Universal Sports to carry the Giro – Update

May 8, 2009


The Official Word from Universal Sports.  Also, they are trying to put the heat on Direct tv.  If you are so inclined, call them  1-800-Directv.  Here is the press release:



TV and LIVE Online Coverage Starts Tomorrow


 Agreement Coincides with the Event’s 100th Anniversary and Lance Armstrong’s Italian Giro Debut


LOS ANGELES – May 8, 2009 – Universal Sports announced a multi-year deal today to broadcast the Giro d’Italia as the race celebrates its 100th anniversary, starting tomorrow. Lance Armstrong will make his debut in this race as he returns from his retirement.  Coverage of the race begins with a team time trial on Saturday, May 9, from Lido di Venezia on the Universal Sports Network and live online, all broadcast times available at UniversalSports.com.


Universal Sports continues to solidify its commitment to broadcast top cycling events with the multi-year broadcast agreement. As part of the deal, Universal Sports will provide television and online coverage, including archived video and television re-airs, for the 2009–2012 Giro d’Italia races.  Previous to this agreement, the race was available on a limited basis on the Versus network, and through pay-per-view on Cycling.TV. In addition to the Giro, Universal Sports has had a long-term agreement with the International Cycling Union (UCI) to broadcast world cups and world championships in Road, Track, Cyclo-cross, Mountain and BMX, as well as the Tour of Basque Country, Tour of Missouri, Tour of Georgia and the Deutschland Tour.


COVERAGE ON UNIVERSAL SPORTS:  Universal Sports, available in 45 million homes, will present same-day coverage of the 2009 Giro d’Italia, with nightly re-airs at 9 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET. The Universal Sports broadcast team consists of Steve Schlanger and former professional cyclist Todd Gogulski, with Scott Ogle on the ground in Italy.


Date                 Events                                                                        Time (all times ET)

May 9             Lido di Venezia                                                        12 p.m.

May 10           Jesolo to Trieste                                                       12 p.m.

May 11           Grado to Valdobbiadene                                        12 p.m.

May 12           Padova to San Martino di Castrozza                    12 p.m.

May 13           San Martino di Castrozza to Alpe di Siusi           12 p.m.

May 14           Bressanone to Mayrhofen                                                 12 p.m.

May 15           Innsbruck to Chiavenna                                         12 p.m.

May 16           Morbegno to Bergamo                                            12 p.m.

May 17           Milano                                                                        12 p.m.

May 18           Rest day       

May 19           Cuneo → Pinerolo                                                  12 p.m.

May 20           Torino to Arenzano                                                  12 p.m.

May 21           Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore                              12 p.m.

May 22           Lido di Camaiore to Firenze                                   12 p.m.

May 23           Campi Bisenzio to San Luca (Bologna)              12 p.m.

May 24           Forlì to Faenza                                                         12 p.m.

May 25           Pergola to Monte Petrano                                      12 p.m.

May 26           Rest day       

May 27           Chieti to Blockhaus                                                             12 p.m.

May 28           Sulmona to Benevento                                           12 p.m.

May 29           Avellino to Monte Vesuvius                                   12 p.m.

May 30           Napoli to Anagni                                                      12 p.m.

May 31           Roma                                                                         12 p.m.


COVERAGE ON UNIVERSALSPORTS.COM:  UniversalSports.com will provide exclusive, live coverage of the entire Giro d’Italia, starting with the Stage 1 team time trial at 8:30 a.m. ET. Each race will be streamed live at 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET. Complete schedule, as well as full-length videos, highlights, stage maps, photos and breaking news available at UniversalSports.com/cycling.


ABOUT THE RACE:  The Giro d’Italia is one of the three major, multi-week European professional cycling stage races, along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain). The Giro consists of 21 stages, including six stages held in the mountains. The Giro will conclude at the Colosseum in Rome on May 31.


