FEECASTER

Just saw an interesting post on Canadian Cyclist regarding Freecaster and World Cup cinematographers/videographers. Because Freecaster.tv has the deal for sole filming and distribution of the UCI World Cup MTB events for 2010, the UCI is putting serious restrictions on team, website and magazine filmers, allowing them only access to the pits and for interviews; all race footage will have to be obtained from Freecaster. The whole thing seems pretty complicated. Freecaster has obviously spent big bucks setting the infrastructure up required to film and broadcast all the UCI MTB events, to have team filmers and website filmers just be able to stroll up and down the tracks must hurt them and their possible exposure. If the UCI turned round and said the photographers were only allowed in the pits and you had to use their race photographs from say three or four photographers then that would kind of suck... but would it? Mike and Sonja Hamel of Planet Talk run the ABSA Cape Epic that way and employ some of the best MTB photographers in the world to cover the event and then offer up the content for FREE to magazines worldwide...

FREE, that's the interesting word here cause for 2010 Freecaster's MTB coverage won't be free. Why? Well the business model they set everything up around was based on the fact that the bike industry would come to the party and place advertising on the Freecaster.tv site. The tight fisted bike community hasn't and instead has employed its own filmers to shoot their own unique content, cutting into Freecaster's potential audience. Which leaves Freecaster trying to provide a service that the bike community won't support but the public want.

But Freecaster has cottoned on to one type of solution, the first round of XC coverage will be FREE, all you have to do is sign up Scott's facebook page "become a fan/like it" and you'll get given a promo code for free viewing of the Dalby Forrest XC round. There's obviously room for more bike companies to jump on board for other rounds of the XC and DH, it will be interesting to see if they do.

So now you have Freecaster having to charge for its content. They still have to pay filmers, editors and broadband costs but we here in New Zealand (and everywhere else) will complain. But it aint that simple... it never is.

We are keen to hear your thoughts on the matter.

"Freecaster.tv was created in 2004 to offer the best video coverage of action sports events. In 2006 we increased our commitment and started to feature events LIVE, drawing over 3 million views for the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup alone.

In 2010 we will use the latest http streaming technology in a NEW PLAYER that automatically adapts the quality of the stream to your connection speed, and should also alleviate issues caused by Firewalls.

Our ambition from the beginning has been to secure sufficient advertising revenues to offer a free service.  A handful of companies have supported this initiative, and we are grateful for their shared vision.  However unilateral support from the cycling industry has not been forthcoming enough for this concept to work, and allow us to cover the production and bandwidth costs involved.

We have therefore had no choice but to make the LIVE streams and the Replays available as "Premium Content" in 2010."