Podcast: Chris Ball Talks Discovery, ESO and the Future of World Cup Racing

Feb 2, 2023 at 1:54
by Downtime Podcast  

Words - Chris Hall

Since the announcement of the Discovery takeover from Red Bull, there has been a lot of speculation and concern over what will happen to the sport we all love. I was lucky enough to get a chance to chat to head of ESO, Chris Ball, to find out all about their plans. We cover a bit of Chris’ background, how Discovery got involved and why Chris sees this as a good thing for mountain biking. I ask him about the changes to the format, prize money, if we’ll have to pay to watch the racing, who will be commentating and more. So sit back and hit play on this episode with Chris Ball.

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Member since Dec 5, 2017
177 articles

  • 159 5
 Nothing good will come from hiding the series behind a pay-wall. I'm a huge WRC fan and our sport is dying because it is hidden from mainstream sponsorship behind extortionate paywalls on a streaming service that is sub-par. DH will quickly realise what it had in Red bull was gold dust as it falls back off the radar.
  • 66 5
 The problem is that the UCI makes these decisions and they couldn't care less about the damage they are doing as long as they get paid...
  • 104 3
 The way its going we'll be seeing world cup downhill races at night in Qatar in five years (fake mud and all)
  • 33 26
 I've been long saying... This is an operation to stop MTB popularity.. we are not on the best interest at all of agenda 2030... Chris just got rich selling his sport through his company... I really wished to be wrong but all this nonsense just points out in this direction...
  • 11 1
 @millsr4: sounds like most governing bodies that dictate our daily lives.
  • 8 6
 @deepcovedave: The way its going, we'll be seeing WCI races held in Saudi Arabia near active war zones with missiles landing 20 kilometers away from the race.
  • 26 1
 @scott-townes: would watch
  • 28 1
 This appears to be how pro sports works in the streaming era. The costs of growing the audience appear to outweigh the benefits of squeezing the faithful. Here in Seattle watching hockey games for the home team is $80/month - and some games are blacked out. There's no amount of money you can pay to see them all. It's almost impossible to discover that we even have a hockey team, let alone watch them play. But the games are packed because hockey fans exist in sufficient numbers already.
Discovery has probably figured out that cycling grows organically via methods other than being discovered as a sport to watch. First you participate, then maybe you become a sports fan. Not the other way around. They have a lot of smart people whose career depend on getting this right. Consider that this is a terrible option for us perhaps, but it's the best option for them.
  • 5 1
 The racers in our sport love to race because they love to race and ride bicycles. That's why so many have stuck around for so long even with such low pay. I think the first race is going to be extremely telling of the rest of the season. If we realize halfway through the season that its garbage then I would imagine these racers are going to start looking for other means of racing (ex: national series, crankworx, US Open, etc.)
  • 19 0
 I have been around long enough to have learned that everything discovery touches dies. UCI is the cancer
  • 3 0
 @ATXZJ: could Discovery be like chemo on the UCI cancer though? Like, we end up with something better in five years, as UCI survivors?

I like it. Except the riders at the top right goddamn now are so great...they'll be the eyebrows that fall out or whatever...friendly fire, martyrs for the cause
  • 10 1
 The UCI and Discovery don’t care about downhill. The UCI sold the rights to cover its events to discovery and DH came as part of the package. They don’t care and they don’t want it. The best thing that could happen to downhill if someone who actually cares broke away and started its own series away from the UCI.
  • 3 2
 @Mtmw: We may not like it but this makes sense. Truth hurts sometimes.
  • 3 0
 @deepcovedave: Sprinklers and Giant Fans to fake wind on the open sections up top, before they get into the fake woods.
  • 3 2
 Dictatorship’s bound to fall.
We are the life of the sport.
All the bustard that milking the spectators, sport enthusiast, and riders trying to convert it to another money making machines can get lost.
Red Bull did well by making viewing approachable to all for free, with the best commentators ever.
  • 4 1
 @PauRexs: yep, normalise having no justifiable reason to go outside your "15 minute" city
  • 2 1
 @Mtmw: the people you speak of are almost always proven to not be that smart. There are very few folks with intelligence in c suites. The positions are mostly filled through nepotism of one form or another
  • 5 0
 @smaptyjohnson: Ball'n'them should be commended for starting the EWS, that took some...balls. Good. But they seem to have ignored, or at least heavily discounted, the contribution of the bike industry marketing machine(s) in their "success." Not surprising, that's probably what I'd do too if I were one of these guys, but man...Enduro racing really always seemed like some supply side stuff to me--the product has always sucked. I love wheeled racing and I love bikes, but enduro just isn't it. I've tried. Maybe that's just me, but I doubt it.

CEOs are sociopaths. Tall white handsome sociopaths. They're good salesmen and that nepotism you mention rules all. It's all a big bell curve of dingdongs and dipshits, brainiacs and dummies...that's completely ignored by confirmation bias and mediocre dudes who lucked out.
  • 3 1
 @MuddyFoxCourierComp: and they want to restringe ppl access to all forest they can... for whatever stupid reason they'll find... So yeah they suborned/influenced UCI (easy) and give Ball company a lot of money to be the bespoken face. And all this is compartmentalized so Ball doesn't know... Discovery just persuading the money and doing it's job of cutting the fan base... Which kids are going to pay to see the series? Everyone on this sport must start quite young to be an enthusiastic... They don't want the MTB Hero's/Gods RB was creating to raise more youngsters.. the one's "they" are interested in...
  • 1 0
 @PauRexs: hey dude so like... I'm actually the main guy in the whole thing, whatever thing you think is the thing, and I'm just checking in to tell you you're totally correct and boom you solved it so go ahead and take the weekend off
  • 1 0
 @owl-X: That'd be great but in reality disco and uci are the sears/k-mart superstore of trash.
  • 72 6
 Oh boy not this guy again
  • 61 11
 Chris Ball can Dick Pound for all I care. Not watching anything on Discovery, will watch whatever is the competing race platform.
  • 17 59
flag Mrbannez (Feb 2, 2023 at 6:07) (Below Threshold)
 @5afety3rd: Such a shame, we'll miss you
  • 3 22
flag sharpy182 (Feb 2, 2023 at 7:18) (Below Threshold)
 @Mrbannez: your right… he’s one of them that paid for Outside+ …… much still be pretty Butt hurt.
  • 20 2
 @sharpy182: To be fair, people who paid for Trailforks (even the 50% off early adopters) got O+
  • 5 0
 Like a fox in the hen house.
  • 42 28

The guy successfully organizes a worldwide race series that's actually reminiscent of how most of us ride and runs it for a decade and then we bitch at him when he's ready to sell it? Sounds like he's living the dream to me.

He has no obligation to the PB audience to try to run the thing how we want (with our non-existent experience in running a global race series) until we allow him to retire.

Enduro coverage isn't great right now, anyways. What if this results in better coverage and riders eventually getting paid more? I'll absolutley pony up during this trial year to watch it and we'll just see how it goes.
  • 18 4
 @WasatchEnduro: the guy's main claim to fame is enduro. Blows my mind how that's somehow a reason he should be involved in more!

