Hi 'cross fans!
Both the USA and European 2019/20 cyclocross seasons are well underway, so I wanted to take a moment to update my guide to streaming cyclocross races.
Streaming has come a long way; we've moved from postage stamp-sized buffering windows to beautiful, full high-definition video that you can watch on your TV, laptop, or mobile phone. For the 2019/20 season, there are both paid and free options to bring you cyclocross streams.
Let's start with the paid options:
NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass is a streaming-only service. Unlike the NBC Sports TV cable/satellite channel, you'll find Cycling Pass online. It costs $54.99 per year, however, strangely, instead of running for 365 days, each subscription ends on May 1, 2020, regardless of when it began. This means that NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass is actually a worse value as the year passes - the best time to subscribe was May 28, 2019 to maximize the length of the subscription. With this subscription you can watch on iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and more.
In terms of cyclocross, Cycling Pass has the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup series, plus the World Championships, so if you want to "go legit" and skip the sketchy pirate streaming sites, Cycling Pass is a way to get those races.
In addition to cyclocross, Cycling Pass is the main way for road cycling fans to access coverage of the Tour de France, La Vuelta, and some Spring classics like Paris-Roubaix. You also get the mountain bike World Championships, plus the Track cycling World Cup with your subscription.
FloBikes is another paid subscription service which offers some different coverage compared with Cycling Pass. It's more expensive at $30/month or $150/year.
The main draw of FloBikes is coverage you won't find elsewhere, like the US Open of Cyclocross and some smaller Euro 'cross races that aren't big enough to show up on Cycling Pass, such as the Ethias Cross series (formally Brico Cross). FloBikes also streams the DVV Trophy series - note that you can get that one free in the USA courtesy of Trek (see below), however, Trek's feed might not be in English, whereas FloBikes gets you English announcing, so you're getting something for your money.
Taking it beyond cyclocross, FloBikes also has quite a bit of track cycling and must-see Spring classics like the Tour of Flanders (de Ronde) too.
Fubo is another streaming subscription provider, but unlike the above two options it's more like a cable/satellite provider than a single channel. For example, you can get NBCSN (NBC Sports Network) inside Fubo.TV, as well as your local sports channels like FS1, FS2, and Prime Ticket for those "stick and ball" sports.
The main draw for cycling fans is the "Fubo Cycling" add-on, but you can only get Fubo Cycling after subscribing to the main service and bundle of channels. It's expensive - more than $50 a month for the options most people would want - but you get a lot more than just cycling for that cost, in that Fubo.TV can likely replace your cable/satellite provider entirely. "Fubo Cycling" has Milan-San Remo, the Giro d'Italia, Gent Wevelgem, all worth watching; however, as of this writing I can't find any cyclocross events on their calendar so pass on this one if all you want is cyclocross streaming.
One of the main benefits of Fubo.TV is ability to stream on many platforms and a built-in DVR so you can watch later, very useful for european races which are otherwise on live at some ungodly early-morning hour.
In addition to the 3 paid options, don't miss these free options:
GCN is doing a re-broadcast of select European 'cross races on the Facebook and YouTube platforms. The broadcast team often includes multi-time USA national champion Jeremy Powers, so you get some expert level analysis. Basically on GCN Racing you're looking at a live stream of the race, while the GCN team provides audio commentary and usually a pre-and-post game show too. Because GCN streams on Facebook and YouTube as their platforms, you can use the live chat and comments features to discuss the racing action with other viewers.
Occassionaly you'll find that GCN Racing only has broadcast rights in certain countries; if you find you're locked out with a "this stream is not available in your country", see the notes about using a VPN, below.
As of this writing GCN has some important cyclocross races on the calendar including the Superprestige series, and best of all these streams are free. Follow/like GCN Racing on Facebook and you can get an alert each time they start a live stream.
For the past few years Trek has generously streamed the DVV Trophy series from their website, free of charge and with no geo-blocking for USA viewers. For the bargain price of free, you "get what you get" - might be no commentary with just background race noise, might have commentary in Dutch, etc. but at least you'll have live video of the races and sometimes some on-screen graphics to help follow the action (and improve your Dutch vocabulary). Thanks again to Trek for the free streams.
Action-sports beverage brand Red Bull has cyclocross on their calendar periodically, including the UCI Cyclocross World Cup. Availability varies by country so check their list to see eligible countries and see the note about VPN below if you're "geo-blocked".
For the special case of the one-day USA Elite Cyclocross National Championship, you can expect a free live stream from USA Cycling's YouTube channel. This one will have English commentary, from a retired athlete like Tim Johnson, Meredith Miller, or other expert to bring some quality analysis.
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.
Wondering why you don't see races like GO Cross, FayetteCross, etc. on the streaming calendar? Setting up multiple cameras for live streaming, paying for internet connectivity, and so on is very expensive so usually only bigger races with a larger audience are streamed. The next best thing is some of the post-race wrap-upcoverage from the community, including:
I hope this list helps you out, and if I missed anything, please let me know using @RideCX on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.