12:15pm PDT / 8:15pm BST: "Thanks for all questions and I appreciate I couldn't answer them all tonight. We'll keep releasing details throughout this year and look forward to 2023." - Chris Ball
Last week we had the announcement from the UCI that ESO Sports, the owners and operators of the EWS, are leading mountain biking within Warner Bros. Discovery, including the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Warner Bros. Discovery and ESO will provide the organisation, media, production, broadcast and promotion of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup from 2023 to 2030.
From next year Chris Ball and his team at ESO will lead the future of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, and have said they will be "working with riders, teams and destinations to bring the mountain bike community together at festival-style events celebrating the entire discipline." There are no concrete details on a 2023 calendar or what the format will look like under Warner Bros. Discovery but this is set to be announced in the coming months.
For now, Chris (@chris-b-mtb) is here to answer any and all questions you might have on the organisation of future World Cups. Fire away!
How ‘Ask Us Anything' Works:
Starting at 9 AM PDT/ 5 PM BST on 14 June, 2022 you can type your questions for Chris Ball into the comment box below this article and he'll have a crack at answering them from 11 AM PDT/ 7 PM BST. Sometimes your answer will pop up in a few seconds; others may take a few minutes while Chris works his way through questions. Everyone who posts a question, large or small, will be taken seriously.
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• Ask Us Anything is a service to PB readers who are seeking helpful information, not a forum to broadcast opinions or grievances. If you do have an issue that you want to ask about, no worries, just keep your complaints relevant and in the context of a question so that it can be addressed in a productive manner
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I don't think it's very controversial for me to say that, beside the potential paywall situation, getting Rob Warner on future broadcasts is the #1 most important and realistic things you should be considering if you want to keep the momentum that Red Bull has built.
I spoke to many people about this over the weekend. They don’t want an “outstanding lineup” they want Rob!! If Redbull can’t offer broadcasting anymore and Robs out of a job just offer it back to him. It’s what the fans want and No one deserves it more than him.
Comment Quote: “ I asked Rob, while at Fort William a few weeks ago, if he would have a job next year as we were discussing the coverage. He said he had a job with Red Bull next year and Discovery had not contacted him.”
@ryansimonovich If that's the case, a simple "I can't say anything about that at the moment" or even "I don't know" would be sufficient and much better than the constant beating around the bush and long, evasive non-answers that were the theme of this AMA.
The only way to do it would be to increase the time interval between riders, but I'm sure that could present a bunch of other challenges. Do you start earlier and cut into practice time? Do you start later and risk running into bad weather later in the day? The longer the race runs the more chances there are for conditions to change, which could start to effect the fairness of the racing.
I'd love to see more racing, but there would I'm sure be alot to consider.
And better not give Warner the boot! He is one of the reasons the worlcups are exciting too watch
Will we be able to watch live streams (and replays) of the DH and XC races without paying similar to what Redbull are doing this season?
Seems pretty obvious what the real answer is. No free livestreams, maybe no livestreams at all. The "EWS-ification" of World Cup coverage.
If they stop independent media it'll sound the death knell for DH. At least as long as it stays in the clutches of the UCI anyway.
This note at the bottom may be an indicator of what to expect next year for MTB...
*Live cycling will be available to stream on discovery+ in the Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK. Eurosport’s linear channels will serve 50 markets in Europe with streaming on the Eurosport App. GCN+ will offer streaming and added content in 208 territories.
Pricing for GCN+ - Purchase an annual subscription for £39.99GBP/$49.99USD/$59.99CAD or a monthly subscription for £6.99GBP/$8.99USD/$11.99CAD.
I would just like to add that Rob Warner is a treasure and in a lot of ways the heart and soul of the current production quality. If you aren't already working on it, I would recommend doing whatever you can to retain him and his services if it's possible. Additionally, one time he pet my dog and it was amazing.
YES [ ]
NO [ ]
Remind me why Redbull isn't hosting these again? Not that they don't have issues too (no privateers or JRs, etc), but this seems like losing your fave trail to a highway project or something...just seems greedy.
Oh yes, with that production quality I'm really looking forward to the next season! Shot on green screen and with VFX done by an unpaid intern to maximise earnings without having to do the hard bit of growing the sport.
Also can you please answer one single question instead of avoiding all of them? Why even do the AMA if you don't want to answer?
People are obviously heated in here, but kidding aside I'm hopeful that this change will bring about some more flexibility. Congrats to you and the team!
@chis-b-mtb made 21 posts in this AMA, of which 19 were answers to questions.
Response topics are:
8x venue related "putting the world in world cup"
2x The calendar needs looking at to include more venues
2x politics 101 non-answers about platform and delivery models
1x Politics 301 We can't/won't talk about Rob
2x We'd like to show full race runs
2x we want to expand coverage for more riders and more categories
1x more money = more prizes
1x "we spoke to some people on the car park, maybe Santa, maybe Commencal, maybe a drunk fan, anyway, ALL the teams know details now"
And finally 1x Who on earth is Brian Park? What is PinkBike Racing?
Some answers cover multiple topics
Concluding: Warner? Dunno. Cont'd free and/or worldwide coverage? Dunno. Expanded tracks in S. America / NZ, etc? Maybe. More coverage for privateers / Jrs? Dunno. Not giving us much reason to get excited or continue reading.
If anything, more of us are just about sure now that it'll be paid content, Warner's out (massive mistake), and more of the same coverage of just the few instead of dipping into the unknowns & Jrs a bit. I'm getting prepped to be prepped for a shitty 2023 viewing season.
A good example is formula 1 coverage in germany.
For many many years, it was free to watch on TV.
Last year, Sky bought the broadcasting rights and made it pay-tv.
Even though the title race was way more exciting than in previous years,
there were over 50% less viewers in germany.
Pay-Tv won't grow the sport.
@madlyrotating No way, the "structures(TM)" that the corporate overlords put in place didn't work? Say it isn't so
B: Will I be able to watch a live stream of WC DH next year? Replays? Will I pay for either?
III: What bike do you ride?
*yes lets push the envelope...
*lets powwow and make sure the juice is worth the squeeze..
*we'll think outside the box and synergize the mtb ecosystem..
*dig into our toolbag, open up the wheelhouse, ply our thought-leaders and check core competencies...
*utilize our leverage and have a conversation around that
...and all the other usless hollow corp-speak we all hate. Kinda sounds like UCI DH is gonna look like NASCAR in 2023+
As it seems like here:
Chris: Might you clarify some of the empty phrases thrown around, namely:
- What is too be learned from ski race coverage. I watch both, MTB DH and skiing. To me the coverage of DH by RB was miles ahead of ski race coverage (public tv Switzerland).
- What is too be learned from car racing? I'm not even aware of any car racing coverage done by Eurosport?
If this is supposed to be promotional for what WB.D are doing for the sport, then my primary exposure will be in the results of the PB fantasy leagues.
Guess I'm buggered for XC coverage then.
What an obnoxious hype-fest.
Chris did you ask your post to be censored?
Post Q&A = in the negative and still falling......
The vague non committal answers come across very badly and in all honesty I am now genuinely concerned what the series and content will look like next year.
Will the criteria for choosing venues be changed, so it's not just the places with the most generous tourist boards which get the races (and we get a bit more variety)?
I mean, you can’t just increase the races and venues all over the world and in the end only the top 5 teams can even pay for the travel costs and logistics.
Anyway, is there a plan to share concise important Rider facts/stories? without having to follow 30+ people on social media and not having to watch all the videos from all the teams... thanks.
In the US Turner Sports is mostly what the "Average America considers to be a sport", NCAA, NBA, PGA, MLB, NHL, NFL. No Streaming Service. This is why olympic sports, world championships mountain bike, le Tour is all on NBC in the US.
More specifically, how much does it cost to host a world cup and can we get a rough price breakdown? Who's spending money to buy what from whom?
An article diving into this would be some beautiful journalism.
1. One of the things EWS has done well is taking the series to new and 'out there' venues, Chile for example. WC DH has been to places like Japan in the past but more recently it's been repeats of the same/similar European venues are there plans for the series to be a bit more adventurous in terms of locations? Would be great to see a bit of adventure and different cultures in the circuit.