It's like when Grandma ends up raising the kids because she sucked at raising her own. "Oh, you blew it? Here's more!"
  • 8 1
 @WasatchEnduro: Yeah its great that he's done that, but he's gone and sold out the DH with it, which was working well and great to watch.
  • 13 5
 @WasatchEnduro: living what dream? Profiting off the backs of others? Lying every press conference? Only out for himself? Enduro coverage has always sucked, but got worse not better over the years. The more mainstream MTB gets, the less appeal it has in participation IMO. I didn’t pick golf, or baseball, I picked the misfits. Now I’m not so sure this crap is even worth the shit we’re all fed on this site.
  • 1 2
 @pmhobson: def one of the early adopters. Also because it allows me to retain my Spot insurance early adoption status. So being O+ or whatever it is, saves me thousands in medical injury bills a year. I suppose that’s stupid though. I also get HBO included with my phone bill. Here’s an idea. How about all PB Trailforks users get discovery+ for free with membership so we can continue to bitch about how bad the coverage and rule changes are.
  • 1 0
 @5afety3rd: you mean Pound Dick...?
  • 1 0
 @owl-X: he also was DH technical delegate
  • 1 0
 @headshot: that’s not their name
  • 4 0
 @WasatchEnduro: the guy created a discipline that is inherently impossible to broadcast to live viewers, and is now taking over DH broadcasts. I think it's fair to be pretty suspicious
  • 58 1
 I just do not want to pay basically, so if you can make sure I don't, that will be best for me.
  • 3 0
 That's the first time I laughed all day. Thank you for that.
  • 5 5
 @robito: but the pb audience want the riders to be paid more. You can’t have one without the other
  • 5 0
 @chrismac70: you think the UCI or red bull paid athletes directly for being filmed while racing? Hahaha. Neither will discovery. Sponsors pay, not race organizers, not television companies, those get paid.
  • 2 0
 @5afety3rd: very true. And sponsors pay more if they get more exposure. More exposure means non mountain bike fans watching the race on their tv after the ball game. Not on an obscure website
  • 1 0
 @chrismac70: mountain biking will never have that broad appeal long term. It’s geographically and demographically out of touch for most people to relate. There’s a reason race car drivers and skateboarders have a higher potential for earning. Less and less people have cable tv as time goes on, further making discovery more likely to decrease viewers.
  • 62 6
 Chris Ball is a bullshitter and a sellout. He’ll be a perfect fit for the UCI and Discovery .
  • 1 0
 www.youtube.com/watch?v=kklKWbem_2A for those who want to see it in real life.... Warner called him out.
  • 35 2
 The future of "Fan base" is what will people pay to watch something they've never seen. You have to be a member to see it... Sadly, viewers watching on Discovery will be far less. 10%? 50%? IDK. But, I watched MotoGP, FIS Alpine skiing, Formula 1, AMA Supercross and motocross and Downhill MTB. All are now pay to watch on 4 platforms. I already pay through the roof for internet and TV, now add another $50-$80 a month to follow sports I like or follow TV shows that are going stream only. I just. I'll miss them, but just too much
  • 1 0
 what are you subscribed to for watching MotoGP, FIS Alpine skiing, Formula 1, AMA Supercross ?
  • 2 0
 @t-rick: I haven't subscribed, but it would be the motoGP app, Peacock and ESPN+ app for some races.
  • 11 3
 There is more to life than watching TV. It could be a good thing. Six more rides a year instead of looking at the TV on race day.
  • 7 0
 @jaame: that makes no sense. Watch the races when eating dinner at night
  • 4 0
 @MuddyFoxCourierComp: Exactly. I guess the big question is will there still be a replay available? Most races are on when I want to ride so I watch with my dinner in the evening. Certainly not missing a day on the trails to watch TV even if it is WCDH!
  • 2 0
 @jaame: I would DVR (record) them and watch them after the Miss's went to bed during the week. In the past, Formula 1 is on at 6:30am here, over around 8-8:30. Would be on the trails by 9am. I'm kinda over F1 these days. No testing means whomever invisioned their car best is best any given season. One or two teams hit it, no passing, no tight racing. It's a horrible practice and is ungodly boring. I DVR it and fast forward most of it. 1:20 minutes watched in 15-20.
  • 30 0
 I hope they revive the Earthed series so at least I'll be able to watch what happened during the WC DH season after it's finished, and listen to some great tunes at the same time! I'd pretty much prefer paying them to D/L the film rather than getting another subscription that's $20/month and only use it to watch (on average) 1 race every 2 months...
  • 9 0
 Ironically* I reckon Chris Ball has one of the best Earthed segments ever in Earthed 4 - Death or Glory!

I kinda miss the excitement of that DVD dropping through the letterbox to see a bit of the year's racing action in retrospect...

*might not actually be ironic
  • 17 0
 I would be willing to pay for GCN+ depending on who is commentating. If the current YouTube presenters are going to be blabbing along for the entire broadcast no thanks.
  • 7 0
 @lloyd506: I’d pay money NOT to hear them in that case.
  • 5 0
 Misspent Summers is going to be a big deal in the coming years I think.
  • 1 0
 @inside-plus: misspent summers is brilliant stuff
  • 27 2
 I'm all up for change, as long as it changes to *exactly* how I like it. /s
  • 23 2
 Reading some of these comments reminds me of the sentiment I read recently on a comments section of a windfarm planning application - people forming opinions based on the unknown. I've been biking over 3 decades and the sport hasn't massively progressed. Much as I'd like it to remain the unknown cool wee sport, another part of me feels it deserves so much more. Can but try.
  • 22 3
 How can we watch in the USA? I’ve still seen no answers and don't have time for 90 minutes of bs.
Also, How long do we think it will be before this operation folds? There’s no way they make it all the way through to 10 year contract with the plan they have today!
  • 17 1
 Discovery+ streaming. From what's been put out there so far. Yeah, I don't know if I have time to listen to 1.5 hours of an executives babble about how great he thinks his company is.
  • 6 1
 GCN Plus is theoretically available worldwide and will have the coverage. From the sounds of things that's kind of what they're pushing people to in general as it's all the racing, accessible in all countries.
  • 3 1
 @CleanZine: I just checked it out and from what the site says, I can subscribe from the US and consume in various formats. Is $50/year a heavy cost? No. However, at a glance on that website, the overwhelming amount of content they have doesn't interest me. Yet to determine my moves if any on it.
  • 7 8
 @bman33: Historically, being GCN, the content has been road, track, and CX based. This is the first year of mountain biking for them. Give it a chance, and maybe, just maybe, take a peek at some of the road stuff. As a "cyclist" you may just find some of the stuff interesting.
  • 3 0
 @handynzl: Appreciate the postive vibes and I still may try it for a year. That said, I am in my later 40's, been riding/racing since 80's if you count my kid BMX days and MTB since early 90's. Road biking just does close to zero for me. Track can be cool for a few minutes, but I don't see me following it or changing my schedule to watch any events. I do follow other events that aren't pure DH in cycling, but 9/10 times it doesn't involve skinny tires.
  • 5 1
 @bman33: Not a problem, mate. At least you've replied with a considered opinion and not just smashed the downvote.
  • 3 0
This for me, also.

While I don't begrudge the cost in of itself (provided it is decent coverage of each MTB discipline), it feels like we're subsidising the vast amount of content that is of no interest to the average MTB enthusiast.

At least if Discovery+ was available here, there might be something else on there that we want to watch.

