Sadly, I do not have Versus channel here at home, so watching the Tour on TV is not an option. Of course I can dig around and watch a zillion 2 to 5 minute edited recaps on the various biking and sports sites, but to me it just isn’t -real- unless I get to sit through the whole length of the stage coverage. This is true even when it is a flat boring stage. I love the long panning aerial views of the spectacular countryside and the sometimes cheesy but mostly informative banter of the commentators. I like the scale of being committed to watching the full coverage. There are tons of little moments that happen that will never make the highlight reels that you won’t catch unless you go the distance.
So, it appears as though there are two options if you want to watch the full stages but don’t have the cable channel. Option 1 is to sign up for the Versus Tour Tracker for $29.95, which features full stage replays in HD plus a bunch of additional fancy GPS live tracking etc. Option 2 is to get the iPhone version of the Tour Tracker app for $14.95, which also features replays of each complete stage.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be plunking down the cash for either of these options.
So far, the iPhone app has gotten less than stellar reviews. From what I understand you cannot view the full vids unless you are on a wireless network, which is understandable and in my opinion a non issue. But most the customer reviews so far indicate that the app is a little dodgy…vids cutting out after 20 mins, vids not loading, tracking portion not jiving correctly…overall just sort of buggy. Of course, to be fair, there are a few reviews from folks who have had no problems at all. I am sure that the reliability of your internet connection effects an app this media rich, which may be why some folks are not getting the performance they expected. There is a free version of the app also with a dramatically reduced feature set.
My real issue though, is with the website version of the Tour Tracker. I think that a better model would have been to allow users to pay and view individual stages, and maybe have people that go ahead and purchase access to all the stages get a discount or something. I mean, to me, 29.95 is just a bit steep, but I would probably have no problem paying like $3.00 per stage if I could choose what stages I wanted. I like watching the entire stages, but that does’t mean I have TIME to watch every stage. If I paid for the whole lot, I would feel like I -had- to watch them all in order to get my moneys worth. Of course, I would -eventually- watch them all, but part of the fun of keeping up with the race is watching the footage as close to when the stage actually happened as you can. It is already kind of tough having to watch replays knowing the outcome, but if you get two or three stages behind in your viewing, the urgency just isn’t there to watch anymore because the older stages lose relevance in relation current news that is trickling in about the race. Of course this applies more to the -boring stages- than to the big climbing stages or stages where something happens that effects the overall outcome of the race in a big way, but I think you understand what I am getting at.
Hopefully next year Versus will add the ability to purchase individual stage coverage to the Tour Tracker. It looks like a great way to watch the race is you aren’t a subscriber to their cable channel. For now though, I guess it will all be 5 minute recaps for me.