US road & track cycling in the 70's that was eventually consumed by interest in BMX and Mountain biking. However, as gloomy as it may seem, US road and track cycling is regaining its popularity. It will by no means happen over night, but perhaps we'll at least be able to enjoy watching it's growth instead of it's demise over the next decade.

The bottom line is, America is very different from the rest of the world and Europe in particular, where cycling IS the second most popular sport next to soccer -- something else most American's "don't get" -- and a variety of other motorsports offerings that are alien to most folks in the US. Thankfully, we do have OLN to bring us international and US cycling and Speed TV which does an admirable job of funding it's existence with NASCAR-based ad revenue so that they can bring US audiences things like the Dakkar Rally, FIA World Rally Champsionship racing, F1 Racing, the TransAm and Endurance races along with motorcycle racing in all of its various forms.

For those who are interested, Dave Despain has had two home-run commentaries over the past two weeks that tie in nicely with this theme, i.e., why don't American's "get it" and the rise and fall of different types of racing's popularity, i.e., how did something like NASCAR become so popular...

"My Take" On The Differences Between Europe And America
http://www.speedtv.com/commentary/6400/

"My Take" On The Impact Of Television On Racing
http://www.speedtv.com/commentary/6484/

Last edited by livngood; 05-27-03 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 05-27-03, 12:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by livngood
The next day I put the Direct TV dish on the roof of the house and that afternoon we had the tour. Cancelled the cable and haven't regretted it since.
Two years ago, my wife and I moved from an apt. where we had cable service with OLN to a brand new house. We called the cable company a month beforehand to have them set things up around the time we had scheduled to move in only to be told that our house and our street didn't exist in their database and they would have to send a survey crew out to "locate" us. They told us to call back in a couple of weeks. Two weeks later, we called back... still no joy. They told us to call back in another couple of weeks. It was the beginning of June now. After moving in mid-June, I called and was told they still had not surveyed our house and questioned if I was even in an area serviced by cable. I told them that I was staring out my back window and into my neighbor's family room and could see them watching cable TV (I recognised the channel guide which had the logo of the cable company on it). By this time, I realised that even if they sent out a survey crew that day and got us into their system, they would probably not get us hooked up in time for the start of the TdF in a week. I immediately hung up on the cable folks (while still on hold) and drove to the nearest electronics appliance store where I purchased a DirecTV dish and receiver.
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Old 05-27-03, 12:13 PM   #10
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Well, the only people interested in watching racing are pretty much cyclists..And we are either the ones racing, or to busy riding to watch races...Unless it the biggies like the Giro, Paris-Roubiax, Tour De France....
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Old 05-27-03, 12:22 PM   #11
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Well, the only people interested in watching racing are pretty much cyclists.
No argument here. The great thing about cycling is that to really get anything out of it, you must be participating in it. This is unlike a lot of sports where watching is enough. The downside is that people are simply not willing to participate in something. They would rather just watch it. The ones who can truly appreciate watching a bike race are the ones who also ride because unlike a lot of sports, we as cyclists can share much of the same experience the racers do. We can use the same equipment. We can ride the same routes. We can achieve the same goals. Cycling opens up more opportunity to "the common individual" than most other sports I can think of. Yet maybe that's its downfall in terms of popularity. People in the US want to see sensationalistic uncommon events. They want to experience through "the magic of television" things they can't do themselves. Cycling to them is pedestrian.
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Old 05-27-03, 12:23 PM   #12
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Its all about the bling-bling. (money)
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Old 05-27-03, 12:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by bac
After reading posts that speak of the obvious lack of racing coverage in the US, I wondered why it is this way. Then it came to me - there is almost NO interest in watching racing, as almost nobody rides in the US. If people rode, there would be interest. If there were interest, there would be coverage.

Consider this - there is more interest on the weekends in watching a taped fishing program, than watching a grand tour stage live. That about sums up the level of interest, and the relative number of cyclists in the US.

It's sad to think that there are so many who will never know the absolute joy of riding. To be honest, I don't think it will ever change in the United States. The cycling culture is past dead, and it's not coming back in my lifetime.

Taped fishing beats out live coverage of the Giro? Ugh.
Fisherman are easy to advertise to on many levels whereas cyclists aren't. Fisherman also buy billions of dollars of merchandise yearly. Fishing can be enjoyed by lazy people, children, old people, handicapped people.

Cycling on the other hand is exercise...look around, the vast majority of Americans are out of shape and sweat just seeing a picture of someone riding a bike.

Many people won't experience the joy of cycling but whether it's on tv or not isn't going to change that fact. More people ride their couch watching sports on TV than participating in them.

Personally I find watching sports on TV boring as hell.... I want to do it not watch it.
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Old 05-27-03, 02:46 PM   #14
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I've been waking up every morning to the Giro d Italia. I'm loving it!
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Old 05-27-03, 05:03 PM   #15
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I think this is a perfect example of how cyclist are stereotyped as liberals. These big CONSERVATIVE businesses do not like liberals, and think cycling is some how liberal. They would much rather show nascar's burning loads of fual on a mindless circle track, than show cycling.

