Over the past year, the desire to have a dedicated cycling channel kept gnawing at me. Cable and satellite have brought all kinds of programming into my home. Niche networks have sprung up to serve very specific interests. Why not cycling?
In the area of sports programming, I’ve seen the introduction of the Major League Baseball Channel (MLB), the NFL Network, the Golf Channel, and even the National Hockey League (NHL) network. All in High Definition, no less! OK, I know these sports are bigger than cycling when you measure viewership. But the NFL Network carries only a couple of games a year. The Golf Channel does not carry any big tournaments. Surely a Cycling channel can compete with these? OK, maybe not but it started the hamster on the wheel in my head.
Then came the Tennis Channel. Now we have to be in the right ball park (sports pun intended). That’s when I began to start thinking that the time is coming where we cyclists can have our own place on the proverbial dial. I knew the time was here when I saw the press release for the Ski Channel.
My problem is while I know Marketing, I know little about setting up a Television Network. For those of you who do, listen to just a few facts I have been able to find.
I’ve been able to come up with a few statistics that tell me that I am directionally correct in thinking there is a potential market for a Cycling Channel.
- 64.3 Million Recreational Cyclists
- 48 Million Adults
- Male/Female 45% – 50%
- Median age 32
- Median Household Income $70K
- 70% College Graduates
- Cycling is the #1 fitness activity among doctors and lawyers over 40
Now how about serious cyclists.
- 12M cycling fans in US
- 500,000 daily viewers of the Tour de France on Versus
- 300,000 viewers of most cycling programs on Versus
- $90,000 Average Annual Household Income for the 12M cycling fans
Remember that most cycling races are in Europe so these figures are not competing against prime time TV. These are competing against reruns of Law and Order and Battlestar Galactica. From my knowledge, TiVoed shows do not count in the ratings.
Here is where I think we have it over the the above mentioned channels. In 2008, there were 591 professional road races ranked 1 and higher. In addition, there are fantastic regional races. The season for the World’s top riders start this Sunday with the Tour Down Under and runs through October 17th with the Giro di Lombardia. You can’t find that season anywhere else.
News, interviews, training and racing tips are all possible programs on the Cycling Channel. Add to that the deep library of classic races in the World Cycling Productions libraries and you have plenty of content to fill the airwaves.
Once we get our slice of the airwaves, I would expect to see an increase in coverage. Just look at what John Eustace can pull off on a shoestring budget with no real outlet for his work. Once sponsors have an avenue to realize an ROI for their spend, you will begin to see more sponsor dollars come to cycling.
The first stop has to be Comcast. Not a bad first stop since they are the cable company in the US. Comcast owns Versus. Versus has the rights to the three major tours as well as most of the classics. While some of the channels I mentioned above have launched without the rights to their sports top events, this would be a non-starter. We just need to lay out for Comcast that this can make money.
I know a Cycling Channel would need to reside on the top premium tier of any cable/satellite provider. It may even reside in a Video on Demand/PPV slot. That’s OK. This is coming from a guy who asked for Rosetta Stone Italian for Christmas. The sole purpose is to watch as much of the Giro d”Italia on RAI as possible. I also have a subscription to Cycling.TV.
Let me know what your interest level is and would you part with a few dollars each month for the Cycling Channel.