Cycling: 7 commercial thoughts on the eve of the Giro d’Italia

3 May 2013 | Posted in Features - Insights | By James Emmett | Contact the author

Cycling: 7 commercial thoughts on the eve of the Giro d’Italia

With the 2013 Giro d'Italia beginning in Naples this weekend, SportsPro examines a few of the key commercial topics surrounding the first grand tour of the road cycling season.

- The UK rights race is hotting up as Sky Sports have their first real crack at the cycling TV audience in the homeland of race favourite Bradley Wiggins. Having sponsored the British team since its first year in 2010, this is the first time the broadcaster has rights, albeit to nightly highlights, to a grand tour.

 - Sky got their highlights rights from Eurosport, which extended its deal to show the Giro live in Britain for a long-term period earlier this year. By all accounts, there was no uplift in fee on the previous deal the pan-European broadcast signed for the UK. Despite the unprecedented level of British interest in the Giro - and there has never been a stronger British chance - it's not enough, it seems, to provoke the UK's Tour de France broadcaster ITV into rescheduling those Midsomer Murders repeats.

 - RCS Sport, the organisers of the Giro, will no doubt use the three weeks of the race to have serious discussions with the teams about revenue sharing. The prize pot for the race is a lot smaller than that of the Tour with a total prize fund of €1,383,110. €90,000 goes to the overall winner; second place takes €50,000 and third place €20,000.  €11,010 goes to the winner of each stage. With that in mind, RCS is ready to talk broadcast monies. When asked for his view on a TV revenue sharing model, RCS Sport chief executive Giacomo Catano recently told SportsPro: "I am in favour. We submitted a proposal in October that was not accepted by the teams. The teams today are not willing to share projects and commitments in the long term. We are not interested to do a short term deal about this very important issue. If we can get long-term guarantees from the teams then we can talk about this." Essentially RCS is looking for firm guarantees from the teams that their best riders will come to RCS-organised events. But look back at the start lists for 2013's Italian races so far. The big names suggest the teams are more willing to play ball than they were in October too.

- Hellish transfers have been an issue in previous editions of the Giro but they shouldn't present too much of a problem this year. Travelling for hours between one finish to the next start is the one thing guaranteed to wind the teams up. It's probably for the best that the teams are kept sweet on that front this year. RCS may have banked a hosting fee of around €5 million to take the opening stages of the race to Belfast next year, but the logistical effort to get the whole race from Ireland to Italy without the luxury of a rest day is going to be immense.

- This is the first Giro d'Italia that falls within the new eight-year partnership that RCS struck last summer with international agency IMG. The agency's sales hothouse has already produced wider distribution around the world for the coverage of the 2013 Giro, but to pump up the value of the rights, the popular Gazzetta live stream of the stages will no longer be available. IMG have also created a production manual for host broadcaster RAI, which renewed its deal this year after much wrangling over production standards, to up their game. RCS calls the Giro the toughest race in the most beautiful place, but astonishingly this will be the first Giro produced in HD.

 -  This year's race will be broadcast in 174 countries in total. Eurosport is providing its usual extensive coverage across 70 countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Other European broadcasters include VRT in Belgium, NOS in the Netherlands, Swiss channel SRG SSR and Danish network TV2. Coverage in Spain will be split regionally, with EITB Euskal Telebista carrying the race in the Basque Country, TV3 in Catalonia and TVG Televisión de Galicia, TPA in Asturias. BeIN Sports has exclusive rights in France and the USA, while Chinese national state broadcaster CCTV5 will show the Giro for the first time.

- RCS is making tangible efforts to professionalise, retaining the Italian feel of the race while stripping away the mildly shambolic elements of the organisation. Led by its driving force and willing mouthpiece Michele Acquarone, a more accessible and fan-oriented leader than his counterpart, Christian 'Prudy' Prud'homme at Tour de France organiser ASO, RCS is positioning itself as an international events company to rival any. The effort has already borne fruit, a new race in Dubai scheduled for next year fitting the mould set by ASO some years ago.

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