Also, broadcast via GCN is doing next to nothing to "give MTB a wider audience". It is far from a mainstream streaming provider. Maybe, you'll pick up a couple of road riders, but that will mean squat in real terms.
  • 1 0
 @bman33: We have black out or restricted zones in the US for a lot programming if it's available from more then one source. I tried to watch MXdN from a UK site. Paid for the subscription, the minimum, watched a few things live the weekends before, no issues, nothing I watched airs here. Irish/UK Superbike, Truck road racing, etc.. Day of the race, got the preview show, then the gate was about to drop, black screen in white letters,"This program is geo-restricted". It was on BeIN Sports, the TV channel, which wasn't available in my area. Nothing aired here at all. I'm pretty sure Discovery won't let other websites slide. RedBull has carried the World Champs for about the entire world, but we haven't been able to see it on Redbull here in forever because of that site nobody has ever heard of and it was like $20 a month? I think if you did pay to watch it, I didn't think you even got the English version with Rob. Could be wrong about Rob, idk
  • 21 0
 I would be willing to pay for good coverage, however if the current YouTube clowns that present on GCN are involved no thanks.
  • 28 11
 why don't we all wait and see what happens before we come to conclusions? its fine to have critiques but if they are based on fairy dust, then thats what they're worth
  • 65 0
 Sir, this is a pinkbike
  • 20 2
 We are about to watch the death of pro mountain biking in real time. What a fucking joke!
  • 14 0
 Can someone explain to me the logic behind trying to grow a sport by placing the viewing behind a paywall? Vewing figures are going to drop off a cliff, along with any potential sponsors/investors!
  • 9 1
 Eurosport is part of many basic cable TV packages in Europe. Discovery airs many other sports and they will advertise their new assets to all their users. There are WAY more road biking fans than DH fans. A sizable number of them will get GCN subscriptions for the road biking and now gain access to DH as well.

In short, plenty of people who never bothered to look at Redbull TV will be exposed to DH coverage. So this certainly brings in opportunity to grow the sport's viewership.
Will that opportunity be seized? And if so, will it actually benefit the sport? That is to be seen.
  • 4 1
 @ak-77: sure but making it available to folk that can already afford to pay for these packages isnt very ‘inclusive’. Even my standard Virgin package just dropped Eurosport recently, so now you’d have to buy the ‘sport’ package at over £50 a month to get it. Not to mention the 1:1 ratio of adverts to actual coverage on Eurosport and the awful commentators (Carlton Kirby).
  • 2 1
 @ak-77: I get what you're saying, but you're still limiting who can actually watch the 'product'. Surely, it makes more sense, especially in the early years, to try and get as many people watching the sport as possible. Once audience numbers are up and investment/sponsors are on board, then you can think about monetising it.

It seems that Discovery/ESO/UCI don't want to put their own hands in their pockets to try and build the sport, they want the fans the cover the cost and ultimately the risk...
  • 3 1
 You, and a lot of people on PB, are missing something quite significant. Discovery are currently trying to build themselves as a brand for Sports broadcasting. They are buying up the rights to a wide breadth of sports from Mtb, to climbing and even tennis. So sticking mtb behind a paywall isn't the long term value proposition for them, it is a short term way to reduce costs. Longer term it looks like they want to build a big sports channel that they can sell as an entire package. Id rather mtb not be behind a paywall but I mean the idea of a sport channel with more than just your average PL football does sound pretty good.
  • 2 0
 @northernwig: I agree, Discovery is in this game to make money. My point wasn't that this is necessarily good for DH fans, especially the ones that don't have too much to spend. It is more that this has the potential to bring more eyes of people who have cash to spend. With that comes advertising money, and hopefully that may partially trickle down to the sport and the riders. We'll have to see.
  • 2 0
 @ak-77: of course they are. So were rb. What’s your point. You make it sound as if rb were some charitable foundation doing it as an act of kindness
  • 2 0
 @chrismac70: I didn't say anything about Redbull's intentions. A side effect of their business model was that DH fans got to watch the races for free. My point is, that even though the switch to Discovery's model may lose some viewers because they can't or won't pay for it, there is a real possibility that it will also bring in more viewers that would not have gone to RBTV.
I'm not an expert in marketing, I don't have a clue how this will turn out, but I am not as pessimistic as the commenters here that predict this will be the death of Downhill.
  • 14 1
 I listened to this episode and tried very hard to have an open mind about the coming changes. But I found Chris Ball not able to inspire a lot of confidence. Change is fine, things change. But listening to Ball made me think of every company I have worked with that went through management changes which inevitably tanked the company. I found Chris Ball to simultaneously come across as impossibly arrogant and incompetent all at once. He answers almost all questions with non-answers or deflections.
  • 1 0
  • 17 2
 con artist.
  • 1 0
  • 12 1
 Will the UCI allow blogs in the pits for practice and race day? Will we get gopro's of the riders runs on the riders personal page? I haven't listened to the pod, but my gut tells me no. I hope I'm wrong.
  • 2 0
 Why wouldn’t they? As long as it’s not some kind of coverage they plan on doing themselves they would have no reason to ban others from doing it.

‘Surrounding coverage’ such as blogs, websites, pre/post analysis, etc is basically free promotion for the event itself. You don’t see the nfl or nba banning these kinds of thing do you? It’s because it only helps draw viewers to the actual game or event.
  • 4 1
 In the interview he said that wouldn’t be affected. Things like WYN TV and Pink Bike Racing’s coverage should be in the clear. He talked about it like it was a win win for both parties.
  • 6 0
 @Wing-nut: actually I think it went like erm uh, eeeee, uuuuu, pbaaaa, duuu, orgnization helps everyone but errmmmm uhhhhh yeah ummmm shouldn't affect I errmmmmmm love win tv
  • 7 0
 @Wing-nut: he also said these will be now controlled
  • 10 0
 Gotta give hall credit for asking the tough questions.

He had ball zigging and zagging out there. Everything asked was very fair though.

While i do think the change has potential I’m still very on the fence about that potential realizing. I’m just bummed I’ll have to pay to watch the sport I enjoy most and won’t be able to share it with much of anyone I used to here in the states.
  • 2 0
  • 10 1
 It seems fairly clear that the UCI haven’t really known what to do with MTB for a long time and have effectively bundled up the entire thing and handed it over to ESO, that does raise some concerns in terms of oversight, basically who are ESO responsible to given that they seem to control prize money, course design and the very format of the competition. In F1 there is the owner of F1 (Liberty Media) and then a governing body (the FIA) for the technical aspects, race format etc…ESO almost seems to have control of both here.

