The 2021 Tour de France is almost here. In 2020, Le Tour did eventually take place in Fall, after being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For 2021, the Tour de France is planned to return to a more typical schedule, beginning in late June from Brest, France.
There are four options for Americans to watch or stream the 2021 Tour de France:
- the NBCSN (NBC Sports Network) channel on a cable or satellite package,
- NBCSN channel on an internet-based "skinny" streaming provider,
the NBC Sports Gold Cycling pass app,*
- and the Peacock app.
* As of Tuesday June 8, 2021, NBC has discontinued their Gold Cycling Pass subscription product. The 2021 Tour de France will not be available on NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass.
Each of these 3 remaining options have some pros and cons. Let's take a look at each.
Watch the 2021 Tour de France on cable or satellite TV
The "classic" method to consume TV is on a cable or satellite package. The NBCSN (NBC Sports Network) channel is carried on select cable and satellite providers like DirecTV, Spectrum, AT&T, and so on. These providers offer a monthly subscription with a bundle of channels. Basic cable or satellite packages don't typically include NBCSN, you'll likely need to subscribe to a higher tier.
NBCSN is available on most cable and satellite providers.
It's also worth noting that the NBCSN channel is shutting down at the conclusion of 2021. This shouldn't affect the 2021 Tour de France coverage, however, you should be aware of this change before getting locked into a long-term cable or satellite subscription. NBC has stated that they plan to move most of their sports content to other NBC-owned channels, like USA Network, or streaming platforms, like NBC's Peacock app (see below for more information about Peacock) but the details aren't firm yet.
When you subscribe to a cable or satellite package, you'll be forced to take some channels you don't want. Our next option, a "skinny" TV provider, may be less expensive:
Watch the 2021 Tour de France on a streaming TV provider
The NBC Sports Network channel, which carries the Tour de France, is available on streaming TV providers like Sling, Fubo.TV, and other "over the top" streaming providers. As with cable and satellite, you get a bundle of channels in your subscription, but you may be able to lower your costs by selecting a more focused list of channels.
These providers deliver NBCSN over the internet instead of cable or satellite, but the content itself is identical.
These "skinny" over-the-top streaming providers who offer NBCSN include:
- YouTube TV
- AT&T TV Now
Depending on the provider you select, NBCSN might be included, or an optional add-on at additional cost.
As with cable and satellite providers, if you only care about bicycle racing, you'll likely still be paying for some channels you don't need or want with these services, but less of them.
Watch the 2021 Tour de France on NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass
As of Tuesday June 8, 2021, NBC has discontinued their Gold Cycling Pass subscription product. The 2021 Tour de France will not be available on NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass. NBC suggests that users watch on the Peacock Premium service - see below for more information about the Peacock app.
Gold Cycling Pass was an NBC product available by subscription on computers or mobile devices, which offered the Tour de France as well as some of the Spring Classics. Unlike other providers, with Gold Cycling Pass you only paid for bicycle racing, not other channels you don't want or need.
Historically, NBC's Gold Cycling Pass costs $54.99 / season (pricing for the 2021/22 season was never announced as NBC discontinued the product). Unlike Peacock, it was available on demand with pause, rewind, and fast-forward features, so you don't have to wake up super early to watch live.
NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass used an unusual subscription model. Instead of lasting 365 days, your subscription ends immediately before the start of the Tour de France each year, regardless of the date on which you subscribed.
Gold Cycling Pass was offered on PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices, plus Roku, and Fire Stick.
Watch the 2021 Tour de France on Peacock
Peacock is an app-based product owned by NBC that offers a monthly subscription. Because you can subscribe and cancel with no penalty, watching the Tour de France on Peacock is the least expensive and shortest commitment method.
For the 2021 Tour de France NBC is sending users who previously subscribed to their Gold Cycling Pass (discontinued) to Peacock Premium instead.
Peacock is available on a huge variety of computers and devices, PCs, Macs, iPhone/iPad, Android, Xbox, Playstation, Roku, and more.
The Peacock app offers a few tiers:
- Free - watch streaming TV shows, news, and some sports. The Tour de France is not included in this tier.
- Premium - $4.99 / month. This tier includes live sports like the Tour de France.
- Premium Plus - $9.99 / month. This tier offers the same content as the Premium tier, but in an ad-free or reduced advertising environment.
The main drawback of Peacock is it's a live-only service, not on-demand. You'll need to get up bright and early if you live on the West Coast for live Tour de France coverage on Peacock. That's easier to swallow if you live on the East Coast.
If you're willing to put up with that inconvenience, though, Peacock Premium or Premium Plus is by far the least expensive and lowest commitment way to watch the 2021 Tour de France.
However you tune in, I hope you enjoy watching the 2021 Tour de France. Best wishes!
* this article assumes you are in the United States. Some of these options may not exist outside the USA, or coverage may vary.