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TV channel hails ratings boost - but world's biggest annual sporting event only just eclipses rugby league...

Getting on for a million people tuned into ITV4 last Sunday to watch Mark Cavendish win the final stage of the Tour de France on the Champs-Elysées for the third year in a row, and with it win the green points jersey that had previously eluded him.

During the three-week long race, won by Cadel Evans, viewer numbers for the hour-long evening highlights package nearly doubled as fans were gripped by what turned out to be one of the most exciting editions of the race in decades, reports the trade website, BikeBiz.

The audience peaked at 878,000 for the live broadcast on Sunday, although to put the figures into some kind of perspective, the world’s biggest annual sporting event on ITV4 only briefly passed the number following the Rugby League Challenge Cup quarter finals on BBC2.

Other cycling fans – including those who prefer the pairing of Harmon and Kelly to Liggett and Sherwen – would, of course, have been watching the Tour de France on Eurosport, so the actual Tour de France total figures will be higher than those provided by ITV4 alone.

The channel’s evening highlights, which had attracted around 500,000 viewes but that nearly doubled to 900,000 by the end of the race, and head of press for ITV broadcasting, James Macleod, said: "Viewing to ITV4's Tour de France highlights was up a huge 33 per cent year-on-year."

BikeBiz reports however that the coverage attracted some controversy due to Chris Boardman’s presence as expert pundit, given that he also provided the voiceovers for Halfords’ sponsor slots showcasing his own Boardman brand of bicycles.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

31 comments

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mancsi [94 posts] 4 years ago
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''I've always wondered why there was second and third on a podium'' or when at the end of a race I had to be lifted off my bike, I knew is given it my all!'' Two quotes that could of ruined Itv4's exceptional coverage of theTDF. Boardman get a grip you hero!

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Simon_MacMichael [2450 posts] 4 years ago
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mancsi wrote:

''I've always wondered why there was second and third on a podium''

Because it's a way Cadel Evans can have a face-to-face (as opposed to face-to-chest) conversation with the Schleck brothers  3

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handlebarcam [646 posts] 4 years ago
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Those Boardman break-bumpers had no effect on me whatsoever. It's not like I was born on tour yesterday. I mean, do they seriously think that the relentless repetition is going change my mindset, which it what racing is, as opposed to an activity. They may be in first place in the sales charts, and as we all know there is no reason to even have second and third places, but when my team have to lift me off my bike at the end of a race, I'll know I've given it everything I could. Now, what was I about to do? Oh, yes, go to Halford and buy a bike. I'm not sure why, but I must.

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Dog72 [106 posts] 4 years ago
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The Boardman ads were shockers, but not in the same league as;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6kGxUqf0vA.

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Simon_MacMichael [2450 posts] 4 years ago
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Yup, always wondered what that concoction tasted like. If Ivan and Vincenzo tucked into it, that could well explain their performances in the Giro and the Tour  3

I watched vast majority of TDF on Eurosport, but on rare occasions I caught any ITV coverage I got the impression they had a lot more ads and filler, anyone else got a view on that?

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TheHatter [770 posts] 4 years ago
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handlebarcam wrote:

Those Boardman break-bumpers had no effect on me whatsoever. It's not like I was born on tour yesterday. I mean, do they seriously think that the relentless repetition is going change my mindset, which it what racing is, as opposed to an activity. They may be in first place in the sales charts, and as we all know there is no reason to even have second and third places, but when my team have to lift me off my bike at the end of a race, I'll know I've given it everything I could. Now, what was I about to do? Oh, yes, go to Halford and buy a bike. I'm not sure why, but I must.

brilliant!

its not just Mr B that had me turning to Eurosport - it was also Liggett's constant mistaken identities, missing Cav was in second place and saying 'and Cavendish is nowhere' as they came out of the final bend and most annoylingly constantly making missile based puns to describe Cavendish's progress in the sprints.