The other takeaway is much like F1 where fantastic circuits have been traded for low quality options in city centres it sounds very much like DH will become homogenised for broadcast. If 3 minutes is all that can be financially broadcast then tracks like Fort Bill are going to be cut significantly.
  • 8 1
 IF you have sky you wont pay Eurosport is free on basic sky channels - I actually think the initial rumours now have been quashed and answered and I genuinely think this is good for the sport - maybe not instantly but they seem to have a good strong plan to work to!
  • 2 0
 What are "channels"? Sounds like something only old people get. And this Euro this and that makes it seem like this is all about keeping the sport Euro centric. There aren't even any events planned for the Americas.
  • 11 4
 Seems a lot of peiple posting an opinion without actually listening to the podcast. I thought a lot of what he said was positive and he was at great pains to remind everyone that its a project not a final solution right now. Just as Red Bull were pants to begin with (and how many times was connection lost over the years just as last few racers would be about to go?). Things will and can now be tried and, if needed, changed almost on a race by race basis if need be. More input into course design for safety reasons can now be achieved too and avoid the shambles that was Andorra DH and its bridges. "Rome wasnt built in a day"
  • 8 2
 Shhh, one does not give balanced and reasonable responses. This is Pinkbike. {Screamed like Gerard Butler in 300}.
  • 9 0
 That Shirt on the wall reminds me of the good old days of the Grundig MTB World Cup
  • 6 0
 I want answers like, yes we ruined ews coverage this year, but don’t worry we will sort it out, not we have great videographers and we tried some different things, feed back was that it was universally terrible but they only made small improvements at the last round but still fell well short, as an armchair fan I could of put together a killer show without breaking a sweat.
  • 1 0
 Also, no talk about how the website was universally crappy. It does not inspire confidence.
  • 7 0
 to be honest, I would pay for the coverage, on the guarantee that the money generated would be going back to the riders somehow,
  • 8 3
 Dunno if I'm going out on a limb here but here's my take.
I and my parents both subscribe to Sky UK.
We are all massive sports fans. My parents watch everything from Golf to Tennis to Olympics.
I introduced my 80 year old mother to Downhill and she absolutely loved it, and hated it at the same time because she is an ex nurse and could see the accidents waiting to happen.
But she was enthralled.
She couldn't watch a race live unless I was there to set up Red Bull TV on the living room TV and often just watched what I emailed her after the fact.
If I could just text my mother (Yes, she's worked that out!) and say switch on Eurosport, it's a really good race then yep it would be far more accessible.
Ok, we have to pay but most of us do that anyway.
If this sport goes mainstream and gets significant sponsorship and viewing figures, and my Mum is an example of just how awestruck people are when they see it compared to other cycling disciplines, and in five years everybody is earning more money, isn't it worth the teething problems?
I mountain biked in my younger years and forgot about it for a few decades. Life took over just as Downhill was born.
As a middle aged man I'm re-discovering the sport I loved as an adolescent.
You die hards out there who have been following it since it's inception may be the core but trust me, when you see it for the first time, you're hooked.
Yeah, I'm not a Discovery + person or a GCN person but I already have a Eurosport viewing as part of my Sky subscription and that's a lot easier for Mum to watch.
Sports grow and change. So does TV. I've watched F1 go from freeview F1 on BBC to freeview F1 on ITV to paywall at Sky. It's still my sport.
I still love it.
This is the same and if you can get a package deal that offers all you want then take it.
The future is not going to change just because you don't like it. Accept the future. Whenever I haven't I've come a cropper
If it means Jenna Hastings is going to get more than a few hundred euros for winning a World Champs I'm all in.
For info I have volunteered for the 2023 Worlds in Fort William and that is just after watching DH for less than a year.
This sport has legs.
It will be mainstream if it's on the right platform.
  • 6 0
 Could we get this in haiku form please?
  • 14 0
 @budgie-1: ChatGPT tried hard for us:

“Sky UK we subscribe
Sports for all, my parents too
Downhill enthralls mum
Olympics to golf seen
Red Bull on TV with me
Easier for her now
Future, accept it
Paywall may come, love remains strong
Jenna earns more, win”
  • 3 0
 F1 is an interesting example as their viewing figures went off a cliff when they put it behind a paywall. Fortunately for them they had a huge audience before that so even though they lost a lot of viewers they still had enough to make money from.

It's also big enough so finding streams online is now fairly easy which is lucky for me as we don't have Sky (or any kind of TV package like that). I suspect that probably won't be the case for EDR...

On the point about Jenna Hastings, if they'd increased prize money now they're getting paid more from rider entry, team entry going up hugely and opened up a revenue stream with broadcast partners then that would be one thing, but they haven't, and don't really seem like they intend to. That's part of what's not really selling this whole change to me. There's a lot more money coming in but it's hard to really say where it's going.

That and things are already being compromised for "the show", e.g. enduros being shorter now and only over one day so they can fit it in before other events the day after.

Looking at F1 as an example, sprint races were introduced to improve "the show", there wasn't really much consultation about it and I'd argue they haven't really helped in a lot of ways. Even things like how initially the official pole position was given to the person who won the sprint race rather than qualifying because it was a "sprint qualification" rather than a "sprint race" - the new DH semi format has real echoes of this. Very little consultation, questionable rules and decisions, done for "the show".

Another example is that I followed the EWS accounts on Instagram and YouTube. Overnight they totally changed and have become UCI Mountain Bike World Series, and now I'm getting random XC and marathon stuff in my feed, and no real idea of how I'd specifically follow the EWS/EDR. Even just from a social media management and branding perspective that seems like a huge fail, and they got told that by a lot of people immediately in the comments section...

We'll see I suppose. For me part of my problem with it all has been the absolute lack of transparency from ESO the whole way through. At least when racing starts they won't be able to just keep hiding, or giving somewhat empty answers on podcasts.

For what it's worth I hope it's a success and that my misgivings are unfounded, but I wouldn't say this podcast was particularly reassuring, on top of everything else that's happened.
  • 5 0
 Im all for paying to help grow prize money and the sport. The frustration is I already have outside+ and Discovery+, and now I have to add another subscription because I'm based in the US. If Discovery owns it why can't it be televised for everyone subscribing to it. Redbull has done an amazing job in growing the sport in the US and with this new format I believe its going to hurt the US market.
  • 1 1
 Nevermind most of us don't have cable, and I'm not interested in subscribing to another online service with a whole bunch of sports I have zero interest in.
And no North American dates? This is designed to keep this a Eurocentric sport.
  • 1 0
 @Fill-Freakin: The last two rounds (DH and XCO) are North America. Snowshoe and Mt Ste Anne
  • 6 1
 As a 'cycling' fan - inc road and CX - GCN/Eurosport has utterly transformed the viewing experience from what used to be using dodgy VPN's to get a low res, grainy race video with Flemish commentary to wall to wall coverage on virtually every race on the calendar, with pre and post show analysis, expert studio commentary and generally levelled the whole shebang up to super professional levels on a par with football, rugby, tennis etc etc

If they plan to do that with MTB - which I'm sure they do, even if it takes a while - then it's going to be great.
  • 4 0
 Eh. I'm in Scandianavia. Haven't had live tv/cable for 20 years, but we have 5 or 6 streaming subscriptions going.

So do I subscribe to Eurosport or Discovery+? Both? GCN? What about this Discovery/Disney tie-up? Or was it HBO/Discovery? Do I already have access? Is there an app for whatever I need to subscribe to on our Samsung TV, or will we have to I dunno...cast it from a gadget via something to the TV? All I see on the respective websites are crummy massive pics from all the naff reality shows I don't want to pay for. Eurosport seems to have lots of road cycling on their 2002-look website, but no mention of MTB? Will I have to buy some bundled "#$%# with soccer, golf & chess?
Will they have replays of the live event available immediately after it's finished so we can watch the whole thing in the evening when we have the time? Will they keep those archived?

There. That felt good.
  • 1 0
 I had a Eurosport+ subscription for a couple of years, mainly to follow road cycling. You can buy that and you'll have it bundled with the football and snooker and whatever. The replays are available more or less instantly and archived for some time.
I quit my subscription and was already planning to replace it with gcn before the announcement of gravity disciplines joining on there. It's basically the same without the ball sports and cheaper, my friends say.
  • 1 0
 Oh, and the TV app crashed all the time on my older Samsung TV but not on the newer. The mobile app for Android was good quality stream but had flaws, it didn't support running in the background or as small portion of the screen, if I would go to WhatsApp to comment on the racing with friends, the stream would stop.
One extra annoyance of the Eurosport+ was that it is paywalled, but you still get all the ads on the livestream.
  • 4 0
 It’s all going to end in tears. Simple as that. Had the pleasure of doing some work for Mr Ball and look don’t get me wrong as a person actually interesting chap but we did have a fall out over non biking related issues that he did resolve and that’s when I saw his true colours I was warned about prior. We did part ways respectfully considering I went mental at him. I would not call him an all out liar but he knows what he has done and the guys not well liked locally anymore which is sad as he is a local guy .Saying that the Tweed valley is a breeding ground for the GMBN fanboy squad. I’ve had folk look down at me cause I go cross country riding on my DH bike. It’s the only bike I have. Mountain biking is dead in my opinion and I think it’s a case of the pound signs are too big for a company that potentially could have been at the top. And befor start I’m old school so I show respect even if I don’t agree with what he done and the UCI for grooming him.
  • 1 0
 @boner90 thanks for sharing. I knew it--dude seems a master of weasel wording. If you're comfortable sharing more of your experience I'd love to hear it.
  • 5 1
 As big of a deal as racing is, the state of our beloved sport has nothing on the release of the Grim Donut review today! If you have click baited us we will have torches and pitchforks ready!
  • 3 0
 "oldschool43" I think you make a great point. Its another subscription to pay. Can the world of EWS & DH cut through the competition and get people to put money on the table. If yes, then riders get more money, prize money goes up, more advertisers, better coverage........... repeat. But if not, then off we go with egg on our faces back to Redbull who will most likely say "er, sorry boys, it late now".

