March 11, 2021
Welcome, cyclocross fans! Let's take a look at our options for cyclocross streaming, plus some other bicycle racing, for the 2021/22 season.
In prior years, this has been one of the most popular articles on RideCX.com, so it's become somewhat of an annual thing. Thanks for checking out this updated edition which focuses on the streaming providers and rights holders for the upcoming 2021/2022 cyclocross season.
Please note: this article applies worldwide, but focuses on the USA - you should carefully check the list of what races you'll have access to in your specific country before subscribing to a paid service, as rights vary by location.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we're anticipating a full cyclocross racing calendar, especially a huge amount of cyclocross World Cup dates. Please use this guide to join me as we tune in to live racing. Let's start with a look at your paid subscription options for cyclocross streaming:
The service GCN introduced called "Race Pass" has been renamed to GCN+. The GCN+ streaming platform offers two components to subscribers, the first, "Films" and the second, "Race TV".
GCN Films is a Netflix-style service that allows subscribers to watch cycling focused movies. It's a nice add-on that's included with the service, but as a GCN+ subscriber, what you're likely really interested in is live race coverage - "Race TV".
GCN has historically done a great job streaming European cyclocross to customers in the USA, starting with what used to be free streams on Facebook and YouTube, and then moving to a paid subscription package with audio commentary that often includes retired pro, Jeremy Powers, in English.
Read my full test and write-up of GCN+ before subscribing.
As of this writing, this is the list of races they'll be covering:
GCN Race Pass can be accessed on your web browser or via a mobile phone app, and costs $49.99 yearly.
The future of NBC Sports Gold Cycling pass is a bit fuzzy. NBC has announced they are shutting down NBCSN, their cable/satellite channel that carried, primarily, the Tour de France. NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass is a companion streaming-only service that has been available separately from the NBCSN channel.
As of this writing, NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass published schedule shows a few Spring classics on the calendar for 2021, but hasn't been updated with any additional dates or events - including the 2021 Tour de France, which is notably missing. This doesn't mean NBC won't broadcast the Tour de France - they still hold the USA broadcast rights, but their specific plans aren't known yet. They might offer Le Tour through Gold Cycling Pass again, and/or add live and replay coverage of the Tour de France to their Peacock standalone streaming platform.
NBC Sports Gold cycling pass subscriptions don't run for 365 days - instead, they run through the start of the Tour de France next year. This means that NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass becomes a worse value as the year passes - the best time to subscribe is right when the Tour de France starts, in order to get almost 365 days out of it, and purchasing right before the Tour de France would result in a very poor value.
You can watch your NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass content on iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and more at $54.99/year. It is not available on cable/satellite.
In prior years, NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass has included some cyclocross content, notably, the World Cup events. As of this writing (Summer 2021) it does not appear that NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass will include cyclocross coverage. The World Cup cyclocross events have moved to the FloBikes service (see below).
FloBikes has the most robust streaming calendar of the competing services, but is also the most expensive at $150 yearly.
In December 2020, FloBikes announced a new deal with the UCI to stream the World Championships in road, MTB, cyclocross, track, BMX, plus the cyclocross World Cup series, to USA subscribers. FloBikes is the new source for the cyclocross World Cups as well, replacing NBC Sports Gold Cycling pass.
The 2021/22 cyclocross World Cup offers a substantially expanded calendar of 16 races, including 3 World Cups inside the United States to open the season, before the series returns to Europe for the remaining 13 events. That's more World Cups than have ever occurred in a single season, and FloBikes has exclusive streaming rights for the USA this year, so you'll need a FloBikes subscription to get this substantial portion of the 2021/22 racing calendar.
With GCN+ Race TV, FloBikes, and NBC's Gold Cycling Pass, there are now 3 major paid subscription cycling streaming providers for the United States. Let's take a look at what is still available for free:
EKZ (Switzerland) is an annual cyclocross series. It might be considered a "second-tier" series, compared with the Superprestige, but still attracts big talent, who often use the EKZ races as tune-ups or opportunities to grab UCI points.
In the past, EKZ CrossTour has live-streamed some events on their Facebook page, free of charge and with no geo-restriction.
USA Cycling's audio/video coverage of the Elite national championships have improved each year and are now excellent. USA Cycling provides a free live stream, using expert commentary from retired athletes like Meredith Miller and Tim Johnson.
The 2020 Cyclocross National Championship was cancelled by USA Cycling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I expect they will resume streaming next year at the 2021 USA Cycling cyclocross national championship.
Each streaming provider only has broadcast rights in certain countries, so it's fairly common to run into the dreaded "this video is not available in your country" error message. It's not the fault of the streaming provider - they'd love to show it to you, but they have to make a best effort to honor their contracts, which means blocking some countries. Usually (but not always) if you are "geo-blocked" it means that some other provider is streaming the event.
A way to work around this is to hook your computer or device up with a VPN. A VPN is sort of a "fake-out" tool that tricks the streaming provider into thinking your location is in a different country. The best VPN I've found for streaming cyclocross is NordVPN, primarily because you can simply click in their app to choose a different country on the fly, until you find one that works for your stream.
Unfortunately, quality VPNs are not free, however, once you're a subscriber you can use them for all sort of non-sports streaming as well, like Netflix, so they're a handy tool.
Some "second-tier" cyclocross races simply aren't large enough to show up on the streaming calendar, largely due to the expense of setting up multiple cameras for live streaming, paying for internet connectivity, and so on. As a result, only bigger races with a larger audience are streamed.
USA races for which you shouldn't expect live streaming coverage include the new USCX series (Jingle Cross, Rochester, Charm City, Kings CX) - with the notable exception of World Cup day at Jingle Cross (1 of the 3 days of Jingle Cross weekend) which, as a World Cup, will have live stream coverage.
You'll also find a small handful of races that only appear on Belgium's Play Sports service. This streaming subscription is not available to customers in the USA, and generally there has not been any USA coverage of these events at all. Fortunately, this only happens 2 or 3 times per season, so a European, elite-level cyclocross race that isn't available for streaming in the USA almost never happens.
Cyclocross fans who subscribe to two packages, GCN+ Race TV and FloBikes will have 95% + coverage of elite cyclocross races worldwide. The other events (i.e. road, MTB) covered on these services, for 'cross fans, is a free bonus.
If I missed a streaming provider or any details, please reach out using @RideCX on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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