Also, I don't feel its an issue of popularity, there are so many cyclist in my area, the sport has gained so much popularity. On most bike rides I sometimes have to fight and argue against other cyclist for that narrow strip of road next to the right lane.
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Old 05-27-03, 06:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by smelly
I think this is a perfect example of how cyclist are stereotyped as liberals. These big CONSERVATIVE businesses do not like liberals, and think cycling is some how liberal. They would much rather show nascar's burning loads of fual on a mindless circle track, than show cycling.

Also, I don't feel its an issue of popularity, there are so many cyclist in my area, the sport has gained so much popularity. On most bike rides I sometimes have to fight and argue against other cyclist for that narrow strip of road next to the right lane.
I agree with livngood; it's all about how much revenue can be gained from the targeted audience/group. More money can be made from a fishing audience than a cycling one.

It has nothing to do with politics. I think it's safe to say that most businessmen would be happy to broadcast a "liberal" sport if there was more money to be made than to show some other sport (whether they deemed it "conservative" or "liberal").
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Old 05-27-03, 07:10 PM   #17
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If I were you I would go nuts on your cable companies. All I do (Other than ride) is watch OLN. They have live coverage of the Giro, Spring Classics, Tour de France, Tour of Spain etc. Blitz them with calls and emails etc. The major networks don't cover crap any more. They are so caught up on "Reality" shows they don't even know about the real world anymore. It would be nice if they showed the reality that people actually do get off their butts and don't gossip all day. I'll step down from my soapbox. I still remember when the Wide World of Sports had coverage of the tour.
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Old 05-27-03, 09:23 PM   #18
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Quote:
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I agree with livngood; it's all about how much revenue can be gained from the targeted audience/group. More money can be made from a fishing audience than a cycling one.
Agreed. This is something that is in no way unique to the US. Although fishing isn't televised out here, cricket is for something like 6 hours/day during summer. The fact is that Joe Sixpack simply doesn't understand cycling. It's far too complex - the idea of race strategies and domestiques trying to help the team leader etc etc.

It's far easier for them to understand the idea of someone trying to belt a little red (or white) ball as hard as they can while 12 other people stand around watching.
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Old 05-27-03, 09:37 PM   #19
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It's far easier for them to understand the idea of someone trying to belt a little red (or white) ball as hard as they can while 12 other people stand around watching.
I find the rules of most ball sports to be convoluted, confusing, nonsensical and highly artificial. I find the rules for bike racing to be far more intuitive. I do concede that many things that happen in a bike race are subtle and the reasoning behind them are not immediately obvious for those laymen who may be watching for the first time.
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Old 05-27-03, 09:44 PM   #20
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I'm also wondering to what extent the perception of cycling not being an "American" sport is to blame. We get the "UnAustralian" rubbish out here when it comes to sports like cycling and soccer. Of course, this fails to consider the fact that cricket and the two rugby codes (which people watch fanatically) were both invented in England. And that "Australian Rules" football was originally based on the Irish game of Gaelic Football.

Sometimes I wonder whether people really deserve to know what they're missing out on.
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Old 05-27-03, 10:29 PM   #21
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sadly but its the truth about the lack of interest,,,,,i just purchased my first road bike and its funny how every one i know questions it. They always ask me why didnt i get a mountain bike , tell me about the "down sides" to a road bikes,,,over all not a positive understanding of the sport.
But i have to say forums like this help out alot . This site has increased my interest amazingly about a sport i really new nothing about a few months ago.
Also with all the companies producing such great looking bikes and other products , the exposure they do get will hopefully cause more interest. you can imagine the the awe i was in once i started visting web sites like TREK etc... . i was sold right a way
any way ......they ( joe public ) dont know all the fun they are missing
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Old 05-27-03, 10:37 PM   #22
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ERGGGG! Remember last year, when one of the network channels decided to show the last day of le tour? I took off work to watch OLN and totally missed the last day on A(N)BCBS.

Other then that, OLN's coverage is great IMHO, I wish it would be covered on ESPN if not a major network for more eyes to see.
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Old 05-27-03, 10:48 PM   #23
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Other then that, OLN's coverage is great IMHO, I wish it would be covered on ESPN if not a major network for more eyes to see.
I find it interesting that once Lance and USPS wins a TdF, ESPN and the major networks get all over the story... for about a week. And then cycling as a covered sport fades into obscurity for another year. No detailed reports (if there's even a report) on the other riders/teams/figures or races... not even the grand tours.

I am the opposite with sports like baseball and American football. I'll only watch it once a year (Superbowl party usually. Why? Because I like parties.) and even then I'm only mildly interested in the actual game.

On the other hand, most of my friends follow baseball and football religiously but only mildly pass interest to cycling after Lance wins the TdF. This type schedule is what US sports reporting caters towards.
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