*Edit: Title name changed, as this was not meant to be an all out attack on everything Runnerspace does, just what we saw today.
Watching today’s national cross country championships and discussing the coverage with friends, I think it should be discussed whether a service like Runnerspace is good for the sport.
On the positive side, it does provide access to a lot of meets that we otherwise would not be able to watch.
On the negative side, the production value is lacking when you place it in the context of the importance of the meet today. The national championships is naturally the pinnacle of cross-country in our sport, and the coverage featured a main camera that could have used a better (if they were using any sort of stabilization) gimbal, an on-course mic that was somehow both quiet and driven to the point of distortion, and frequent quality and picture drops.
I don’t mind paying money for access, but I do wonder what the perception is of our sport when this is the coverage of the biggest meet of the year, and it is also hidden behind a paywall.
This is not a personal shot at anyone in particular, more observations from someone with formal education and work experience in the sector.
Agree with Michael, having the ability to access coverage is really great but …um wow…today was like watching the Blair Witch Project.
This is not a personal attack on the camera operator or driver who had to navigate in those conditions, or the commentators who only have sight lines to the front runners - the U20 women’s race was basically the Sadie Sigfstead Show for 22 minutes - congrats to her but there were 46 other women in that race.
It was nice last weekend to be able to send the USPORTS streaming link from CBC around for free which opened the door to allow for a bigger audience to watch and appreciate the sport. If I have to pay (which I do on runnerspace) so be it, happy to so we can watch, but I am giving today a D- for the production value.
Curious what kind of budget is allocated to the Canadian Cross Country Championship.
Signing off with a huge congrats to all the athletes who competed in what looked to be challenging conditions.
Important to have a stream for sure but I don’t know how more often than not these streams aren’t done very well. You would think by now people would have caught on to what works best. The ACXC streams were pretty good in Kingston. Optimal camera placement works better than a lead vehicle I think. I think I remember them being free too, not sure why that changed. I guess runnerspace wants more $$ or AC made some cuts haha.
The CBC stream was good in that it was free, but you could tell it was their first time doing an XC race. We should definitely focus on giving public feedback so that future ones they do are better because it is a great opportunity to showcase the sport.
My question is how much control does AC have over these paywalled broadcasts and how much is RunnerSpace. I feel like AC could invest in streaming equipment that they could use for quite a few events throughout the year. Idk. Cameras are expensive. Signing a deal with CBC for national championships could be a better option too.
Some great points in here Evan, a couple of notes.
Audio/Video equipment has been steadily become more inexpensive and more accessible (yeah, the really good stuff will still cost you an arm and a leg, but at this point the law of diminishing returns comes into play). So, from a hardware/software perspective, you could set up a decent system for under 10k, which would be doable for AC. The issue that you would run into is with the acquisition of competent talent behind the camera/switcher. No matter how many events AC does, they would be unlikely to put on enough events to steadily employ a good crew to put these things on. I suppose that’s where selling off the rights to whoever will pay the highest for them (Runnerspace 2024 baby!) makes sense. It might be worth noting that RS will travel to it’s events with a skeleton crew and then recruit camera operators locally (often from a local CC program). While this is certainly an option, as you’ve noted above, and as we’ve witnessed, the results are unreliable at best, and shooting cross-country is something that takes a certain amount of practice.
I too would be interested in seeing the details attached to the sale of the AC broadcasting rights. Maybe RS provided the highest bid, however, I would have to think for what they probably paid for them, even giving them away to CBC who has an established crew (and much bigger operating budget) would be the better option for an accessible, more polished product.
One final note of this Oldster-sized post (shout out to Steve B.!), for those who paid for the Runnerspace + account to watch yesterday’s race, go and check out the Regionals that were also being broadcasted by RS. Much more polished camera work, slicker graphics…I wonder where the disconnect was (besides unfavorable weather conditions, but I can’t imagine Upstate New York would be that different)? Maybe RS was stretched a bit thin with so many events going on? Even still, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to hear that AC got on the horn with RS following the broadcast to express some concerns.
I have for many years paid for Canadian events XC/Track online no matter the quality or price. When it was poor I always tried to think of the positives; the money for the feed will go towards improvements, the sport, or the event. Runners Space back in 2011 travelled all over Ontario to High School regional xc events and put out a good clear product. Surely things can be done better or at least at the same level 10 years later. I will continue to support no matter. On a positive note the end of race winner interviews were great. Congrats to all athletes, coaches, parents, and organizers for all that you do.
Stream was sketchy at best…but shout out to the boys in the gator getting blasted by a wave of water on every lap of every race. Drove that John Deer to her limit