Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tour de France -- toward historical archives

Today is a rest day for the Tour de France riders, but what about fans? If you are watching the Tour online, you now have access to over 100 videos -- full stage replays, interviews, commentary, highlights, crash reels, etc.

At this rate, there will be over 200 videos by the end of the race. I do not know how long NBC will leave them online or whether someone will archive them (legally or illegally), but this is the sort of archive documentation future sports fans can look forward to. (I assume the footage is all copyrighted, which is fair even if the duration of the copyright is unreasonable).

NBC will also be streaming the upcoming Olympic Games. If this stuff remains available, it will be a treasure trove for fans, journalists, researchers, data miners and re-mixers. We are at the start of a new historical archiving era, and that includes sporting events as well as political and cultural events. (For an early example of the archiving of historical political data, see this account of the 1991 Soviet Coup attempt and its traffic archive).

During the Tour, the online coverage is only available in the US and the Olympic coverage will only be available to those who already subscribe to a cable, satellite or telco video tier that includes CNBC and MSNBC. After the events, the archive could be opened to all, with the cost covered by a reasonable access fee. Well, I hope that happens, but am not optimistic. Maybe NBC will surprise me.

While there is plenty of archive material to keep Tour de France fans busy on this rest day, one thing is missing -- Bob Roll and his commentaries. As you see above, he is still commenting during the broadcast coverage, but I have not seen him online. NBC -- let's get Bob Roll on the video site!

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