Live Cycling Production Gets Interactive With YouTube Live

As cycling season gets under way, more fans than ever will be able to follow the action at all levels of competition, and not just in California and France. Thanks to InsideCycling.TV, a partnership of YouTube and Inside Media, fans can catch races like the Redlands Bicycle Classic and Dana Point Grand Prix live online and can even interact with riders and producers during the shows.

“I was a cyclist for years and wanted to get back into it on the production side,” explains Kevin Smith, executive producer of Inside Media. “I saw a need for more reality-style coverage, more entertainment, and more interactivity. That’s what we’re all about, bringing entertainment to the sport of cycling.”

The Dana Point Grand Prix, which takes place on May 1 in Dana Point, CA, will provide plenty of live entertainment. That race, which is celebrating its fifth year, will be InsideCycling’s second live stream as a beta partner for YouTube Live. The Redlands Bicycle Classic March 31-April 1 brought in 37,000 viewers on its first day, using limited resources and minimal marketing. The Dana Point race, which is a criterium — a circuit race held on a course less than a mile long — offers a key opportunity for a full production complement, and Smith is taking advantage.

“We’ll have a five-camera production, with four cameras on the course, our host cam, and then a sprint-finish POV camera,” Smith says. “The cameras will be spaced around the course at the key corners to cover the course as best possible. We’ll be using off-the-shelf technology to bring racing coverage to more fans.”

All the feeds from the cameras will come back to the InsideCycling.TV production trailer, where the production team will integrate preproduced features along with live interviews with celebrities and cycling personalities from the local community. The production team will use Flash Media Live Encoder to get the stream out to YouTube Live via an Internet connection in the trailer.

“Our goal is to reach a really large audience, and that’s why we chose to partner with YouTube,” Smith says. “They have 144 million subscribers. It’s our goal to bring new fans to the sport, as well as to give this content to the existing fans that are out there. The hunger is there for the coverage; it’s been our goal to tap into that.”

On the day of the race, InsideCycling.TV will provide live coverage from 11 a.m. through 6 p.m., with a key focus on the women’s pro race at 3 p.m. and men’s pro race at 4:10. Still, the beauty of online coverage, as opposed to televised coverage, is that there is no commercial clock, so the number of hours during which the team can provide streaming coverage is virtually unlimited.

“In the truck doing the Tour of California for Versus, we had a clock, and we had to stick to it,” Smith points out. “It is a lot more forgiving with a live stream. We have a plan; sticking to it is sometimes tough because things always change, but it’s also forgiving. If we want to throw in an interview with the race promoter or a team manager, we can. The challenge is trying to keep all those moving parts moving forward.”

To watch and interact with the Dana Point Grand Prix show on May 1, fans can visit and click “live and subscribe.” From there, they can tweet, e-mail, and send Facebook message questions to riders and producers, who will answer them throughout the live show.

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