2. Any changes to the number of riders to qualify? The drop to 60 riders cut off a whole segment of riders who are often the local heroes we may know that can on a good day qualify top 80. In my opinion this cut off the grass roots access to the world level, which is one of the great things about this sport.
3. I think every one would appreciate a direct answer to the question of will the WCDH live stream and full replay be free to watch or part of a paid subscription. We're going to find out eventually anyway!
What would you change and why?
who will be the 'work group ' deciding of those changes?
I hope you consider the privateer sector and implementing a way for unsponsored or very low-sponsored athletes to stay involved. Wyn has done a tremendous job in bringing exposure (and a little $$) to that end of the sport, but it could use a more official banner!
Also, please let folks like Wyn, Cathro (and PB for that matter) use footage at/from the races in their own feeds. It will only make the sport better. Redbull is far to draconian about not allowing other coverage.
Then you send a message, get a response back, and ignore it
As for “focusing on the actual questions” perhaps delete @chris-b-mtb answers because they are not actually answers to any questions.
Starting to get a bit reddit-esque with this 'moderating'.
@sarahmoore You guys are happy to tolerate some absolutely vile shit going down in the comments even when it's reported to you (those click and comment numbers don't stink, eh?) but now you've suddenly remembered how to moderate because some corpo drone got uncomfortable?
PB is f*cked.
If anyone thinks this will be a positive for our sport DM me. I’ve got some property that’s the deal of a lifetime for sale!
What can be done so we don't miss out on key aspects of a run for example a Laurie Greenland loop out or a Reece Wilson world champs run?
This year the tracks seem dumbed down turning it into an off road crit race.
Is this deliberate, have I missed the point of them, any plans to make them more technical?
-will coverage still be free?
-will rob warner be kept on?
i've been watching since the freecaster days, but now, with a notable cost of living increase, seems the worst possible timing to levy any fee, onto something that used to be free.
Sick of shouting at my screen while Claudio cluelessly scratches his head trying to figure out why someone is behind when they're caked in mud down one side
(Reuters) -Warner Bros Discovery Inc is looking to cut up to 30% or nearly 1,000 jobs in its global advertising sales team, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The company on Tuesday started offering members of its U.S. advertising sales team an opportunity to voluntarily leave the company, the source said, adding that the global advertising sales team has about 3,000 members.
The company's finance chief Gunnar Wiedenfels in April reaffirmed its goal of achieving $3 billion in cost savings after a $43 billion merger between Discovery Inc and AT&T's Warner Media.
Side note. Rob Warner IS WCDH!
2) What would you change to enhance the viewers POV?
3) Any talk of doing a behind the scenes show like Netflix's F1: Drive to Survive
There seems to be a widespread assumption that Red Bull TV would be willing to keep providing free to air coverage up to the current standard for the rest of time. Is this actually true? They presumably have some way of measuring ROI for the resources they put into providing the coverage, and would pull it if it didn't deliver whatever result they wanted. I don't personally know if it is sustainable or not
Will there be any changes to the format of the racing?
Are there any plans for more rounds? And will those rounds be in more diverse locations than Europe and north America?
So there has to be some sort of riders backgrounds ultimate/legitimate source. I dont want to be following 30+ riders on the "gram" getting over 200 posts per week. There needs to be something concise and summarized, otherwise i just wont care about new talent. It is just impossible to follow.
UCI and these bizbrains have already decided the superfans are not gonna butter their brie...they'll be able to point to the PB AMA as an example of us being impossible to please, cheapskates looking for free streams, whatever. ...time to put their efforts towards "growing the sport" (hint: that's ended well about zero times)
Just have to be positive and no matter what the final 10 riders will still be exciting. (Umm how much is it gonna cost?)
Where will the money go?
If the race coverage is good, with replays I would pay. If it's just a bunch of 3rd party video that's not even created by you then I likely would not.
If you want more, better coverage, and more rounds somebody has to pay for it.
I don't mind paying for coverage of same/better quality than current RB coverage. But it seems concerning that literally nothing anyone asked about has been thought about enough to give an answer.