Eurosport by contrast have informed, interesting and witty commentaters and in Sean Kelly a man with serious tour pedigree.

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handlebarcam [646 posts] 4 years ago
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TheHatter wrote:

its not just Mr B that had me turning to Eurosport - it was also Liggett's constant mistaken identities, missing Cav was in second place and saying 'and Cavendish is nowhere' as they came out of the final bend and most annoylingly constantly making missile based puns to describe Cavendish's progress in the sprints

Actually, I not being able to see Cav sitting behind Renshaw is something I can forgive The Liggwen for. His lead-out man does, after all, have a good few inches on him, and Cav seems to have been doing stretching exercises this year, to get into an even lower position that previously. But it is, again, the repetition that annoys me in The Liggwen's commentary. Every domestique who rides on the front of the peloton for more than a minute is "doing and incredible job of work." Every time a rider gets a gap on a climb that is in any way significant, he is apparently "free to fly." And there are other ways to convey the similarity of two events separated by a period of time than to say the most recent incident "is a deja-vu of" the earlier one.

It's like listening to a scratched record. But I believe The Liggwen is in tight with ASO and the US network that carries the Tour, so there is probably little ITV could do to replace them, even if they wanted to.

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Dog72 [106 posts] 4 years ago
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I didn't watch any of the Eurosport as I don't like the lack of control they seem to have, on the Giro at least, regarding camera shots & ad breaks etc. Also Kelly sounds like a man who's been Trapped in a lift with a Man, Harmon, who he doesn't really want to talk to but feels out polietness he should.
Having said that Liggetts frequent overegging (which I felt also took the shine off the Chasing Legends doc, alongside the cheesy sepia tone bit at the start with the Kid) and Sherwens rambles about the sights are not the best.
Thank God for Imlachs witty quips.

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 4 years ago
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What was it Sherwen was going on about? 'Suitcase of courage' in a 'hurt locker' or something. I had enough of the 'heads of state' 'dishing out the pain' after the first week. I was getting tired or riders being 'shelled' on a regular basis. Aside from crow-barring these cliches into each stage, his description of Pierre Rolland as the 'crown in the jewel of French cycling' was priceless. 'Hat' for that.

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Dog72 [106 posts] 4 years ago
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Bless Em.
Dodgy Commentary aside it was an awesome Tour. Unsung hero of Tour has to be Vockelers Tounge.

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kaptnkrunch [57 posts] 4 years ago
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I swapped to eurosport and bought a subscription to their player rather than sit through any more of ITV's ads. That and I prefer the eurosport commentary.

Found eurosport player a bit buggy though, kept crashing at crucial moments. Anyone else get that?

Dog72 wrote:

The Boardman ads were shockers, but not in the same league as;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6kGxUqf0vA.

I find that one particularly odd, although just weird rather than objectionable. Most eurosport ads are a bit strange, because they're translated I suspect.

It's a bit pointless comparing ITV4 to BBC 2 though, it's a fairly obscure channel. If they stuck the highlights on at the same time on BBC1, 2 or ITV1 it'd get a hell of a lot more viewers I think.

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Ian531 [34 posts] 4 years ago
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Couldn't be doing with all the advert breaks on ITV4, so recorded the Eurosport prog. Paul Sherwin is now officially the new Duffers! Did you know that Edvald Boasson Hagen is the "crown in the Sky jewel"  39

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Simon_MacMichael [2450 posts] 4 years ago
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kaptnkrunch wrote:

I swapped to eurosport and bought a subscription to their player rather than sit through any more of ITV's ads. That and I prefer the eurosport commentary.

Found eurosport player a bit buggy though, kept crashing at crucial moments. Anyone else get that?

It's a bit pointless comparing ITV4 to BBC 2 though, it's a fairly obscure channel. If they stuck the highlights on at the same time on BBC1, 2 or ITV1 it'd get a hell of a lot more viewers I think.

