Broadcasters in China, Latin America and Middle East head into distance with Tour
CCTV, the Chinese state broadcaster, is among the overseas television networks to have committed to showing cycling’s Tour de France until the early 2020s in multi-year renewals.
Ahead of this year’s Tour, which starts in the Vendée department in western France on Saturday, ASO, the organiser of the race, announced that contracts are now in place with CCTV in China, until 2021, international sports broadcaster ESPN in Latin America, until 2022, and commercial broadcaster Caracol TV in Colombia and pay-television operator BeIN Sports in the Middle East, both until 2023.
Several of these outlets have already been showing ASO races, including the Criterium du Dauphine and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, in 2018.
The ESPN and Caracol deals are significant given that Nairo Quintana of Colombia, three times a podium finisher, will again be one of the favourites for this year's Tour de France.
ASO also highlighted the enhanced coverage of DSport, the Indian television sports channel owned by international media giant Discovery, which is now available in nearly 110 million homes, and will offer 90 minutes of live coverage of each stage.
International interest in the Tour de France is likely to have been enhanced by yesterday’s confirmation that Chris Froome, the winner of four of the last five events, has been cleared to take part in the 2018 race after the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, opted not to take action against the British rider over an alleged anti-doping violation linked to the asthma drug Salbutamol.
The World Anti-Doping Agency subsequently announced it would not be appealing against the decision.
ASO has unveiled several TV innovations for the 2018 Tour de France, including live slow-motion footage from a race motorcycle, as already seen in the Paris-Roubaix, more real-time data, 3D real-time locations of the riders and a televised ceremony at the start of each stage to acclaim the jersey wearers and the ‘hero of the day’.
Digital firsts include a new fantasy game, an official website responsive on all devices, including computers, tablets and mobile phones, and a common platform for following the race live via host broadcaster France Télévisions with links to live coverage, videos, statistics, updates and rider locations.