Road Gear

GoPro tries to enter pro cycling TV market via on-bike cameras

The company is in talks with professional road teams to place its sports cameras on team bikes during major races next season

GoPro is in talks with professional road teams to place its sports cameras on team bikes during major races next season, according to Bloomberg News.

Company spokeswoman Isabel Pakowski confirmed the talks to Bloomberg but declined to discuss the possible terms, or possible teams, involved.

The UCI first approved the use of on-bike cameras at this year’s Amgen Tour of California, and president Brian Cookson has made it clear that the future of cycling’s TV coverage should feature on-bike footage.

“The UCI is committed to bringing technology and innovation to the broadcast and fan experience of our sport,” Cookson said prior to this year’s UCI World Road Championships in Ponferrada, Spain.

Camera manufacturers are now angling to be an active part of that change.

GoPro’s move into professional road racing will face entrenched competition from Shimano, which placed its own cameras on the bikes of seven professional teams during last year’s Tour de France. Shimano already has deep ties with more than half of the top teams thanks to drivetrain and wheel sponsorships currently in place, and has been leveraging those sponsorships to produce its own on-bike video content this year.

Garmin, which remains a title sponsor of the Cannondale-Garmin team in 2015, has its own sports camera, the Virb.

With the economics of professional cycling in constant flux, always highly dependent on the sponsorships obtained by individual teams, enhancing the TV viewing experience through the use of on-bike cameras and other live telemetry is seen as a way to build audiences and thus revenue.

Teams are seeking leverage against the sport’s current TV rights holders, race organizers like ASO and RCS. TV rights contracts can provide a lucrative source of income; that cash is shared among professional teams in many other sports, but not in cycling. By partnering with camera manufacturers, the teams would control a valuable source of video footage.