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Some Cycling.TV Tidbits

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First off, I know a number of us were ticked off yesterday morning when we discovered that the C.TV had left us for dead regarding Zueri Metzgete coverage. I have yet to find any explanation, and on further review it appears their "promise" of race highlights today is actually only for people who sign up now. For the rest of us who kicked in the same amount of money for the same 1-year time period -- only earlier, back in their seed money phase -- it's nothing but Interbike chatter.

Disappointing to say the least. I for one am of the mind that Cycling.TV has been so great this year, providing live video where previously we had nothing, that I'll give them a pass. That said, they could do their paying customers much better than they have lately. On the flip...

I'd like to see a series of reforms, almost all aimed at transparency and communication... in no particular order:

  1. A site news tab... why can't they let us know what happened yesterday? Is there anything they can say about future programming, besides the occasional bulk email? It's impossible to get any information out of Cycling.tv unless you email them directly. For a fraction of the bandwidth they spend on their daily newscast, they could include a page on site news. Right now, there's a "Cycling.TV" tab where they give a little history and some chatter about a box for your telly that they'll be sending out shortly. That's a nice start, but most of the season, we've been left wondering what their programming is looking like, how it's going to be made available, etc. From direct contacts I find them pretty obliging (and yes, I am aware that they can't talk about events when they're in the middle of negotiations). But there should be a place on the site where we could have gone yesterday to find out what happened.
  2. Predictability! I know they're working on the event calendar, as it seems like they've been putting together programming on the fly this year. That's the internet for you. But as soon as humanly possible I'd like to see a full calendar, preferably by the start of next season. If this can't be done, OK, I understand, but as a subscriber I'd like to know what I'm paying for when they're asking me to kick in. I suspect we're on the same page here... I bet they could have sold a lot more premium subscriptions last April if they had the whole year's list available.
  3. One payment. The multiple payments turned off a lot of people here, as far as I can tell. Assuming their business has been evolving drastically all year, this is another forgiveable offense. But along with setting the programming calendar at the start of the year, they should also be striving to change the payment plans. A few packages is probably a good idea (e.g., Classics-only; Grand Tours only; or the whole enchilada), but I want to pay once, in April, and not have to think about it again.
All of this is intended as friendly, unsolicited advice for the C-TV. Opinions here have varied, but IMHO it's red meat for the starving masses over here in the Cycling-oblivious US-of-A. I like Anthony and Brian, and think they've gotten better over the year, particularly Anthony's calls of the final KMs. Anyone who suffered through the Worlds coverage should appreciate having announcers who recognize the riders and can interpret what's going on. And lastly, even while I complain per above, I sympathize with them as an organization finding its way. If they ultimately turn into a reliable source of high-quality video for the entire Pro Tour (minus the already-available TdF), at anything resembling an affordable price, I'll be a shameless booster.

One last note: we've long carried a link here to their coverage. Pretty soon (when I have a moment) that will turn into an affiliate button, where you can sign up for the service and I'll get a kickback!

They also invite certain sites like ours to carry an embedded player, so you could watch the race through a window on this site. I'm not sure this is technically feasible with our software (going over my head here), but if it is, I'd appreciate comments as to whether we even want it. Now, I open C-TV in one browser and this site in another, so I can toggle back and forth between watching there and commenting here using my task bar. If C-TV were imbedded, we'd have to come up with a convenient way to be watching and typing at the same time for it to be worthwhile.