For what its worth, I can't see this taking off. Like climbing, its not about the money. Sure there are one or two super stars who do well, but hey, look at where everyone parks at mtn bike centres, everywhere and anywhere its free. Would seem that I'm not the only tight one that loves this sport
  • 4 0
 I’m tight as a duck’s arse. I’m not paying another subscription to watch more TV. There are better things to spend time on than 1. Going to work to get money to pay a company so I can 2. Sit on my arse looking at the TV instead of actually doing something productive.
All sports are better when participating, rather than watching others participate (except bull riding).
  • 5 0
 Pay wall can do one so can Ball and his Enduro BS, Another vote for Dirt magazine, Earth DVD to find out about the races hahahaha
  • 5 0
 There should be a % of the TV subscription fees paid to the athletes. The athletes need to have a seat at that bargaining table as well.
  • 5 0
 Do they mention the access a wyntv or dialed or pinkbikeracing will be able to have?
  • 8 1
 They do and those formats won’t be affected at all.
  • 1 0
 As long as there is nothing live, and submit to rules and regulations...
Oh and CB also mentioned something about live cams being used in riders, so I expect they'll control those rights too. I'll be (happily) surprised if we still see Jesse Melamed race uploads shortly after the race.
  • 1 0
 @prevail: Chris said it won’t be affected at all. There is a big difference between what the dude says and what actually happens IRL.
  • 4 2
 This is more business than anything else and they wont listen to the riders union.

The UCI must have a General Motors management style TOP HEAVY since its pretty clear they haven't listened for years.

Were these questions prescribed and screened by Chris?

FIS is a model they dont like to talk about and would love to be as sorted as them maybe?

Chris PayWall Ball PILLOCK TO$$ER
  • 20 0
 @nosewheelly the questions were not prescribed or screened by ESO/Chris Ball. They did ask what sort of things I wanted to ask about, so as Chris knew what to expect, which seems fair.

Here is a copy of what I sent them...

I'd like to cover some of Chris' background briefly, as I think it will help people who don't know that part of Chris' life to understand where he's come from.

I'd like to hear a bit about the growth of EWS, how Discovery got involved and how that's taken us to where we are now.

I will ask about the areas sited in Chris' statement 'Over the coming years we will improve this cycling discipline’s environmental credentials, push forward course design, innovate safety standards, and give fans an entirely new experience, whilst making mountain bike more accessible than ever before.'

I want to talk about the interactions with team manager groups and riders union, thinking behind the format changes, growth over the coming years, work to improve accessibility for lower ranked riders, media access, commentary, the team that ESO has built for this etc.

I'd get shot by my audience if I didn't ask about Rob Warner and also what the viewing options will be.
  • 3 0
 @downtimepodcast: But you didn't ask the usual questions at the end! I imagine that the answer to the GBP150 question would be to buy a GCN+ or Discovery+ subscription!! (tongue-in-cheek)
  • 1 0
 @handynzl: ha, love it!
  • 2 0
 Hate to be the old man in the room but I recall similar sentiment when Redbull acquired the rights to broadcast from Freecaster (remember when Warner commented on Riffle crashing with: "That was uglier than E.T. with skin cancer!"...uncensored Warner was almost as exciting as the racing.) There certainly is some frightening anecdotal evidence in this thread about Discovery having a poor track record in this arena but I'm crossing fingers, preparing for adjustment/adaptation and really hoping I can still access races live, with good commentary and with solid coverage.
  • 2 0
 I think they are missing an opportunity here to make increases in prize money a priority instead of a “potential scenario but only if we make enough out of it first”. Increasing the prize money would in turn attract better riders and make the stakes even higher, thus attracting more attention to the sport and making more money. That’s where the investment should start. The sport is absolutely nothing without the riders.

All I see happening is that they start to make money but instead of it going to the riders as prize money, it goes to the establishment as a “return” for their investment into the sport. Sure I understand that model but to me it’s just a way to make money out of the sport under the guise of improving the sport. Probably similar to outside with pinkbike. Cash in on everyone’s passion without actually improving the product. I hope I’m wrong.
  • 1 0
 We will increase prize money when we have enough surplus profit after paying the shareholders.
  • 2 0
 Well I couldnt listen until now. The very best part of my week is listening to a podcast, and working on bikes by myself in my garage. I had to turn this thing off, tubeless setup on my friends bike will probably be flat tomorrow, but I had to go back in the house to watch tv, I felt like I just caught some hoodrat in a big lie and he just made it worse by changing his tory 50 times. The End
  • 2 0
 Chris Ball history - up and coming star, riding on Skye with Rowen Sorrell and Cunningham, bursts his knee in a crash that ends his career. 2.44
Chris starts his own business, grows the business and sells off the business at an opportunist time, continuing his roll as effectively the executive director. His passion for the sport (and making money) has driven him to follow the standard model and dream of every small business owner. He has all the lines and quotes that he has learned over the years. Sells himself well, but.... he is a business man an has made his living from racing trail riding (Enduro).
Fair play too him, its not easy and he found the right team, path and had the passion, commitment to go the full way though the small business dream.
Now.... what happens next isnt his fault as others have taken over the decision making and he is now creaming in from his time and investment.

Biking is no different to anything else really, its just business.

Unless he did it all for free and donated all profits to charity and saving the environment!!!!!
  • 3 0
 You have had it for free for years! If you love the sport pay the subscription and let those athletes earn some money. If you don’t go to woods and play on your bike , vote with your feet…
  • 1 0
 The riders don’t have a revenue share contract. This does not make them more money…

