the post .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... cycling.tv

june 2006

cycling.tv must be one of the very best things to happen to cycling since tullio campagnolo developed the quick release lever, and since all of us in velo club d'ardbeg are avid watchers, it seemed like a good idea to ask for an interview to find out more.

since i'm in bowmore, islay and simon is in london, meeting up for a 'real' interview probably wasn't going to happen, and it seemed unfair to interrupt their daily travail by phoning for a lengthy period (i could talk for britain, and doubly so if the subject is cycling). so i e-mailed the questions below and asked if he'd reply in his own time. so here we go...

when did cycling.tv start - i don't necessarily mean when it started broadcasting, but when did the idea spring to mind?

It started as a project in 1999. Just when webstreaming had an awful reputation because no one had bandwidth...we knew it would come and we wanted to watch bike racing!

when did it start broadcasting, and what was your first race covered?

We started in test mode in September 2003. Initially just archive and 2004 we started with Belgian semi Classic races in highlights. We then did more racing and our first live race was in February 2005, Omloop het Volk. George Hincapie winning Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on the Sunday after het Volk was a big day for Cycling.tv, we just developed from there.

why? was it dissatisfaction with eurosport or the fact that the latter didn't cover a lot of the smaller races?

Exactly, plus we could reach the world! There was lot of great racing just being wasted...to say nothing of the behind the scenes and other material.

in layman's terms, how have you managed to accomplish all this from a technical standpoint?

All technical questions are easy if you have money! Seriously, we developed with our technology supplier Narrowstep, they realized we were setting Worldwide industry benchmarks so they supported us. The key element is bandwidth, the technical parts aren't too complicated.

why have you used windows media player as a basis rather than quicktime?

91% of the World's computers have WMP on them. It's the easiest and most commercial player and it will dominate in the future. Sad but true. - not sure i agree with that, but i have a very strong mac bias:-)

has there been a large investment in software development?

We haven't really needed to invest in software, it's our technology suppliers, we can choose and pick. Our new download model uses a different supplier. Now with the business being so big it is people that cost, not technology, human resources cost. We had to grow from three people to twelve almost overnight!

as a lifelong apple mac user, i was delighted to find that you have made the effort to incorporate mac compatibility. was this a conscious effort? did it require additional technical resources and are you glad you did it?

We have really worked hard with our technology partners to get Mac compatibility. A disproportionate number of cyclist use Macs and they have strong opinions, just like us, so we wanted to serve them and on the whole we have. Given that last year the Giro service had no Mac service at all I think we're doing okay. Could be better, but still working on it.

not that i wish to diminish your advertising department in any way, but cycling.tv seems almost to have been a well kept secret. was this deliberate, or have i not been reading the right magazines?

We've been all over the UK press for years. Our new affiliate Marketing scheme allows every cycling website to partner with us and you should get in touch with Anthony.mccrossan@cycling.tv and ask him for an affiliate link. Content is king, get races and the viewers will follow..with some help!

is it expensive to advertise/sponsor race coverage?

Advertising is the same as or less than the trade press, and the results are great. Our advertisers all stay and we deliver results as our users are fair minded and support our advertisers.

some of the races are only available for the american market because eurosport are broadcasting coverage in the uk. is this a legal thing?

We try to get Worldwide rights but sometimes this isn't possible so we have to restrict access.

sky tv have managed to grab large chunks of live sports coverage through having a large cheque book. is this the only way cycling.tv can take races away from the likes of eurosport.

I think we can compete without a large cheque book. We have to, as we don't have one!

having mentioned that a 'uci tv' channel popped up in my cycling.tv browser recently (then ran away just as quickly), what sort of coverage will this give us? (these questions were e-mailed before the uci channel became a permanent feature of the cycling.tv browser)

Track, Cyclo Cross...MTB

your subscription offer for outdoor life network coverage lasts till june. will it be renewed after that with more coverage?

OLN is the USA only and just for this year until June 30th.

how did brian smith get involved (he's excellent by the way)?

Cycling.tv is owned and managed by Scotsmen and we took pity on him! Brian is now full time, he's a salesman and a commentator with great cycling knowledge - and he's a great guy. Sign up for his Braveheart ride in Lanarkshire later this year.

and lastly, how do you see the channel developing? with increased broadband speeds and coverage, how far can you go (from a technical standpoint)?

We'll be delivering into the new Freeview boxes in 2007, that internet TV straight to normal TVs, there's no limit, internet delivery via a set top box but delivered via internet, plus mobile internet to handhelds. One million people on Alp d'Huez watching the stage live on cycling.tv until the riders reach them on the climb? There's no limit...

cycling.tv

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this website is named after graeme obree's championship winning 'old faithful' built using bits from a defunct washing machine

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as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

this column appears, as regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.

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