The International Biathlon Union (IBU) remains committed to improving its online and mobile products according to a recent announcement. The IBU, along with global website and app developer Vincit, say the new products âwill allow fans to follow competitions in real time, as well as provide a second-screen experience with user-friendly stats and information on competitions, personalized. user experience and top notch content with images and videos.
More on that in a bit.
Live streaming of events, on-demand reruns or race highlights play a key role for entities such as the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the International Biathlon Union (IBU) to build loyalty and expand their fan base. Unless you attend a race, this is still the easiest way for fans to get to the elite level of the sport. It is the gateway through which many of us become addicted to biathlon or cross-country skiing.
Over the past decade, watching biathlon on TV or streaming compared to cross-country skiing has been made much easier. The IBU’s website, biathlonworld.com, once offered full, live, unblocked reruns of World Cup races. With the growth of boutique cable and online subscription services, over time watching these sports has become more restrictive. Today, the landscape in which the IBU announced the future launch of its revamped website and app remains a wilderness in North America for the time being.
Last season, watching biathlon and cross-country live in the US market required a modest subscription to NBC’s Peacock.tv (online) or a subscription to a cable company offering the Olympic Channel, or Peacock Premium. NBC removed live coverage of the Cross Country World Cup in mid-December on the Olympic Channel, after which only a live stream without commentary was available on the Peacock.tv website.
During the offseason, without a VPN, watching full replays, highlights and press conferences from the IBU World Cup is easy – go to biathlonworld.com, click on the live stream and you will be redirected to eurovisionsports .TV. The race coverage includes team commentary from top UK Eurosport commentators. You can also log into a Peacock.tv account for full reruns of the race without commentary.
On the other hand, in the United States at least, the Cross Country World Cup, without commentary and with the basic live stream, is the benchmark available to watch reruns without a working VPN or YouTube for an archived race. with Norwegian or Swedish. comment.
Both the IBU and the FIS feature digital platforms which, with a bit of light weight, allow fans to extract real-time race information or analyze post-race data. The FIS digital environment provides real-time split times during races via their âlive timeâ platform. You can identify specific athletes to follow. Otherwise, it’s nothing fancy, but it does meet basic live sync needs. FIS has improved its game over the past two years with higher production value video shorts featuring race highlights, athlete commentary and lifestyle articles to enhance the fan experience. . The IBU also offered a similar initiative regarding live splits and a menu of videos offering a behind-the-scenes look at the sport. For a deep dive into the real-time data, without running video, you need to go to IBU’s biathlonresults.com.
The FIS site and biathlonresults.com allow you to search for a variety of statistics. IBU statistics are mainly based on text and numbers. FIS statistics are a mix of basic graphs, tables and spreadsheets. (Here is a link to the main FIS General Statistics menu.) There you can search and analyze statistics for an individual athlete, or cross up to 10 athletes and compare multiple categories like wins and top 10. All this to say, whether it’s biathlon or cross-country skiing, that it takes a bit of legwork to find useful information about a specific race (beyond time elapsed and time spent), or an athlete.
After an uncertain racing season plagued by Covid, who knows what the future holds for production values.
For its part, the IBU says it is trying to improve the online / smartphone experience for fans. Part of the IBU’s motivation is codified in what it calls Target 26 – a set of guidelines to improve the viability of biathlon by 2026. In the case of the new app, the Target 26 guidelines set a date. limit for the development of a brand-specific application by 2022.
The new application developed by Vincit offers what the IBU calls a âsecond screen experienceâ. This means that fans who watch a race live on one screen can use their phone – the second screen – for a more personalized user experience. If you’re busy and can’t watch the race live, the new IBU app will feature a more dynamic interface allowing users to view a real-time leaderboard showing the time elapsed and that always important metric – hits and misses. failures on shooting. interval. (Users will also be able to follow their favorite athletes in real time.) In the case of biathlon, which often turns out to be a more unpredictable sport than cross-country skiing, the app should improve the experience for people on the go or in need. of this dual screen experience while watching live.
According to our email correspondence with the IBU, they claim that 80% of respondents to their fan surveys in 2020 and 2021 said they would use an IBU app. The new app, however, will not provide access to a live stream. âThe first version of the app will not provide a live video feed of the events,â sent an email to Christian Winkler, IBU communications director. âThe provision of live streaming depends on the media rights situation in each market. The IBU and its media rights partner Eurovision Sport are currently working on a digital distribution strategy across all platforms, especially for markets without rights holders. “
Along with the improved real-time functionality of the proposed stand-alone IBU app, the IBU said the app will provide more detailed information and notifications regarding their competitions. The IBU plans to release an updated version of biathlonworld.com along with the app’s release this fall. This is good news for those looking for more when it comes to Nordic sport.
It is safe to assume that the viewing landscape in Europe is the driving force behind the IBU’s digital initiative. A February 2021 report from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) noted a 7% increase in total hours viewed for the 2021 IBU World Championships. The report attributes the significant increase to increasing the number of spectators for women’s events. The increase in audience for biathlon, in general, reflects the findings of the last 2021 World Championships, when it comes to winter sports, biathlon remains popular with viewers. (The IBU and the EBU Market share an agreement for “free coverage” of the IBU World Cup – meaning viewers in Europe do not need a subscription service to watch the events.)
Although not an in-depth analysis, FasterSkier took a look at a report by Nielsen titled “COOP FIS Cross Country World Cup 2019/20 – TV Media Evaluation Event Summary”. An obvious trend after the 2018-2019 season, according to the data above, is the decrease in cumulative American audiences in 2019/2020. Despite a significant increase in the total airtime of cross-country events in 2019/2020 in the United States compared to the previous year, the cumulative audience has decreased significantly.
Here in North America, a major problem remains. As the digital environment makes it easier to access live events and highly produced reruns, we have experienced setbacks in North America. App or not, it is more difficult to watch Nordic sport live without a VPN.