TV cycling wars: Channel 9 versus Channel 7

It’s not quite over just yet, but it’s already been a fascinating summer of cycling in Australia. Plenty of great racing. Huge crowds. Painful crashes. And glorious wins. But arguably the most significant competition has been taking place off the roads as several not-so-familiar media names (in cycling circles, anyway) have thrown their hats and money into the ring alongside the long-standing leader of the broadcast peloton, SBS.

Not everyone is happy about it. But aside from occasional exceptions (highlights shown too late, and women’s cycling still gets a raw deal from all parties) and the ever-present viewer lament for almost any sport event shown by commercial broadcasters – too many and/or poorly timed ads – the coverage in 2015 has been vastly improved on previous seasons.

Of course, Channel 9 has been involved for a few years now. But with Channel 7 picking up the rights to Australia’s newest UCI catergorised race, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, it’s provided an intriguing opportunity to directly compare the two biggest networks in Australia.

Here’s our take on it…

Cadel-Evans-Great-Ocean-Road-Race

1) Commentators:

Keenan, Liggett, McEwan. Channel 7 had pretty much all the same voices we heard at the recent Bay Crits, Nationals and TDU, except for Paul Sherwen. No real difference, so we call this one a tie.

2) Coverage:

How good was it to see real-time KMs to go and gap times at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race? Live crosses to the directeur sportifs in the team cars and live ride stats from some of the Avanti boys like Paddy Bevin were also a great addition to the Channel 7 coverage. Having Robbie McEwan in the bunch on the moto talking to riders , and commentators, was pretty neat. Also, Liggett and Keenan taking twitter questions from viewers during the coverage is a no-brainer that Channel 9 didn’t seem to think of, or perhaps care enough to offer during the recent TDU? A pretty clear win for Channel 7.

3) Advertising:

We’ve all been pretty spoiled having watched cycling on SBS for so many years with only minimal ads. Channel 9 showed a lot of ads, and got caned for it. But Channel 7 seemed to show even more today. We’re saying it’s maybe a very slight win for Channel 9 here.

(UPDATE: TV networks can and often do run different volumes of advertising per hour. They can do this because the guidelines that stipulate acceptable maximum minutes of ‘non-program matter’ – i.e. advertising – are based on averages. This article explains it quite well: http://mumbrella.com.au/tv-ads-226313)

4) Commitment:

We fully appreciate it’s only a one-day race unlike the TDU and Bay Crits, but showing the whole Cadel Evans race live on their main channel was awesome. With multiple pre-recorded features that fit in with the coverage at different stages of the race – and not just tourism ads – Channel 7 showed some real commitment and forward planning here, pretty clearly leveraging a lot of their viewer engagement expertise from the V8s, Horse Racing and Tennis. It’s a resounding win to them on this front. Sorry 9.

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VERDICT:

All in all, it seems to us Channel 7 wins very comfortably, solo with hands raised in the air, no rivals in sight. But, regardless of who did the better job, the very fact the two largest TV networks in the land have now both broadcast major domestic cycling events in the past month is surely a very good sign for the future, and hopefully gives Cycling Australia something to work with in 2015 and beyond on the domestic front.

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “TV cycling wars: Channel 9 versus Channel 7

  1. Guys a bit of TV basics…..seeing as your article is badly researched and thought out.

    1. All commercial TV channels run the same amount of ads and ad breaks.

    2. So you think the 3 times (yes I counted) they did twitter questions was ground breaking. Yeah the one with the guy asking about how you can tell which way the wind is coming from” and the one that said “because of the bad weather this is the best race ever”…..even Phil nearly laughed at that one.

    3. Robbie on the TDU commentated with 2 of the best in the business and was widely reported as having incredible insight….so you think him talking 5% of the time on the back of a bike was better than having him full time in commentary?? Really??

    4. 9 and 7 have virtually nothing to do with the coverage. It’s all done by outside production companies and is only pu to air on 9 or 7. So all your crap about experience with other sports giving 7 the edge is WRONG. It was actually Eddie McGuire’s production company that produced it. And you liked the way they went to the tennis and didn’t hang around for the podium….and then during the Cadel after the race interview had mixed doubles tennis playing in a box next to Cadel……yeah way to respect our greatest ever rider!!

    5. The same production company that did the TDU for SBS has been doing it for 9….and has covered the TDU for 10 years.

    6. The Cadel Race did tourism vignettes same as TDU…..they just didn’t give you any info like “the Flinders Rangers being 340 million yeras old”or “the Barossa Shiraz vines are the oldest in the world, 150 years old”. They just played montages with no voice and music…..but you were probably drinking a latte at that point and didn’t notice.

    So a few more points on the TDU coverage that you failed to notice.

    As is required by the UCI you always have to have the “Distance to go”and “Gap” info up when it’s available from the timing provided. On the TDU it was up all the time.

    After watching all the coverage on Eurosport from all over the world I have never seen the data shown on the TDU. Distance Covered, Elapsed Race Time, Average Speed of the Leaders, and the Peloton over the race….then broken down to the last 5 of 10 K’s for each so you can see if the Peloton is catching, the k’s between the Breakaway/Leaders and the Peloton so you can finally see how much the time gap actually means when it comes to distance.

    On the TDU there where interviews during the race with riders…..not team bosses…..talking about tactics and parts of the road which were all dropped into the coverage at the time that it fitted. Sorry did you miss them as well.

    And one more thing. The TDU is played LIVE to countries all over the world so in the middle of the coverage the production company is at that time supplying the world feed…..if you had a clue what that means and the restrictions that requires you would also know that at that point we can’t cut to the Tourism Minister or Cameron Ling talking to Joel Selwood about a climb (BTW when AFL players were on the TDU talking about the race people like you jumped up and down saying “why do we have to have AFL players justifying why cycling is good) we have to stay 100% with the coverage as people in non English speaking countries are also commentating on it.

    If you care going to compare the two do it properly. So easy to bash out some words that are ill informed. Not so easy to make LIVE TV…..believe me it is much much harder.

    1. Darren….your first point is:
      1. All commercial TV channels run the same amount of ads and ad breaks.

      In comparing to SBS, if you do the research, you’ll find SBS legally have less ads then the commercial stations.

      The bigger point was also the placing of the ads. 7 and 9 did this poorly.

      Haven’t read your other points…..since the first point was wrong.

      Stu

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