Eurosport Player - yup, it's always been prone to freeze so you need to reload it, but during the TDF there seemed to be another issue, some weird error message came up sometimes when I'd only been watching for a couple of minutes. From what I saw on Twitter, other people were having issues too.

Agree that if TDF had been on a more mainstream channel than ITV4 it would have got a lot more viewers.

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dullard [140 posts] 4 years ago
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Eurosport all the way. Harmon is interesting, has an opinion and expresses it (as Schleck was checking out where his brother was yet again on a climb, Harmon shouted, 'STOP LOOKING AROUND, SIR, IT'S FORWARD MOTION THAT COUNTS') and is more knowledgable (probably because he's more of a fan) than Liggwen. The seven times in a row Paris-Nice winning John James Kelly can be a bit lugubrious but it's worth it to hear him say in his Waterford brogue, 'Contador's lying t'ird'. The review panel of Backstedt, Hayles and Herrety is very good.

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Pifko [110 posts] 4 years ago
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'Like a man possessed.'

SHUT.UP.SHERWIN!

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TheHatter [770 posts] 4 years ago
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and why they have third place on a podium...
//news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/870000/images/_872567_olano_ind_board_300.jpg)

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eddie11 [112 posts] 4 years ago
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 4 @ the hatter

When chasing legends was on in all the cinemas a few years ago liggett compered the interview with rolf aldag and cavendish afterward i was shocked to find him dry, witty and lucid. Yet he remains quite rubbish at comentating.

I presume ITV4 takes the same comentary feed as the American broadcasters as the constant focus on the american riders and teams grates. 'we call him tommy D from durango...' no. we. dont.

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 4 years ago
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Dog72 wrote:

The Boardman ads were shockers, but not in the same league as;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6kGxUqf0vA.

Did you ever see Filippo Pozzato oiled up naked only covering his modesty with a pair of sidi shoes. That was genius. I quite liked the EuroSport breaks, rather that than CB incessant bike selling dribble.

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 4 years ago
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TheHatter wrote:

and why they have third place on a podium...
//news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/870000/images/_872567_olano_ind_board_300.jpg)

 24 Nice find

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 4 years ago
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eddie11 wrote:

 4 @ the hatter

When chasing legends was on in all the cinemas a few years ago liggett compered the interview with rolf aldag and cavendish afterward i was shocked to find him dry, witty and lucid. Yet he remains quite rubbish at comentating.

No man, you gotta love P liggett, he's very droll and dry with it too. Great voice, i've been listening to him since the Ch 4 days. I watch Eurosport for the classics and the giro and feel dirty after wards, it's like being unfaithful to the Liggett  1

eddie11 wrote:

I presume ITV4 takes the same comentary feed as the American broadcasters.

Well, ITV take a plain feed (no graphics)from the host broadcaster, in the case of the tour, it would be a french TV company. ITV then overlay their own graphics and commentary and send it out.

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Dog72 [106 posts] 4 years ago
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stuartpeck1 wrote:
Dog72 wrote:

The Boardman ads were shockers, but not in the same league as;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6kGxUqf0vA.

Did you ever see Filippo Pozzato oiled up naked only covering his modesty with a pair of sidi shoes. That was genius. I quite liked the EuroSport breaks, rather that than CB incessant bike selling dribble.

No, please don't send the link. The mental image I now have is disturbing enough.

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Coleman [335 posts] 4 years ago
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handlebarcam wrote:

Those Boardman break-bumpers had no effect on me whatsoever. It's not like I was born on tour yesterday. I mean, do they seriously think that the relentless repetition is going change my mindset, which it what racing is, as opposed to an activity. They may be in first place in the sales charts, and as we all know there is no reason to even have second and third places, but when my team have to lift me off my bike at the end of a race, I'll know I've given it everything I could. Now, what was I about to do? Oh, yes, go to Halford and buy a bike. I'm not sure why, but I must.

Like it.

Bored, man.

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handlebarcam [646 posts] 4 years ago
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TheHatter wrote:

and why they have third place on a podium...
//news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/870000/images/_872567_olano_ind_board_300.jpg)

If only Abraham Olano was blond, then this would be the perfect look-a-like...

//t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSq5IP_Drm3Dg8vhRQMGuwT5nOyM64_rESZ-UCgtyQQfg0iSzFhaw)

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handlebarcam [646 posts] 4 years ago
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stuartpeck1 wrote:

I quite liked the EuroSport breaks, rather that than CB incessant bike selling dribble.

They do give a feeling of being on holiday, as the only other time I'm likely to see adverts made exclusively for the European market are in a hotel room.

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grant [75 posts] 4 years ago
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Dog72 wrote:
stuartpeck1 wrote:
Dog72 wrote:

The Boardman ads were shockers, but not in the same league as;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6kGxUqf0vA.

Did you ever see Filippo Pozzato oiled up naked only covering his modesty with a pair of sidi shoes. That was genius. I quite liked the EuroSport breaks, rather that than CB incessant bike selling dribble.

No, please don't send the link. The mental image I now have is disturbing enough.

Sorry, having seen it, others should share my pain....  13http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7w_xj73U5Q&NR=1

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ourtel [65 posts] 4 years ago
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Why not record the hour long highlights and fast fwd through the ad breaks. Reduces the required viewing time to 45 mins (even less if you aren't bothered about the competition plugging and brief look at 'tomorrow's stage'). For those that find it necessary to moan about the commentary - there are a handy couple of buttons on your remote called volume and mute (check em out).

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Blackhound [439 posts] 4 years ago
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Been in USA for TdF and seen a few stages when in motels on Versus with PL/PS. Loads of adverts but 2.5/3 hours coverage eas good to see. So much US advertising by PL that I wondered if he was on ITV4 this year.

For the last 30-40 minutes of a stage there would be an advert free period sponsored by Nissan. Every 5 mins PL would say that this no advert was sponsored by Nee-Sarn and there electric leaf car.....

Great race from what I saw though

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RuthF28 [100 posts] 4 years ago
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I did consider subscribing to Eurosport but stuck with ITV4 though it's woefully crap. I watched all the TdF stages on itv player, and it kept crashing my PC, freezing or just seizing up and when it restarted the program insisted on starting with YET ANOTHER batch of six adverts, usually to then go to a scheduled advert break only minutes later. I never thought I would miss my video recorder but I do. (I don't have a high-spec telly that I can record to before anyone suggests it.)

I wouldn't use itv player for anything other than this; you have to want to watch something very much to put up with such a terrible system.

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 4 years ago
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grant][quote=Dog72 wrote:

Sorry, having seen it, others should share my pain....  13http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7w_xj73U5Q&NR=1

There it is... I was just sick in my mouth  24

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 4 years ago
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The Eurosport player is the buggiest, most unreliable player known to man, they are still using 5 year old technology to stream the content as well as halfwits to run their customer service

Now before i get shouted at  3 I worked on the 2010 Tdf for ITV setting up the feeds from France, also i worked on the ITV player and the Tdf content that went on it. I thought it was alright this year, apart from CB flogging his bikes. It's so much better than Eurosport.

I have had so much trouble with them, I never watch the Tdf on it as it's on ITV. I usually watch the classics, the Giro, San Remo etc. During the Giro they unsubscribed me during the tour for no reason, then they took two lots of money from my account. Their customer(No) Service is terrible, they are so nonchalant about their shitty player not working. My girlfriend then signed up as i was unable to use it during the Giro, she then was charged twice. My account was set up again but then expired halfway through the Tdf. Above all that i have only found google chrome to be a decent browser to run it on, FF, Safari all don;t work very well. They have since sorted it out but refuse to refund me for the 2 months i couldn't get online. It's terrible. Here's their number: 020 7468 7777. Ask for tech Eurosport support, she may give you another number

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