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…
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.
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.
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)
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.
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?