Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Post-race thoughts on beIN-TV's 2013 Giro d'Italia coverage

I watched every minute of the beIN TV coverage here in the U.S. Seeing the Giro in HD was great, but they have a lot of kinks to work out. Perhaps their biggest problem was that they would cut to break at absolutely the most inopportune times, robbing the viewers of critical points in the race. They frequently cut to break inside the last few kilometers of several stages, leaving the action when riders were attacking each other, ...

...making critical moves, and just as they approached sprint and KOM lines. That drove me crazy. It was clear the director knew nothing about cycling.

They put up a lot of incorrect or inaccurate onscreen graphics. All too often they put the graphics in and took them right back out in less than a second. I work in television and I can tell you that is not good television. More importantly I watch television, and that is not good television. On the other hand it's a bike race, and it's the Giro d'Italia, so that's always good television.

They came on air later in the race than all the European broadcasts. I do not understand peolpe who say that there are "boring" parts of races. I want to see as much of a race as possible. I would love to hear other people's opinions on this. Pre-race, post-race coverage, the more the better--unless it cuts into time I could be seeing the beautiful environments and fascinating action of a bike race. 

beIN also employed the strange practice of throwing to the color commentators with about 30 seconds of silence, and then bringing their mikes up mid-sentence, mid-conversation. It seemed they continued calling the race during TV breaks, and the director did not confer with them at all, so he can’t create a viable opportunity to rejoin the action. It was very awkward*.

*Update: It has been pointed out to me that I should clarify that the reason the director was not on head-set with the in-race commentators (Kirby and Lloyd) was because they were not beIN studio talent, beIN was piggy-backing on the RAI English language feed. However, it was beIN who chose when to go to and come out of breaks, when to bring up and fade out the audio commentary, most of the onscreen graphics were theirs, and the following paragraph refers to the beIN production, not RAI.

The American announcer who took us in and out of the breaks made an error virtually every time he opened his mouth, often getting race situations, times and names wrong—and despite his obvious efforts, butchering the names of the riders with bizarre pronunciation choices. The job he performed is wholly superfluous, and with his surfeit of errors and ignorance, a serious detriment to the production. *I took his name out of this paragraph, firstly because all of that is the network and producer's fault for putting him there, secondly because it just sounds mean, and thirdly because I got his name wrong the first time anyway.

I can handle Carlton Kirby because his passion is obvious, if occasionally bombastic, and he usually keeps a light and fun flow. Daniel Lloyd is a very good color commentator, but he could be more assertive, as I have heard suggested. They may be the only two on the production team with any cycling acumen. I lost my enjoyment for the commentary from American-oriented broadcasts (like Phil and Paul did for Versus, OLN, NBC Universal, etc) because they were forever addressing their audience as though we are simpletons who have never seen a single bike race before (what does the red kite mean? Why do sprinters need lead-out trains? etc.)*.

*Let me clarify this, too, because I used to get enjoyment out of listening to Sherwin and Liggett. They are great at what they do--if what they do is introduce professional road cycling to new audiences. Much of their race calling seems to involve imparting very rudimentary cycling knowledge. I am tired of American audiences being taken for newbies. Most of us cycling fans--I think--want insightful commentary, less favoritism of the riders, teams and nations, and a dose of technical information.

I was not happy that I had to pay for a separate sports package through my cable provider (the evil and dysfunctional megalopoly, Time Warner) just to get this channel so I could watch my beloved race; but at least it was available, unlike NBC’s coverage last year which was not even available in several major markets (I live in New York City, and could not get it here because the only cable company available in my area (TWC) did not offer it). Watching the race on my big HD TV is also much nicer than crappy resolution feeds on my laptop.
Having said all that, beIN seems like they certainly can improve, which is more than I can say for many of their forebears.

Since I have been so critical (TV snob), let me try and end on a lighter note: One of my favorite aspects of cycling is the gorgeous and varied scenery we get to enjoy. I have toured Europe more through televised races than not. So I applaud anyone who wants to bring the road into my living room. I also very much appreciate some commentary on local history, sights and lore. That's something else I appreciate form Paul Sherwin; he always has tidbits on local sights prepared for the fans. I hope beIN--or anybody else--will continue to bring televised bike races to us "New-Worlders".
What did you think? Did anyone watch their broadcasts, or wish to comment on the race or any other coverage you watched?Do you have a favorite race announcer or commentator?


  1. Thanks a lot for your great post.your article is very interest of race.this post published new information about race.i hope you will give more interest post.

    1. Thank you for the comment. I have plenty more to say, too. I hope you will continue to enjoy my posts. Thanks for visiting!