Athletics News

Welcome to the Wild West of online athletics coverage

Welcome to the Wild West of online athletics coverage

Never before has there been so much live athletics on the internet, but actually finding it each week is easier said than done

One of the most common questions we hear whenever we post articles about upcoming events is: “How can I watch it!?”

Surely there has never been so little athletics on mainstream television, yet at the same time an enormous amount is available as live streams on the internet. The problem for many, though, is working out how and where to watch it.

Take last weekend’s events, for example. The Sportsshoes Podium Festival in Leicester and the Laredo 10km in Spain were streamed on YouTube for free. Also on Saturday, the English Schools Cross Country Championships in Pontefract enjoyed brilliant coverage but was behind a paywall via Runnerspace and Vinco Sport costing $12.99/month (or cheaper if you commit to a year).

Similarly, The Ten in San Juan Capistrano, California, was only available via Flotrack for $29.99/month (again, cheaper if you sign up for a year). So if you were a friend or relative of Megan Keith or Paddy Dever and wanted to get up at 4-5am in the UK to watch them race live, you effectively had to pay more than a typical pay-per-view box office fight night from Las Vegas in order to watch one or two 10,000m races.

For me, the Runnerspace/Vinco price for the English Schools was reasonable but the Flotrack subscription costs go beyond what most people could stomach. However, I did cough up and watched it. I’m not related to Keith or Dever either but needed to report on it for AW.

Zoe Gilbody and Innes FitzGerald (David Hewitson)

To add insult to injury, The Ten cost only $5 to watch last year via Tracklandia with some of the money going back to the athletes. As one of the parents of the competitors in The Ten told me last weekend: “The sport has shot itself in the foot” by creating such an imposing paywall.

In Flotrack’s defence, their coverage isn’t cheap to produce and they need to make it pay somehow. Also, one of the problems is that modern athletics fans have simply got used to watching a huge amount of coverage for free. What’s more, Flotrack, Runnerspace and Vinco would all point out that they provide coverage of a lot of meetings during the year for the cost of a subscription.

The good news for athletics fans is that at least these meetings were available to watch, albeit at a price. They were hardly the only events streamed either last weekend.

According to an avid poster in the AW online…

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