Alberto Contador was the winner of the Giro in 2008 and only the fifth rider to win all three grand tours of cycling, but will not defend his title this year.  Italian Ivan Basso won the 2006 race and is returning after a two-year doping ban.


ABOUT UNIVERSAL SPORTS: Universal Sports, a partnership between NBC Sports and InterMedia Partners, serves as the preeminent multiplatform destination for Olympic-related and lifestyle sports programming available on television and online. Universal Sports is a 24-hour television channel available in 45 million television households in markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Reno and Omaha. Major world championship and Olympic qualifying events found on Universal Sports range from track and field, skiing, swimming, gymnastics, marathons and cycling, to volleyball, rowing, triathlon, fencing, speed skating and martial arts. UniversalSports.com delivers an immersive experience via live and on-demand competition coverage, interaction with top athletes through blogs and in-depth access to Olympic sports news and information year round. For more information on the availability of the Universal Sports 24-hour television channel, please visit UniversalSports.com


It looks like Versus is bucking cycling

May 8, 2009

Back in 1999, I quit my cable and joined Dish network for one reason and one reason only.  They had The Outdoor Life Network.  Back then, the Outdoor Life Network was the only port of call for European cycling in the US.  I made the change in May just in time for the Giro d’Italia.  I had to endure complaints from my family about satellite companies not providing the local feed of the Weather Channel.  To me, it was an easy sacrifice.  No “Local on the 8s” but the voices of Phil and Paul were now in my house.  Later when I switched to Direct TV, I made sure OLN was in the lineup.

In September of 2006, Comcast, the parent renamed OLN, Versus.  Versus also acquired the rights to the NHL.  That was fine.  I never saw hockey as compition to cycling.  What was increasingly supplanting cycling from the Versus lineup was Bull Riding.  

Cycling now had become the red-headed step child of the Comcast Sports family.  Neglected.  Not allowed to grow and achieve its full potential.  You heard me call for a Cycling channel but with Comcast’s vice like grip on Grand Tour and Pro Tour rights, that could not happen.  So I turned to Broadband and Cycling.tv.

Cycling.tv brought the whole cycling world directly into my home (or office if you need to know the truth). Versus had all kinds of rights to the Grand Tours but was able to partner with Cycling.tv to bring them to the Internet.  I was satisfied, if not happy with the arrangement.

For the first time in a long time, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel.  NBC and it’s Universal Sports Channel has acquired the rights to the Giro d’Italia.  No fanfare, I was just sent the below email from Universal Sports yesterday at 4:44pm.


Just a heads up we will be broadcasting the Giro d’Italia starting Saturday!!! Sorry for the late notice we just found out we got the rights.  I will have more details and information shortly. 

All LIVE on-line and just a slight delay on TV ( I believe all races will start at 12 on TV)! 

Cycling Channel: http://www.universalsports.com/SportSelect.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=23000&KEY=&SPID=13044&SPSID=105618 

With that, my world began to change.  Could we finally get a cycling channel?  Could we grow within a sports loving, nurturing company?  The smell of athletic competition has replaced the smell of Bull dung.

Unfortunately, it seems that there is some collateral damage.  It looks like Cycling.tv lost the Versus Giro feed and will go dark tomorrow morning.  In fact, it looks like all the Italian races organized by RCS are now off the Internet.  This includes Milan-Sanremo, the Giro di Lombardia and Tirreno Adriatico.

I do not have confirmation from Universal how they intend to broadcast the Giro over the Internet or if they will work out a deal with Cycling.tv.  Looking at their site, I don’t see the infrastructure for Internet broadcasting.  This is important to me because, I am back to where I was in 1999.  My provider does not carry Universal Sports. Curse you Direct TV!


Unlike 1999, I don’t have an easy solution.  I’m told by Verizon that FiOS service is still a few weeks away.  Ironically, my other option is, get this, Comcast.  Yes, Comcast carries Universal Sports. If this is for the greater good, I’ll need to figure out a work around until Verizon gets their wondrous fiber to my end of the street.