Hence a riders union needs to happen asap. Tv money drives all other pro sports pay.
  • 2 0
 I think biking/mtb/road bike whatever kind of bike use is the most extended sport in the planet.
It is rare to me to have a chat with someone over DH season cos many many riders do not have real interest in watching the races.
I don´t know why,
The Boring Enduro Series looks amazingly boring in the videos they made over and over every race. I lost all my interest in the EWS long time ago,you need more riders inside action,not a gentleman with a weird accent talking same sit every race...Is so bad to me I only read EWS stuff,0 official videos.
I hope they do not make boring thing with DH racing. DH racing is awesome like it is,we only need more support to the riders and let them talk more and interact more with the fans and people in general.
  • 2 0
 I enjoy watching the dh but I’m more interested in the enduro. I can ride those trails. DH starts to get a bit dull until half way through the men’s broadcast when you start to get to the decent riders
  • 1 0
 @chrismac70: I liked old videos but not those EWS new one´s from 2 or 3 years ago...DH live is very unique,that´s why you need a good guy to talk about DH stuff and rider related stuff to get some more background on the race scene.
Doing a video like you do with WRC is not very appealing to me, EWS videos are just like that.
EWS need more inside action,close to what DH live can offer. Just more rider interviews and more engaging comments on the race.
Totally agree most of raiders can get more related to Enduro than DH,that´s why making it soo boring and poor makes me very disappointed with the EWS itself.
  • 5 0
 So.... how do I watch the events? What is the price?
  • 5 0
 For US viewers, GCN+. $50/yr or $9/mo.
  • 1 0
 @handynzl: "Been silent on options for US viewers since 18th Jan." Fixed it for ya.
  • 1 0
 Tell me you didn't listen to podcast with out telling me you didn't listen to the podcast.
  • 1 1
 @budgie-1: No they haven't (been silent). For the countries listed, they could use Discovery+, all other countries are GCN+. Because your literacy levels aren't high, doesn't make it their fault.
  • 2 2
 @handynzl: Literacy levels? Article doesn't mention broadcasting to the largest viewer constituency. But go ahead and continue to be a pedantic prick about it.
  • 2 0
 @budgie-1: Largest viewership? That'll be Europe.
  • 2 0
 @budgie-1: They have also said multiple times that other regions are still TBC with more ways to watch being announced in the coming months. In the podcast this was updated to coming weeks.
  • 1 0
 @CleanZine: anyone in the UK who pays for or has a BT sport package automatically get discovery plus at no extra cost , I pay for BT sport and received a email link from BT to join DS PLUS ,
You just get the DS+ app and go from there , there are loads of sports on there , and it also has Eurosport
all at no extra cost……..
  • 3 0

Otherwise known as a subscription/paywall.

Just say yes it's all to be paid for now.
  • 2 0
 @GrandMasterOrge: yep, exactly this. The fact it's included in some paid TV packages is cool, but they are still paid TV packages, so by their definition not free.

I don't have any TV packages (aside from Netflix which I suppose counts), so the fact that it's now incorporated into random paid packages doesn't really mean anything to me. The free to view option that previously existed doesn't any more, but Chris wouldn't acknowledge that.
  • 2 1
 @bananowy: anyone in the UK who pays for or has a BT sport package automatically get discovery plus at no extra cost , I pay for BT sport and received a email link from BT to join DS PLUS ,
You just get the DS+ app and go from there , there are loads of sports on there , and it also has Eurosport
all at no extra cost……..
  • 3 0
 Hm. Disco+ - I'll need the "Sport" package, and as I feared, it bundles up golf, tennis, snooker and loads of WTF-channels. EUR 17/month. Nope.
  • 1 0
 I haven’t actually listened to it yet though. . . Hope it works out for the racers and the teams putting monies into the sport . . .hard to tell if having to pay to view will be good or bad as my crystal ball is at the cleaners . . . I don’t mind paying to watch racing though . . .it’s not a huge amount to watch through GCN in the grand scheme of things
  • 4 0
 An absolute coup for @downtimepodcast. Another brilliant episode. Thanks Chris, keep ‘em coming.
  • 1 0
 Say what you want, they are trying to make some good changes. Like banning single use plastics, which I think is an amazing step as I always hate the mess they make. Either no more plastic race taping, or at least they're going to reuse it for all the events. Preserving safety of course, considering that's another big improvement we're going to see. Or well, we're not going to see anything of course (unless you pay) but I hope you get the point: this is an exciting step forward.
  • 2 0
 When we used to lay courses back in the 90's for club and national champs etc, we would re-use the tape, to a point. That point being that it would get so tangled over the seasons, that you would spend half the day untangling things. Collecting tape was fun with tape rolled up and then stuffed down your top as you rode the course collecting in all the tape. 1990's body armour right there!
  • 1 0
 There is talk about the prizes 'being up to the riders' - I dont think they get hardly any conversation around the prize money or appearance fees. There is little to no talk about what sort of financial compensation the riders (the main actors of the show) will receive. They avoid the conversation all along. Look at the Tour de France, the riders make sh!t for money compared to ASO. Likely will continue here.
My son races in the World Cup so I get to hear some of the behind the scenes discussions and it is so far away from the more traditional sports.
  • 2 1
 The problem is, viewers want more riders, more earnings, more races, more locations, bigger salaries... Where is all this going to come from if not from TV earnings ?
Look at football... no, actual football, not the funny ball one in the US, it's a MASSIVE sport, because Sky sell rights to just about every country on the planet.. England didn't become the biggest football earnings country by chance, it was done and organised by selling TV rights. Millions upon millions of £$£$£ come back into English football from Sky (sure they take plenty out too, i'm not denying that).
For DH to grow, it needs a bigger audience, that means hitting viewers not normally who'd see it. Only fans of DH tune into RedBull TV to watch DH, but now it'll get fans who are sitting watching the Tour of the Algarve, then forget to turn TV off and are soon hooked on watching DH on Eurosport/somewhere.. They're what the sport needs, your average person at home, not your DH fan...
But weirdly, all the DH fans just want it for free.... despite seeing the articles that 70% of DHer riders earn $5000 a year...
  • 1 1
 Exactly!! Too many on here just don't get it; want everything for free, and wonder why riders get paid peanuts....
RB did a great job, but the sport wasn't growing quickly enough......6,7 rounds a season is far too few races.
  • 2 0
 I just don't understand how they think that putting the sport behind a paywall will help it grow? Sponsors want their riders/products to be seen by as many people as possible...spot the conflict?
  • 4 0
 @edhayetc I guess because millions of people already pay for access to these platforms and that number is much larger than those that are aware of, or watched Red Bull TV. So immediately you have a larger potential audience, despite the paywall. Drop adverts for DH racing into the other sports on the channels and you've got to expect a fair few people will watch it. It's pretty darn exciting to watch. Doesn't mean I want to pay for it by the way.
  • 3 0
 @downtimepodcast: I think the reality is though that most folk don't watch 99% of what they are paying for when it comes to subscription services, so I don't believe the numbers will be higher than they were when it was free on Red Bull TV. Even if non mountain bikers did end up watching it, would they then buy a bike off the back of it? Unlikely I reckon. If anything I think those into other 'extreme sports' are more likely to get hooked, and a lot of those folk are the ones who knew about Redbull TV, and the mountain biking was promoted on the app quite a lot. Finally, I totally agree that it's incredibly exciting to watch...but that is because I love the sport, know the riders, understand how incredible what they are doing is...and I think the last bit in particular is crucial, and from my experience of showing races to non mountain bikers, they just don't really get it/it's nowhere near as exciting to them...which I think is where the whole argument you've said falls down.
For what it's worth, I am far from a Red Bull fan, what they did to shut down other media when they took over from Freecaster was awful, and I think it took a lot away from the coverage of races.
  • 1 0
 @downtimepodcast: agree with your point here regards absolute numbers, more eyes will be on it via eurosport however a majority of those will be non-riders flicking through channels and looking for something to watch for 15 mins.

At the moment we have a sport followed by a dedicated 'core' audience, I think the decision here is to exchange that for greater numbers of eyeballs, whether or not they're ever going to ride a bike or care about the sport.

It may well appeal to outside of industry sponsors (Merc etc) and may well get enduro or dh closer to possibly being an Olympic sport. I remain sceptical as so much of what makes wc dh great is the phenomenal support it has from a fan base that lives and breathes it and also participates on the weekend.
  • 2 0
 @edhayetc: I've had a different experience with introducing people to the coverage. They seem to love it, especially if you take the time to help them understand it a bit more and tell them about some of the characters. If the new team do what they say they'll do and make the coverage better, bring out more of the characters and the unfolding battle throughout the year and make it a bit more accessible to non-core fans (without dumbing it down for us, which is a tricky balance no doubt) then I think it will bring people in. The reason they don't watch most of the stuff that they pay for is probably because it's not that exciting.

