Cycling Shows Strength Of Sports Content

There’s a paradox going on in TV sports. No one of course knows what the future media landscape will be maybe as soon next February, and yet content is so coveted, networks are signing rights deals running deep into the next decade.

The latest example came Tuesday when NBC Sports inked a 10-year deal for the Tour de France. So what if Lance Armstrong is found guilty of using steroids, casting a cloud over the sport? So what if winners have their victories negated because of performance-enhancing drugs?

Unlike soccer, it also seems unlikely that cycling will gain too many more fans in the U.S., short of another Armstrong, who is widely perceived to be clean.

Yet, the NBC Sports deal runs through 2023 and includes digital and mobile rights. There will be live coverage of the whole race, including on the NBC flagship network.

By then, a cynic might say, NBC’s prime-time line-up might be so troubled, replays might draw higher ratings in prime time. That climb in the Alps sure can be gripping.

But the Tour isn’t the only part of the deal. NBC Sports properties will continue to offer the Dakar Rally and Paris Marathon and cycling events such as the Liege Bastogne Liege.

Networks are banking on sports in some form continuing to be as popular or more so for a long time. On that front, they are right. Cycling, though, may travel a different route.



4 comments about "Cycling Shows Strength Of Sports Content".
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  1. Mike May from Huge, June 26, 2012 at 4:26 p.m.

    I wouldn't be too sure about a low ceiling of cycling viewership. Even though the Lance bubble has burst, the activity of cycling - if not yet the competitive sport - is growing. And Americans who are genuinely interested in the sport have as much reason as ever to tune in. American teams and American riders on foreign teams are playing as big a part in the professional scene as ever.

    Also, I didn't see the terms for the deal, but I expect cycling rights are not nearly as expensive as other sports. So even if the audience and ad revenues pale compared to the Olympics or golf's majors, the ROI could still be pretty strong.

  2. Chris Chesebro from L'Oreal, June 26, 2012 at 4:51 p.m.

    " also seems unlikely that cycling will gain too many more fans in the U.S., short of another Armstrong, who is widely perceived to be clean."

    I challenge you to back the above statement up with any data. I'm disappointed in the apparent lack of objectivity in this article.

    If you believe this is a bad deal, state that and provide some data that backs up your opinion.

    Lastly, +1 to Mike's comments.

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, June 26, 2012 at 7:20 p.m.

    Cycling - both participation on our roads and pathways, and watching events such as Le Tour - is also growing rapidly here in Australia. Pleasingly, that growth precedes Cadel Evan's win in the 2011 TdF as well as the introduction of Orica GreenEdge to the ProTour. And yes ... I will be staying up to 2am for three weeks watching it!

  4. C. lee Smith from SALES DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, June 27, 2012 at 6:23 p.m.

    If nothing else, watch it to see the beautiful countryside in France!

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