Ramblings of a Tampa engineer

On June 29, 2024 the Tour De France started again. This time the route was a bit different with the Olympics going in France. This meant we wouldn't have the common Champs-Élysées ending, but instead ending with a time trial.

As day one started I struggled to find the world feed on Peacock which just fueled my anger. For those unaware in previous years you had two options to watch the Tour.

  • NBC - Bob Roll & Phil Liggett with studio interruptions & commercials.
  • World Feed - Anthony McCrossan & Nicolas Roche with no commercials.

Now I'm not exaggerating here that watching live sports via NBC has declined massively over the years. I'm not excited for another Olympics where we get to see less and less of live coverage of the world's best athletes competing. Its incredibly annoying to watch live sports on NBC as coverage is constantly interrupted with inline advertisements, actual advertisements, jumping back to the studio for analysis and more.

Take an example here where the NBC feed is completely interrupted while the world feed overlays the break with the live coverage. People watching hours and hours of bike racing are well equipped for down time - we don't need to kill the coverage.

When you compare that with a world feed that stays on the riders the entire time - its a night and day difference. The sad part - they are mostly the same video feeds. You just choose to subject yourself to a worse viewing experience when watching a NBC (Peacock) feed instead of an alternative source.

However, this year the International (World) Feed is missing from Peacock so they've made their choice for you. I tried to complain to NBC about this removal and got a canned response back.

We do apologize for any inconvenience. This year Peacock will stream all stages of the Tour de France live and select stages will be simulcast on NBC and Peacock. All Peacock coverage of the Tour will exclusively be the NBC Sports feed and feature the “voice of cycling” Phil Liggett, who is covering his 52nd Tour.
Thank you so much for providing this feedback, and we will be sure to give it to the proper teams.

The Tour de France commonly starts before 6am eastern, which makes a very early live viewing experience for those on the west coast. So I'm trying to figure out what market NBC is trying to target. I can assure you that folks watching between 3-6am do not need as many advertisements and studio discussions as they are giving.

It's like NBC is trying to coup back all their costs from having two mobile NBC reporters on the ground with Steve Porino & Christian Vande Velde as well as the entire studio. I have a crazy idea, but NBC could just use the world feed that every other production uses and throw some commentators on top of it. They wouldn't spend money on all the bells and whistles they provide and could stop injecting advertisements every 3 minutes.

The Studio & Phil (left) / Bob (right)

I haven't even begun to mention the commentators themselves and sorry Phil, but you are getting a tad bit too old. Phil Liggett has been covering the Tour de France for over 50 years and at some point maybe he should retire. I personally thought he was going to retire on his 50th year, but here he is pushing 81 and still commentating the race.

Its tough to explain, but when you notice the instantaneous ability to recognize riders collapse and forgetting things we saw on the screen moments ago - its embarrassing when compared with the world feed. The world feed would have injected live analysis and background of the riders while it was occurring, but for NBC that is delegated to the studio or others. I feel bad because I did really like Bob and Phil when I was introduced to the tour, but then I learned of other commentators.

I even feel bad for Phil as hes forced to mention Kung Fu Panda 4 anytime the number four comes up in discussion. We have these talented commentators that are subject to inline advertisements on every single segment. The grip NBC/Peacock is increasingly yearly to squeeze profits at any point or advertise on top of paid platform is becoming annoying to the point of finding alternatives.

You watch the world feed once and its just feels different in a good way. They commentate on the land art that you see, explain the buildings around, provide history of the players, snapshots of the past of that stage and even provide a recorded feed of biking the last kilometer so us the viewers can understand the twists/turns that await.

You watch the NBC feed and it roughly works like this:

  • Phil/Bob covering the race with mistakes here and there.
  • Overlay advertisements for Peacock exclusive movies and more.
  • Phil/Bob passing the mic over to Christian (on a bike)
  • Phil/Bob passing the mic over to Steve (on the ground/car somewhere)
  • Phil/Bob passing it back the studio to discuss the stage.
  • Studio/Interview/Video about the 3 Americans racing (Out of 176) constantly.
  • The studio talking about the race WHILE its occurring with 0 coverage of it.

However, NBC having exclusive broadcast rights means being in the United States and wanting to watch the world feed is not easy. I had to VPN myself into Canada and check out FloBikes for better coverage. Saying all of this I thought I was just being an ass, so I went off to Reddit and they confirmed my suspicion.

https://www.reddit.com/r/tourdefrance/search?q=peacock&restrict_sr=on

Granted people only seem to post things online when things go south - it does seem I'm not alone with not liking this exclusive NBC feed of the race.

I wish I could post videos of NBC vs World Feed, but the lawyers won't like that. Instead I'll find a press sample from https://letour.com which is funny enough the world feed.

0:00
/1:07

This shows the energy, live analysis and reaction to the last kilometer of a sprint stage. If you have Peacock this link should be the final kilometer of the NBC feed for comparison.

I can only hope the coverage for the next tour is no longer in Peacock/NBC hand, because it just isn't fair to people who like watching cycling. It doesn't matter that we pay for the service to watch the live sports - we (the viewer) are still treated in a way that I don't think is in the best interest for cyclist watchers.

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