As for them not buying bikes, I don't think that's really an issue. I think it's more important that they get excited about the sport and therefore associate with the brands that support it. That makes it attractive to big (read big budgets here) out of industry brands that we've historically struggled to attract en-masse and especially to keep within the sport. That's when we'll see a lot more money pour in, riders getting paid more, etc etc. How long does that take? I don't know. But for race teams to be able to talk to sponsors and give (hopefully) much bigger viewing figures has got to help start that happening. Maybe your rich uncle will be buying a Rolex because Pivot are sponsored by them and he saw Bernard Kerr wearing one on the pre-race broadcast? Who knows!
  • 1 0
 @GrandMasterOrge: @downtimepodcast what sucks is I felt the coverage was already too basic. I always want to hear actual opinions about tire choices, suspension designs, or if dude's gonna over-amp and blow it in the last corner again...in going for a wider audience, they're gonna be even more elementary. The mention of realtime race data makes me think of shitty gopros taped facing backwards on a motoGP fork, showing some strange angle of a rider's boot or whatever...some speedometer overlay EFFORT INDEX or whatever.

There's that old saying, "give your readers the benefit of the doubt, they'll love you for it." Skip the overviews and just get straight into the goddamn nuts and bolts of it, and let us figure it out. Premiere League doesn't go over the rules of the game before every kickoff!

arrrrrrrrgh now i'm pissed LOL
  • 1 0
 I think DH can stand on its own, and it's strong enough to just cover it: it's the fastest way to get down this mountain!

I think we agree.
  • 1 0
 @edhayetc: it’s not about voters buying bikes. It’s about making the sport attractive to non bike companies that’s where the money is. Look at road racing. Virtually none of the teams have the bike company in the team title. They are way down the list of team sponsors. Top road teams are sponsored by banks, car companies, supermarkets, industrial conglomerates
  • 2 0
 Around 44 minutes in the works really hard to avoid saying coverage will not be available for free. Basically coverage will be available behind a paywall on an app or TV subscription. This is bad news.
  • 3 2
 Great questions and very fair answers - I like the strategic approach Chris and his team is taking. we fans just need to be patient and trust the process! Big up to Chris Hall for ALWAYS delivering QUALITY content with the downtime podcast - love it!
  • 1 0
 Thanks @timotjj glad you're enjoying the podcast.
  • 1 0
 Will I be paying to see racing? Well, I'm a massive fan; but mountain biking is an expensive hobby and if I have to choose between watching others ride bikes and riding bikes myself, it's a no-brainer. I can't justify relinquishing fun-tokens on sitting and watching others have fun.
  • 1 0
 I haven't had a chance to listen yet or read all the comments, because both will probably take ages. But I think the changes could be a good thing. DH is awesome but can be improved and hopefully this will eventually result in better salaries for riders and crews, less injuries and a more exciting viewer experience. There needs to good national series, a good feeder series, more elite races and maybe some alternate different race series (hardline). So I've no idea what UCI, Discovery and Chris Balls motives are but I think somethings had to change. EWS or whatever it's called needs a revamp too. It's shit to watch or follow. But it's really interesting. Probably fun to race though. On the other hand does it need to progress, if the racers are enjoying it even though most don't earn a decent wage. I think the biggest mistake being made is that the riders don't seem to be being asked what they want. Riding bikes is fun. Nuff respect
  • 5 0
 Any TLDL?
  • 33 1
 It will contain- Grow the sport. Support athletes. Wider audience. Increased opportunities. It will mean- Cut costs. Make more money. Keep that money.
  • 54 0
 @watchmen: Sounds like dynamic synergies collaborating to mitigate viewer apprehension while working to grow stakeholder investment.
  • 2 0
 I rarely have patience for podcasts. But won't these be transcribed in the next Downtime EP from Misspent Summers? I'll just wait for that one to drop.
  • 14 0
 @vinay: I've put some pretty handy chapters in the YouTube version. Hopefully that helps you get quickly to bits you're interested in.
  • 4 0
 I've put chapters in the YouTube version which will help you quickly get to the bits you're interested to hear about.
  • 21 1
 @downtimepodcast: Is there a bit where he apologises?
  • 3 0
 @gabriel-mission9: not that I remember
  • 42 4
 I'm glad I just skipped along and listened to short snippets as one dishonest BS answer is enough for me to not waste 1.5h on the whole thing. At this point everyone has known for some time that streaming will be a paid service, yet Ball still hasn't got the balls to say it. When asked about it, instead of a simple "no", Ball's idiotic reply was along the lines of "you won't have to pay if you're already paying for Eurosport". For the record, I'm not mad it won't be free, it was obvious after the switch and I can live without watching it. I'm just irritated by this kind of question dodging every time this guy opens his mouth. It's like he genuinely believes listeners/readers are morons.
  • 18 3
 Waterboarding would be the best way to get real answers.
  • 8 10
 @bananowy: congrats, you recited 3 seconds of a 3 min answer. Maybe don’t skip that much next time. He clearly stated, several times, that MTB broadcasting is now a subscription model.
Also they are looking into free to watch options like the DH semi finals or the U23 WCs. But it’s not clear yet if it will happen.
  • 24 0
 @prevail: Sure thing pal. So you think Ball honestly and directly answered the interviewer's question "Will we be able to see the DH final free to air"? Before you reply, please carefully refer back to the podcast where Ball repeatedly lies that "some" people will have to pay, "it depends on where you are", "those who have Eurosport/GCN+ won't have to pay", that "he's not dodging the question" (lol) and that "it's very complex" (in response to a simple yes/no question).

Seems I'm not the one who skipped too much Wink Semis and U23 have zero to do with that specific question in the podcast btw.

Honestly though - you seriously, deep down, prefer this kind of bullshitting for several minutes to a simple "no, there's no plan to stream DH finals for free at the moment"? Or are you playing devil's advocate for fun?

Again, I don't care that it's paid or that Chris took his early retirement opportunity. I've just got second-hand embarassment at how spineless he is about it.
  • 4 2
 @bananowy: Wait what? I haven't listened to the podcast, so clarify something for me if you would... Am I to understand Chris Ball took early retirement off the back of this deal? Literally took the money and ran? Christ, if thats true then he's even more of a c*nt than he looks.
  • 5 3
 @bananowy: it’s not a simple yes or no in this case. My wallet won’t be affected because I’m using the Eurosport Player for years now. I’m basically getting more content on this Plattform in the future for the same price.
  • 9 0
 @bananowy: The "I'm not dodging the questions" thing was quite something. I was almost literally at that point thinking about how he was doing exactly that.

I just don't get why he wouldn't say that it isn't free - there is literally no way that anyone will be able to watch it without paying for a subscription service. Trying to just swerve that by going "well, you might already happen to pay for a service that happens to show it" is just weak.

