Technology in the twenty-first century has made watching World Cups more attainable than ever, but that could all change next season as there are a whole rash of unanswered questions as Discovery is set to take over the coverage rights from Red Bull TV. You might have grown accustomed to, and may take for granted, taking advantage of this service for no charge. That's uncharacteristic in this day and age of paid membership content or sporting events, such as major league sports, Formula 1, AMA Supercross, and UFC challenges.
Currently, on any given weekend, viewers can log onto the Red Bull TV app or website and stream live World Cup races from around the world. Replays are available too if you don't want to wake up before the sun rises to catch the event as it unfolds. Those broadcasts cover both the men's and women's fields in downhill and cross country, including both the XCO and short track races. We do see the downhill finals pared down, covering only the top 30 and 10 DH elite men and women, but the XCO and short track races run their full course. This excludes the junior categories in both genres though, but they too would be exciting to watch as some junior men and women can often find their race times slotting into the elite positions.
Let's think about what goes into televising those events for a second. First, a camera crew has to figure out the logistics of traveling around the world to unique and exotic mountainous locations and set up infrastructure to film and broadcast as-it-happens races in the middle of a forest. Red Bull TV position cameras in key technical sections where the action will occur and cover wide open zones that translate speed and distance too. That means the crew would need to set up platforms, booms, and sometimes even use racing drones to provide us with a tail-gunner's perspective of an athlete's run. They bring in commentators, like the legendary Rob Warner, and heavily research race statistics while bringing viewers up to date with the latest gossip from inside the venue as a pre-race show. We've even seen the courses chosen or modified to be based on the vantage points of the cameras.
There's a lot involved in that kind of production and it's amazing that we can watch it around the world in real time from the comfort of our own homes. Will all of that change when Discovery takes charge? How would they improve on the current format, and would you pay to watch the event if it came down it?