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Exclusive: Further details emerge around Netflix and Tour de France streaming series

Documents seen by VeloNews show that the 8-episode “docu-series” aims to lift riders to ‘superstar status’ and open up the sport to millions of new fans in May 2023.

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Further details have emerged surrounding the Netflix Tour de France “docu-series” with the proposed show set to be streamed in May of 2023.

The project involves eight WorldTour teams: Jumbo-Visma, EF Education-EasyPost, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, Groupama-FDJ, Ineos Grenadiers, Ag2r Citroën, Alpecin-Fenix, and Movistar.

While Movistar, Jumbo-Visma, BikeExchange-Jayco, and Quick-Step have all attempted various solo projects in recent years, this Netflix project, in conjunction with ASO, would be the first time a dedicated film crew had full behind the scenes access at the Tour to such a grand scale.

The series has the potential to be a huge success owing to Netflix’s 200 million subscriber base, with significant potential to open the Tour de France and the sport to a whole new audience. There is also the prospect of a huge uplift for the teams involved and their sponsors.

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UAE Team Emirates, the team of two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar ruled themselves out of the project when contacted by VeloNews, with a spokesperson stating that: “It’s true that UAE Team Emirates, like several other teams, was approached to participate in the show. However, the terms for being protagonists for the first season were not agreed. We like the general idea, but we’re not pressured to rush into anything. The door is open for participating in the future.”

VeloNews has seen a multi-page document that outlines a number of important factors around the project. Titled as a “docu-series” Netflix is set to cover the entire proposed costs of €8 million ($8.7m) involved in making the series, and there will be eight episodes in total with each one 35 minutes in length.

Each episode will provide behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive content with the aim of opening up the sport to a huge worldwide audience.

Netflix streamed a similar style show around the world of Formula 1 titled “Drive to Survive” and the documents seen by VeloNews directly play on the fact that cycling has an incredible and unique proposition that would benefit in the same manner demonstrated by the Formula 1 series.

As with ‘Drive to Survive’ the docu-series will be produced by the company Box to Box.

Several pages of the main document that was delivered to a number of prospective teams describe the primary aims of the series. First and foremost, the project hopes to “reach new demographics not completely familiar with pro cycling and used to consuming sport in a different way.”

Other aims include “offering unprecedented and additional content to attract and retain fans” and “increasing the best riders’ public profiles and elevating them to superstar status.”

Cycling has made important strides in terms of globalizing the sport, and huge progress has been made in certain areas such as women’s cycling. While there are no current plans to stream a docu-series of the Tour de France Femmes, the documents seen by VeloNews do provide some key points that will have no doubt impressed and brought on side a number of WorldTour teams.

For example, the Netflix project has the chance to greatly improve sponsorship visibility for brands and companies associated with the sport. The document claimed that 73 million new F1 fans were brought in via the “Drive to Survive” series. According to the document, 77 percent of those new fans were aged between 16 and 35 with 50 percent of that number female.

Long-term gains

On Saturday, Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere used his column in the Belgian media to point out that he had almost reluctantly agreed to allow his team to be part of the project and that he would need a significant amount of cash from ASO/Netflix to do so again.

However, to many of the teams involved the initial financial reward will be seen as a short-term win. VeloNews has talked to teams who feel that the sponsorship awareness from the project would far outweigh the small cash incentive on offer from a one-off fee.

Along with the initial €8 million that Netflix is set to swallow, the streaming platform has also agreed to pay a €1 million ($1.09m) license fee. That one million will be split between several shareholders with ASO and France Televisions both netting €250,000 ($273,000) each.

The eight teams would then split the remaining €500,000 eight ways, giving each team €62,000 ($67,000).

While the “docu-series” would focus on the obvious events in July, the entire project would consist of 12 weeks of filming. Each team would open their doors to four weeks of shooting in the build-up to the Tour.

This would include one-on-one interviews, access to team service courses, and behind-the-scenes footage at team training camps. There would be a sort of Tour de France test shoot during the Critérium du Dauphiné in June before the series ramps up in July.

During the Tour de France, each team would have two Netflix personnel embedded at all times. This would provide four main points of potential coverage: team hotels, team buses, sport directors cars, and onboarding footage and radio signal. There is not a single mention of Velon throughout the document and the organization’s role within the project is unclear.

After the Tour is finished Netflix has proposed a further four weeks of shooting with three personnel working with each of the eight teams. The footage would loop to the teams’ services courses and have one-on-one interviews with riders and staff from the summer.