If those broadcasters have paid for the rights to it, I would imagine that it means that contractually ESO couldn't broadcast it for free even if they wanted to, so why not just come clean about it...
  • 3 0
 @gabriel-mission9: Haha sorry for being confusing, I just meant it was likely a very lucrative deal for him, he hasn't gone anywhere (yet) Wink

@prevail It is a simple yes or no. Your wallet is affected by your Eurosport subscription. DH finals are not free for you or anyone else. The question wasn't "will the price change for existing Eurosport Player users". It was "Will we be able to see the DH final free to air". The answer to that is no, plain and simple. I wouldn't mind Ball explaining that some are already paying, if he just said "no, it won't be free" in the first place.
  • 20 0
 @bananowy: I'm 10 minutes in. Dude's not talking to us. His audience is equally enamored with his CEO vibes...tall handsome white guy talking calmly and failing upwards. At five minutes, Downtimer brings up Ball's Calgary race protest thing, which is often held up as some evidence that Ball is a cool guy. Mad lad. Instead of having any sort of fun with it, Ball reminds us that bureaucracy is the real way forward, that trusting the system (now: him) is best.
At ten minutes he just said that the plan was to bring EWS into the UCI all along. Huh?
I'm not sure I'm gonna hit play again.
Millions of people ride bikes, we're not automatically my bro because we share that. This guy sucks. Aspiring corpo weasel, I'm zero percent hyped on him or his abilities to make DH better--or even maintain its current level.
His AMA on here was shit, his communication with the riders has been shit, and he ain't really talking. I think it's time to admit his history as a rider is immaterial, the public support from people who stand to make money from his perceived success is worthless, and he's not going to be forthcoming with us because he doesn't have to. Dude's a suit, bro!
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 @downtimepodcast: how to talk for ages without actually saying anything, gave up but only really want to know if they will outlaw Vital raw?
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 @owl-X: "the plan was to bring EWS into the UCI all along" - Did he seriously say that? Missed this gem. Means he's either lying now or lied to everyone when EWS started years ago.

His AMA was something to behold indeed. Well said that he ain't actually talking. He's just moving his mouth and some meaningless buzzword-filled noise comes out.
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 @jimmythehat: my understanding from our conversation was that none of the current media being created from the events would be stopped.
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 @downtimepodcast: Let’s hope that’s true, only mention as he said like WynTV which is great but doesn’t actually show rider footage
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 @bananowy: yeah, at about 9:00 in. It's what made me pause the vid. Straight up opposite of what I'd always heard...that's how these guys are comfortable operating though: say whatever you think the person in front of you wants to hear, or whatever will get you on to the next thing...

I was so hyped to see the team rosters yesterday, too!
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 @jimmythehat: Because that was RedBull's rules that Wyn had to operate under. Same with ending on the RedBull logo and chime. Ben Cathro went into it a bit deeper three(?) seasons ago when he got reprimanded for showing race footage.

Wyn has had discussions with ESO (he has said as much on the Making Up the Numbers podcast); and with Chris Ball saying that they are wanting to make the coverage more professional all around, then it would make sense to see if they could help Wyn be more, er, professional...
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 additionally what I picked up for DH:
1) Courses will get easier. he mentioned "balance" between technical tracks and TV coverage but did not say anything more about getting courses more technical but then talked a lot about making them suitable for coverage.
2) More live data, e.g. heart rate bla bla bla. He likes that from other sports e.g. motorsport
3) WynTV and other blogs should not be affected and there is no appetite to change these but he also said that there will be more 'control' over these.
4) Long term plan (couple of years): aiming to do a copy of EWS100 format for DH racing
5) Now that all disciplines are under one wagon, he's looking to develop a structure for feedback from teams and riders. There are now over 200 teams registered across all discplines.
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1. Making the tracks suitable for TV coverage is the wrong way around. Make the tracks suitable for riding the way DH should be ridden, then get those TV people to just do their job. The few who are watching it on the telly are paying a lot of money for them to do just that.
2. Are they going to share personal data of the individual athletes, will they be required to share that? Morning resting rate, aerobic threshold, max etc... Otherwise, what's the point of sharing the actual heart rate?
3. What does "control" imply if they're not going to change or affect these? Sounds like Chinese to me.
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 @ciechan: They vaguely mentioned using live onboard shots at one point. I'm kind of wondering if that means they'll be providing riders with a GoPro/equivalent camera so they can use the footage on the broadcast, meaning riders won't be able to use GoPros personally any more. Ball was very cryptic, so I'm wondering if the implication that WynTV will be fine because that's just chatting in the pits/coursewalks, whereas the restrictions will come for riders like Bernard Kerr or any of the others who release their practise/quali/race run footage in vlogs.

Not necessarily the end of the world for DH, but that will totally gut the vast majority of footage for the EWS/EDR. Most coverage of that comes from rider vlogs, and most rider vlogs are GoPro clips. You got way more info about those races from looking at rider vlogs than you ever did from the official highlights show.
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 @vinay: hey I am not saying whether its good or bad - just providing statements from podcast.
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 @ciechan: Oh yeah, that was clear from your first sentence, no worries! I just had an opinion about what he said. Thanks for the summary by the way!
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 @ciechan: just going back to the vlog point, relistened to his answers in relation to it. He specifically says about people "knowing their operational boundaries", then went on to say that the key focus is the live show, and finally that they wouldn't do anything to stop people doing things like pit chat, course walks and so on. Kind of sounds to me like that's finals footage being ring fenced for their paying broadcast partners - he talked about onboard footage earlier which would also tie in to my comment above.

Hopefully this is all wrong, and I'm making 2+2=5 but there's something about the way he answers (and doesn't answer) questions that makes me skeptical.
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 @CleanZine: Nothing makes my skin crawl more than someone who answers a direct question with a load of wordy nonsense that communicates nothing whatsoever. It's such a cowardly move. If you are ashamed of the answer, then perhaps you should rethink what you are doing...
Was speaking to someone the other day who was talking about this very communication style, but saying what a skill it was and how much they admired people who could do it on the fly. I asked them outright why they enjoyed being lied to. The conversation ended very quickly after that. Some people are very f*cking confused about life.
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 @ciechan: nothing gets me more than rider heart rate data
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 I bet half the guys saying they won’t pay to watch world cups would pay to watch if it was on only fans
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 Have they sold out to the big networks so I won't be able to stream even for a reasonable fee in SA?
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 I just listened to the interview - it sounds like it will be on Eurosport and Discovery+ depending on where you live, or globally with a GCN subscription. I think it’s like $8/month for GCN and you can also watch road racing, cx and track if you’re into that sort of thing. Not sure if GCN is live though.
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 @Wing-nut: It's live (and on demand {for when you forget to watch it live})
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 Have done a search on GCN's android app and it looks as if annually it will cost R720 or around $42 . They have the first XCO/DH listed as available on demand. I'm feeling a bit happier.
  • 2 1
 I wonder if there is a link between most MTBers hating a climb and where they seem to be permanently on the Kübler-Ross change curve?
  • 2 0
 Support club and grassroots racing. Don’t support the suited hyena’s wanting to steal the money.
  • 2 0
 Where is the NFL like option... 2 minutes of action followed by 5 minutes of commercials......but still free
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 I read somewhere that the average time of actual game play in the nfl is around 11 minutes.
  • 4 3
 Remember this day, and tell your future kids that you were there on the day that MTB deceased.
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 A slow 8 year death.
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 With all that said, where is the money going to come from to pay the riders, if no one is willing to pay?
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 We're now all going to be paying and the team entry fees have doubled yet mysteriously the prize money stays the same for year one...
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 Same place it was coming from until now. Sponsorship, which sells stuff to viewers.
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 Everything in the world should be free . . . And I should get free money
  • 5 0
 If everything is free, what do you need money for?
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 @handynzl: my new T shirt
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 that was 1 hr and 26 min of my life i cant get back
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 Ok my Aussie brothers, how do I watch it? What time do I need to be home from the pub?
  • 2 0
 Chris Ball and Dick Pound should do some press releases together
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 It's world series racing remember ?
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 RIP WC DH I guess I'll stick to NFL games
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 Paying for content isn't a problem, as long as it's amazing.
  • 1 0
 I was wondering where Chris Smith would end up.
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 Told is this about timing people riding two wheels down a hill or about a load of other absolute shite?
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