NBC Sports Sets Sights on Tour de France Finish Line This Sunday
From Mont Saint-Michel off the northwestern coast of France to the Champs-Élysée in the heart of Paris — with stops in neighboring Spain, Andorra, and Switzerland — the 103rd Tour de France wended its way throughout the country over the past month. This Sunday, the Tour draws to a close with several riders chasing Great Britain’s Chris Froome — last year’s winner and this year’s current leader — and the coveted yellow jersey.
NBC Sports Group has been on the ground in France all month long, presenting more than 250 hours of live, primetime, and encore coverage of the Tour. Beginning on Saturday July 2 and culminating this Sunday, NBC has shown all 21 stages live on NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports Gold, the network’s new premium-subscription product for desktops and mobile devices.
Speaking prior to the Grand Départ from Mont Saint-Michel, Tour de France Coordinating Producer David Michaels remarked on his surroundings and the excitement swirling amongst the NBC Sports production crew.
“I just wanted to tell you we’re situated in one of the more picturesque Norman farms out pretty close to the D-Day beaches,” said Michaels on a press conference call. “When you get to a place like this and you’re in a place with such incredible history, it just brings it all back to why the Tour de France is unique in sporting events. In my 30 years of doing TV sports, there is nothing more amazing to me than the Tour de France.”
For this year’s Tour, NBC added several new production enhancements, including a live GoPro camera aboard a competitor’s bike during selected stages. (NBC also had access to feeds from additional on-board GoPro cameras provided by the Tour that were used for daily clips.)
“The live feed [provided by the on-board camera] will absolutely enhance production, because you can now be inside the race,” said Michaels. “This year, it’s only one camera. Who knows, by five years or 10 years from now, everybody could have a camera on them. You have the ability to find out what was truly happening within the peloton … and be able to hear the sound and hear the guys talking.”
In addition, NBC added real-time speed and gradient graphics from SMT. For the first time, SMT’s on-screen graphics have enabled NBC to show the real-time speed of individual riders as well as the peloton and to display the ever changing road gradients to viewers at home. SMT also provided its ISO Track system, giving NBC the ability to easily track key riders in the peloton, as well as a live data-rich race crawl and two prompters used by NBC talent.
Once again, France Télévisions and Euro Media France took up the mantle of building the onsite technical facilities and producing the world feed for a global roster of broadcasters, including NBC. According to the Tour de France’s official website, France Télévisions had five video motorcycles, two sound motorcycles, two video helicopters, one relay helicopter, and two airplanes on hand to capture the sights and sounds of the Tour.
To cut the show for the U.S. audience, NBC had access to iso feeds of France Télévisions’ cameras.
“We very much rely on them for all the feeds of the helicopters and motorcycles, [but] we’re still cutting our own show,” said Michaels. “[This way, we might be] concentrating on a story that’s back behind the peloton, and the world feed may be concentrating on a story that’s happening out in the breakwaters. So there are a lot of different ways you can go with this type of an event.”
The final stage of the 103rd Tour de France airs Sunday July 24 at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN.