Simon Brydon of Cycling.tv is adamant his service is described not as video footage available on a website but as a fully-blown TV channel. Broadband users with laptops that can connect to TV sets – which is most of them nowadays – could even go the whole hog and watch the goggle box instead of their PC.
Cycling.tv can be made full-screen on PCs, with Mac users only getting a small viewing pane. The supported browser is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, not Mac’s Safari or Netscape, and all viewers also need to install Windows Media Player.
"Our technology is revolutionary and we operate on exactly the same basis as a Digital Station received over the airwaves," Brydon told BikeBiz.com.
"Soon the world will take all its TV digitally or by broadband. Broadband offers the same quality as digital, but is cheaper to deliver. Right now you could watch Cycling.tv on your TV screen like any other station and one day soon we will be on your TV channel menu just like all the others."
Brydon’s background is BBC and independent TV production. His partner, Euan Drummond, has a similar pedigree. The company behind Cycling.tv is IBTV, a business to business TV production company. This already airs High.tv, an outdoors pursuits TV channel, with a small selection of MTB content.
However, Brydon and Drummond are cycle enthusiasts, mainly road and cyclo-cross.
"We love cycling, but hate the way it’s covered on TV," said Brydon.
"It’s either on too late, not at all or gets truncated. That’s why there’s a strong market for sell-though videos. There’s demand out there that’s not being catered for."
The full launch of Cycling.tv won’t take place until the New Year. It’s in demo mode at the moment and was first seen at a sports rights conference in Monaco where the UCI and Amaury Sports, organiser of the Tour de France and other cycling events, were shown the technology.
The channel plans to eventually cover major cycle events live, although the launch mode revenue stream is too small to justify the expense.
Advertising is being sought from the global bike trade and from outside-of-cycling companies keen to tap into an AB, predominatly male, wealthy audience. On High.tv there are adverts from car manufacturers and the Royal Marines.
Companies with TV footage, but no ads, can supply the footage to Cycling.tv for the origination of ads. The cost of the ad screenings – not including origination – is likely to be $140 per 1000 unique views.
The slow roll-out of the channel is to keep costs down. At 60 000 viewers, IBTV’s bandwidth costs increase dramatically.
The site will be marketed from January onwards by a marketing manager who worked on NTL’s Premiership football website. As well as PR, there’s also a chance of Cycling.tv sponsorship of high-profile cycle teams, said Brydon.
Whilst London-based, Brydon believes the channel will have a global audience. It’s currently English-language only but could be easily modified to be multi-language, a boon for a site that plans to screen one-day European classics and peripheral events such as the Tour of Langkawi.
Cycling.tv is about to film interviews with Britain’s newest 2003 UCI world champions, David Millar, the UCI World Time Trail Champion, and Bradley Wiggins, the World Pursuit Champion. Other star interviews are in the pipeline.
But the vehicle to really promote the channel is a weekly lifestyle and results round up show with global appeal:
"We are looking for a headline sponsor for this show. It will feature the latest action, new technology, rider profiles, pro team profiles, pit gossip…anything and everything," said Brydon.
Right now, the channel is airing ‘Buckled’, the BMX magazine programme and a 25 minutes highlights package of the UCI BMX Supercross from Woodward, Pennsylvania.
Next week the channel will be airing classic 1940s Italian road racing featuring Coppi and Bartali in head-to-head duels in the Giro d’Italia’s of 1946, 1947 and 1948.
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