Universal Sports, which has rapidly taken over a good size of the US broadcasting of pro cycling, is adding a pay wall in time for its Giro d'Italia coverage starting on May 8. Subscribers will be treated to live coverage and on-demand video through universalsports.com with the following options:
- $14.99 for the entire Giro
- The price drops to $9.99 if you purchase after May 23 -- in other words, you can buy the last 6 stages at a slight discount by waiting
- Stages 12 and 20, you can buy just the stage for 99 cents. Not sure why these stages; maybe this is a pilot
- For $39.99 you can get coverage of all their 2010 cycling events (sounds like more paywalls are coming)
- If you get Universal Sports over the airwaves, the paywall won't apply and you can watch coverage daily live at 7am Pacific (10 Eastern) and prime time replays each night.
Bummer? Yes, we all love excellent free coverage, but this is hardly unexpected. Cycling broadcasts have lured us in with free coverage before, only to throw up the pay wall. Remember the early days of Cycling.tv? My hunch is that $15 for 21 stages won't raise too much of a fuss as long as the login works smoothly. The main complaints leveled by Cycling.TV subscribers were the technical problems (especially with the ridiculous login issues) and uncertainty that you were getting any races once you paid. Universal so far has been flawless, and for the Giro the cost can be offset by not buying a soda at lunch, which you shouldn't be buying anyway, that shit will kill you.
Regarding that $39.99 -- Universal Sports needs to publish a full list of the events they'll be showing, and they need to tell us what the cost of purchasing one at a time is. I will ask for that, because until we know more that particular item isn't very useful.