How’s Universal Sports Doing?

We were exited like everyone else about live coverage of the Giro and wanted to know what fans thought of the coverage. We’re talking with Universal Sports about the show, the live tracker, and so on.

Tell us what you think and we’ll tell them. It’s a coup they got a Grand Tour and we do dig their straight-up feed.

giro_universal2.jpg


11 Comments

We don’t subscribe to cable, so we’re watching the feed every morning. We love the uninterrupted coverage. (Vs. would send you to commercial every 30 seconds.) We also love that it’s free! Oh, and every time they say “es-ca-PEE” it makes me giggle.

We do think the quality of the commentating could go improve, though. Heck, I think my husband and I could do a better job than the folks they have doing it now. Details on the obscure rider who’s gotten away. Thoughts on potential team strategy. Better job of identifying who is where. When video cuts to from one group to another…who are we looking at? Reminders of how the break happened for those of us who didn’t see it. More chatter on who the favorites are. (Side note: stop focusing on Lance and start talking about Leipheimer - the main rider for Astana.) Etc.

Today was the first day they started showing time gaps on the screen; that was good.

Good comments and Universal Sports is very keen on hearing them. The commentary is more like Eurosports or other English-speaking feeds, where they just talk along the race. To their credit, Vs. brought ESPN sports-entertainment to cycling with features on backstories and all. I enjoy the Universal Sports style, but also understand how a viewer can be underwhelmed by the coverage. Note it’s two guys sitting in a booth in SoCal instead of an in a custom trailer at every stage.

Where I think they deserve some criticism is charging for a [beta tracker](http://giroplus.universalsports.com/). Sure, on the Internet everything is a beta, but charging for it is another matter.

The coverage has been good (once it started working for me on Tuesday morning). Picture quality in the window on my browser has been excellent. I don’t mind the commentary (you get what you pay for). Kudos to Universal for throwing the tifosi a bone. Versus - they would just bone you.

This morning, I saw Hot Pants and a Milk Mustache with Dana Patrick three times before the streaming started but ok. As for the time splits and such, they’re just talking over a satellite feed and have no control over that. It’s [from RAI](http://www.rai.it/).

I wrote a blog post yesterday comparing Universal Sports’ non-free Race Tracker to their free stream, various other Giro watching options, and the Tour of California’s free Tour Tracker.

http://www.kadisco.com/2009/05/universal-sports-charging-for-giro-race-tracker/

In summary, I’ll go with the free stream for now but my second choice would be the Race Tracker.

Josh Kadis
http://www.kadisco.com

I’m watching on Comcast 303.  I think they are doing great - daily coverage is awesome.  Thought the phone interview with Andy Hampsten was cool.  Tell them to keep up the good work.

I have to say that Universal Sports feeds are awesome. At first I didn’t think the comentary was very interesting, but the video was better then the Tour de France. With live feeds, you can’t fake it. Real riding, not just what (VS) wants you to see. Keep up the good work!

I agree and all their feeds are like that. I’ve never watched some much snows ports ever. Cross-country skiing from Europe with just a feed and some dry commentary. It was great.

A few things… happy for coverage.

1) It’s Tyler FARRAR!  Not Ferra!  FARRAR!
2) It’s Carlos SastrE… not Sastra!  means taylor in spanish
3) Enought about Lance.

Thank you.

@slowpez - Not sure how well you know Tyler, but he pronounces it “ferra”.

First, the good. I was extremely excited when I learned that Universal Sports was broadcasting/streaming the 2009 Giro race [both live and later], and overall I was very pleased with the video coverage and even the quality [I utilized a wireless network via my laptop, which was connected to my LCD TV, and while the video quality wasn’t flawless, it was more than adequate].

Now for the not so good. I was greatly disappointed by the race audio commentary, and at times it was so poor and banal that I genuinely considered dispensing with viewing it altogether [though I probably would have first tried to stream separate audio from another source, but I’m not sure how practical that would be if I wasn’t viewing the video live]. The primary commentator [whose name I don’t know](I was also confused by the fact that at times there seemed to be a different commentator - actually, a pair - on certain replays) sounded as if he was completely disinterested in the sport/race and expressed absolutely no passion or excitement about the “action”, even during the most significant and exciting moments of the race.

Not only did he fail to garner or generate my interest [which was fortunately already strong enough to be virtually impossible to negate] in the race, but his complete absence of personality or even basic intonation, and at times what seemed like his disinterest in the race, was so overwhelming that it often disheartened me and muted my emotions.

However, nothing exceeded my level of frustration and anger more than his commentary during the last few moments of the final Time Trial stage. In particular, his obvious misplaced partiality was revealed most clearly when Menchov and Di Luca were in the final few kilometers of the stage. On this point it is important to emphasize that this was one of the closest Giro’s in it’s 100 year history [if not of any Grand Tour] - the first and second places were separated by less than 30 seconds! And yet despite this incredibly close competition that was playing out before us “down to the wire”, the commentator had such audacity and lack of skill that he spoke as if he already knew the end result with certainty, and or that nothing within the realm of reasonable possibilities could conceivably occur to change what he conveyed was the immutable and undeniable outcome!

Moreover, the true skill and best demonstration of a great commentator is revealed precisely when a situation is presented in which a particular outcome is virtually certain [which in this instance was NOT AT ALL the case]. Thus, for example, instead of droning on - in a monotone that one might expect when the speaker is reading aloud the contents of a soup recipe - about the fact that “Menchov will be declared the winner of the 2009 Giro in just a few moments time” [I’m paraphrasing] and other equally unambiguous and presumptive comments - all while the entirety of the three-week race hangs in the balance of just a few kilometers and seconds - a skilled and impartial commentator would have (even if he might have made certain assumptions internally) emphasized the ambiguity and precariousness of one rider’s lead over another by interjecting tone, emotion and content and noting the gravity of the contest.

And sure enough, my frustration and anger - that I was literally directing aloud at the screen [I was alone] by screaming that anything could happen, such as a last-minute fall by Menchov - proved (unfortunately for him) justified, when at that very moment, the then-winning rider whom, I reiterate, was leading the race by only seconds, did indeed go down. And for an instant I couldn’t believe what I saw, because I caught myself almost fooled by the commentator - as if he was a soothsayer - and I must admit that in that instant, and for no other reason than to see the commentator forced to eat his tiresome words, I found myself wishing that the fall would mean a win for Di Luca.

In any case, the scenario remains a perfect backdrop for having exposed a weak and completely undesirable commentator, and in my humble opinion, one that should never be employed as such ever again!

Auden L. Grumet, Esq.

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