You will have to pay for more than 5minute highlights ,that is free on you tube. Either via GCN+ or with your cable tv or streaming service
GCN is a pay to play network. So any “stories “ /“reviews “ are paid for content.
GCN has good and bad commentators. Go to Chris Horner’s butterfly effect youtube to see how bad they are. ( he mainly rants about Brian Smith) Matt Stephens ( who is great) left GCN to go to Eurosport. said he wanted to do more serious grownup work than what GCN did. Then they merged.
In any case, it seems completely insane for them to have said "let's do an AMA!" without even being able to say "WC coverage will be on GCN+", or whatever. But to people in this thread who are losing their shit wondering whether we'll have to pay.... those ppl need to grow up and use some common sense. Of course we'll have to pay. The mere fact that he's saying "there will be a mix of paid/unpaid content" means that the premium coverage will be behind a paywall.
With this deal everyone has to pay but what you get (maybe/hopefully )will be better than what you got before
GCN is monetisation of industry via paid advertorials/ reviews/ techfeature or any content but showing bike brand xyz who have paid them.
GCN+ Will be the monetisation of super-fans. We pay them but delayed full runs maybe possible as we pay there maybe profit in it for them to do all sort of stuff that wasn’t worth it for redbull.
Eurosport mtb show ( not live) is where the real potential is for fans and riders and industry. With a expanding potential tv audience hopefully more venues will now see the benefit of the cost of paying to host a mtb world cup. More rounds. New sponsor for teams. More $$for riders.
The AMA has provided great info to DiscoGCN about what we want and don’t want. So they don’t make very very expensive mistakes in their launch.
Redbull with youtube and Pinkbike have developed some great presenters hopefully they will approach each other to strike a deal ( there is noway anyone will comment publicly if any discussion are in place) Most likely everyone bar Rob Warner will have very short redbull contracts.
Do you work on bikes, have a box background?
Edit - Dude I just realized your question was probably for Chris, not me ?? D'oh. I'll leave it here anyway
Love that place and how rough and Rocky it is!
Maybe if they ran from the top but I did that for a race up there like 10 years ago and the upper terrain isn’t on par with the lower
I can see maybe deleting rants that aren't questions, but deleting every community reply that isn't a question is really not cool in my eyes.
I appreciate the few ideas Chris threw around about full dh race run coverage and expanding the series globally. I hope he succeeds with both of these, and I'll happily throw down money for that kind of coverage. A series like Fast Life would add to the value of the the paid coverage as well.
It seemed like this was too early to give any real answers to the questions we had, and I think he should have been more direct about that. Just say "we're working on it and haven't decided yet" rather than beating around the bush and acting like you might come back and give more detail. Appreciate him trying I guess, don't envy the guy for sure.
should i make the reddit thread or will someone else?
As it stands though Discovery has not given the slightest indication they understand his importance or have any desire to have him announce their events. It would be so easy to say “obviously Rob would be our first choice if he’s available but we need a second option since he’s under contract with Redbull.” The fact that they can’t say this very simple thing strongly suggests that he would not be their first choice, which the MTB community is right to react to.
Network, paid subscription with added content to “consume” that caters to the wider audience. What comes to mind is the NBC olympic coverage here in the states. More drama than sports. More side stories than showing the complete competition. Commercial breaks that run on forever. Arbitrary tape delays. They are going to monetize this as much as Discovery can while limiting outside coverage for exclusivity. Or they make trade teams pay for the right to film.
My guess the fold this into the GMNBH or whatever it is network and dilute everything down do the common viewer. As in let's capture Soccer Dad.
My guess and hopefully proven wrong, the core looses interest in the broadcasts. The numbers decline or never get there for Discovery, and a few years in out of obligation they put in minimal effort and the sport will need to recover fro the fiasco that started with a UCI money grab.
As a side, Discovery won't have better cameras. Red Bull needed more cameras. The broadcast cameras are all roughly the same. But speaking from experience, hiking broadcast gear up a dh track is no small task. The team that lugs all that gear and cable up the mountain deserve quite a bit of praise. Shooting mountain biking is harder than shooting a car race or ball sport by a large magnitude.
