About 1.7 million viewers watched the Tour de France live finale on Sunday, marking the Outdoor Life Network's largest audience ever.
The daily live coverage drew a smaller, but healthy, viewership. An average 607,250 watched OLN's 23 days of live tour coverage, according to the Associated Press.
Note that the live coverage was in the morning, while most people are at work. Or, if they're in the Pacific time zone, like me, they got up at 5:30 or 6 to watch the stages that ended at 8 or 8:30.
Compare that 607,000 to OLN's average prime-time viewership of about 330,000.
Remarking on those Sunday viewership figures, the Tour de France 2005 blogger pondered, “Makes you wonder what might happen if they broadcast other races.”
I tuned in to OLN Monday morning just to see what they normally put on the air. I watched five minutes of two guys in camouflage hiding under blankets outside while another guy blew on a goose call. When the geese started to land, the two guys — father and son I think — raised up out of their hiding places and started killing geese. Then someone talked about how great it is to be out here in the calm of the morning listening to the geese, then “Blam! Blam!” More geese down.
I'll admit how some people might find the Tour a little tedious in the early kilometers of those flat stages. But Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, and definitely Bob Roll, know how to liven up the commentary. It's got to be more interesting than watching geese get killed, or watching some guy wrestling with a 3-pound fish.
So I'm worried about what's going to happen for the Vuelta a Espana, Aug. 27 – Sept. 18. A few years ago OLN covered it live. The Giro too. The last schedule I saw, it was just going to be a few installments on Cyclysm Sundays. I just checked OLN's schedule for that first weekend, and I didn't see any cycling scheduled on OLN at all. I wrote the following email to OLN:
“What's the plan for Vuelta d'Espana?
I see you had double the number of people watching your Tour coverage in the morning as you normally have during primetime in the evening.
I know Lance won't be there, but I bet a loyal following of cyclists will give OLN more viewers than whoever watches those goose killing shows in the morning.”
I don't expect a response. They say they get soooo much email; but they do read it all.
Maybe they need to hear from more of us.