They will monetise every $ out of this. But the key to maximising $$ from superfans via GCN+ Is to not do all bad things you described. And especially no Olympic game level commentators. People wont pay for worse than we have now. And unfortunately for them redbull and pinkbike have developed the talent massively and Rob Warner is a world class commentator. ( I personally don’t like the faux questions from rob playing dumb. But see its use as a tool for discussion points
Dont turn the GCN+ into false drama dumbed down reality tv shiit. Well not the race show anyway. F1 drive to survive is apparently terrible and a turn off for superfans. Slammed by Verstappen as a false drama and has refused to participate any more. But it has grown the f1 audience massively in the USA.
With multiple drones, rider “gopros” wireless technology and nearly live broadcast may be what us superfans want?
What I want and will pay for via GCN+ or MTBGN+
Rob Warner ,Eliot Jackson, Ben Cathro and Tracey Hannah (with a bit more development)
Live broadcast - Rob Warner and crew
More cameras during the live coverage.
Sure expand coverage around the event.
Continue to allow outside coverage (trade team vids / Ben Catharo / etc) Don't lock these people behind some sort of paywall or prohibitive filming situation.
Sure, more comprehensive coverage but do not make the choice of us. Give us the live event and allow the core to bypass the side story.
And, don't pander. Speak clearly (which hasn't happened) with honesty.
I worked for the UFC and for their pay per view events they put a great amount of effort and money into the YouTube show embedded. The show follows fighters through fight week. People watch, get invested into the characters, then buy the fight because they'd like to see the story completed. I believe there were some calculations they could make off the embedded views as it related to the pay per view views. There is no reason this sort of model wouldn't work for Discover. The bar is so low in this industry that sort of forward thinking doesn't happen often.
If discovery expanded into this sort of model, yeah okay sure 50 a year for all the events. Not pleasant but at least I get more cameras for the live coverage. Discovery making choices for the core will capture some but many will just ignore it all. Who wants to see an overly enthusiastic presenter shoving dumb shit down your eyeballs. Oddly enough they bought the series because of the core audience. They will be their own undoing in my opinion without listening to the core.
@chris-b-mtb: wouldn’t have done a AMA if they didn’t care about us. With f1 helmet cam and Motogp shoulder cam. The tech is there for more tracks coverage. Even if its not the same quality vid as there main cameras. I certainly don’t mind it. But I don’t have a tv so my opinion is from a device watcher. What do you think @chris-b-mtb
What should have been written was something like we know this AMA failed and we're with the audience here and the solid points people made. Hopefully moving forward we'll delete non answers and hold people accountable to the audience that built this site and pays our salary through advertising.
That is how you win the audience and keep this site credible.
If I were Chris Ball I'd be reading these comments and truly trying to understand what I need to do to meet the audience where they are at. I doubt this will happen, there seems to be a lot of hubris behind the non answers in the AMA.
There's a huge range of possibilities and @chris-b-mtb has been avoiding giving any actual information so we are (reasonably, I think) assuming that they're going to go with the worst option.
I think it is just strange that the former jesus of MTB and EWS god Chris Ball, now in the position to be the possible savior of MTB for the next 2000 years, aprouved by the UCI and most MTB stars, is so hated by the keyboard warriors.
You must be 15 years old and smoke to much pot on the dirt line? Shame on you.
I don't care about live coverage, but would love to have better commentary than "OMG he is going so fast... but he is down 25 minutes to the leaders." Rob thinking every rider is fast is fun for a run or 2, but it gets real old real fast.
Way to post a comment back on Owl X- post about comments getting deleted. You called out storm racing then saying that you aren’t deleting anything and then the whole thing gets deleted. It’s comical! Yet some comment about balls is still left down at the bottom but you claim this is all about clutter……
Dude probably drinks Monster, too.
NOS energy drink.
PB has been doing an OK job on this front, be it the changes to Trailforks a few years back, or the acquisition by outside. Here, we only got half answers open to interpretation, which leads to speculation and conspiracy theories.
Personally, I'm not willing to pay for a subscription to watch a DH race, and I don't want a fluffed up presentation with overhyped presenters and lots of stats with pre-/during-/post-race analysis, as we see in some American sports.
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